Toys that mimic body functions and fluids have enjoyed popular – albeit sometimes controversial – acclaim over the years. Doggie Doo, fake vomit, and whoopee cushions are all examples. So is the Hypo-Phony – a fake hypodermic needle released in 1958 by Chicago-based H. Fishlove & Co.
The toy’s realistic-looking plunger, finger flange, barrel, and needle tip allowed pranksters to appear to draw or give blood. The Hypo-Phony’s blunt needle seemed to penetrate the skin by retracting inside the hypo. A button on the base activated a red-coloured cylinder and gave the illusion that blood was being drawn or injected.
Advertising for the Hypo-Phony over the years revealed the many potential target audiences, from kids to adults. It’s been pitched as a “safe, educational toy for ‘play doctors’”, as well as a fun way to “give ‘hot’ blood to a ‘cold’ girl.”
Needless to say, not everyone has bought into the toy’s purported play value. Over the years, the Hypo-Phony has been an easy target for critics of its medicinal-based humor.
In 1985, H. Fishlove & Co. was acquired by Fun Inc. The Wheeling, Illinois-based company calls itself America’s Magic and Gag Novelty Factory and continues to sell the Hypo-Phony to this day, along with other novelty items gained through the acquisition.
Speaking of novelty items, if you’re interested in more of the history behind classic novelty items, I recommend Cheap Laffs: The Art of the Novelty Item from author Mark Newgarden.
Todd Coopee is Editor-in-Chief of Toy Tales, an online publication that covers toys and games past and present.