If you grew up around the 1960s to the 1990s, chances are pretty good that you grew up with a See 'n Say. This toy from Mattel had the ability to talk, play a song, or make animal sounds when you pulled the cord or pulled down on the lever. Not only would it do this all without batteries or electricity but it would also accurately play the right track according to where it was pointing.
So how exactly does this seemingly magical device work?
I was fortunate enough to find this See 'n Say at a thrift store for $1. I remember always having one while growing up, so I decided I would buy it so I could take it apart to see how it works.
|The awesome See 'n Say!|
One thing that surprised me about the See n' Say was just how difficult it was to take apart. It really is a quality product. I suppose it must be top notch to withstand the destruction that a toddler can impose on a toy.
|Step 1: Remove all the screws and pull apart (easier said than done).|
"Power" is supplied to the See n' Say by pulling down on a lever. This turns a gear that pulls a string that sets a coil spring to turn the mini record player. Older models eliminated a step by having the user simply pull the string (I imagine this was discontinued because if the ring on the string got cut off you would lose the string inside the toy).
|These are the gears that pull the cord.|
The way the See n' Say works is quite ingenious in its simplicity. First, you pull the cord (or the lever); this lifts the stylus (needle) from the disc and spring loads the toy. Once the tension is removed from the cord, the stylus rests on the disc and finds the groove while the disc turns. This is the same basic concept as a record player.
The musical disc is connected to a counterweight by a rubber belt. The purpose of this counterweight is to ensure that the disc spins at a fairly regular speed so that it does not sound excessively warbled.
This is where the See 'n Say differs. On the See 'n Say, each musical clip has its own independent grove. Look at the illustration below to see how this works.
Pretty amazing toy if you ask me!