Instructables

Chatty Cathy Costume w/ Working Pullstring Voicebox

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 After seeing the Geico commercials that used the original Chatty Cathy TV commercial footage, my girlfriend picked Chatty Cathy for her Halloween costume for 2009. Her choice was easy. Pulling the whole costume off turned out to be quite difficult.

A Chatty Cathy doll costume without a working pull string isn't much of a costume so that was the biggest hurdle I had to overcome. The original dolls had an actual record inside of them with a low-def phonograph of sorts that I believe was powered by a constant force spring motor. The original version only said 11 and later ones 18 sayings. The last generation of them even had interchangeable records with up to 120 sayings.

That was logistically too difficult for this project. Read on to see how we did it.
 
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Step 1: Materials & Tools Required

Picture of Materials & Tools Required
 The only part we spent any money on was the actual costume itself and the pull string. All of the bits and pieces to make the voice box work were made from stuff laying around the garage. I don't think I have what anyone would consider a normal garage but it's probably pretty standard compared to other DIY'ers. 

Materials for costume:
6.5 yds of navy blue cotton broad cloth - On sale for $1.79/yd ($11.64 total) at Jo-Ann's
(1) package of 1/4" double fold bias tape - About $2.00 at Jo-Ann's
(1) 22" hidden navy blue zipper - About $3-4.00 at Jo-Ann's
(1) Dorthy from The Wizard of OZ costume pattern - Originally $14.99, on sale for $0.99 at Jo-Ann's
(1) curly blonde wig - $24.99 @ Spirit Halloween Store
(1) wig cap - $2.99 @ Spirit Halloween Store
(1) pair of really plastic looking fake eyelashes - $4.99 @ Spirit Halloween Store
(1) pair of ankle socks with ruffles - $3.99 for a 3/pk @ Target
(1) old white sheet (used the fabric to make the bow) - free
(1) black poofy ruffled underskirt - free
(1) pair of black shoes - from our closet

Materials for pull string voice box:
(1) Broken Sansa E260R MP3 player, screen was busted but player still worked - free (a friend was going to throw it away because of the broken screen. I figured it would come in handy someday...)
Custom build of Rockbox 3rd party firmware for Sansa MP3 player
(1) set of basic PC speakers - free
(1) reset switch from old PC case - free (case was gutted for anything usable and then taken to a PC recycling center)
(1) light action lever switch - free (dug out of trash at my Dad's shop 15+ years ago. Again, I figured it would come in handy someday...)
(1) 9V battery pigtail - free
(1) 9V battery - About $1.50-2.00 @ Fred Meyer
(1) 24" Fly Fishing Tool Retractor - $6.50 @ Sports Athority
(1) black fabric hip pouch - free
(1) large key ring - free
Misc crimp wire connectors &  wire nuts
Misc wire - free (used speaker wire and thin gage wire from stripped old PC's.)
Packing tape
Rubber bands

Tools Required:
Mom who know's how to sew
Wire strippers
Soldering iron & solder
Wire crimpers
Screw driver
Micro screw driver
PC  or Mac w/ sound editing software
Microphone
Multi-meter or circuit tester
pie201020114 months ago
She looks like Flo from progressive
Goodhart4 years ago
Oh the box is just my kind of thing too.  Very nice.
onebrokenneck (author)  Goodhart4 years ago
Thanks! I've been thinking about doing a more detailed instructable on just the MP3 player portion of the project. I think this kind of thing would come in handy for many different applications.