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Discover the hidden world of Teddy Ruxpin

The team behind the famous bear takes us through relics of the past, hidden in storage for decades -- along with a look at the prototypes of the new model.

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Bridget Carey

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Teddy Ruxpin
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Meet Teddy Ruxpin

Born in 1985, the storytelling bear was the world's first talking animatronic toy.

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Teddy Ruxpin was an instant phenomenon. Seven million bears found their way into children's bedrooms (including mine), his soft voice serenading us with lullabies about the far-off land of Grundo.

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Step inside The Vault

Hidden in storage for decades, treasures of Teddy's past hold clues to his origin story. The original team behind the toy keeps these memories locked up in a facility nicknamed The Vault. They gave CNET an exclusive peek inside.

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Teddy has gone through a few evolutions throughout the years. He's back in 2017 with LCD-screen eyes.

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'Come and discover the world with me'

The original bear used cassette tapes to tell his stories. These story tapes came with printed books for kids to read along as Teddy narrated. 

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Teddy had three servo motors in his head. Commanded by the programming on the magnetic cassette tape, his eyes and upper and lower jaw would move in sync to his narration.

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Jan Forsse holds up a photo of her late husband, Ken Forsse, inventor of Teddy. His years working with animatronics at Disneyland inspired him to create the toy.

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After Teddy's success, there were many spinoff products. The Teddy team made a Talking Mickey Mouse, along with puppets for Teddy's side characters -- like the bumbling bad guy, Tweeg. Also shown is a Teddy flashlight bear night-light.

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Summertime Teddy knew how to kick back.

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Baby Teddy didn't use cassette tapes. He would speak, then wait and listen for a child to reply before speaking again, creating the illusion of conversation. 

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After Teddy's failure, the team tried to bring him back, making replicas of the classic design. This red shirt Teddy was a version made in the '90s. It didn't stick.

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Teddy pulled in $93 million his first year -- unheard of for a new toy. That led to all sorts of new products. There were Teddy bed sheets. Teddy wallpapers. Teddy picnic baskets. Teddy beach balls. And in that time, someone made a human-sized costume to promote the bear. 

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Teddy Ruxpin could be found in 13 languages -- such as this French version.

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The same year Teddy launched, the team worked with ABC to air a live-action movie. In this photo, Princess Aruzia and Prince Arin pose on the set of the shoot.

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It was tempting to try on this costume, but it was just too old and falling apart.

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Teddy's adventures feature a rich universe of fantasy characters. There's (a) his best bud Grubby, the Octopod, (b) the inventor Newton Gimmick, (c) the wannabe-wizard Tweeg and (d) the bird-like fobs, which get their colors from drinking the water at Rainbow Falls.

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The original Teddy Ruxpin prototypes are preserved in cases.

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This was one of the first attempts to see if they could put robotics inside a teddy bear.

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Another Teddy prototype looks more like a Pooh bear.

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One of the final prototypes of what would become an iconic toy.

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Toy stores had these two friends on display, chatting in their airship. Grubby came shortly after Teddy, and worked by connecting to the bear with a cord.

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Grubby even had his own line of accessories, like this sleepwear.

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Teddy had his own 65-episode cartoon series, along with these VHS tapes of his adventures.

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Inventor Ken Forsse tinkered with ways to build animatronic versions of other characters. Here's a blueprint for the character Louie, a grunge who is also a sly reporter in the land of Grundo.

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A newspaper ad before Christmas. 

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Teddy had many famous friends -- including the family of former President George H. W. Bush, as show in this clipping.

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If you were part of the official fan club, you got this poster.

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The team behind the original bear hope to get a new generation interested in Teddy by giving him a digital makeover.

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His new eyes have more than 40 different animations, sometimes filling up with hearts, stars and musical notes.

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Wicked Cool Toys is the company behind the 2017 model. The designers explored a few different prototypes before finding the right look.

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Not too far from The Vault is the workshop of Teddy's head toy designer, Carrie Volpone. 

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Wicked Cool Toys considered a few looks to make the bear hipper. They even explored giving Teddy glasses. Hipster Teddy didn't make the cut.

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Original book art was used for the new read-along app.

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For more on Teddy check out our feature on the evolution of the new Teddy Ruxpin and our first look at his furry face.

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