Talking toys have been around since at least 1960, when pull-the-string Chatty Cathy debuted. But Teddy Ruxpin, a cuddly teddy bear that hit stores in late 1985, marked a technological leap forward.
Created by then-Granada Hills resident Ken Forsse, the talking Teddy moved his mouth in sync, making him seem much more lifelike. The effect was both delightful and a bit creepy, and kids loved him.
"1986 and 1987 were insane; you could hardly find Teddy Ruxpin in stores, it was so popular," said toy expert Jim Silver.
Forsse, 77, died March 19 at home in Laguna Woods. The cause was congestive heart failure, said Josh Isaacson, a friend of the family who has long maintained a Teddy Ruxpin tribute website.
Teddy's reign as the top toy was relatively brief, ending in a mire of financial and legal troubles. But the gentle bear who told storybook adventures was instrumental in sparking a new category for the toy industry — electronic plush. He still crops up in pop culture references on movies and TV shows. And he still has ardent fans.