The first talking dolls were made in the late 1800s, but it wasn't until Mattel introduced a less expensive talking mechanism in 1960 that talking dolls became widely available. Some of Mattel's first talking dolls include Chatty Cathy, Bugs Bunny, Herman Munster, Woody Woodpecker, Bullwinkle and Dr. Seuss.
Mork, 9 inch talking doll by Mattel, 1980
As mentioned on the "TV Character Dolls" page of this blog, Mattel made a Mork doll based on the TV series Mork and Mindy. Mork came with a "talking" back pack with a pull string that played eight sayings. I can't make out all of them as the recording is too muffled. A Mindy doll was also made but only Mork came with a talking backpack, which is originally from Mattel's Big Jim doll. Here are four of the eight sayings:
1) Hello I'm Mork, from Ork, Na-No, Na-No
3) Shuzbut, don't look at me like that.
4) (Mork's "laugh") Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah!
5) Ah! That was a joke. Honk! Honk!
6) (Sometime that sounds like...) Time for doe doe, dum dum
Pee Wee Herman, 18 inch talking doll by Matchbox / Charan Toys, 1987
This doll has wire in the arms and legs so that it can be posed. The 18 inch dolls and the smaller series of action figures were all based on the TV show Pee Wee's Playhouse. Other characters from this program were also made by Matchbox in the larger 18 inch format. A Chairry puppet/doll was made to scale for the 18 inch Pee Wee. Chairry's mouth can be controlled like a puppet and there is a lever on the back of the chair to control the eyes. Billy Baloney and Pterri were also made as 18 inch dolls but these were not in scale with the 18 inch Pee Wee doll. Here are the six sayings from the talking Pee Wee:
1) Hello I'm Pee Wee Herman
2) (Pee Wee's laughing)
3) Hey what's that? Made you look!
4) I know you are but what am I?
6) I love you
Here is the 6 inch Pee Wee Herman action figure that Matchbox also produced in 1987. It has a small fabric doll jacket. Below is Pee Wee with the Chairry action figure.
The Chairry action figure was 4.5 inches tall. I saved the card packaging but not the plastic bubble section. The articulation for this figure is very limited. The only jointed sections are the arms of the chair, which do not bend, they can only be turned...with some effort.
This is the back of the Chairry card showing the assortment of figures. There were six articulated action figures in the series: Pee Wee, Chairry, Miss Yvonne, Cowboy Curtis, and King of Cartoons. A figure of Ricardo (wearing a black and white striped referee shirt) was also made, but is not shown with the rest of the assortment on the back of the card packaging. Small PVC figures were available in two sets: Globey and Randy is set 1, Jambi and the Puppet Land Band (four figures total) made up set 2. Wind-Up figures of Conky, Magic Screen and Pterri completed the collection. All of these figures were made to scale with each other to be used with the Pee Wee Playhouse playset. A scooter for Pee Wee was also available. Although a large size Billy Baloney doll was made, for some reason the character was not included in the smaller action figure set. Click on the image to see a larger version.
Here is the 18 inch talking Pee Wee doll next to the small 6 inch action figure. The style of this Pee Wee doll was so popular that it became the new format for talking dolls that followed, such as.....
Ed Grimley, 17 inch talking doll by Tyco, 1988
I found this doll on a trip to the US with my parents when I was a teenager. We had stopped at some department store just randomly to get something, and so naturally I went to check out the toy department. This doll was just lying on a shelf on top of a bunch of stuffed toys, without a box or a price tag. I looked around for another one in the box, but this was the last one! I recall it took the staff quite awhile to find a price for it once we got up to the checkout. In the end they sold it to me for $7.99, which I thought was quite a good deal.
Here is the back view showing the pull string. Ed Grimley says quite a few funny things:
1) I'm going completely mental I must say!
2) This is my luckiest of lucky days!
3) Oh gimme a break!
4) I'm doomed as doomed can be you know!
5) Ah! Now that's a pain that's going to linger.
6) This is like a joke I must say!
Recently when I took the doll out of storage I noticed it had a black spot on his face, which really sucks! I think this happened because it was touching some fabric on another doll that I had packed in the same box. The colour die from the fabric must have transferred to the plastic. If anyone knows a way to remove this type of colour stain on plastic I would be glad to know. This is totally a bummer I must say!
Here is Martin Short in character as Ed Grimley
Beetlejuice, 18 inch talking doll by Kenner, 1989
Ernest, 18 inch talking doll by Kenner, 1989
1) Has anyone seen Miss Piggy?
2) Hi-ho, Kermit the Frog here.
3) I'm feeling a little green today.
1) I love being a star
2) Yahoo, I'm going to be a real boy!
Here is the 8 inch doll of Pinocchio shown next to the larger 14 inch talking doll. I've shown more photos of the 8 inch doll on the Other Dolls page of this blog:
Jonathan Taylor Thomas was just a kid when he did the Pinocchio movie back in 1996. Now, 17 plus years later, he's all grown up and into his early 30s. Here are some pictures of him in his late 20s. He's become quite a handsome guy. If I ever had millions of dollars to do a movie with I would want him to be in it, though apparently these days he's taking a break from acting. I think he would be perfect for playing a young Han Solo in one of the future Star Wars films. In these photos he reminds me of a young Harrison Ford. I bet he could even pull off doing Indiana Jones.
Thunderbirds, 12 inch talking doll by Vivid Imaginations Ltd., 1999
4) Thunderbird 3 to base
Here is the back view showing the velcro opening on the back of the shirt. I tried replacing the batteries, but unfortunately this doll's talking feature doesn't work anymore, so I have no idea what this doll says.
Monsters University, 9 inch talking doll by Spin Master, 2013
This is a funny plush toy of Mike Wazowski from the Monsters University movie (the sequel to Monsters Inc.). It has a talking mechanism inside. When the toy is squeezed, bumped or dropped one of eight recordings will play. The downside to this type of talking toy is that once the batteries inside the toy run out there is no way to replace them, and therefore the talking feature is lost.
1) Ahhh ah ah ah ah ah (laughing)
2) Mike Wazowski, scary major!
3) I'm catching a (? - inaudible)
4) I'm going to scare circles around you this year.
5) Rarrrr! (short roar)
6) Remember, we can do anything we want if we never give up!
7) Ahhhh! (yell)
8) Raarrrrrrrr! (longer roar)
The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon 18 inch talking doll by Wonderland Toys, 2013
This is an awesome 18 inch talking doll and very well made. Unfortunately this style of talking doll is not as popular as it used to be, so it was a nice surprise to see this one being produced by Wonderland Toys in 2013. (To my knowledge the Crow doll shown above from 2001 is the last time this type of doll was made! Spin Master's Wiggles dolls from 2003 -also shown above- are similar as well, but they were 3 inches shorter, did not have wire in the arms and legs, and were sculpted to be more cartoon-like than realistic, so to me they don't seem to match with these 18 inch dolls.)
The face is very nicely sculpted and quite handsome.
The sides of the box show the different sayings and the back has a photo of Sheldon from the TV show, played by actor Jim Parsons.
Here are his different sayings:
1) I'm doctor Sheldon Cooper, BS, MS, MA, PhD, and ScD...OMG, right?
2) A neutron walks into a bar and asks "How much for a drink?"
The bartender says "For you, no charge."
3) Why did the chicken cross the Mobius strip? To get to the same side. Bazinga!
4)Bazinga (Said in a different tone than number 8)
5) I'm not insane, my mother had me tested.
6) That is my spot.
7) There is a fine line between wrong and visionary, unfortunately
you have to be a visionary to see it.
8) Bazinga (Said in a different tone from number 4)
9) Was that Sarcasm?
Just for fun, here are all of the 18 inch talking dolls that I have with the original boxes!!! I also have Pee Wee Herman and Ed Grimly as shown above, but without the boxes.
Photos of dolls © Mike Artelle, 2011, 2013