Baby’s first “mobile” phone is now an actual mobile phone. The iconic Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone pull toy has been made into a working Bluetooth-connected handset for grownups. It still has a rainbow-colored rotary dial. It’s got eyes that bobble when the wheels roll. But now, 60 years since it first was introduced to the world, you can take your business calls through the big, red plastic handset.
The novelty collectable is scheduled to go on sale Tuesday at Best Buy for $60. And I’m happy to report Chatter works just as you’d hope it would — I’ve had an early model of this smiling buddy sitting on my desk all week. If you’re like me and are broken inside from working at home too long, then you’ll be sure to love it’s many delightful surprises:
- He speaks! When Chatter turns on and connects to your phone via Bluetooth (iOS and Android), and his little voice says “Hi there, good to go!”
- Chatter will say every number you dial as your finger rotates the wheel, providing reassurance and validation that you are a dialing master.
- There’s an optional speaker phone button, for hands-free talk.
- He does ring for incoming calls and answers with a simple pick-up. And outgoing calls begin just by picking up the receiver and dialing.
- His rubber wheels won’t roll off your desk if you use the lock switch at the bottom.
- For the first time, this is a mobile phone that doesn’t hide the fact it is watching you. But his eyes don’t look you up and down out of judgment. He’s seeing how much you’ve grown. And he’s proud of all you’ve accomplished. And he wants you to be proud, too.
- Chatter is rechargeable and has nine hours of talk time.
The Chatter Telephone has had several looks over the years — he’s gotten a bit of a facelift since his original release, and this Bluetooth model reflects the new, more rounded design.
Comparing it side-by-side with the actual pull toy ($7 on Amazon), the adult Chatter phone has more weight and is built with higher-quality materials, notably in the rotary dial and wheels. But adult Chatter is missing one major feature: there’s no pull string.
This special edition phone fits right into a new trend that’s driving toy sales this year: grown-ups buying more toys for themselves. The Toy Association trade group calls this the “kidult” trend, and it’s been fueled by the pandemic as adults turn to toys to bring some levity into their lives.
And Chatter’s not the only Bluetooth-enabled receiver that can tap into your childhood. There’s also the Banana Phone, which, yes, is exactly what you expect. It goes for $40 on Amazon and, as I have discovered while using it, the Banana Phone is a great way to get your kids to talk to their grandparents without handing them your $1,000 smartphone. (Only downside is having it around makes me always start singing the Banana Phone song.)
So all in all, it seems to be the perfect time for Chatter to re-enter our lives. And did I mention what happens when you turn him off? He says, “Love you, bye.”
We love you, too, Chatter. May you have another 60 years of teaching kids what phones used to do before apps.