Cricket dolls are talking dolls that were first unveiled in 1986 at the Toy Fair held in New York. Cricket is the first of its kind talking doll created by Playmates toys. While there were other talking toys prior to that time, they were mostly in form of teddy bears or other animals.
The idea behind Cricket was to create a lifelike doll that could talk. The doll could play pre-recorded sound from a tape at the press of a button and the mouth of the doll would also move at the same time.
Who was the designer?
Larry Jones was in charge of the design for the doll for Playmates Toy a toy company which until that period only imported toys for distribution in the US market. Cricket was the company’s first offering and the company’s official entry into toy manufacturing.
Cricket was designed at the company’s research and development center in California. Robin Frederick and Jay Tverdak were in charge of writing songs for the doll while Larry Jones wrote the catchphrases which were voiced by a nine-year-old named Laura Mooney. Cricket would say catchphrases like "Are we having fun or what?" and "I'll be talkin' to ya!"
Cricket dolls’ operation was quite similar to that of Teddy Ruxpin another popular doll of the same era. However, unlike Teddy Ruxpin or mama goose which relied on cassettes that had sound data on one track and a control data on the other side of the tape, Cricket instead operated on two-sided tapes. The doll needed four “C” batteries for the player to work and another 9-volt battery controlled the movement of the doll’s mouth.
The appearance of Cricket dolls
When Cricket arrived she had Pink sweaters and a pleated mint green skirt. She also has yellow underpants, yellow socks and wore hi-top sneakers that had monogrammed laces. There were two variations to the doll’s sweater. There were a knitted sweater and another made of velour. Also packed along with the doll were two tapes one for instructions on caring for the doll and the other tape containing songs, jokes, and stories for cricket.
There was also an African-American version for the doll. This version has two different hairstyles. While on featured short curly hairs and had no ribbons in them, the other had hair similar to the Caucasian doll with two curly pigtails held with a pink yarn.
Playmates toys also released companion dolls for Cricket. In 1987, the company released Corky which was Cricket’s younger brother. Corky was voiced by a seven-year-old named Edan Gross. The company also released an older sister for the doll which was named Jill.
While all dolls, operated almost on the same technology, Jill made operated on cartridges rather than tapes and could recognize voices. The company also made and released an inanimate version of Jill in 1989.