Mar 24 2011
I apologize; that was terrible. But seriously, when trying to think of consumer goods that I have legitimately enjoyed, I knew that I couldn’t really do much better than the Skip It.
I’m sure you all are familiar with this incredible toy that shot to popularity in the 1990s, in part due to the catchy commercial:
The Skip It wraps around the user’s ankle and is then spun so that it orbits around the opposite leg, like a one-legged jump rope. The Skip It’s benefits are limitless. It requires surprisingly minimal coordination, keeps kids entertained, can be played alone or with friends, and expends all that extra energy bundled up in those of the age targeted by the above commercial. Though invented in the 1980s, the Skip It really hit its stride when it gained its own counter in the early 1990s, so that even when playing by oneself it includes an element of competition. TIME Magazine lists the Skip It as one of the 100 best toys ever invented, claiming its reasonable price and encouragement of physical activity as the reasons for its popularity with parents.
Thinking about the Skip It reminded me of all the great toys that were popular when we were little, from Lite Brite to that velcro catch game, and one factors stands out among them all: the toy did nothing by itself without the active participation of the child. What a difference from kids’ toys today, which so often entertain without any creativity needed, complete with multimedia bombardment. It’s hard to imagine the kids I babysit being sufficiently entertained jumping around with a Skip It in their driveway, no videos involved.
But now for the downside: somewhere between 1995 and the present, the Skip It fell from its place of favor. Although you would probably have no trouble finding a beloved old Skip It in most basements in America, purchasing a new Skip It could prove quite the challenge. Its original maker, Tiger Toys, sold the rights to Hasbro,which has since deactivated the Skip It website and no longer manufactures or sells new Skip It toys. Many a used Skip It can be found on Ebay, Amazon, and similar sites. Most are quite overpriced, (the rainbow streamer Skip It on Ebay would cost you well over $60 after shipping) as they are viewed as a vintage collector’s toy.
Several knock-offs of the Skip It are still available today, like the Skip Ball, which has a nice rainbow color scheme and is affordably priced at under $10, but lacks its own counter. The Comet Hopper is another affordable alternative available from Amazon, but nothing seems to come close to the original, with its sturdy design and built in counter. In summary, you were probably better off having experienced this toy in its heyday when it didn’t cost and arm and a leg to purchase. Then you could still have both legs to Skip It. But if you missed out, be prepared to pay a collector’s price, or just ask a friend to check their garage.
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