by Smartech - Ages 3 and up
Well you touched my heart,
and you can talk to me!
All your secrets and daydreams,
Come on and see how fun it could be!

Overview

"I like having fun!" proclaims the box adorned with hearts and balloons. Touch My Heart Theodore is a teddy bear that stands about 14" tall (built into a sitting position) and contains an impressive little electronics package. Pressing his ear or hand brings him to life. He is capable of holding pseudo-conversations using a set of questions and generic replies and comes packed with his own little theme song (see above.) The responses are somewhat limited so his capabilities rank him above Teddy Ruxpin and a couple notches below Eliza.

Conversations:

Sample Questions:

  • "Would it surprise you that I'm afraid of spiders? Tell me something no one else knows."
  • "I'm in a good mood. What makes you happy?"
  • "I have a secret. Would it surprise you that high places scare me? Tell me a secret."
  • "Who would you like to be your friend?"
Sample Responses:
  • "Hmm... Are you certain?"
  • "Oh?! Are you playing with me
  • "Ha ha ha! Are you sure?"
  • "I understand why you say that."
  • "I know exactly what you mean."
  • "That's good to know."

Most of these are stored as two or more separate phrases so it may assemble the question "Would it surprise you that I'm afraid of high places?" or the response "Ha ha ha! Are you playing with me?" Theodore will start with a comment followed by a question then wait for a reply while an LED in his chest blinks. After a response, he throws out an extender ("Are you sure?") or a generic comment ("That's interesting.") He doesn't respond too well to very short answers and seems to favor complete sentences.

On occasion a strange question may come up. "I have a secret to tell you. Sometimes, I'm naughty. Do you have a secret?" is just begging for a less than polite response. My family froze with anticipation as we wondered where Theodore was going with this. "I like playing in the water with my best friend. What do you like to do at night?" also brings staggering implications with it.

Technical:

Theodore's rear end contains a Velcro pouch that holds a battery compartment. He requires 3 AA batteries to operate correctly. If the batteries are beginning to die, Theodore can exhibit "strange behavior," according to the side of the box.

If you want to cleanly disassemble Theodore with the plan of re-assembling him, carefully remove the stitching of the pouch. Pull out some stuffing then continue on the stitching of the exterior along the seam running up his back. When you reach his head, there are two seams, one running up to either ear. You only need to undo one of these. At this point, you can remove most of the stuffing and see a largish plastic assembly inside of the chest area. Some mechanicals extend into the head and control the head's movement and mouth. These are tied to the inside of the bear's mouth. Also watch for the microphone sewn into Theodore's chest.

Theodore contains a couple switches, one in his right hand and one in his right ear, that are sewn in and rather difficult to reach. Ignoring these for now, you can pull out the plastic package and remove two Phillips-head screws to open it. Inside you will find a speaker, a motor and gear assembly connecting to the mouth and head control arm, an LED and a small PCB. Most of the area of the PCB is taken up by various resistors and capacitors and the logic is driven by some sort of custom IC installed in a chip-on-board or "glob top" configuration.

Since the IC is a COB, I can give no further detail on it and presume that the data and program on it is hard coded and not some sort of PIC. However, do not distress. Just take a look at what you have:

And it's all wrapped up in a teddy bear package. This is begging for a trip to Radio Shack and a wasted Saturday to be transformed into something else.

Conclusion:

I personally find the idea of a child holding conversations with a toy mildly disturbing and hope that this doesn't keep the attention of any kid for more than a few moments. I'll leave analysis of that moral dilemma for someone else. Instead I will steer my thoughts to how wonderfully inexpensive this toy is. I got mine for only US$10 at Costco and have already gotten much more than $10 of entertainment from it. I haven't even started remaking Theodore into an unstoppable weapon of mass destruction!

Please /msg me if you have any info, corrections, or questions. Please let me know if you do any hacking of this fine toy.

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