Brace yourself, it is another Cricket blog post!
I love telling the story of when I got my Cricket doll, especially when I told it for a podcast. She was a Christmas gift in 1987 (I originally believed it was 1986, but I’d since found proof otherwise), and she was the best friend a little girl could have! She could talk, tell stories, play games, teach a little, and entertain a whole lot. I loved dressing her in her cool outfits and listening to her cassettes. I had her director’s chair, and would put in the cassette (and sometimes change her outfit), put her in the chair, and listen to her stories.
When I was introduced to Cricket in 1987, it was through a very misleading (and these days, kinda creepy and weird) commercial where Cricket did the very thing she couldn’t really do
You see the disclaimer? That wasn’t even in the commercial originally. That information HAD TO BE ADDED. Do you know how many excited kids there were over the prospect that this talking doll could also walk?
She couldn’t stand on her own two feet, let alone walk. Her body was super heavy (her tape deck and inner workings were all contained in her torso. If you lifted her shirt, she speaker was right there. I remember carrying Cricket around on my hip as a five-year-old, and these days, I’d equate her to carrying a heavy baby. As a five-year-old, she was pretty darn heavy. But I loved that doll, and she was by my side pretty much all of Christmas Day 1987. I took her with me to my grandparents whenever I spent the night (my mom’s parents actually were the ones who gave her to me). I remember I used to bring her pajamas with me when I did.
Now, when I was a kid, I hated the sound of a tape deck’s play button popping up. I don’t know what it was, but I hated it. Maybe it was disappointment because the tape was over or the actual mechanism that popped the play button at the end was loud, but I hated the sound. Whenever I would finish up a cassette, I would leave the room purposely and let the button pop up while I wasn’t in the room. Bathroom, go downstairs to ask for something to drink, or it was time to eat, but perfectly content to leave the room for five minutes to allow that button to pop up. Pretty sure I wasn’t subtle about it either – I recall one time running out of the room during the closing chords of the Cricket end theme music. Like bat out of hell run.
I grew up fine, trust me. Just don’t let me ever hear the sound of a tape deck play button popping up. Pretty sure that could wake me out of a dead sleep.
Another strangely irrational fear I had was something that happened that probably 99% of Cricket owners did at least once. I had listened to the Caring for Cricket cassette that came with the doll, and the one instruction she emphasized was to push the Red Stop Button to stop the Yellow Fast Forward or Blue Rewind Buttons. Leaving these buttons pressed after their actions were complete would run the battery down. Guess what Cricket didn’t tell you about? The motor noise that happened when those buttons were pushed and the tape was either rewound to the beginning or fast forwarded to the end.
One night I was staying with my grandparents (I was probably seven years old at the time), and I rewound the cassette after I was finished listening…but I forgot to stop the tape. It ran all night long, and I woke up to this motor noise. Of course, I made the mistake of listening to the tape.
Guess who was upset and needed batteries?
I tell this ridiculously long story of my experience with Cricket as the setup to a three-part harmony of commercials promoting the doll. They’re all from 1987, and unfortunately, none of them come from my personal collection. Heck, one of them didn’t even air in the United States, so I really would never have it.
The first commercial is the infamous “she doesn’t actually do this!” commercial, in which she walks up to a kid and commands her (too harsh?) to play “Simon Says.” I remember this from the unmarked pack-in cassette. I had many firsts with Cricket stories, this was one of those firsts.
You think I boil over with geeky nostalgic passion already? Picture my excitement over this commercial as a five-year-old!
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This next commercial, also from 1987, was the one more commonly seen during Saturday morning cartoons. Mostly because it showed you everything Cricket could actually do (and what you could do with her!), rather than what she absolutely could not do under any circumstances. The commercial also has a jingle that has the catchiness of the “My Buddy” and “Kid Sister” commercials. I don’t even remember/know if this was a song on any Cricket tapes. If anything, it would be part of the unmarked pack-in cassette (the blue cassette), but that cassette already had alot of material on it (“The farmer is sleeping, but we are all awake,” anyone?). Perhaps this was just something special for the commercial?
Either way, I love the catchiness!
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Surprisingly, one thing I didn’t know about until a few years ago were the cooking and board game activity sets. I do remember her cat, but not the rest of these cool accessories. I did have one book, Around the World with Cricket (of which the audio was turned into a limited-cell animation home video), and I also had the director’s chair, sleeping bag (which turned into a duffle bag), and several outfits and tapes. But that board game, I would have liked that!
The final commercial of this bunch, again from 1987, was a Canadian commercial (you’ll find out why during the commercial), which has kids asking Cricket what she can do, and what you can do with her. I love this one, only because the Canadian commercial is totally different from the ones we had here. It was accurate (no creepy Child’s Play-type walking!), and delightful.
Sadly, no “together just between me and you!” exists in this commercial, but I like that it was something a little different.
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OMG, that fitness outfit!!!
Did anyone have that outfit? It is super cute! I actually would put “Am I Fit Or What?” on a shirt. Just because.
I remember the nightgown saying “Am I Sleepy Or What?” on it. Because you advertised that on your pajamas, right?
So, um, yeah, come for the long-winded personal story, stay for the commercials.
There just isn’t much online about Cricket, other than eBay listings and YouTube videos, and even those are rare. I know the doll went on the market in 1987, but I don’t know when she was discontinued (1989 maybe?), but it seems like everything was released all at once, it was a hot toy, and then…it was gone. I know for me, it was something I got for Christmas, along with a bunch of accessories and tapes, but the last thing I recall getting was Around The World with Cricket, and it was the only accessory I didn’t get as a gift.
I would love to find the actual files of the cassettes, just to listen to them again. I had the unmarked pack-in cassette, the “Caring for Cricket” cassette, “Indoor Playtime,” the Bedtime cassette, and Around The World with Cricket (I remember being with my mom at Toys R Us and getting that one!). I think I got all of the other ones for Christmas that one year, along with the accessories. I remember being so excited about getting all of those things!
The cartoons (all two of them) are on archive.org (Cricket Around the World and Cricket’s Clubhouse). They’re cute, if not a little sugary, and have their own catchy songs, including that instrumental “Cricket’s Clubhouse” song. I’ve talked about this before (as recently as last week) – I learned how to count to three in Chinese listening to Cricket Around the World.
Am I cultured, or what?!
Tomorrow for Flashback Friday, another commercial coupled up in so much personal nostalgia, 1980s style!
Have a great Throwback Thursday!