Worlds of Wonder (toy company)

Worlds of Wonder (toy company)
Worlds of Wonder
Industry Consumer electronics, video game
Fate Closed, properties and liquidated.
Founded 1980
Defunct 1990
Headquarters Fremont, California, United States
Key people Don Kingsborough, Ken Forsse
Products video games, consumer electronics
Promotional photo of Don Kingsborough playing Lazer Tag.

Worlds of Wonder or WoW was a 1980s American toy company, founded by former Atari employees, including Don Kingsborough and Mark Robert Goldberg.[1]

Their products included:

  • Teddy Ruxpin, a story telling bear, in 1985 [2][3]
  • Grubby, Octopede companion to Teddy, helped him tell stories.
  • Lazer Tag, an early version of Laser Tag in 1986.[4]
  • Action Max, a VCR and light gun game in 1987
  • Julie, an interactive talking doll in 1987
  • The Talking Mickey Mouse, an animated version of the iconic mouse, in 1986
  • Goofy Helped Mickey tell the stories
  • The Talking Mother Goose, an animated animal version of the famed storyteller, who tells fairy tales instead of rhymes, in 1986.
  • Hector the ugly duckling, Helped Mother Goose tell the stories
  • "Express it":The Locker Answering Machine, a sound (high-pitch whistle) activated tape recorder that could be mounted on the inside of your locker. Part of the "Class Act" line of school supplies by Worlds of Wonder.
  • GT Super Screamers, a slotless race car game using fly by wire technology, created in 1990.
  • Pamela, an interactive talking doll that was sold along with add-on program cartridges and activity books.
  • The Jaminator, an electronic guitar that played different riffs depended on which buttons were pressed on the neck. It could also provide basic rhythm accompaniment with a small keyboard and drum pads.
  • The Talking Snoopy, an animated speaking version of Charles Schulz's beloved "Peanuts" character, used cassettes as the others did.
  • Little Boppers and Monster Boppers Versions of Teddy Ruxpin, Mickey Mouse, & The Muppets that would dance when music is played. Two Mickeys made by Fisher-Price, "Dance Star Mickey" & "Rock Star Mickey" differ the Little Boppers Mickey.
  • They also produced Zoo Tunes, 3 plush puppet zoo characters, Lion, Hippo, Alligator that would play a series of tunes when sensors in mouth were pressed together. Sensor in hand changed the tune.
  • They produced Little Big Rigs, 5 plush construction toys.

They also distributed the Nintendo Entertainment System in the United States during its first few years.

With the strength of its line of toys Worlds Of Wonder’s fortunes rose well beyond its assets. This culminated in a rather spectacular tumble as stock trades by company officers spooked investors. Attempting to stem the tide, WOW issued Non-Investment Grade Bonds, commonly known as junk bonds, in an effort to buoy itself. Although there is some contention as to whether this strategy would have helped, the attempt was made moot by the 1987 stock market crash. Worlds Of Wonder filed for bankruptcy protection and was liquidated in 1988[5] and went through a series of layoffs. The creditors continued to operate the company in receivership until finally closing its doors in late 1990.[6] This period of operation only involved selling off existing inventory and no new toys were developed or manufactured.

Later versions of "Teddy Ruxpin" were brought out by Playskool and Yes! Entertainment (Yes! was also formed by Don Kingsborough) and most currently, Backpack Toys.

The "Lazer Tag" brand name was continued by Shoot The Moon Products, a toy invention company formed by two other Worlds Of Wonder founders[7] and new Lazer Tag equipment has been produced under license by Tiger Electronics and Hasbro. The new Lazer Tag toys are not compatible with the original Worlds Of Wonder Lazer tag gear except via a hidden interface in some of the Hasbro gear.[8]

Class Act

Class Act was a line of school supplies created by Worlds Of Wonder in 1987. The line was "high-tech" in style though the only one piece of the ensemble that was "high-tech" in nature was "Express it": The Locker Answering Machine. The line consisted of.

  • Sack It- Designer print and denim backpacks
  • Stuff It- Hard Shell 3 ring binder with magnetic closure.
  • Stack It- Plastic stacking locker shelving system
  • Express It- Locker based answering machine.

There were also decorated trapper keeper styled folders and pencils as part of the line. When Worlds of Wonder declared bankruptcy in 1988 the line was severely hurt by the crisis and ultimately cancelled.