Fisher-Price Chatter Phone toy from a Museum of Hartlepool collection of objects which represent everyday life in the area (1950s through present)
The Chatter Telephone is a pull toy for toddlers 12 to 36 months of age. Introduced in 1962 by the Fisher-Price company as the "Talk Back Phone" for infants and children, the Chatter Telephone is a roll along pull toy. It has a smiling face, and when the toy is pulled, it makes a chattering sound and the eyes move up and down. The toy has a rotary dial that rings a bell, and was conceived as a way to teach children how to dial a phone.
The original version was made of wood, with a polyethylene receiver and cord. In 2000, Fisher-Price changed the rotary dial for a push-button version with lights in an effort to modernize the toy, but consumers complained and the rotary version returned to the market the following year. The Chatter Telephone was designed by Ernest Thornell, whose daughter Tina would drag around a metal phone while playing. This gave him the idea of adding wheels, which with a bent axle permitted the movement of eyes, adding to the "whimsical" nature, that Herman Fisher desired of all Fisher-Price toys (from phone conversation with Ernie Thornell and recollections of Herm Fisher by John Smith).
From its introduction through the 1970s, the Chatter Telephone was Fisher-Price's best selling product. It has been cited as one of the company's offerings that helped save Fisher Price in the 1990s following a failed attempt to market toys for older children in the late 1980s, and enjoys continuing popularity. It is available both as an authentic reproduction and in a modern form.
In 1985, Fisher-Price offered to donate a Chatter Telephone, Rock A Stack, and Activity Center to NASA for Senator Jake Garn to play with while on the STS-51-D space shuttle mission. This offer was rejected as NASA felt there was insufficient time to test the toys for safety.
Chatter Telephone appears in the 2017 animated film "The Boss Baby".
The Chatter Telephone influenced a real-life art car created by Howard Davis for his telecommunications company.
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