All I knew is that I needed a Tiger Talkboy cassette recorder or my life was not complete.
The Talkboy — I’m getting nostalgic just typing this — was by far the best gift I received as a kid. I was 9, and I had begged nonstop for months. The silver-colored, hand-held cassette player/recorder was released in 1993 after a letter-writing campaign by fans of the movie Home Alone 2: Lost in New York convinced Tiger to create a toy replica of the device used in the film.
In Lost in New York (filmed on my block!), protagonist Kevin McCallister wields his Talkboy as a major plot point, utilizing its ability to speed up and slow down recordings. He fools adults into thinking he’s a grown-up on the phone with slower speeds, and pretends to be other people by playing back their voices. For kids with an interest in technology, this was a device of pure magic. The Talkboy was a rare example of reverse product placement, with demand from fans sparking its production.
I had the deluxe Talkboy, in its full chrome-colored glory — no pink “Talkgirl” model for me; I wanted the original. And when I got the toy, I put it to every use I could think of, delighting in recording my family and playing back their voices at distorted speeds. I would dictate fictional stories and type them up later. I’d play reporter, feeling empowered as I extended the retractable microphone to interview my subjects. I took the Talkboy with me to school and on trips. It was my favorite toy, and the first piece of technology I can remember being utterly obsessed with.
Talkboys now range from about $10-$50 on eBay based on condition; most of them look well-loved by their owners (I’m considering one for my desk at work). I was hardly the only Talkboy fanatic, and I know there must be a range of tech from your youth that you loved as much as I adored this glorified tape player.
So what transformational devices, toys, games or programs make you feel like a kid again when you think of them?