August 25, 2022 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Talking Cartoon Character Dolls

As the school year starts to encroach on what has been a largely Thunderbean-drenched summer, I’m both happy and a little sad that this period is transitioning back to spending a large amount of my time back at my full-time job. This week (the second to last before going back) has been largely about following-through on finishing this or that aspect of a project, switching gears a lot from the digital world of all this stuff and back into building or fixing this or that at home. Over the summer many of the special sets were finished as well as nearly finishing four “Official” sets. I’m pretty happy to see things moving forward well.

Dave Gerstein has nearly wrapped up all the bonus features for the first Flip the Frog disc of the two disc set and is making short work of the second disc’s special features. The Van Beuren Tom and Jerry set has a majority of the films scanned and cleaned up, the Stop Motion Marvels set is all mastered and off to replication. Another small batch of films are starting to gather for the next scanning sessions and things are gong back to all the people that were kind enough to lend them.

As all these are finishing off I’m looking at the next projects with excitement. Work has started in getting the Bunin Alice materials finally scanned after a long wait. The collection of Mid Century Modern 3 films have started scanning, and I’m most excited about scanning the rest of the Technicolor Rainbow Parades and Comi-Color shorts. The efforts of so many people have helped to move these things forward really well- that community involvement can’t be understated. Beside the stuff I can talk about, there are other projects I can’t talk about yet— but when I can I’ll be so happy to share them.

I’m working right now on combining the Comi-Color cartoon Puss in Boots together from the negs to premiere in a little more than a week at Cinecon in Los Angeles along with some of the Flip the Frogs. If you’re in Los Angeles, be sure to go to one of the shows. There’s more cool things being shown there than you can believe.

I started pulling out the Halloween and spooky cartoons this week, and it’s almost a tradition now – so we’re working on a special disc (BDR) called “Secret Halloween 2022”. We’re getting a little bit bigger of a jump on it this year compared to past years and plan to have it shipping by the end of September or earlier. It’s available at the Thunderbean shop for just a short time. Thanks to everyone for supporting this small company through all these years.

So, instead of a cartoon this week, let’s look at some cartoon-related talking dolls!

As with records based on cartoons, the talking dolls of the 50s into the 70s often had the same voices. I find these toys especially fun- and was amazed at how much fun the commercials are as well as people playing the pull-strings of the toys now.

This commercial is maybe the most fun of all talking doll ads- and this kid’s parents really made a bad choice in buying all those dolls for him. I have a pull-string Bugs Bunny that uses this same recording – clearly Mel Blanc doing Bugs and Grace Stafford doing Woody here. Thanks to Ira Gallin for posting these!

This Beany and Cecil ad in a similar vein is also super fun- although I find Mattel’s design on Beany to be a little scary:

And another too:

And here’s June Foray doing voices for.. everyone except the dog?

This Flip Wilson doll is about the strangest of any of the talking dolls I’ve ever seen. It almost seems like a parody doll made for adults! I had a friend who had this one when we were kids:

This ad has the Bugs Bunny my brother had as a kid. I still have it and it works, but this one works better honestly….

This Tom (with Jerry in his hand?) toy is especially strange since the characters usually don’t talk- but I guess they do now.

And Now — fixing a talking Popeye toy box from when I was a kid!

I managed to fix a toy that had been broken since the 70s this week; I was amazed that I was able to find one of the Ozen talking boxes in brand-new condition on Ebay. This toy was designed and made in Japan and was used in lots of talking toys. It was maybe used the most in a ‘talking bag of laughs’ toy in the 60s and 70s. My talking Popeye doll broke sometime in the 70s, and I think my dad opened it up to see if he could repair it, but of course it wasn’t fixable. My mom kept the Popeye record all those years, and this week I put it back together and, happily, it actually worked! Here’s the video of how this toy worked- and how the little record works inside it. I have the Popeye toy still too, but he’s at the office. He’ll reunite with the talking box this week for the first time in almost 50 years soon.

Now, what talking toy did you have as a kid- or did you?

Have a good week all!


  • Well, shiver me timbers! Talk about giving a voice to the silenced! It’s amazing that you got that record to play again after all these years. Are the individual lines recorded on concentric spiral grooves, as in the “puzzle records” of old? Or is there some more advanced technology at work here? In any case, congratulations, and best regards to Ira “Attention, Baby Boomers!” Gallen — I used to love his show!

    As for myself, I had a talking pull-the-string Linus the Lionhearted doll when I was little. “I am the king! I can do anything! Almost….” I don’t know for certain if it was Sheldon Leonard who recorded the lines, but I assume so; at least I didn’t notice anything amiss about the voice.

    That talking Flip Wilson/Geraldine is hilarious! I have no absolutely no recollection of that, though my family used to watch his show every Thursday. I do remember a talking pull-the-string Jimmie “J.J.” Walker doll, which I presume just hollered “DYN-O-MITE!” over and over and over again.

  • So exciting that Flip is almost here! I hope we’ll get to see photos of the color combined Puss in Boots, I’m dying to see what these Comi-Colors are going to look like! They’re just as exciting, especially since they’ll also be here soon!

    This article was a sweet one, I love talking dolls, such a fun concept. The Tom and Jerry one is funny too, and I’m glad you got to fix a childhood toy! It makes for a good entertaining show, but somehow (like all the Thunderbean Thursday videos recorded in your office) your cat stole the show!

  • Back in 1962 our local Loblaws grocery store had what I imagine to have been a promotional tie-in with channel four’s “Popeye Playhouse” TV show. For some nominal amount of money you could buy a “laughing” Gund Popeye doll:

    There was a crank in the back with a pre-recorded laugh that would play as long as you kept turning. My parents thought this would scare my baby brother, so they removed the “voice box.” Dad, being the curious sort, disassembled the mechanism and removed the disk, as you did, Steve.

    He then put it on my kiddie record player and dropped the needle. It must have played backwards at the wrong speed, as the demonic “laughter” that emanated from the speaker caused four-year-old me to run, screaming, from the room!

    Mom sewed up the doll and the record was never heard from again.

    • Gund did so many Popeye character dolls. When I got the laughing one I was hoping it would be the sailor’s laugh. I did get the prototype doll which had him in a different outfit with a little girl’s voice. The doll was originally sent to the offices of King Features Syndicate.

  • Mickey Mouse doll: “Voice electronically altered to protect anonymity”

  • That Beany doll looks like the inspiration for Chuckie.
    P.S. I have a talking Biff Bear doll that still works.

  • Had the Cecil one. Fond memories.

  • I have the Woody Woodpecker one. Got a perfect deal on it too. It still works and is in perfect condition. Bought it for like two bucks at an antique store. I’d show a picture but can’t obviously on here

  • I got the talking Bugs Bunny for Christmas, he was and still is the best gift I’ve ever received.
    I’ve requested in my will that he will be buried with me.

    • A True Believer. Salute!

  • That talking Tom doll reminds me of another non-speaking character that temporarily got a “toy voice”, the Road Runner. In 1979, it was hilarious to hear Blanc apply his Marvin Martian voice to “I’m the Road Runner! Beep! Beep!”

  • When we were kids we had the “See and Say” toys. One had pictures of farm animals on it. You pointed the dial to an animal and pulled the string, and it made the sound of that animal.

    My sister had a talking telephone that used the same type of disc, but with a battery and a pushbutton. I figured out how it worked by turning it upside down, pushing the button, and observing through the speaker grille the moving mechanism.

    • Also had the See & Say toys in my childhood, and I found out that if you jerked the string when it traveled halfway, it would change the track: “The cow says… (jerk)… oink oink!” Laughed like hell at that, I was then an easily amused kid.

  • I had a Matty Mattel and remember being bothered by the fact his little cloth crown was sewn to his head. Only as an adult did I notice that, costume aside, he looked nothing at all like Matty Mattel. He had Casper’s face, plus short red hair instead of black.

    Later I was intrigued by the talking Monkees puppet: Four little plastic heads on a sort of glove with bodies printed on. A little old for talking toys at that point, so let it pass.

    On Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, Judy Carne would sometimes play a string-operated talking toy: “I am your Judy doll. You can play with me. But touch my little body, and I hit!” (Twists at the waist to punch a man in the stomach).

    • I met Davy Jones in 2000. Afterwards I had a chat with a couple of middle-aged Monkees fans who had some items of memorabilia they wanted Davy to autograph. One of them had the Monkees talking finger puppet in its original box, which had already been autographed by Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork. She told be that the puppet on its own was the single most valuable piece of Monkee memorabilia in existence, and if she could get all four Monkees to autograph the box, then hers would be a treasure beyond price. Bet you could kick yourself now for passing it up.

  • Fantastic that you could hear the old Popeye recording again. Though I know wasn’t him, I thought the voice sounded a little like Gilbert Gottfried. Loved seeing your pets in the video too!! Allbest!

  • Does the Geraldine doll count as “grooming”? Better not bring it to Story Hour.

  • WEIRD. OK, Stanchfield, you’ve finally gone over the edge. 🙂

  • Talky Tina jaded me for life….

  • My brother had gotten the talking Cecil doll for his birthday. He wanted the talking Beany doll for Christmas. He thought his grandmother had bought it for him, but it turned out to be the non-talking version. He apparently got extremely upset about it and got in a lot of trouble. We had Cecil quite a while until he sprung a leak and lost his stuffing. Beany lasted longer, but his propeller broke and somehow he lost a foot. He’s probably still around somewhere.

  • I have this cat doll head I unearthed from the side yard just at the perimeter of our property a long time ago. The head resembles the one of the Tom doll featured in the above video, only smaller and cast in hard orange plastic with stylized black stripes and other features painted in white and pink to make it look like a tiger cat, and pieces of the left ear broken away. It was obvious to me from the moment I first looked it over that the doll head was cast with a mold that was originally used to make Tom Cat dolls. The facial features are similar, but there are certain other physical features that vary from the Mattel doll. So it’s likely the doll this headpiece came from had to have been made by another perhaps lesser-known manufacturer, and likely purchased the molds for reuse from another manufacturer who had been licensed to mass produce T&J dolls. Whatever the case, it’s a safe bet that the dolls made with the mold that this headpiece was made from were likely modeled to the same specifications of MGM’s marketing department.

  • A character in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome has the same Bugs doll as your brother. He even plays a couple of the phrases.

  • I’m not sure who did the POPEYE voice there, Steve! I was going to say Allen Swift, but it also sounds a little like Harry Foster Welch?

    I had a “Bozo the Clown” talking doll. I’m pretty darn sure that it was Pinto Colvig who did the voice on that little record!

  • I own the Woody Woodpecker puppet! I got it on eBay for just over 60 bucks. The voice box doesn’t work but he’s in great condition. Nice article!

    • Also, Woody is actually voiced by Mel Blanc! A bit of false advertisement there. Sometimes the voice box works so there’s that. It’s slow and warped so it’s a little easier to tell.

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