Frequently Asked Questions--General

I don't run a doll hospital, and I have no experience restoring toys and dolls. What are the chances I'll be able to get mine talking again?
The chances are extremely good. You are the person we write these manuals for: We thoroughly test our instruction manuals by distributing advance copies to doll repair novices before publication, and to the best of our knowledge no one has ever failed to repair their doll.

My wife has had this doll since she was little, and the possibility of ruining it scares the heck out of me.
Understandably. We don't recommend that anyone use a doll that's precious to them as a guinea pig, though many people have done so successfully. Each manual gives suggestions as to which inexpensive toys to practice on, to gain experience (and confidence) quickly and economically.

Where can I find a [insert toy name here]?
I don't have one, but everything turns up on eBay eventually. Go to the eBay search page:
and do a search for the toy. Don't assume that the seller will know the toy's proper name or know how to spell it, and don't assume that you remember that name correctly from your childhood. So if you're looking for a Mattel Bernie Bernard Animal Yakker talking toy, search for "Bernie Bernard," but also do searches like the following:
(dog,puppy) talk*
(mattel,matel) talk*

The first search will lead you to every dog or puppy with the words "talk," "talking,"talker," "talks," etc. in the item title. The second search will pull up every Mattel talker identified as such, including those listed by sellers who can't spell "Mattel." You'll find a lot of toys you aren't interested in, so put their names in the "Exclude these words" slot on the search page and click the "Search" button again. Keep modifying the same search until the results are as closely targeted as you can make them.

When you're satisfied with a particular search configuration, click on "Add to Favorite Searches" then on "Save Search." eBay will now e-mail you whenever something likely is listed, and eventually it will be the toy you're looking for.

Who has complete talking units (or just records) for my talking toy. Is someone making them?
No one has them, no one is making them, and no one is going to. It would cost between $50,000 and $100,000 to retool to start making talkboxes again. That isn't going to happen. The only source of supply for parts that I don't carry is by cannibalizing less-valuable talkers and those too shabby to restore. See eBay search procedures, above.

I did experiment with making replacement records using a silicone mold and casting resin, but the results were unsatisfactory. Cast records had poor sound quality and volume, so that option seems to be out, too.

Chatty's string broke at least 30 years ago, and she was dunked in water (lots of water) a couple of times when my sister washed her hair. Will it still be possible to repair her voice, despite the water?
It's repairable, yes. The absolute worst-case scenario (which isn't very likely at all) is that you'd need to replace the steel parts: the needle, the clutch bearings, and the spring. Spare needles I have, and I tell how to make bearings on the Repair FAQ page. A spring you can get from a cheap junk talker, like a Drowsy or one of many other talking toys or dolls.

Would you please fix my doll for me? Or could you recommend someone who will?
Sorry, no. The problem is that it takes at least a couple of hours, spread over a couple of days, to fix a talker. If you run into problems, or need to make or fix parts, the time involved can expand considerably. It's difficult to do all that at a price people would pay--and make a living at it. That's why we've put together the kits. Some people who've bought our kits are now advertising repair services on eBay and elsewhere, but I have no way of assessing their reliability or the quality of their work.

I'm thinking about buying the repair kit and trying to fix my doll, but I'm not sure if your manual will handle the problem. When I pull the string, it rewinds very fast and the doll's voice basically sounds like a very fast, high-pitched record--the words are not distinguishable. I'm pretty sure the damage happened when talcum powder got into the voicebox holes. In your opinion, is this something I can fix, and does the kit contain everything I need to do it?
Your doll's problem is the most common pullstring talker problem, and the talcum powder isn't what did it. When it's working right, Cathy's voice is slowed down by a centrifugal governor, driven by a rubber belt. When that belt breaks there's nothing to regulate the voice speed, so you'll need to replace the belt.

You can do it. Hundreds of people have; in fact, all those working talkers you see on eBay were brought back to life by people who bought our kits. The kit has all the parts and all the instructions you need to replace that pesky governor belt.

My toy just needs a new string, so I don't need a whole kit. Couldn't you just sell me the one part?
Sure, but you'd be disappointed, since the repair isn't quite as uncomplicated as it may seem at this stage. A broken string is the most obvious problem, but when you remove the talkbox from the toy you'll find it necessary to open the sealed device to replace the string. The manual tells you how to open it--safely--and how to put it back together again. (You'll also need the manual to identify in advance which talkbox you have, so you won't create more problems by opening it incorrectly.) The manual also will tell you how long your string should be, how many turns it goes around the spool, and how to tie the knots on both ends.

Most importantly, perhaps, the manual gives you an orderly procedure to follow--to keep yourself out of trouble--and tells how to correct unexpected problems and problems your inexperience may create.

You'll also find that the forty-year-old rubber parts inside the talkbox have failed, or are on the verge of doing so. A kit contains those rubber parts, and the manual tells how to replace them.

We didn't put together these repair kits just to gouge money out of the toy owner; the kits simply combine the parts and information necessary to get the job done. Believe us, you'll be happier and less frustrated with a kit.

Ask us some more questions!

© Talky Tina Press, Medford, Oregon