The road most connected toy lines have traveled is … well, let’s just say it’s paved with good intentions. A sampling of valiant efforts:
Take Teddy Ruxpin. In 1985, a company called Worlds of Wonder introduced a teddy bear who told stories from recorded audio tapes while moving his eyes and mouth. It was a runaway hit that holiday season. Nine months later, Smith Barney and Dean Witter co-managed WoW’s IPO. Not quite a year after that, the company bought $92 million worth of debt against the 1987 holiday season. Unfortunately, between the debenture offering and Christmas was a prophetic date: Oct. 19, 1987—Black Monday. Lawsuits followed.
Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, a 1987 syndicated TV show, featured action sequences that set off ejector seats in a line of toy spaceships if the kid using it to “fire” at the screen didn’t duck behind the couch quick enough. Showrunners for the TV series included Babylon 5 impresario J. Michael Straczynski, who made the show cutting-edge and interesting for parents. In other words, way too dark for the target audience. Parents complained, the show was canceled, and the toys are collectors’ items now.
In 2007, amidst the motion-control craze in the video game world and the collectible card game craze in the toy world, Sony launched a video game called The Eye of Judgment, which scanned trading cards with the pricey PlayStation Eye peripheral and gave users a cool dragon or gargoyle based on which card they’d bought. The problem? Photocopiers.