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Big Bird
Mickey Mouse
Mother Goose
Teddy Ruxpin

Worlds of Wonder

Robots Offered:

Teddy Ruxpin Grubby Mother Goose Mickey Mouse
Big Bird   Hector  
Goofy Snoopy Pamela Julie

Walt Disney's Ken Forsee was one of the early pioneers in animatronics. In the 1960s and 1970s he helped design the talking Abraham Lincoln figure, "It's a Small World", and other Disney animatronic projects. The key to Disney's technology was the use of specially coded audiotapes, which controlled the synchronization of an animated figure's movements with its associated audio (speech).

Forsse found cost-effective ways to shrink Disney's animatronic technology to toy level. A Texas heiress contributed $15 million to the effort on the condition that the toys would be designed to enhance the quality of play for all children, providing an alternative to the violence in video games, television and movies. The company established to employ Forsee's inventions, "Worlds of Wonder", was headquartered in Fremont, California. Its first product was Teddy Ruxpin, an animated, talking teddy bear. It was an overnight success.

Some dolls, such as Teddy Ruxpin and other Worlds of Wonder toys, could be connected together to hold a conversation or sing in chorus. Teddy Ruxpin was THE toy of the 1985 holiday season and was in short supply everywhere. This success caught the attention of competitive toy companies and other media character companies. The Walt Disney organization, Jim Henson Associates (Muppets), and King Features Syndicate (Peanuts) licensed their characters to Worlds of Wonder for use with its "animagic" technology. Additional creations included a talking Mother Goose, Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Snoopy. In addition, Worlds of Wonder created two microprocessor-based, interactive dolls - Pamela and Julie.

Within three years, the company employed over 400 workers. Follow-on innovations included the microprocessor powered interactive dolls Pamela and Julie, GT Super Screamer race cars and the Laser Tag game.

Worlds of Wonder went public and became an overnight darling of Wall Street as its price shot up. Unfortunately, in a brief three and a half years the company filed for protection from its creditors in 1987. Large R&D, advertising, production, distribution, logistical, and repair costs hampered the company's ability to grow as quickly as it wanted to and it soon owed payment to many creditors. Over the next two years, the company reorganized. Worlds of Wonder went on creating new products until 1991, when it closed its doors for good.  Its products were licensed to Hasbro, which continued to sell Teddy Ruxpin until 1997. To date, over 40 million Teddy Ruxpins have been sold -- enough to populate a small nation.

(Information paraphreased from :The Mechanics of Dolls) and Stan Hanel

Still gathering info on this company




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