Category Archives: Toys from 1960s

Scrabble Board Game

Scrabble is a word based board game where two to four players earn points by forming words from the letter tiles and combining them with previous letters on the game board. The Scrabble gameboard is 15×15 in size, words can be made across and down, similar in fashion to the popular crossword. All words must be real words and found in the dictionary, there is even a Scrabble Players dictionary if you really want to go down that route.

The name of Scrabble is a trademark of Hasbro in the USA and Canada and elsewhere we believe it is trademarked by Mattel. The game has been sold and translated in over 120 Countries and over 29 different language versions available. Over 150 million sets have been sold worldwide which makes it one of the classic board games and found in many households. continue reading>>

Image of Original Spirograph Box

Spirograph

A Spirograph is a drawing toy that produces geometric mathematical curves and shapes. It was developed by British engineer Denys Fisher and first sold back in 1965.

“Spirograph” term has also been used to describe a variety of software applications that display similar curves. It has also been applied to the class of curves that can be produced with the drawing equipment, the name has been a registered trademark of Hasbro, Inc., since they took over and bought the Denys Fisher company.

Contents of Spirograph Original Toy Image of Original Spirograph Box

So who exactly invented the weird and wonderful Spirograph? Well a mathematician Bruno Abakanowicz invented the spirograph between 1881 and 1900. It was used to for calculating an area delimited by curves. Drawing toys based on gears fixed to paper have been around since at least 1908, when The Marvelous Wondergraph was advertised in the Sears catalog. An article describing how to make a Wondergraph drawing machine appeared in the Boys Mechanic publication in 1913.

The Spirograph itself was developed by the British engineer Denys Fisher, who exhibited it at the 1965 Nuremberg International Toy Fair. It was subsequently produced by his company.  The US distribution rights were acquired by Kenner, Inc., which brought it to the United States market in 1966 and promoted it as a creative children’s drawing toy.

In 1968, Kenner expanded the range by introducing Spirotot, a more basic version of Spirograph, aimed at the preschool-age market who were too young for Spirograph.

The original US-released Spirograph consisted of two different-sized plastic rings, with gear teeth on both the inside and outside of their circumferences. They were pinned to a cardboard backing with pins, and any of several provided gearwheels, which had holes provided for a ballpoint pen so you can press it through and decide which color you like through the gears to make colourful designs appear easily on the paper.

A number of  geometric shapes were later released so the Super-Spirograph consisted of a set of plastic gears and other interlocking shape-segments such as rings, triangles, or longer bars bars. It has several different sizes of gears and shapes, all of the edges have teeth to engage with the other pieces. So you could easily place the smaller gears inside the larger rings but also do a couple of small rings around the larger ring edges, the result is many rotations and crazy designs of interlinked shape designs.

To use the low tech spirograph simply place a sheet of paper is placed on a heavy cardboard backing, and one of the plastic pieces, these are secured via pins or reusable adhesive to the paper and cardboard. Another plastic piece—called the rotor—is placed so that its teeth engage with those of the pinned piece.

The point of a pen is placed in one of the holes of the rotor. As the rotor is moved, the pen traces out a curve. The pen is used both to draw and to provide force; some practice is required before the Spirograph can be operated without disengaging the stator and rotor. More complex and unusual-shaped patterns may be made through the use of both hands, one to draw and one to guide the pieces.

Sales of the Spirograph were highest during the late 60’s and throughout the 1970’s and early 1980’s several different versions and material based versions have also been released over time. I can remember them fondly as sometimes a bit fiddly to set-up with the pins but maybe I was too eager to get on and ‘design’ sometimes my movements of the pen or pencil caused a few pins to fly and the paper to need changing for a new un-torn sheet.

KerPlunk

KerPlunk is a popular children’s game which was first marketed by the Ideal Toy Company back in 1967. The game is made up of a plastic tube and a number of plastic straws or rods in various colors which numbered around 30 or 26 in total. 

The base contained four separate numbered trays and the straws are pushed through the holes midway through the tube to form a web or criss cross lattice. Then some marbles are then placed in the top of the tube, but they are held up by the straw web.

At the start of the game the whole tube is turned so that a hole of the base of the tube is in line with the tray each player is using. Players then take it in turns removing a straw one at a time… but they need to pick wisely with the aim of having the least amount of marbles falling through the web and landing into their tray.

kerplunk-in-action-who-will-win Kerplunk Boxed Image

Once a player has touched a straw, they can not change their mind, they must stay committed to remove it and hope that they are not unlucky to have one or more marbles fall at the crucial time. The end of the game is once all marbles have fallen and the winner is crowned the person who has the least marbles in their tray.

The game is available today, manufactured and marketed by the Milton Bradley Company in the UK and by Mattel in the USA, the modern version uses a pink tube rather than the original purple-colored tube.

Hand Buzzer or Joy Buzzer History

Hand Buzzers or to some they are called Joy Buzzers, these toys or joke toys are favourites with pranksters or when playing a joke or practical trick on someone. Hand Buzzers have been giving a jolt to victims since 1928 when they were created by a Danish inventor called Soren Sorensen Adams who went on to form a company and a novelty producer. Sorensen also came up with Sneezing Power in 1906, and also the razzberry or Whoopie Cushion, the snakes in a can, and the exploding cigar novelty toys. – So a huge amount of practical and comical jokes all from one guy, very impressive.

Hand buzzer in packaging

The Hand Buzzer became patented in 1932 and the device does not shock or jolt the victim it merely makes a loud vibrating noise which instead gives the victim a shock. I cant help but respect him a lot for devising numerous toys which have been very popular for gag and jokes in over a hundred years. I used to find Whoopie Cushions very funny to use apart from the times I overfilled it and it popped and alongside his other products, stink bombs and small bangers were also used in small doses honest.

 

Pogo Stick

Razor Bogo Pogo StickPogo Sticks have been around since the 1950s and became a massive hit through the 1970s when a redesign took place. Pogo sticks are still a popular childrens toy and most children are still keen to try the humble Pogo stick and see how they fair.
So a Pogo stick is a pole with a handle at the top and footrests near the bottom, at the bottom a spring is in cased inside the pole.
You need to place a foot on the foot rests or hop onto it and balance whilst you jump up and down with a slight bending motion at the knees. This motion allows you to control by adding or removing energy which goes into the spring below. Or you can see how many full bounces you can do to pretend you are Tigger or to travel in larger but potentially more uncontrollable steps.Super Pogo StickMaster X-Pogo Stick

The modern pogo stick was invented in Germany by Hans Pohlig and Ernst Gottschall, they filed a patent in 1920 for a device called spring end hoping stilt – catchy hey.  Over time different designs have been made mainly focusing on adding more movement and higher bounce but also trying to protect the user from chin or head injury’s did also feature in several designs.

Extreme Pogo or Xpogo is a growing action sport featuring 10ft jumps in height and many modern materials this has led to number of athlete and exhibition teams have been formed, this is one to watch the stunts and flips which are possible is great to watch.

Clackers

Clackers are a toy made of two hard plastic balls on plastic arms or a string which when jerked up and down the balls hit together making a loud click-clacking noise. the idea was to keep them active and clacking for as long as possible – Yes ok this was another toy fad 🙂 but they have had a number comebacks. They were very popular in the late 1960s through to the early 1980s.
Original version of ClackersSmall Neon 90s version of Clackers
The Clacker was discontinued over safety concerns as the balls/ends could be a little wild. A newer version of the Clacker which added fixed arms to the balls so the motion and sound were easier to achieve.

The size of the weights/balls varied between models but a diameter of two inches was typical, with the original version with practice you could make the balls hit together above the hand and not just below.

As we many toys Clackers were also known as Ker-Bangers and Clatter Balls and many other names.

hula hoops twirl it around

Hula Hoop

Hula hoop is a toy hoop which is traditionally twirled around the waist but also the neck, and arms is popular. The modern day hula hoop was invented in 1958 by Arthur K Melin and Richard Knerr, who using the idea of Australian bamboo exercise hoops manufactured hoops from plastic and with national marketing and give-aways a fad began.

hula hoops twirl it around

At its peak 50,000 hula hoops were produced per day. 25 million plastic hula hoops were sold in 4 months and in two years sales reached more than 100 million units.

A standard size hoop is 71 cm/28 inches for children and 102cm/40inches for Adults.  Todays hoops are made from plastic tubing, traditional materials include willow rattan, grapevines and stiff grasses.

Recent hoops have included LED to light up others include different plastics, glitter, glow in the dark. Some extreme people even twirl flaming versions in acrobatic and other performances.

Yo-Yo History

The Yo-Yo can be traced back to around 500 B.C. but it took until the 1920’s when a young US immigrant name Pedro Flores saw the potential after recalling its popularity in his Philippine roots. He founded the Yo-yo company whilst working as a bellboy in 1928. He began by selling handmade yo-yos to children around LA and managed to open a factory where within a year the company was producing 300,000 Yo-yos a day!!

Yomega Plastic Yo-yoYomega Aluminum Yo-yoThe Yo-yo was a craze which led to countless yo-yo contests all over the country.

In modern times many different types of Yo-yo can be bought from simple, to more advanced ones with gears, lights and stunt based Yo-yos. They are a classic toy that is for sure and last for a small outlay.

Superball from Wham-O

SuperBall

SuperBall also known as Bouncy Balls if made by different manufacturers first arrived in 1965,  they were small but thoroughly amazing rubber balls which were capable of bouncing very high and claimed to be able to bounce more than three stories high.

Super Balls were invented in 1964 by chemist Norman Stingley, the balls were an immediate sensation with American children,  the Super Ball offered extra bounce and surprise to a normal game of catch. They initially sold for 98 cents, by the end of 1966 they were 10 cents in vending machines as the fad had passed.Superball from Wham-O

Super Ball Red

The material was likened to the fictional rubber like Flubber material created by the character in the 1961 Disney movie The Absent Minded Professor. They were made from many ingredients mainly polymers and silicas and pressed together under great pressure to combine them into a ball which offers bounce and the ability to alter its shape slightly upon impacts.

By the end of 1965, the Wham-O company had sold more than 6 million Super Balls, at it is claimed 20 million in the 1960s in total. Even several dozen were purchased by McGeorge Bundy who was an adviser to President Lyndon Johnson, who purchased the high-bouncing toys for White House staffers. Can you imagine them bouncing them off the White House walls or through the corridors?

New Superball from Wham-O

In the late 1960s Wham-O made a Huge Super Ball version which was roughly the size of a bowling ball, as a promotional stunt. It fell from the 23rd story window of an Australian hotel (or some reports say, from the roof) and destroyed a parked convertible car on the second bounce, impressive.

Todays versions do not bounce as high as the older style, but they are better in chipping less on rough surfaces and coming in more colors and sturdy materials.