I guess it's feast or famine around here at my blog these days, nothing for months and then three posts in three days. But I found something so wonderful, at least for those of us of a particular era, when I was shopping last night that I can't not talk about it.
No, your eyes do not deceive you, it's a real live gen-u-ine Spirograph. This (along with my Lite Brite) ranks as one of my all time favorite toys ever. A year or so ago I started looking for one so that I could add one to Ms. Z's collection (when she was old enough to use one), only to find that they simply weren't made any more and that stalking eBay was going to be the only way I'd ever find one again. I was more than a little heartbroken that it was going to be so hard to share one of my favorite toys ever with my daughter.
So imagine my surprise when I took a trip to Learning Express in Ann Arbor (a most fabulous independent toy store that you should definitely visit if you are in the area) and found a real live Spirograph set. I snagged one without a second thought. And when I went up to the register mentioned that I was so excited to see them back and was getting one for myself.
Which is when I got the wonderful story that goes along with them.
Apparently, the folks at Kahootz Toys, which is also based on Ann Arbor, MI, wanted to license the Spirograph product from Hasbro and manufacture this retired toy, which they also missed. Hasbro didn't have a problem licensing, but the molds for many of the gears just didn't exist any more. So Kahootz went to eBay and bought several vintage Spirographs and reverse engineered the pieces from these vintage kits and started manufacturing the sets. Learning Express got their first batch (and probably the first batch of them that was delivered to anyone) of them on December 17, 2012.
Aside from a lack of thumb tacks (this new kit uses a tacky putty to hold the wheels down) its just like what I remember as a kid. The case is much improved (the old box was easy to break down) and the front panel serves as a work surface but the wheels are all what I remember and the manual includes all the wonderful old designs as well as much more information about how the Spirograph wheels work.
Those wheels are just about as much happiness as I can imagine from hard plastic gears!
When I asked if it was selling well, I was told that they had sold 500 of them since they put them out, many to people like me who were past their peak toy using years... I guess I am not the only one who loved this toy when I was small!
Although it looks like this toy is available from pre-order on Amazon... if you want it right now, I'm pretty sure you could call Learning Express and order it since they take phone orders. That would make my heart sing extra loud since buying local and from small unique businesses is one of the causes I really try to get behind and this is a toy revived by an Ann Arbor company and sold at a local Ann Arbor business (at least right now).