The New World of Teddy Ruxpin (partially lost animatronic voiceovers for VHS and TV content; 1998)
The "TV Video Pack", which included the decoder box and one of the special VHS tapes.
Status: Partially Lost
In 1998, the companies YES! Entertainment Corporation, Shoot the Moon Products Inc, and Alchemy II Inc worked together on a re-launch of the famous Teddy Ruxpin animatronic teddy bear. This was known as "The New World of Teddy Ruxpin". It featured an updated look for the animatronic bear, which also brought back the built-in cassette player that was on the original 1985 Worlds of Wonder version, but had been replaced with endless loop cartridges on the 1991 Playskool version. This re-release also saw the release of some of the VHS tapes from the 1985 version. However, these tapes were updated to contain hidden data that allowed the animatronic bear to narrate and riff on the VHS content. YES! Entertainment had embedded hidden audio in VHS tapes before, as they released another animatronic bear in 1993, known as TV Teddy. However that version involved wireless transmission, while this Teddy Ruxpin version was wired.
According to the manual, a special decoder box, known as the "TV Talk Box" is inserted between the VCR and the TV. The signal on the tape enters this box and is decoded. The regular cartoon video and audio are sent up to the TV, while the animatronic movement instructions and narration for Teddy Ruxpin travels along a separate wire to the Teddy Ruxpin toy itself. Then, as the tape plays, the Teddy Ruxpin toy moves and speaks to provide narration. The movement instructions are a barcode that moves up the left side of the screen. The TV Talk box interprets this barcode and sends an audio signal to Teddy Ruxpin containing an audio tone that the electronics can understand.
If the tape is played without the TV Talk Box in-between, both the regular audio and the new narration are sent up to the TV. This is because the narration for the Teddy Ruxpin animatronic comes from the VHS hi-fi audio, while the regular cartoon audio is on the regular VHS audio track. Any modern system that can interpret the VHS hi-fi audio will be able to play it back normally. This sometimes leads to problems with the TV Talk Box, as a worn tape or damaged VCR is not always able to lock onto the VHS hi-fi audio. The narration audio is sometimes misinterpreted by the VCR as regular audio, and then it ends up sent to the TV instead of the animatronic. Other times, the tape is damaged, and the audio is entirely missing.
Lost Media Status
The tapes were re-releases of the episodes of the original Teddy Ruxpin TV show from the 1980s. The original show lasted for a total of 65 episodes. However, it is uncertain how many episodes were re-released with this new narration. The manual only mentions six tapes, in addition to the pack-in tape "The Treasure of Grundo". It is possible that more episodes, up to the whole series were planned, but they were never released. Additionally, the manual talks about Teddy Ruxpin interactive programs being broadcast on television and describes how to use the TV talk box when tuning into these programs. However, it is unknown if this content was to be different from the known VHS releases, or if it even happened at all.
Aside from the VHS tapes, the Teddy Ruxpin fansite "Grundo Gazette" briefly mentions a planned "Computer Pack" for the 1998 Teddy Ruxpin that was never released. However, the site does not go into detail as to what computer-based content would have been involved. The online resume of Benson Lam, one of the developers who worked at YES! Entertainment, contains the only known advertisement for the Computer Pack. This website proves that the Computer Pack was in production, and it claims that there would be software releases that would use this add-on. However, another fan-site claims that this would have involved the Teddy Ruxpin animatronic interacting with web-based content. Given that the toy only used a 3.5 mm jack with stereo audio, with one track for voice, and one track for movement data, this would probably have worked similarly to the VHS tape content. It is unknown how long the VHS tapes were on sale, though one Teddy Ruxpin fan-site claims that YES! Entertainment went bankrupt in 1999, just a year after the release.
VHS Tape Narrations
|Episode Title||Voiceover Audio Status||Notes|
|The Treasure of Grundo||Partially Lost||This was the pack-in tape. This was also a 75 minute remix of three episodes from the original show: "Episode 1: The Treasure of Grundo", "Episode 2: Beware of Mudblups", and "Episode 4: In the Fortress of the Wizard"|
|Guests of the Grunges||Partially Lost||This was just one episode of the original show: "Episode 3: Guest of the Grunges"|
|Escape from the Treacherous Mountains||Partially Lost||This was just one episode of the original show: "Episode 5: Escape from the Treacherous Mountains"|
|Take a Good Look||Partially Lost||This was just one episode of the original show: "Episode 6: Take a Good Look"|
|Grubby's Romance||Partially Lost||This was just one episode of the original show: "Episode 7: Grubby's Romance"|
|Tweeg Gets the Tweezles||Lost||This was just one episode of the original show: "Episode 13: Tweeg Gets the Tweezles"|
|Come Dream with Me Tonight||Lost||This title does not match any single episode of the original show. According to the website of Benson Lam, who worked at YES! back in the day, this tape was a compilation of both animation and live-action content that involved six lullabies. It is unknown which episodes were used for the animated portions. |
- Archive of the manual. Retrieved 07 May '21
- Teddy Ruxpin fansite, with a brief mention of the cancelled Computer Pack expansion. Retrieved 07 May '21
- Online resume of Benson Lam, containing the only known "Computer Pack" advertisment. Retrieved 08 May '21
- Another Teddy Ruxpin fan-site, which discusses the Computer Pack expansion. Retrieved 07 May '21
- The Details on the "Come Dream With Me Tonight tape. Retrieved 08 May '21