Long before there were sound chips...
May 5, 2011 1:24 PM   Subscribe

Remember the Fisher Price Barn with the MOO sound effect when you opened the door? How did the 'moo' mechanism work? And most importantly: can I build one for the front door of my house?
posted by Lou Stuells to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
"Do you remember these toys? Chances are good, particularly if you're a Baby Boomer, that you've seen them. It's a usually canister-shaped toy. Older ones are made of metal and they have a colorful image of an animal. You turn them over or shake them and you hear a sound like the animal depicted on the outside of the can.

There's even an iPhone app for the Moo Cow Can, no doubt the most famous one of all time. "
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:27 PM on May 5, 2011

oh yeah! my sister had one

You might research how the moo box works.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 1:28 PM on May 5, 2011

Should have added: Country Cow Moo Can

Animal noise maker

Now I have to go upstairs and figure out whether my old FP barn still says moo now that my daughter has been at it...
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:38 PM on May 5, 2011

I know that most talking dolls and "see and say" spinners had tiny plastic records with multiple grooves for different tracks and plastic cones for amplification. Not sure if the moo door had a similar mechanism.
posted by DaveZ at 1:51 PM on May 5, 2011

Here's a 1971 patent (assignee The Quaker Oats Company) for a similar device.
posted by Knappster at 1:55 PM on May 5, 2011

I think Knappster has it; I recognize that door latch. It appears that bellows force air past a reed to make the "moo." Someone much handier than I might be able to tell you how to go about building this.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:11 PM on May 5, 2011

As for the second part of your question, tape one of those Moo cans to a wooden board. Hinge the board on one side so it can pivot about 170 degrees, and bolt it to the wall near the door. Run a rope from the free end of the board through a series of eye bolts and attach it to the door. Set it up so that when the door is closed the rope is taught and the moo can is raised. Now when the door is opened the rope will slacken, the moo can will tilt, and it should moo for you.

Next record it, upload the video, and post a link back here so we can see your awesome mooing door.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 2:12 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can still buy them with working moo-ers on Ebay, often for under 20 bucks (especially if you don't want the accessories). If you're crafty, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be all that hard to disassemble one and attach it to your door. Wouldn't be as loud as something with real speakers, but should work in the identical way.
posted by Mchelly at 2:15 PM on May 5, 2011

Oh and I should add, those Moo cans work by just inverting them, so the nice thing is all the reeds and stuff are already assembled. You just need to find a way to mount it, and have it flip when the door is opened.
They are also plenty loud. You can for instance glue them inside a wine bottle with the end cut off, fill the rest with sand, wrap it as a Christmas present, and still hear it quite well through the wrapping, sand and glass...
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 2:42 PM on May 5, 2011

I loved my Fisher Price Barn! Check out Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro's film Delicatessen for a few strange and hilarious scenes of a moo can workshop.
posted by lrrosa at 8:33 PM on May 5, 2011

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