Enchanted Toys of Yesteryear

My wife and I have been repairing animatronic toys as a side business for almost ten years now, and also sell a self-help videotape on eBay called "Teddy Ruxpin Inside-Out" that gives a guided tour of Teddy's insides as well as his connection to Disney's Imagineering group in Anaheim, CA during the early 1980's.  In 1995, my wife and I connected with "Dr. Clay" Pimentel, the former Customer Service Director of Worlds of Wonder toy Company in Fremont, California.  Even though Worlds of Wonder had finally gone bankrupt in 1991, Alchemy Inc., the designers and license holders of the Teddy Ruxpin intellectual property, wanted Teddy owners to have some recourse for repair as Hasbro/Playskool was picking up the license to market a smaller version of Teddy for five more years.  We wandered into Dr. Clay's "Toy Faire" store and learned that his "surgeon" was moving to Garderville, Nevada and he needed local help in the Bay Area.  He helped us set up a sideline business we called "Enchanted Toys of Yesteryear".  Any repair requests sent to the old Worlds of Wonder toy company  in Fremont, CA were forwarded to Dr. Clay.  He then split the workload between the "surgeon" in Gardnerville and us.  We also helped him restore leftover inventory that he was still selling from Worlds of Wonder

After we learned how to repair the Worlds of Wonder toy line, we branched out into other talking, animated toys of the era.  There were many variations on the cassette tape-driven, synchronized, servo motor control systems that Worlds of Wonder pioneered (basically Disney Animatronic technology).  Other toy companies responded with their versions in order to compete with the success of Worlds of Wonder.  Teddy would actually plug into a companion doll, Grubby the Octopede, and his special animatronic tape could control all six servo motors in both characters, as well as bounce the sound back and forth between the speakers in each doll (stereo!) when each was talking independently.  Teddy's special cassette tapes had two tracks, one for audio and the second for a train of pulses that was decoded and distributed to control all six servo motors in series.  Ideal toys did a similar design with a trio of Sesame Street characters---Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Oscar the Grouch.  Each toy only used two servo motors to actuate the mouth and eyes.  They also did an updated version of the Patty PlayPal doll from '50s and '60 with the tape player hidden in Patty's lunch box that would wirelessly transit the audio and servo motor control information from up to 15 feet away.  Short-lived Wonderama produced a writing doll, Suzy Scribbles and a writing bear, Skippy Scribbles, whose three servo motors were located in a robot arm at the shoulder, elbow and wrist.  Each toy was latched into their special desk and a pen put in their stationary hand to write letters, numbers and drawings, even though slightly scribbly.

Along the way, we met Dennis, the owner of Alltronics, a surplus Electronics Store in Silicon Valley, who had bought out a warehouse of Axlon toys after that company was purchased and dissolved into Hasbro in the late 1980's, as well.  After ten years of repairing and selling Axlon toys, he was tired of it and wanted to clear his shelves.  We loaded our car up with parts and put them in storage, gradually rebuilding and selling some of the products at toy shows.

 

    ---Stan Hanel