Talkboy: `Home Alone 2' Toy Is Hot, Hot, Hot

It's the toy sleeper of the year that makes men of boys.

It's what transformed super child star Macaulay Culkin into a grown-up man in just seconds in 20th Century Fox's hit movie, "Home Alone 2."

It's Talkboy, and its toy maker can't keep up with the demand.

Flash back to "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" Kevin (played by Culkin) gets separated from his parents at the airport and somehow ends up in New York where his adventures begin.

He ends up at the Plaza Hotel, where he impersonates his father using the Talkboy tape recorder with its slow-motion voice feature that deepens his voice, making him sound like an adult. He makes reservations complete with credit-card information.

The Talkboy was created especially for the movie, which was released last year and came out in video on July 27. A 20th Century Fox spokesman said it has sold 10 million videos so far, a point not lost on the toy maker, Illinois-based Tiger Electronics, Inc.

It was made from specifications provided by screenwriter John Hughes and the movie studio, which wanted a device that was realistic but at the cutting edge of new technology.

The allure of the toy, according to Roger Shiffman, executive vice president and co-founder of Tiger Electronics, is in the one-handed operation with a three-position switch (pause, slow speed, fast speed) that allows for recording in any combination of voice speeds, as well as its silver-gray high-tech look.

Shiffman said retailers were caught off guard by its popularity, and the toy has been sold out at many retailers. An employee at the Toys R Us store in Silverdale, Kitsap County, said that store, too, was sold out, but a new shipment was expected yesterday.

The manufacturer said it is both ecstatic and frustrated - elated by the demand but unable to meet the overwhelming consumer response. It is fielding about 300 phone calls daily from consumers nationwide, eager to find out where they can buy a Talkboy, which retails for $29.99.