All Original Toy Concepts, Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
“Small Talk” is a name I just made up. The fact is that, for the life of me, I cant remember what this doll was called. Digging through old slide trays, the other day, I came across two photographs that reignited memories, extinguished so long ago I can’t remember when. This small doll whose name I can’t recall, pre-dates Baby Face. She might even be earlier than Oodles. She dates from the era of Brainiacs and Pinky Bears, when KISCOM and I were courting Worlds of Wonder and Nasta. She might well be my first attempt to sculpt a doll. Of course, her form was not important. It was what she did that we were trying to sell.
Here we see her on my desk, among the rubble from which she sprang forth, on the day that she was born. This desk has seen many a mess, over the years, and many a doll spring forth.
As I mentioned a few entries back, Worlds of Wonder had one “raison d’etre,” and that was the talking bear, called, Teddy Ruxpin. Teddy Ruxpin was essentially a stereo tape player. One channel carried his voice, (he told stories) and the other channel carried the information that moved his mouth. Teddy was a sizeable object, heavy and expensive. Small Talk was an attempt to do what Teddy Ruxpin did in a small doll. And as I had figured out a way to get a monaural signal to carry not only the dolls voice, but also move her mouth. The second channel of stereo could be used to carry coordinated music that broadcast from the small tape player that accompanied the doll, or lend its magic to a plug-in kitty, who could join in, meow, or speak, and carry on an interactive conversation with the doll. The doll moved her mouth mechanically, while the kitten indicated that it was speaking by means of a flashing LED.
I don’t recall the details of why this item didn’t sell. Back then, KISCOM was just beginning. They had easy entry to only a select group of second tier toy companies. And few toy manufacturers were into electronics, in those days. So Worlds of Wonder and Nasta were, more or less, our only options. And neither of them saw the need to option this item. So, where is this small doll today? She is either buried beneath the sands of time, or buried deeper still, in one of the many secret storage areas, scattered around this fabled house that we refer to as, Mouse Heaven.