Recently, PlayMonster unveiled Spirograph Animator, a modern take on the iconic toy that integrates light and motion into the design mix. The plastic Animator is battery-powered and combines a Design Ring with LED Strobe Lamps and a Spinner Platform.
DESIGN, LIGHTS, ANIMATION
Kids still use pens and plastic Spirograph wheels to create unique designs but then can “animate” them by dimming the lights in the room, manually spinning the Animator, and turning on the Strobe Lamps. This new spin on the classic toy is a clever addition to Spirograph’s classic play pattern and a psychedelic homage to “Spiromania” introduced almost 50 years ago.
Denys Fisher created the original Spirograph toy in the UK in the mid-1960s with the product named Toy of the Year in 1967 by the British Association of Toy Retailers. Kenner brought the brand across the pond shortly after that. The toy’s novel approach to Op Art resonated with both children and adults, allowing the company to couch their sales success as Spiromania in television and print advertising.
Kenner capitalized on the Spiromania concept by augmenting the basic Spirograph set with new offerings, including the much larger Super Spirograph, Motorized Spirograph, and Spirotot, which brought the arts and crafts toy to the nursery school-kindergarten crowd. One of the more unusual additions to the line was Spiroman, a “space-age robot” that children could use to create geometric patterns by tapping his hands and setting his pendulum feet in motion.
FADEOUT & RESURGENCE
Like most fads, Spiromania eventually faded. Hasbro, which ultimately acquired the brand, scaled back on marketing the toy in the early 1990s, where it remained in limbo until Kahootz Toys successfully relaunched the product in 2013. PlayMonster’s acquisition of the company in 2019 has brought renewed energy to the Spirograph brand and allowed a whole new cohort of children and nostalgic adults a chance to experience Spiromania.
Todd Coopee is Editor-in-Chief of Toy Tales, an online publication that covers toys and games past and present.