See 'n Say
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See 'n Say is an educational toy created by the toy company Mattel in 1965 after the success of its talking Chatty Cathy doll. For nearly 50 years See 'n Say has remained one of the most memorable and iconic childhood toys for boys and girls.
In the 1960s, after introducing a line of talking dolls that said different phrases when a string protruding from their upper back was pulled, Mattel trademarked the word chatty. Several Mattel pull-string talking dolls and toys were packaged in boxes that read "A Chatty Toy" or "A Chatty Doll by Mattel". However, these dolls and toys spoke phrases at random when their "chatty ring" was pulled. See 'n Say, introduced in 1965, was the first Mattel talking toy that allowed children to choose the exact phrase they wanted to hear by adjusting a pointer on the toy's face to a particular item and pulling the "chatty ring."
The Farmer Says See 'n Say made animal sounds when a pointer shaped like a miniature farmer was aimed at pictures of animals on its dial. For example, when pointed at an image of a duck, the phrase "This is a duck...quack, quack, quack" was heard. Likewise, the Bee Says See 'n Say recited different letters of the alphabet ("G...Girl") when its bee-shaped pointer was aimed at them. Unlike other toys, the original See 'n Says required no batteries. Instead, sound was produced by a simple low-fidelity phonograph record driven by a metal coil wound by pulling the toy's string. This was the same mechanism used in Chatty Cathy dolls.
After the success of the Bee Says and the Farmer Says See 'n Says, Mattel introduced several other toys in the line. The Mister Sound Says made city sounds, the Mister Music Says reproduced sounds of musical instruments, and the Clock Says gave the time indicated by the position of the pointer on its face. A Doctor Dolittle Says edition was released after the 1967 film Doctor Dolittle, and See 'n Says featuring Disney characters were introduced in 1968. In 1968 Mattel created a Winnie the Pooh See 'n Say exclusively for Sears and Roebuck department stores. Also introduced in 1968 were See 'n Say Talking Storybooks. Children would open the book to a page, aim the pointer at the arrow printed on the page, and pull the chatty ring. A pull-lever version of See 'n Say Talking Storybooks was released in the 1990s with different titles.
A Mother Goose and a "Snoopy Says" See 'n Say were unveiled in 1969. One recited nursery rhymes the other featured Peanuts comic strip characters. Also that year, Mattel introduced Mister Circus Says and Sing-A-Song See 'n Say, both part of its Super See 'n Say line. These two, which were battery-operated, worked slightly differently from earlier See 'n Says. Instead of pulling a string, the pointer was pushed and released to make the toy talk. The battery-operated toys were able to recite longer phrases than earlier pull-string versions. The remaining titles for the Super See 'n Say line were, "I Wish I Were" and the "Dr. Seuss Zoo", both released in 1970.
In the 1980s, See 'n Say pointers were streamlined into a uniform design, a large arrow with a sticker affixed to it depicting a bee, farmer, and so forth. By 1989, the chatty ring was replaced by a lever that could be pulled to make the toy talk, after a Rhode Island girl became blind when the string snapped off and hit her in the eye.
Chatty records were replaced with computer chips in the 1990s. The owl shaped See 'n Say, the "Whooo Says" used a push button to activate it, and was the first model to use a flip-page format as well as computer chips. The new version of the Farmer Says toy still emits the same farm animal sounds that were used in the original 1965 See 'n Say. In 2001, the "Kids Around the World" See 'n Say was introduced that developed a different format: identifying placements on the map, had a pointer that tells which game to play, touch button countries and continents, and gameplay.
The toy has also made various pop culture appearances. The songwriter and visual artist Daniel Johnston has featured the Farmer Says See 'N Say on several recordings, most notably the song "Walking the Cow" from his 1983 album entitled Hi, How Are You. The 1989 version of The Farmer Says See 'n Say is featured in the animated film Toy Story (1995). A more recent version of The Farmer Says See 'n Say appears in the film Over the Hedge (2006). On the Family Guy episode "Petarded", Peter Griffin uses a See 'n Say instead of a calculator on a mental test. Also, in the Family Guy episode Road to Germany, Stewie Griffin plays with a European See 'n Say, but the animals make strange sounds (ex.: the cow says "Shazoo!" instead of "Moooo!"). A different See'n Say appears in Toy Story 3 (2010), an earlier model from 1964.
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- Kettelkamp, Sean. Chatty Cathy and Her Talking Friends. Schiffer Publishing: 1998. ISBN 0-88740-954-7