By this point, we all know that product placement can be pretty blatant in TV and movies.
Sales of Mini Coopers spiked after the remake of The Italian Job, Will Smith starred in a two hour Converse commercial (also known as I, Robot), and it’s 2015 and WE’RE STILL WAITING ON REAL, GODDAMN HOVERBOARDS.
In 1992, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York was released. As in the first one, Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is forgotten by his neglectful family but this time, he is abandoned at the airport and accidentally gets on a flight to New York because this is pre-9/11 and that sort thing is still possible. He gets into all sorts of hijinks at the Plaza, saves a very nice toy shop owner’s store from the sadistic burglars from the first movie, learns a valuable lesson about not judging a book by its cover, and somehow manages to not end up in the cold open of an episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
The most important takeaway, other than the fact that Kevin has terrible parents, was the Talkboy. This is basically a handheld tape recorder with a feature to manipulate the playback speed to change the pitch of the recorded voice. It’s how Kevin manages to pull off his shenanigans at the hotel and trick Tim Curry and Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo.
The toy was originally designed as a prop for the movie but after an overwhelming demand for a real version from fans, Tiger Electronics produced a real one the following year. They also ended up producing several variations including a pocket-sized version, a recording pen so kids could feel like a combination of Kevin McCallister and James Bond, and a deluxe version with a headphone jack (fancy!) and a cassette tape–one side was blank, the other side featured fun quotes from the movie. And of course, Tiger Electronics released bright pink versions of these as well, called Talkgirls.
I always wanted a Talkboy but there was no way I wanted a Talkgirl. Even as a kid, it felt vaguely insulting that in order for it to be for me, a child devoid of a penis and, apparently, therefore a brain, it had to be hot pink and pandering.
Talkboys are no longer being produced but you can still find them online because the internet is occasionally good for something other than putting misspelled words on pictures of cats and funny, insightful articles like the one you’re reading now.
Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals.