1 of 5 | Eddy Goldfarb demonstrates his famous Yakity Yak Talking Teeth. Photo courtesy of Lyn Goldfarb
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Eddy Goldfarb shows viewers how he makes toys in the documentary Eddy's World, airing Saturday on PBS and streaming after on the PBS app.
Now 102, Goldfarb is partnered with his son, Martin, and continues to make toys and games. Their latest release is Forklift Frenzy, a game of stacking barrels with toy forklifts, designed for ages 8 to 11.
"I made the first model," Goldfarb told UPI in a recent phone interview from his Pasadena, Calif. home. "My son handles the sales, placing the item with a company."
Goldfarb has more than 800 toys to his credit, including the novelty Yakity Yak Talking Teeth. The wind-up toy makes the teeth chatter.
Eddy's World, directed by his daughter Lyn Goldfarb, shows how the Talking Teeth were featured in films like Toy Story and The Goonies. Goldfarb remains surprised they became such a phenomenon.
"It was on the nightly talk shows," Goldfarb said. "It was all over."
Eddy's World covers Goldfarb's service in the Navy during World War II, which also earned him a degree in electrical engineering so he could work in the radar department on submarines.
"The Navy sent me to the University of Houston," Goldfarb said. "We went to school day and night. It was fantastic."
Goldfarb's wife, Anita, supported him for the first few years of their relationship while he designed prototype toys to take to market. They were married until she died in 2013.
Now, Goldfarb lives in a retirement home, where he still uses a garage as a workshop, and he has a girlfriend, Greta. Though Goldfarb sold toys to companies like Mattel and Kenner, he remained independent his entire career.
"I always knew I was going to be an independent inventor since I was a kid," Goldfarb said. "I went from company to company."
Though the majority of Goldfarb's toys were original creations, he also worked with licensed products for Spider-Man, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., Star Trek and Lego. He even made a children's edition of Roy Rogers' hat, approved by Rogers.
"It's an advantage when you have a licensee because they're well-known," Goldfarb said. "That's part of the advertising of the item if it's a well-known person."
One Goldfarb toy that never made it to shelves was an Elvis doll. He found the mold unsatisfactory and only used it to produce one rendering of Presley.
"The mold wasn't good," Goldfarb said. "We just got one sample out and then we gave up on the mold and the whole thing."
Goldfarb dabbled in video games in the '80s, creating Barbie and Hot Wheels games for Epyx. Though the games were successful, he learned he preferred handmade toys.
"They took us about a year doing the software," Goldfarb said. "It was like making a movie. So I decided that regular toys were much easier and faster. I might have made a mistake because, as you know, video games became very, very big."
Many of Goldfarb's toys had electronic components, which he said were far simpler than computer software.
"You just have to do the design of the electronics, which is so much easier than doing the software for a whole video game," Goldfarb said.
Some of those electronic toys had mishaps. In Eddy's World, he tells the story of the Vac-U-Form, which allowed kids to make plastic mold of any object that fit in the contraption.
For the prototype, Goldfarb used a lightbulb to heat the plastic, and by mistake burned the desk of Mattel co-founder Elliott Handler. Handler saw the potential in the toy and forgave desk incident..
For mass production, Goldfarb found a simpler and safer way to heat the plastic without burning children. The Vac-U-Form became as safe as other household appliances.
"It's just a coil. like in a toaster," Goldfarb said. "It gets red hot, white hot."
Goldfarb also made electronic sports games, including a portable version of air hockey. His Bubble Gun also reduced industrial bubble machines to handheld size.
With Martin handling the negotiations for Eddy & Martin Goldfarb and Associates, Goldfarb is pleased that he can simply focus on making the toys for the rest of his life.
"At my advanced age, I just don't want to get into those kinds of details," Goldfarb said. "So he took over the whole thing."