The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin

ABC Special

"The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin"

ABC Special (1986)

Overview

"The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin" was a live action feature which originally aired in two parts as a member of the "ABC Weekend Special" series on November 30 and December 7, 1985. Production team Alchemy II leveraged their expertise in costume animation to build on their experience on prevous projects to bring the story to life using live actors, electronic animation, and special effects.

Featuring a voice cast identical to those featured in the animation cassettes that accompanied the talking toy, "The Advnetures of Teddy Ruxpin" retells the story of "The Missing Princess" and "The Treasure of Grundo".

Many fans often speculate that several episodes were produced in this style. However, while creator Ken Forsse had originally envisioned this project as a pilot for a television series to follow, it ultimately proved too expensive to produce, leading Alchemy II to settle on traditional animation as a vehicle for the stories that would follow.

To avoid confusion with the animated series of the same name, this project is often referred to as "The Live-Action Special" or "The ABC Special".

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An Alchemy II Production
Original Air Date
  • November 30, 1985
  • Running Time
  • 30 minutes (two-part broadcast)
  • 60 minutes (home video release)
  • Distributed By
  • Children's Video Library
  • Directed by
  • Lee Bernhardi
  • Produced by
  • Christopher Brough
  • Written by:
  • Ken Forsse
  • Executive Producers
  • Ken Forsse
  • Larry Larsen
  • Cast
    Voices
  • Jimmy Briscoe
  • Joe Gieb
  • Kathy Gieb
  • Lee Poppie
  • Terry Castillo
  • Cindy Sorenson
  • Leonard Levitt
  • Tom Rundall
  • Louie DeJesus
  • Robert Gallo
  • Jana Lee D'Angelo
  • Joshua Massie
  • Patrice Auburn
  • Joe Griffo
  • Arturo Gil
  • Robert Bell
  • Ilene Latter
  • Bruce Johnson
  • Tony Cox
  • Phil Baron
  • Will Ryan
  • Tony Pope
  • Russi Taylor
  • Katie Leigh
  • B.J. Ward
  • Assoicate Producer
  • Carol Kahl
  • Associate Director
  • Nancy Eckels
  • Music Composed and Conducted By
  • George Wilkins
  • Production Designers
  • David High
  • Ken Forsse
  • Art Director
  • Ken Johnson
  • Casting and Dialog Director
  • Larry Larsen
  • Assistant to the Producer
  • Sharon M. Kaspar
  • Assistant Art Directors
  • Al Mirabella
  • John Charles Gordon
  • Character Design
  • Russell Hicks
  • Character Design
  • Linda Pierson
  • Lighting Design
  • Richard Brown
  • Stage Manager
  • Daniel Schneider
  • Camera
  • Stand Lazan
  • Don Davis
  • Rob Bonas
  • Editor
  • Tony Heyman
  • Manager of Staging Services
  • James Woods
  • Production Assistants
  • Lisa Tucker
  • David Billett
  • Vance Pierce
  • Taylor Aslan
  • Set Construction Coordinator
  • Harold Mauck
  • Set Builders
  • Steve Frankenberger
  • David Jones
  • Carpenters
  • Richard Edwards
  • Sam Minsky
  • Bob Varney
  • Dwight Lowell
  • Jay Sprangler
  • Mike Rohen
  • Doug Dick
  • Tobias Stout
  • Production Coordinator
  • Bill Barber
  • Set Dresser
  • Jeff Moss
  • Property Master
  • Stoney Campbell
  • Prop Builders
  • Leon Helfin
  • Ans Ellis
  • Brian Reter
  • Bruce Lau
  • Bret Alexander
  • Gustavo Ferreyra
  • George Rousseau
  • Larry Carr
  • Chris Forsse
  • Diane Miller
  • Nick Adams
  • William Guest
  • Susan Cowen
  • Prop Shopper
  • Jerry Bebbe
  • Grips
  • William Balash
  • Ron Blach
  • Raymond Burks
  • Bill Fitch
  • Kai Horton
  • Gaffer
  • Dick Ware
  • Electrical Grips
  • Terry Hawker
  • Stewart White
  • Electricians
  • Sven Kirsten
  • Bill Davis
  • Costume and Wardrobe Manager
  • Arden Ashley
  • Costume and Wardrobe Dressers
  • Leslie Weir
  • Jane Tscheddar
  • Lynette Johnson
  • Leonard Levitt
  • Susan Gerber
  • Joseph Porro
  • Costume and Wardrobe Assistants
  • Renee Dorion
  • Jackie Mitchell
  • Pam Strum
  • Christine McCray
  • Ken Hall
  • Costume Animation
  • Mike Earnest
  • Fred Luff
  • William Munns
  • Mark Huber
  • Gil Lizaraca
  • Dan Crosby
  • David Saks
  • Scott Auerbach
  • Bill Bryant
  • Special Effects
  • Mike Earnest
  • Animation Electronics
  • Tim Doggett
  • Darwin Thompson
  • David Penikas
  • Plastics and Fiberglass Engineering
  • Mike Regan
  • Plastics Department
  • Dale Wilmarth
  • Peter Van Olffen
  • Boyd Reter
  • John Salem
  • David Hoerschelmann
  • Video
  • Steve Berry
  • Video Tape Operator
  • Jim Settlemoir
  • Audio Playback Engineers
  • Phillip Kaye
  • Peter Hedgeman
  • Sound Design
  • Russell Bower
  • Music and Audio Mixer
  • Bradley Hartman
  • Sound Editors
  • John Burris
  • Tom Maydeck
  • Show Production Coordinator
  • Don Riedel
  • Minatures Coordinator
  • Karl West
  • Miniature Scenics
  • Nancy McDonald
  • Maquette Designer
  • Valerie Edwards
  • Scenic Designer
  • Marilyn Gage
  • Cathy Nobel
  • Scenic Painters
  • Stuart Ellis
  • Cole Lewis
  • Bridget Duffy
  • Sharon Compton
  • Rod Rankin
  • Christine Rosenthal
  • Greg Wane
  • Lisa Langere
  • Art Deptartment Assistants
  • Julie Ann Armstrong
  • Allyn Conley Gorniak
  • Theressa Mazurek
  • Ultimate Consultant
  • Bill Feightner
  • Production Auditors
  • Marsha Brandt
  • Peggy Willis
  • Production Accountants
  • Michelle Triscari
  • Tina Mulcahey
  • Script Services
  • Mary Becker
  • Kim Cassley
  • Jodie Resnick
  • Virginia Gallo
  • Ann Stockman
  • Rose Cic
  • Janice Larsen
  • Still Photography
  • Bill Egle
  • Purchasing
  • Sheri Lizzaraga
  • Transportation
  • Bob Gable
  • George Rohan
  • Video Tape Facilities
  • PDS Video Productions, Inc.
  • Editing Services By
  • Laser Edit, Inc.
  • Music Recorded At
  • Devonshire Studios
  • Executive in Charge of Construction Engineering
  • John Davies
  • Plot

    Combining plot elements from two of the original cassette stories for the talking toy ("The Airship" and "The Missing Princess"), "The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin" shows Illiop Teddy Ruxpin and his best friend, Grubby the Octopede, as they venture from their home in the land or Rillonia to search for the fabled Treasure of Grundo. Along the way they meet absent-minded yet brilliant inventor, Newton Gimmick who agrees to use his amazing Airship to aid them in their quest.

    The three friends encounter the brave Prince Arin, whose sister, Princess Aruzia has been kidnapped. Setting aside their treasure hunt, the trio agree to help Arin find his sister. All the while they are pursued by the nefarious and bumbling Tweeg and his henchmen L.B. the Bounder. A final, harrowing showdown in the ancient Hard-to-Find City revelas the truth of the hidden treasure and the dangers that await those destined to find it.

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    Synopsis

    A brief prologue shows Illiop--am amthropomorphic bear-like creature--Illana Ruxpin singing a lullaby ("Come Dream With Me Tonight") to her infant son, Teddy at their cottage home in Rillonia. Beside her is an old map and half of a golden medallion.

    Sixteen years later, Teddy Ruxpin (voiced by Phil Baron) arrives in the land of Grundo with his loyal frined, Grubby the Octopede (a long, yellow bug-like creature walking on eight legs while using two more for arms, voiced by Will Ryan). Grubby begins to complain of the toll the travel has taken on his many feet, prompting Teddy to suggest they stop and camp for the night, to which Grubby eagerly agrees.

    That night, around a campfire, Grubby prepares his special meal of Roasted Root. Teddy gives them a taste, but Grubby thankfully changes the subject before Teddy can confess his dislike of the food. Noting that Illiops haven't been an adventurous people for many generations, Teddy has always wanted to explore Grundo and find out if the map he now holds is truly the key to finding the mythical Treasure of Grundo.

    The next morning, the two frineds enter Bounder Pass, where they see a sign, "Beware of Bounders". Unsure of what "Bounders" are, they proceed through the canyon where they ambushed by a pack of Bounders: large, round bipeds whose bodies are dominated by large, gaping maws, reptilian tails, and sharp horns atop their heads. Pursued by the Bounders, Teddy and Grubby run into Gimmick's Valley where they find the kind inventor Newton Gimmick (voiced by Tony Pope) collecting firewood. Gimmick lodges the branches in the Bounders' mouths to neutralize them and they scamper off.

    Teddy and Grubby return to Gimmick once the coast is clear and introduce themselves. Gimmick recognizes that Teddy is an Illiop and invites the two back to his home for lunch. Along the way, Teddy shows Gimmick the treasure map and informs Gimmick of their quest for the Treasure.

    Meanwhile, L.B.--the leader of the Bounders--returns to Tweeg's Tower, the home of his employer, Jack W. Tweeg (voiced by Will Ryan): a tall, green creatures with beady eyes draped in a flowing purple robe. Tweeg removes the firewood from L.B.'s mouth in the midst of trying once again to create gold out of buttermilk, which has not been going well. When L.B. mentions that Gimmick has some new guests, Tweeg spies on them using the spyglass on the tower's balcony. Believing that Gimmick is assembling an army to attack him and steal his buttermilk-to-gold formula, Tweeg sends L.B. down to listen in on the trio's conversation while Tweeg himself fires a cannon at Gimmick's house, where the three friends are having lunch.

    Gimmick assures his startled friends that Tweeg's aim is terrible and they are in no danger from his cannon.

    Teddy shows Gimmick the ancient map and half-medallion. Gimmick is able to read the words "Spirit Treasure Ledge" inscribed on it, but nobody can tell what it might mean. He then explains that the Treasure of Grundo is supposedly hidden in the Treacherous Mountains, which no one has ever climbed. Fortunately, Gimmick has an invention to help them reach the top: an Airship.

    A large wooden boat sits in Gimmick's yard with a patchwork airbag tucked underneath. Gimmick explains that by filling the bag with hot air, the ship will rise and fly them to the top of the Treacherous Mountains. Excited to get underway, Teddy and Grubby begin loading firewood aboard the Airship while Gimmick goes back to the house for supplies. Along the way, he encounters L.B., only instead of shoving a piece of firewood into the Bounder's mouth, Gimmick instead shoves the treasure map in!

    L.B. returns to Tweeg with the map lodged in his mouth, and Tweeg decides to create a fake copy to throw Gimmick and his frineds off the trail. He sends L.B. back to Gimmick's to plant the ruse.

    While Teddy and Grubby begin loading the Airship's furnace with firewood to begin inflating the airbag, Gimmick returns to the house to find the map he lost. He finds the map L.B. planted and returns to the ship where Teddy and Grubby have begun to suspect that something about the craft seems a bit off.

    As the airbag begins to inflate, the ship begins to rise off the ground. But Grubby's fears are soon realized as the Airship flips over and crashes, much to the awe of a onlooking flock of Fobs (tiny bird-like creatures with rat-like tails).

    When next we see the Airship, the airbag has been moved above the mast rather than below the hull: a change Gimmick attributes to Grubby. It seems to be flying well enough until the group suddenly realize there is no mechanism for steering, causing the Airship to crash into a nearby tree.

    Stranded, the trio are confronted by Leota the Woodsprite (voiced by Russi Taylor), a tiny, fairy-like creature Gimmick can scarcely believe exists. Irate over the new intruders, Leota quickly softens when Teddy compliments her beauty, and helps them design a propeller mounted at the ship's stern which, when spun quickly and pivoted, can change the ship's direction. The Airship launches once more, and the trio bid Leota farewell while Illana Ruxpin's voice can be heard singing in the distance ("Come Dream With Me Tonight").

    Despite the newfound ability to properly steer the Airship, Teddy quickly discovers that they have drifted far off course. The land below now appears to be nothing but sand and rock. Grubby realizes that the map they're using is fake.

    Running low on firewood, the team lands the Airship in the Great Desert, where they unsuccessfully scavenge for fuel. When Gimmick unexpectedly trips on a stray rock, he discovers it to be a lump of coal, which can be used as a substitute for the Airship's fuel. Grubby finds a cave full of coal, which they proceed to haul back to the Airship. As the sun begins to set, the friends make one last trip to the cave, where Grubby begins to get worried that it might be inhabited. Despite Gimmick's reassurance, they are suddenly surrounded by a horde of Mudblups: large bipedal creatures made entirely of mud!

    The Mudblups herd the trio through the dark caverns to stand before the Mudblup King who sentences Teddy and Gimmick to a prison cell while ordering Grubby to be put to work. Teddy attempts to reason with the King, but it's no use, and they are taken away.

    In their cell, Teddy and Gimmick meet Prince Arin, the son of King Nogburt. Arin explains that he'd been trying to locate his sister, the kidnapped Princess Aruzia, when he was captured by the Mudblups and imprisoned. Teddy and Gimmick try to console him, but Arin fears what may have happened to Aruzia in the time he has been held captive.

    Note:

    The original broadcast of "The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin" aired in two parts over two weekends. This scene marked the end of Part 1.

    As the prisoners continue to speculate about their fate, a shady character in a trench coat enters the caverns wielding a film camera with an excessively bright light, blinding one of the Mudblups. When the cameraman leaves, the Mudblup feeds the prisoners. Teddy tastes the food, which is somehow both awful and familiar. As Gimmick eats his own portion, part of their cell's cieling falls in. Climbing on Teddy's shoulders, Prince Arin is able to reach the surface, leading the three to escape. Teddy, Gimmick, and Prince Arin manage to find the Airship, but soon realize they can't leave without Grubby.

    Leaving Prince Arin to guard the Airship, Teddy and Gimmick re-enter the Mudblup Caves, this time wielding bright lanterns. They manage to blind the Mudblups, clearing the way for them to find Grubby working in the kitchen. Grubby explains that it was in fact, his infamous Root Stew that was served to the prisoners. The trio escape just as more Mudblups arrive.

    Now a team of four, Teddy, Grubby, Gimmick and Arin lift off in the Airship. After introducing Grubby to the prince, Teddy explains that they've put their quest for the treasure aside to help Prince Arin find his sister. Meanwhile, Tweeg and L.B. continue their journey closer to the treasure.

    Our heroes set the Airship down at a waterfall, where they find an enormous, purple, furry creature bathing under the stream of water. Teddy politely asks the creature to move, but gets a curt response. Grubby tries a more confrontational approach, which draws the creature out. Initially irate, the creature's demeanor softens when he realizes the team is searching for a kidnapped princess, and offers to take them to The Wizard of Wee Gee, who may have some helpful information.

    Teddy, Grubby, Gimmick, Arin, and their new frined the Wooly What's-It (voiced by Leonard Levitt) arrive at the Wizard's Fortress. Startled by Wooly's enormity, the Wizard only permits entry to Teddy, Grubby, Gimmick and Arin after the latter mentions that his sister is a missing princess they are trying to find.

    The Wizard leads the group to a table. Our heroes take their seats while the Wizard enters a back room to meet with the same shady cameraman spotted in the Mudblup Caves. The cameraman, Louie, just so happens to have footage of the princess, which he sets on a projector.

    The Wizard returns to his guests and leads them in a seance, but rather than summoning spirits, he uses his feet to pull several levers and pedals to give the illusion of an ethereal pressence. A mechanical arm on the table moves, pointing to a series of letters that spell out "GUTANG".

    Explaining that Princess Aruzia is being held captive by the Gutangs, the Wizard directs everyone's attention to "The Magic Eye": a giant screen that dominates the far wall of the room. As footage flashes across the screen, the Wizard explains that the Gutangs have taken Aruzia to their fortress in the Hard-to-Find City high in the Treacherous Mountains--exactly where the treasure is supposed to be hidden!

    Paying the Wizard for his services, the group bid farewell to Wooly and set off for the Treacherous Mountains. Meanwhile, Tweeg and L.B.'s journey has stalled at the foot of the mountains, where they've struggled to climb them. Defeated, Tweeg sulks just as the Airship passes overhead. As Tweeg begins to despair that he has lost his bid for the treasure, the Airship lands nearby.

    Preparing to fly to the Hard-to-Find City, Grubby makes yet another batch of Root Stew while Prince Arin and Teddy construct slingshots. Just as the crew lifts off, Tweeg and L.B. sneek aboard the Airship, and they all fly up to the Hard-to-Find City under the cover of darkness.

    While Tweeg and L.B. run off to find the treasure, Teddy, Grubby, Gimmick and Arin sneak up on four Gutang guards, tying them up and disguising themselves in the comfiscated armor. They move through the city until they reach the guardhouse that was depicted in the Wizard's Magic Eye.

    The team manage to overpower the last two guards before freeing Princess Aruzia from her cell. Disguising her in a Gutang helmet, the group begin to make their way out of the city when Teddy recognizes one of the buildings as the shrine on the treasure map and they rush inside.

    In a slot in the wall sits the other half of the medallion Teddy has been carrying. When Teddy places his half against it, the inscription can finally be read in full:

    Only the pure of spirit may find the treasure of knowledge.

    The two pieces fuse together and fall into Teddy's hands, now a complete medallion whose crystals begin to glow. Suddenly, huge chests of gold and jewels appear in the room. Before anyone can revel in the riches, a stone rises from the pedestal in the center of the room. Around the stone are wedged slots, in which reside six wedge-shaped crystals.

    Each person takes a crystal, which glows to reveal their greatest trait:

    Imagination, Honesty, Bravery, Trust, Friendship

    A final crystal rises from its place:

    Freedom

    The group abandons the treasure, taking the crystals instead and making for the Airship. They pass Tweeg and L.B., who see them leave, then realize the treasure must still be inside. They race in and Tweeg begins to celebrate his apparent newfound wealth.

    Meanwhile, the Gutang guards are finally coming to and quickly realize the princess has escaped. They sound the alarm just as Teddy and his friends reach the Airship and lift off.

    The Gutangs quickly launch a fleet of single-pilot airplanes and begin trying to shoot down the Airship. They cast a net that ensares the propeller, making it impossible to steer the ship. A grappling hook is then fired, catching the stern, and the Gutangs begin reeling the Airship back to the Hard-to-Find City.

    Teddy asks Grubby to bring out the Root Stew, which he places in a sling mounted to the side of the Airship. He begins firing the stew at the Gutangs, which gums up the propellers and controls of their flying machines, sending them spiraling down into the valley.

    Arin joins Teddy in the fight, taking out a plane of his own. As the Gutangs look to launch a second wave of fliers, the Wooly What's-It suddenly appears on the landing platform, having scaled the Treacherous Mountains himself! He begins to chase away the Gutangs and smash their ballistas and planes.

    Meanwhile, the supply of Root Stew quickly runs out as a final plane circles the Airship. As the plan circles near the cliffside, Wooly leaps off the mountain, landing on the airplane and sending it crashing to the valley floor.

    The group sets the Airship down and find Wooly lying unconscious near the crash site as the pilot staggers away. Wooly wakes up and is introduced to Princess Aruzia. Everyone's relieved that they've managed to save Aruzia and escape. Aruzia repays Wooly's bravery with a kiss. Grubby remarks that they've left the treasure behind, but Teddy seems certain that the crystals they've taken are more valuable than the gold and jewels. He re-reads the inscription, wondering if it was destiny that drove them to the crystals, whose powers will make the rest of the treasure seem "like just an illusion".

    Back in the shrine, Tweeg and L.B. are preparing to carry the treasure out when it suddenly disappears. Miserable, Tweeg is left to weep over his lost fortune.

    Now with six crystals and and both halves of the medallion, Teddy and his friends fly off together. As Wooly waves to them from the ground, we can hear Teddy and Illana singing a final verse ("Come Dream With Me Tonight") as the Airship flies into the sunset, with King Nogburt's Castle on the horizon.

    Production

    Alchemy II had previously done work on Disney's "Welcome to Pooh Corner" series, where they built the animatronic costumes used by the performers. They used that experience to shape a much more refined vision for "The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin".

    ABC fronted about half the budget for project, which ultimately cost $1.5 million: more than tripling the average cost of the typical ABC children's special. The relatively new technology implemented in the costumes proved the most expensive aspect of the show.

    Rare footage exists of other set pieces, such as a miniature of the Hard-to-Find City and Tweeg's Tower. A life-sized Airship was built to accomodate the actors, while a miniature was used for external shots in flight. There's also a rare photo of Ken Forsse holding a miniature Gutang flying machine.

    The character of Leota was performed by an actress in full dress and makeup, while famous voiceover actress Russi Taylor (most famously Disney's Minnie Mouse) provided the audio performance. Leota's actress was suspended from wires and shot against a blue screen.

    The Fobs seen in their brief cameos in this rendition proved especially fragile: being made simply of styrofoam with moving beaks. Most of them quickly deteriorated during or shortly after production.

    The bulk of the cast reprises their roles from the World of Teddy Ruxpin Adventure Series stories "The Airship" and "The Missing Princess". Much of the dialog is taken almost verbatim from those stories.

    Phil Baron, Will Ryan and Tony Pope all reprise their roles as Teddy Ruxpin, Grubby the Octopede, and Newton Gimmick, while Ryan provided the additional voices of Tweeg and Louie. Perhaps the most famous of the cast, Russi Taylor voiced Leota the Woodsprite. She would later go on to become Disney's Minnie Mouse. It's believed that B.J. Ward voiced the singing Illana Ruxpin in the prologue while Leneord Levitt voiced the Wooly What's-It.

    The show was shot on video tape.

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    Aftermath

    From its earliest inception, Teddy Ruxpin was envisioned as a puppet show by creator Ken Forsse. However, by the time the toy was released, that vision had evolved into a much more sophisticated live action affair featuring performers in animatronic costumes. Unfortunately, with this single, hour-long episode cost $1.5 million in 1985, a full series proved too expensive for ABC. Thus, Alchemy II would have to set aside its ambitions and instead continued Teddy's story in a traditionally animated telveision series of the same name. That series would run for 65 episodes from 1987 - 1988.

    The show was released on VHS in 1986 by Children's Video Library, where the two-part broadcast was combined into a single 45 minute feature.

    For the 2005 BackPack Toys Teddy Ruxpin talking toy release, many of the elements from this special were incorporated into the original versions of "The Airship" and "The Missing Princess". The latter was expanded into three additional stories, "Captured by Mudblups", "Wooly and the Wizard", and "The Treasure".

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    Differences between the books and animated series

    While much of The World of Teddy Ruxpin Adventure Series stories "The Airship" and "The Missing Princess", there are some key differences between the story as told here:

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