Tiger Electronics

Last updated
Tiger Electronics Ltd.
Industry Video games, consumer electronics, audio games
FoundedJune 15, 1978;44 years ago (1978-06-15)
Parent Hasbro

Tiger Electronics Ltd. (also known as Tiger and Tiger Toys) was an independent American toy manufacturer best known for its handheld LCD games, the Furby, the Talkboy, Giga Pets, the 2-XL robot, [1] and audio games such as Brain Warp and the Brain Shift. When it was an independent company, Tiger Electronics Inc., its headquarters were in Vernon Hills, Illinois. [2] [3] It has been a subsidiary of Hasbro since 1998.



Gerald Rissman, Randy Rissman and Arnold Rissman founded the company in June 1978. It started with low-tech items like phonographs, then began developing handheld electronic games and educational toys. Prominent among these was the 2-XL Robot in 1978, and K28, Tiger's Talking Learning Computer (1984) which was sold worldwide by Kmart and other chain stores. Tiger also achieved success with many simple handheld electronics games like Electronic Bowling and titles based on licenses, such as RoboCop , Terminator , and Spider-Man . An early 1990s hit was the variable-speed portable cassette player and recorder, the Talkboy (first seen in the 1992 movie Home Alone 2: Lost in New York ), followed by the Brain family of games which include games like Brain Bash Brain Warp and Brain Shift which are popular game choices to make YouTube videos on along with Bop It. It also licensed the Lazer Tag brand from its inventors, Shoot the Moon Products, which was born from the remnants of the Worlds of Wonder company.

The company's cash cow through much of the 1990s was their line of licensed handheld LCD games. [4] In a 1993 feature on these games, GamePro attributed their success to the following three factors: [5]

In the fall of 1994, Tiger introduced a specialized line of their handheld LCD games, called Tiger Barcodzz. These were barcode games which read any barcode and used it to generate stats for the player character. The line was a major success in Japan, where there were even reality shows based around gamers competing to find the best barcodes to defeat other players. [6] Tiger produced a version of Lights Out around 1995. In 1997 it produced a quaint fishing game called Fishing Championship, in the shape of a reduced fishing rod. Another 1990s creation was Skip-It.

In 1995, Tiger acquired the Texas Instruments toy division. Tiger agreed to manufacture and market electronic toys for Hasbro and Sega. [7]

Merging with Hasbro

Tiger Electronics has been part of the Hasbro toy company since 1998. [8] [9] In 2000, Tiger was licensed to provide a variety of electronics with the Yahoo! brand name, including digital cameras, webcams, and a "Hits Downloader" that made music from the Internet (mp3s, etc.) accessible through Tiger's assorted "HitClips" players. [10] Tiger also produces the long lasting iDog Interactive Music Companion, the ZoomBox - a portable 3-in-1 home entertainment projector that will play DVDs, CDs and connects to most gaming systems, the VideoNow personal video player, the VCamNow digital camcorder, and the ChatNow line of kid-oriented two-way radios. They released an electronic tabletop version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire with voice recordings by host Chris Tarrant. Tiger also released an electronic version of The Weakest Link with voice recordings by Anne Robinson.


Standalone handhelds

Tiger is most well known for their low-end handheld gaming systems with LCD screens. Each unit contains a fixed image printed onto the handheld that can be seen through the screen. Static images then light up individually in front of the background that represent characters and objects, similar to numbers on a digital clock. In addition to putting out some of its own games, Tiger was able to secure licenses from many of the time's top selling companies to sell their own versions of games such as Capcom's Street Fighter II , Sega's Sonic 3D Blast , and Konami's Castlevania II: Simon's Quest . Later, Tiger introduced what they called "wrist games". These combined a digital watch with a scaled-down version of a Tiger handheld game.

In 1995, Tiger introduced Super Data Blasters, a line of sports-themed handhelds. Each featured the contemporary statistics for players in a specific sport, the ability to record new sports statistics, a built-in electronic game for the sport, and typical electronic organizer features such as an address book and calculator. [11]

In 1998, Tiger released 99X Games, a series of handhelds fitted with a dot-matrix screen, allowing a wide variety of backgrounds and different gameplay for a single game. Although running a software program stored in ROM, those systems were dedicated consoles, similarly to the plug-and-play TV games of the 2000s decade. Two systems running the same game could be linked with the included cable to allow two players to challenge each other. [12]

Cartridge-based handhelds

Tiger made three notable cartridge-based systems. The first was the Quiz Wiz, a highly popular interactive quiz game system. Players inserted a cartridge and played using the corresponding quiz book. [4] The second was the R-Zone. It employed red LCD cartridges, much like Nintendo's Virtual Boy, which were projected via backlight onto a reflective screen that covered one of the player's eyes. The third was the Game.com handheld system, which was meant to compete with Nintendo's Game Boy and Game Boy Color, as well as Sega's Game Gear and Genesis Nomad, and boasted such novel features as a touchscreen and limited Internet connectivity. However, the R-Zone and Game.com were commercial failures and garnered a negative reception.


Hasbro, previously shy of high-tech toys, was interested in the development of the Furby. With Hasbro's support, Tiger was able to rush through the development process and get the Furby on the shelves for the 1998 holiday season, during which it was a runaway hit — the "it" toy of the 1998 and 1999 seasons. The continuing development of Furby-type technology led to the release of the FurReal line of toys in 2003, the more modern iteration of the Furby toyline in 2012, and also the high-tech Furby Connect.

Brain Family

From 1994–1999, Tiger invented the Brain Family, which are a line of electronic handheld audio games. In 1994, Tiger released the Brain Bash. It has four inner purple buttons and four yellow buttons outside the unit. It features five game modes. Game One is called Touch Command, where the electronic voice issues a command like "one touch one" and the corresponding player has to press purple one and yellow one. [13]

In 1996, Tiger released the Brain Warp. This game is a spherical unit that has six colored knobs sticking out. There were three different revisions of the circuit board of Brain Warp resulting in audio changes and pitch differences. Two revisions were made in a blue base. Revision 2.0 has a different hidden sound sampling mode to the first revision. When Hasbro re-released Brain Warp in 2002, they took the programming from Revision 2.0 and placed it on a new circuit board with an enhanced speaker which reduced the loudness of the device. This game is very similar to Bop It. A voice that was recorded for the game says a color or a number, or a sequence of colors or numbers, or both depending on the game selected, and the correct knob must be shown facing upwards. In 1997, a Star Wars version called Death Star Escape was released. The game order is different and comes with six Star Wars characters. [14]

In 1998, Tiger released Brain Shift. This game has six colored LED lights. It is known for its distinctive low pitched "Orange!" voice which is heard on the last color of a pattern in Stick Shift and in Memory Shift and Who Shifts It? The player has to use the stick shift to follow the voice commands. There is a memory game, and both Brain Shift and Brain Warp have a code buster game where the player has to find a certain number of colors in sixty seconds. [15] Some Brain Shift game units had a bad chip in the game which causes the game to mess up the audio on low batteries, and in rare cases, the voice in the game will start counting, going through a list of numbers and skipping a few. [16]


Making toys and games for other brands

The company became one of the most prominent producers of electronic toys based on a wide variety of licenses, including Star Trek , Star Wars , Barney & Friends , Arthur , Winnie the Pooh , Franklin , Neopets, Jeopardy! , Wheel of Fortune , Weakest Link , Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? , Batman Returns , The Lost World: Jurassic Park , and Sonic the Hedgehog .[ citation needed ]

In 1996, Tiger produced replicas of the Turbo Man doll, which was featured in the 1996 holiday comedy Jingle All the Way . It retained most of the features of the film version, including the disk shooter, boomerang accessory, light and sound jetpack, and a voice box. Despite being advertised as having five phrases in the movie, the actual toy only possessed four.

Boogey Ball

In 1999, Tiger Electronics released an electronic LED light game called Boogey Ball. There were 2 versions of the game released. The first version was buggy and it had issues playing several games (games 2, 3, and 5). In games 2 and 3, the player failed automatically after 20 seconds. In game 5, the light patterns went in different directions and it was harder to play. Also, the game had a loud voice but quiet background music. In version 2.0, all the issues were fixed in the audio and game modes. The gameplay is similar to Pac-Man , in that the player maneuvers a green LED light through a maze of 30 LED lights and has to either avoid (ditch) the red light or catch (snag) the yellow light. The game was known for its Austin Powers and Melle Mel style voices; the electronic voice would often say "baby". When the game was first turned on, it said "Oh you turned me on baby, let's boogey!" When the player failed, the game said "Oh drat!". [17] This game was also published by Hasbro. [18] The game also suffered from a glitch: it would become stuck, playing every sound from the game, and pressing the power button would not turn the game off. The loud crackling over the top of the rapidfire used to scare people. The cause for this glitch is unknown but it might be trying to go through an automatic test mode.[ citation needed ]

Testing during manufacture

Tiger Electronics and Hasbro are known to include a hidden test mode in all their electronic games. These test modes signal either a sine wave or a square wave as a way of testing the speaker and then play through all of the sounds that are pre-programmed in the device either manually (by pushing a button), or automatic (playing every sound by itself). Games like Brain Warp, Brain Shift, Boogey Ball, and Brain Bash have these test modes, as do tabletop games (such as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire ).

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Atari Lynx</span> Handheld game console

The Atari Lynx is a hybrid 8-bit and 16-bit handheld game console released by Atari Corporation in September 1989 in North America, and in Europe and Japan in 1990.

Coleco Industries, Inc. was an American company founded in 1932 by Maurice Greenberg as The Connecticut Leather Company. It was a successful toy company in the 1980s, mass-producing versions of Cabbage Patch Kids dolls and its video game consoles, the Coleco Telstar dedicated consoles and ColecoVision. While the company ceased operations in 1988 as a result of bankruptcy, the Coleco brand was revived in 2005, and remains active to this day.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Game.com</span> Handheld game console

The Game.com is a fifth-generation handheld game console released by Tiger Electronics on September 12, 1997. A smaller version, the Game.com Pocket Pro, was released in mid-1999. The first version of the Game.com can be connected to a 14.4 kbit/s modem for Internet connectivity, hence its name referencing the top level domain .com. It was the first video game console to include a touchscreen and the first handheld console to include Internet connectivity. The Game.com sold fewer than 300,000 units and was discontinued in 2000 because of poor sales.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Handheld game console</span> Small, portable video game console

A handheld game console, or simply handheld console, is a small, portable self-contained video game console with a built-in screen, game controls and speakers. Handheld game consoles are smaller than home video game consoles and contain the console, screen, speakers, and controls in one unit, allowing people to carry them and play them at any time or place.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Furby</span> Electronic robotic toy

Furby is an American electronic robotic toy that was originally released in 1998 by Tiger Electronics. It resembles a hamster or owllike creature and went through a period of being a "must-have" toy following its holiday season launch, with continual sales until 2000. Over 40 million Furbies were sold during the three years of its original production, with 1.8 million sold in 1998, and 14 million in 1999. Its speaking capabilities were translated into 24 languages.

Speak & Spell (toy) Electronic toy made by Texas Instruments

The Speak & Spell line is a series of electronic hand-held child computers by Texas Instruments that consisted of a TMC0280 linear predictive coding speech synthesizer, a keyboard, and a receptor slot to receive one of a collection of ROM game library modules. The first Speak & Spell was introduced at the summer Consumer Electronics Show in June 1978, making it one of the earliest handheld electronic devices with a visual display to use interchangeable game cartridges. The company Basic Fun brought back the classic Speak & Spell in 2019 although with some minor changes.

<i>Simon</i> (game) Electronic game of memory skill

Simon is an electronic game of short-term memory skill invented by Ralph H. Baer and Howard J. Morrison, working for a toy design firm Marvin Glass and Associates, with software programming by Lenny Cope. The device creates a series of tones and lights and requires a user to repeat the sequence. If the user succeeds, the series becomes progressively longer and more complex. Once the user fails or the time limit runs out, the game is over. The original version was manufactured and distributed by Milton Bradley and later by Hasbro after it took over Milton Bradley. Much of the assembly language code was written by Charles Kapps, who taught computer science at Temple University and also wrote one of the first books on the theory of computer programming. Simon was launched in 1978 at Studio 54 in New York City and was an immediate success, becoming a pop culture symbol of the 1970s and 1980s.

Radica Games

Radica Games Limited was an American company that produces electronic games, founded in 1983. It began by producing electronic souvenir games for casinos. In the late 1990s, it became known for its Bass Fishin line of games. On October 3, 2006, Mattel, Inc. announced the completion of their acquisition of Radica. While Radica produced electronic handheld games based on casino or card games, it has branched out into toys, board games, and video game accessories.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Handheld electronic game</span> Device for playing interactive electronic games

Handheld electronic games are very small, portable devices for playing interactive electronic games, often miniaturized versions of video games. The controls, display and speakers are all part of a single unit. Rather than a general-purpose screen made up of a grid of small pixels, they usually have custom displays designed to play one game. This simplicity means they can be made as small as a smartwatch, and sometimes are. The visual output of these games can range from a few small light bulbs or LED lights to calculator-like alphanumerical screens; later these were mostly displaced by liquid crystal and vacuum fluorescent display screens with detailed images and in the case of VFD games, color. Handhelds' popularity was at its peak from the late 1970s into the early 1990s before declining. They are the precursors to the handheld game console.

An electronic game is a game that uses electronics to create an interactive system with which a player can play. Video games are the most common form today, and for this reason the two terms are often used interchangeably. There are other common forms of electronic game including handheld electronic games, standalone systems, and exclusively non-visual products.

<i>Bop It</i> Handheld audio game

Bop It toys are a line of audio games. By following a series of commands issued through voice recordings produced by a speaker by the toy, which has multiple inputs including pressable buttons, pull handles, twisting cranks, spinnable wheels, flickable switches – the player progresses and the pace of the game increases.

Sound test

A sound test is a function built into the options screen of many video games. This function was originally meant to test whether the game's music and sounds would function correctly, as well as giving the player the ability to compare samples played in Monaural, Stereophonic and later Surround sound.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Poo-Chi</span> Robotic dog toy

Poo-Chi, one of the first generations of robopet toys, is a robot dog designed by Samuel James Lloyd and Matt Lucas, manufactured by Sega Toys, and distributed by Tiger Toys. Poo-Chi was released in 2000 and discontinued in 2002.

Techno Source is a handheld electronic game and TV game company selling electronic toys, games and learning aids. Based in Hong Kong with an office in New York City, it is a privately owned company founded in 2000 by Wayne Nathan and Rich Migatz. In April 2011, Techno Source was acquired by Li & Fung.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">R-Zone</span> Portable game console

The R-Zone is a portable game console developed and manufactured by Tiger Electronics. The R-Zone was shown at the American International Toy Fair in February 1995, and was released later that year. The R-Zone was universally panned by critics, and was also a commercial disaster, with its lifespan lasting only 2 years before being discontinued in 1997. Although the R-Zone was not designed to compete directly with any other handhelds, it marked Tiger Electronics' first multi-game entry into the portable electronic game market.

Brain Warp

Brain Warp is an electronic audio game designed and showcased by Big Monster Toys, and was manufactured and published by Tiger Electronics and released on June 16, 1996. In this game, players follow the spoken instructions from sound files spoken from the game unit. The player has to rotate the game in different directions so that the correct color is facing upwards. Its catchphrase which the voice says before a game begins is: "If you don't keep up with me, you're finished!". When you fail a game, the game unit will say "this game is finished" and then it will say "wanna warp again?". A Star Wars version titled Death Star Escape was released by Tiger Electronics in 1997 and the games are called Challenges.

Nelsonic Industries was an American electronics manufacturing and development company that operated from Long Island City, Queens, New York City in the early 1980s and throughout the 1990s when it was acquired by the watch-manufacturer, M.Z. Berger. Nelsonic produced numerous toy-themed wristwatches, often targeting younger audiences with likenesses of characters from popular franchises such as Barbie, the Ghostbusters, and Mario. Nelsonic became notable during the early mid-1980s for being the first electronics company in the United States to produce game-watches. For a period subsequent to its purchase by M.Z. Berger, Nelsonic operated as a subsidiary division of its parent company and game-watches were produced that bore the Nelsonic mark. This practice ended as M.Z. Berger shifted focus to more traditional and higher-end timepieces. Today the original Nelsonic Game Watch line has entered the secondary market and individual Game Watches have become highly sought-after collectibles that often fetch high prices on eBay and other online auction websites.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Game & Watch</span> Series of handheld electronic games by Nintendo

The Game & Watch brand is a series of handheld electronic games developed, manufactured, released, and marketed by Nintendo from 1980 to 1991. Created by game designer Gunpei Yokoi, the product derived its name from its featuring a single game as well as a clock on an LCD screen. The models from 1981 onwards featured an alarm in addition.

Giga Pet Digital pet toys

Giga Pets are digital pet toys that were first released by Tiger Electronics in the United States in 1997 in the midst of a virtual-pet toy fad. Available in a variety of different characters, each Giga Pet is a palm-sized unit with an LCD screen and attached key ring. To ensure a happy, healthy pet, its owner has to take care of it similar to how one might care for a real animal, including feeding, cleaning, and playing with their Giga Pet.

<i>GoldenEye</i> (1995 video game) 1995 video game

GoldenEye is a third-person shooter handheld electronic game developed and published by Tiger Electronics, based on the 1995 James Bond film of the same name, released between 1995 and 1998. The game was released in two versions, both small handheld dedicated consoles with a similar gameplay: the player controlled James Bond as he fights enemies loosely based on the ones from the film before a GoldenEye satellite destroyed the city with its electromagnetic pulse weapon.


  1. "COMPUTER GAMES DOMINATE THE SHELVES". Chicago Tribune. November 25, 1994.
  2. Business Week , Issues 3525-3528. McGraw-Hill, 1997. Retrieved from Google Books on December 7, 2010. "Later on this month, Tiger Electronics Inc. in Vernon Hills[...]"
  3. Kirschner, Suzanne Kantra. "What's New." Popular Science , Bonnier Corporation. October 1997. Vol. 251, No. 4. ISSN   0161-7370. 17. Retrieved from Google Books on December 7, 2010. "Tiger Electronics, 980 Woodlands Pkwy., Vernon Hills IL 60061."
  4. 1 2 "Tiger the King of the Hand-held Jungle". Electronic Gaming Monthly . No. 59. EGM Media, LLC. June 1994. p. 216.
  5. 1 2 "Tiger Puts the Bite on Hand Held Games" (PDF). GamePro . No. 52. IDG. November 1993. pp. 192–194.
  6. "Power Peripherals" (PDF). GamePro . No. 60. IDG. July 1994. p. 158.
  7. "Company News; Tiger Electronics Gets Texas Instruments Unit." The New York Times . February 11, 1995. Retrieved on December 7, 2010.
  8. Nachison, Dave (August 24, 1999). "Sacre Bleu! It's Pokémon!". .fool.com. Archived from the original on November 29, 1999. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  9. Pereira, Joseph (February 10, 1998). "Hasbro Will Buy Giga Pets Maker, Announce Partnership With Intel". The Wall Street Journal . Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  10. "Tiger Electronics And Yahoo! Team To Create Innovative, Technology-Based Lifestyle Products". altaba.com. February 7, 2000. Retrieved July 4, 2019.
  11. "Pocket Fan". Electronic Gaming Monthly . Ziff Davis (78): 26. January 1996.
  12. Scan of the manual of the 99X Games version of Crash Bandicoot
  13. "Brain Bash". Board Game Geek. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  14. "Brain Warp". Board Game Geek. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  15. "Brain Shift - Board Game Geek". Board Game Geek. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  16. "Brain Shift 2 minute 30 seconds Firework Display". YouTube. Retrieved 20 August 2022.
  17. Lodger, Lakeland (24 March 1999). "Oh Boy! There's Lots of New Toys on The Market" . Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  18. "Boogey Ball Game Instructions" (PDF). Hasbro Inc. Hasbro. Retrieved 26 December 2015.