Saturday, August 13, 2016

Earl Kenneth Forsse, BHS 1954, creator of Teddy Ruxpin

Earl Kenneth Forsse, was born September 25, 1936 in Bellwood, Nebraska. His family moved when he was a child to Southern California. He graduated from Burbank High School and teamed up in the late 1950s with others to develop a children's TV show starring puppets. "My job on the pilot was to sculpt and cast the latex puppet characters and build the settings," Forsse said in a 1999 interview with Isaacson. Ken passed away on March 19, 2014 in Laguna Woods, California of congestive heart failure, at the age of 77.
Earl Kenneth "Ken" Forsse, was an American inventor, author, and producer who created the hit toy Teddy Ruxpin and the subsequent animated series, The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin. After working for The Walt Disney Company, Sid and Marty Krofft Entertainment and other entertainment companies, he founded Alchemy II, Inc. One of Alchemy II's first projects was building the animatronic characters used on the television shows, Welcome to Pooh Corner and Dumbo's Circus. Forsse and his team then brought Teddy Ruxpin to the marketplace. Teddy Ruxpin became the top selling toy of 1985 and 1986 and was made by Worlds of Wonder. "1986 and 1987 were insane; you could hardly find Teddy Ruxpin in stores, it was so popular," said toy expert Jim Silver. "The slogan they used to advertise Teddy, 'A friend for life comes to life,' described aptly the friendship Teddy Ruxpin made with millions of children." Teddy Ruxpin, at a premium price of $70 that included read-along storybooks, was a hit almost from the start. Silver said it came out at a time when it was increasingly common for both parents to have jobs, cutting into time spent with the kids. "And what parent wouldn't like a teddy bear that would read along with a child?" The bear racked up an impressive $93 million in sales in a year and a spun-off daily animated TV show, "The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin," ran for 65 episodes.
In 2005, Alchemy II made an agreement with toy manufacturer BackPack Toys to have Teddy Ruxpin back on the shelves yet again and the toy made a successful return in 2006 before eventually being discontinued again in 2010. In addition, the animated TV series was released for the first time on DVD in 2008.

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