A legendary flop in the toy industry. It was brought out in 1958 by the Ideal Toy Company, which was the same company that invented the teddy bear in 1903 and introduced the Rubik's Cube in the 1980s.
The story goes that the company president, Ben Michtom, got the idea for it after visiting the Pope. From the NY Post:
Under the leadership of Morris’ son, Ben, Ideal expanded to produce the Shirley Temple Doll; the first black baby doll; Betsy Wetsy; and one major flop, a baby Jesus doll, which had the Catholic Church’s blessing.
“What a bomb,” exclaimed [Paula] Michtom. “Being Jewish, [the family] didn’t understand that no one was going to buy the toy. No one was going to have their children playing with the Christ child.”
Even the kids in the ad for it look pretty disinterested in the thing.
From the mind of inventor George Fullerton came, in 1973, the Belly Bongo.
It's called a "Belly Bongo," and according to inventor Fullerton, it will make you "shake, rattle and roll." Made of high-impact styrene plastic, the Belly Bongo toy is an 8-inch square composed of four open-ended chambers. A hard rubber ball hangs from a three-inch string on the front-center. A canvas strap threaded through the back fastens it to your body. When Belly Bongo is secured around the hips — "where the action is," says Fullerton — the ball moves with the motion of your body. As it hits on the hollow chambers, it produces a bongo-beat, the tone of which varies according to the chamber size. With the motion of walking, the Belly Bongo emits a bump-da-da-da, bump-da-da-da beat. "It tells you how sexy your walk is," Fullerton grins.
A rapid-motion twist produces an up-tempo pong-pong-pong-pong. With proper body movements, Belly Bongo makes you your own bump-and-grind drummer. A checker in the electro-mechanical division at Honeywell, Fullerton spends his evenings designing and tapping away at product prototypes in his Largo home. Belly Bongo is the latest in a long line of toys and crafts he's invented. Fullerton explains his wealth of entertainment ideas as a direct result of the lack of hair on his head. "It's all because I'm bald-headed," he says with a laugh, "If you're bald-headed, it means you're crazy."
In the Barbie family, Skipper is Barbie's younger sister. The 1975 version of her included the unusual feature that moving her arm caused her to experience "plastic puberty" (as one reporter put it). From wikipedia:
In 1975 Growing Up Skipper was released. The gimmick of the doll, which led to much controversy in the newspapers, was that if Skipper's arm was rotated, the doll would become an inch taller and small breasts would appear on her rubber torso. This concept was later used for Mattel's My Scene brand in 2007 with the "Growing Up Glam" line, which was also controversial.
Appleton Post-Crescent - Dec 19, 1975
Posted By: Alex - Thu Oct 19, 2017 -
In China, where life is hard and patience strong, the toy man is a favorite of old and young. On the streets of Peiping he displays his wares and children flock to see — and if they have pennies — to buy. A set of his most fascinating wares are fashioned from skins of dead crickets, dressed up to satirize the many street vendors in the ancient city.
"This cricket has been mounted to represent a vendor of flowers and plants."
"These crickets represent a barber shaving a customer."
"Barbers bring their trade to the customer in China. They carry their 'shops' on long poles which they balance on one shoulder. Above is a Chinese cricket-barber carrying his tools along the street, offering to shave the head of any he meets."
"Bicycles fill the streets of Peiping. Hence the toy-man's set would be incomplete without a cricket astride a wheel."
Books Selected and endorsed for Pure Weirdness by Your WU Team
Who We Are
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.