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The Talkboy was a portable variable speed cassette player and recorder manufactured by Tiger Electronics (now owned by Hasbro) in the early 1990s. Much like other Tiger Electronics devices of the era, this device was primarily marketed to children and teens.
The Talkboy was originally conceived as a non-working prop for the 1992 movie Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, used by Kevin (Macaulay Culkin). In 1993 it was made into a retail version, brought on by a massive letter-writing campaign by young fans of the film. The product capitalized on the success of the film's VHS release. Sales were largely driven by this movie tie-in.
The device itself consisted of a handheld cassette recorder with an integrated grip handle for easy carrying, and an extendable microphone. The function controls were much like any other portable cassette recorder of the day, complete with play, stop, fast forward, rewind, pause, and record buttons. Additionally, and most distinctively, a switch which toggled between normal and slow speed settings for playback and recording was also included. This feature gave the user the ability to manipulate the speed, and in turn, pitch, of the recorded sound to act as a voice changer since the pitch difference wasn't dramatic enough to drag on at SLOW or be too fast to decipher on FAST like a person would see at half and double speed. The standard model had a slowdown speed of 76% and a faster speed of 130%.
Several spinoff versions of the device (some created by Ralph Osterhout at Team Machina), including:
- Deluxe Talkboy, virtually identical to the original model, the only difference being the placement of the headphone jack and the word "Deluxe" on the front. This was most likely done for convenience, as the jack was closer to the volume dial and microphone on the original, and the plug of a pair of headphones would sometimes interfere with the operation of these components. The Deluxe model also came with a cassette tape: one side was blank for recording, and the other side had various lines and sound effects from Home Alone 2.
- A pink-colored "Talkgirl," marketed towards girls.
- Talkboy FX Plus, an ordinary writing pen with a built-in recorder and six buttons that play sound effects.
- Talkgirl FX Plus, also marketed towards girls, a pink version of the regular FX Plus.
- Talkboy Jr., a pocket-sized version of the recorder which used internal memory rather than cassette tapes.
- Yak Bak and Talkboy, Children of the 90s, February 2, 2010
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