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Entertainment

Talking Toys: The Top Voices Behind Iconic Dolls, Games & Plushies

Dylan de Koning

Dylan de Koning

21 May 2024

Talking Toys: The Top Voices Behind Iconic Dolls, Games & Plushies - Voquent

From the latest AAA video games to quirky cartoons, many voice-acting mediums get the attention they deserve. However, voice acting for toys is often overlooked.

Talking toys have long been especially popular, with most figures and dolls on the toy store shelf now having their own voice lines and audible personalities to offer children an immersive experience. But only some talking toys reach the levels of commercial success and longevity to become iconic.

To keep this fair, we aren’t including any toys based on previously existing characters because there are many factors leading to their popularity beyond the voiceover.

That’s right; you won’t find Elmo, Buzz Lightyear, or any of the Ninja Turtles here!

So, let’s discover the most iconic talking toys of all time and the voice actors for toys who brought them to life!

 

🥇 90’s Barbie – Chris Anthony Lansdowne

Chris Lansdowne

Chris Anthony Lansdowne wasn’t just the voice of Barbie Riding Club and Barbie Fashion Designer, the first mass-produced “game for girls” that was later included in the Video Game Hall of Fame, but all of the 90s Barbie products that had a voice!

Most impressively, Chris voiced the exceptionally chatty Super Talk Barbie doll, who claims to say more than 100,000 different phrases!

Chris began her career in TV commercials but became tired of the lack of variety in the roles she was cast for. So, she decided to pivot towards voice acting, where her look wouldn’t factor into casting. In 1994, After gaining some experience voicing animated characters and other toys, she booked what turned out to be a very unusual audition.

There was an earthquake in California the day Chris was supposed to audition for the role, and without knowing the role was Barbie, she called to cancel. The director then asked her to say some lines over the phone instead… during an active earthquake!

With the line “Hi, it’s me, Barbie. Welcome to McDonald’s. You look very cool.” Chris secured herself a callback for the role before becoming the voice of Barbie for 8 years.

You may also recognise Chris’ voice as Robobrain Boss and Quinn Carter in Fallout 76, Chris in Adventures of Odyssey, and Florabel in Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts.

 

🥈 Teddy Ruxpin – Phil Baron

Phil Baron

Teddy Ruxpin was one of the best-selling toys of 1985 & 1986 before getting his very own animated series. Teddy wasn’t just a talking toy, but his mouth and eyes moved too!

At the height of his popularity, Teddy Ruxpin partnered with Wendy’s for a themed kids’ meal promotion and even became the “Official Spokesbear” for the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.

Teddy Ruxpin is undoubtedly an iconic talking toy, as he is referenced in many films and TV shows, including Brigsby Bear, Camp Wedding, Young Sheldon, and Ted.

Phil Baron has voiced every version of Teddy Ruxpin across dolls, audio stories, and The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin series. Teddy was also accompanied by his best friend Grubby, who is voiced by Will Ryan. Even though Phil left the entertainment industry in the 1990s to become a cantor, he continued to voice Teddy.

You might also recognise Phil’s voice as Piglet in Welcome to Pooh Corner or as various characters in Muppets Tonight.

 

🥉 Furby – Tony Pope

Tony Pope

Beyond their speaking ability, Furbies are among the most iconic toys of all time. To date, 58 million Furbies have been sold globally.

While Furbies start out speaking entirely Furbish, their own language of 42 different words, the talking toy begins replacing the Furbish language for English the longer you have one.

The OG voice of Furbies was recorded by Tony Pope, a well-known voice actor known for his work in animation and video games.

According to Pope, his inspiration for the voice of Furby came from his mentor, Dawz Butler, who was the voice of Yogi Bear. Butler’s characters helped Pope create the “cute little voice” he knew the manufacturers wanted.

Pope’s incredible talent can be seen in roles such as Col. Shikishima in Akira, Goofy in Who Frames Roger Rabbit, Elzix in Diablo 2, and Geppetto in Kingdom Hearts.

He also has more voice acting experience for talking toys, such as the voice of Mr Pennybags in the electronic version of Monopoly and Mr Mint in the electronic version of Candyland.

 

4. Chatty Cathy – June Foray

June Foray

We’re sure you’ve heard of Barbie, the most popular doll of the 1960s, but how about the second most popular doll, Chatty Cathy, which was also made by Mattel?

Cathy was a pull-string doll with 11 different phrases, and she became so popular that the next few years saw a huge surge in dolls with pull-strings and voice lines. Her name became synonymous with anyone who talks a lot, and we still use the phrase today!

Mattel even localised Chatty Cathy’s voice in their Canadian version of the doll, changing her lines to reflect cultural differences in other English-speaking countries.

Chatty Cathy was voiced by June Foray, an incredible voice actor with plenty of credits under her belt. She is known as “The First Lady of Animated Voicing” and even voiced Talky Tina, a murderous doll modelled after Chatty Cathy in an episode of The Twilight Zone.

You might also recognise June’s voice as Grandmother Fa in Mulan, Wheezy in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Granny in Looney Tunes, and Jokey Smurf in The Smurfs.

 

5. Bop It Extreme – Scott Parkin

Scott Parkin

While Bop It Was originally released in 1996 with a different voice, the game had only a few voice lines to match its limited functions. You could only bop, twist, and pull it.

The second version, Bop It Extreme, launched the toy into another round of commercial success and is likely the most iconic version that most people remember. This time around, with more functionality and voice lines.

Kids loved it, but the game became known for being annoyingly repetitive to nearby adults, and this led to its appearance in an episode of The Simpsons.

Scott Parkin became the voice of Bop It Extreme in 1998, but the creator only revealed this on social media in 2021. Parkin gave the toy its iconic Californian cool-guy voice and sarcastic tone when you lose, which has continued with the newer voices of the Bop It games.

Scott Parkin started his career in radio before moving into writing for TV and voiceover for commercials, such as for the US Postal Service and Jaeger.

He has also lent his voice to various entertainment projects, including American Dad, and he has live-action experience in Grace and Frankie, Last Man Standing and many other roles.

 

Summary

There we have it: the most iconic talking toys of all time and the voice actors who brought them to life.

From electronic games to dolls, figurines to board games, many different toys add voiceovers to offer a new level of immersion and auditory experience.

Some of the voice actors on this list will instantly remind people of their favourite childhood talking toys whenever they speak, and some have even explored a much wider acting career with roles in TV and video games.

 

Cast Voice Actors for Toys

Dylan de Koning

By Dylan de Koning

Dylan de Koning is a narrative writer, script reader and film buff from Scotland.

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