I've always been curious about stuffed animals that sing, dance, light up, or talk back. There must be a fascinating robot underneath the fur and fluff, right? Surely the robot hiding in the bear's clothing, in vestimentis ursum, is impressive. So: armed with my childish curiosity and the spurious excuse of 'product design research,' I set out to discover what, exactly, these creatures are hiding.
Good lord, why does this Christmas bear have a giant butt? The answer, of course, is that it twerks, while singing a jingle-bells version of Sir Mix-a-Lot's I Like Big Butts. A real case of when the original toy is just as disturbing as the secret robot within. Please note the molded BUTT component that wiggles on its own actuator.
This little elephant's secret robot almost looks cute? The harmless disc face feels just a bit friendly.
This little bear plays a Christmas song on his saxophone. Yikes.
Baby seals! Nothing scary here, right?
This little zebra seems cute until you see it's little creepy-crawly-baby-skeleton robot hiding underneath.
Little bunnies are so cute - until you find the murderbot hidden within.
It could almost sing you a song...
Sadly this threatening cat was broken beyond repair - we'll never know what happened if you dared.
This lab's paws and creepy, creepy eyes are all that was left.
This little hamster would sing a song and bop its head up and down.
This weird bear isn't a topless nevernude, as it might seem at first. Just a nude-colored sweater?
This blue-hatted bear is probably the oldest toy I've disassembled.
This chicken - and the next - play the Chicken Dance and fling themselves around with abandon. It's much less cute without the feathers.
This one flings its head back and forth until it knocks itself over.
This little goat-robot spins its head around and around, so quickly until it falls over.
The lab pup rolls, pants, whines, and wheels its way into nightmares.
This sad bundle of wires was actually programmable - you could configure it to actually say your child's name in its songs. But who would be so cruel to unleash this on their child?
A weird cat; it would purr and meow, and even stretch out to let you rub its belly.
This deceptive panda looks cuddly, but is full of sensors and circuits.
Somehow, the world will never tire of making weird robots that YIP! YIP! at you.
This litle rabbit has a leash. The creepy robot inside hops and waggles its nose.
This litle piggy went to market, this little piggy was a secret terminator.
Look, these Minion things are creepy under the best of circumstances. The stripped version of this robot still... really looks like a minion, which I think is a testament to how uncanny the regular character is.
The latest in a long line of robots, disguised as Elmo.
Is it a wolf pup? Or an amorphous plastic blob?
This terrifying hound dog sings carols, throws its head back, and howwwwwwllls.
The chittering squirrel seemed alarmingly anatomical after losing the fur.
This bunny robot (from 1986) had a disconcerting amount of fur stuck to its robot parts.
This off-brand birthday bear sings an off-brand birthday song, with its sad candle feebly blinking.
This Elf/Dog hybrid was weird enough before his snake-spine was exposed.
The rabbit robot retains only its puny legs.
Chicken-dancing Elmo is mostly machine. A dancing machine, that is. Ahem.
The tufts of fur left on the cat is by far the most disturbing part here, far outweighing the missing legs.
The blue creature is just as creepy in the flesh.
The articulated Care-Bear robot is standing by to take your calls.
While the robot hiding vestimentis ursum is indeed impressive, I'm more interested in the actual toy. Pooh is holding a hand puppet of his friend. Is this toy designed to teach theories of recursion? Is Tigger a meta-toy?
The extremely complicated robot hidden inside the yellow bear is the most impressive I've found.
This teletubby (po, perhaps?) is fittingly vacuous on the inside, too.
Peepers here is one of my absolute favorites.
Pulling the cord triggers a lullaby. The tension in the pull cord scrunches the body of the panda, like an invisible garbage compactor. One of the more disturbing toys before unwrapping.
Why, oh why, is this dog in a tuxedo? I have no idea.
The appendages are spring-loaded: when the handcuffs are released, they fling back and trigger a recorded roar.
The robot hiding inside Ernie had its wires crossed, and would continuously waggle its 'mouth' during photography.
Singing Elmo's hidden robot looks suspiciously like a duck to me.
Rock-n-Roll Elmo has left the building. The guitar looks a bit forlorn, I think.
Not surprisingly, Tickle-me Elmo consists of a squeeze-activated voicebox and small reciprocating motor.
A rare case when the robot inside looks anything like the fluffy exterior.
This robot had lead weights taped to the inside of its legs. Perhaps the early prototypes tipped over? Also of note: this is one of the few toys in which the furry exterior is adhered directly onto the skeleton inside.
Not so big anymore, eh Mr. Bird?
When the white structure at the top is depressed, it triggers a mechanism which actuates the white 'legs.' The robot, playing a recorded laugh, knocks iteslf over.
The big purple guy is creepy enough, but the proto-Darth Vader hidden underneath is just astounding.
New batteries didn't help Alphabet Annie; her alphabet game just wouldn't work.
This singing & dancing robot has some serious hip-shaking moves. Oh, and is it just me, or does anyone else see a bit of Dwight Schrute here?
This gloworm's music-box entrails look a bit more disturbing than usual to me.
This little robot puppy's ears look like they could pick up shortwave radio.