jmac's Bob-A-Loop page

jmac's Bob-A-Loop page

In early 2000, my parents bestowed upon me some xmas gifts they forgot about when it was actually xmas. These included a mug, an appointment calendar (by then 25 percent obsolete), and a toy called 'Bob-A-Loop', which I think I will give away at this year's Bad Yankee Swap in Orrington.

The Bob-A-Loop, which, according to its box, was made in 'Balto. Maryland' (suggesting a time before postal abbrevations were well known), has many features, some of which are interesting, the remainder of which are merely painful. The most interesting feature is its age; according to the copyright dates stmped on the box, underneath all the friendly, faux-handwritten typefaces spelling out slogans smelling of post-war suburbia (The newest toy sensation that's sweeping the nation! Be the Bob-A-Loop champ of your neighborhood!) and cool, archaic line drawings of various disembodied hands playing with the toy found within, the product has quietly survived on America's toy shelves for over 40 years (I assume that it's the concept that has remained unchanged for so long, and that the actual item in my possession is much younger than this).

The pain comes from its basic design: it is a small but solid wooden barrel-shaped 'bob', about, oh, two inches wide at the base and four inches long, attached by a short, thin rope to a small spindle. To play, one holds the spindle, flips the bob up, and tries to stick the spindle's free end into a narrow cavity located on one of the bob's two flat sides. Upon failure, the bob, possessing a non-insigficiant weight, will often strike the player about the hand, forearm, or whatever body part might be in the vicinity. In less than a minute of play, I managed to deliver unto the back of my right hand a blow which still stings when I make a fist. Perhaps it's a bone bruise.

According to the rules printed on the box, a complete game ends when a player achieves 500 points. Points awarded for various maneuvers range from 5 (for the simplest one, and the one whose attempt facilitated my injury) to up to 100 for tricks of increasing intensity, which expect the player to whip the bob around violently in complete circles before somehow catching it on the spindle (and not having it smash at full speed into him/herself). It's worth noting that the bob is not weighted in any way to favor the end with the hole dropping earthward.

I submit to you that the Bob-A-Loop, when taking into account both its punishing design and its remarkable longevity, is the Worst Toy Ever.

Thank you.


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