Wizzzers: Putting a New Spin on Traditional Tops

In terms of sheer adrenaline rush potential, not to mention Mom-hating potential, few toys of the 1970s surpassed the Wizzzer. Introduced by Mattel as a new “spin” on the traditional top, Wizzzers were souped up with an internal gyroscope.  They featured a bulbous head made of solid plastic about the size of a plum.  At the bottom there was a short metal pin on which the top balanced, encased in a circular rubber sheathing that resembled an upside-down mushroom.

You basically held the top in your hand at an angle, with the rubber tip touching the floor, and rubbed it across the surface in an arc as hard and fast as your sweaty little fingers could manage in order to “rev it up.”  The voom-voom-VOOM revving sound was enough to get your heart beating fast.  But once you set it down and watched it scream across the linoleum like a three-inch high Tasmanian devil, the fun really began.

And there was no end to the fun that could be had with these durable little toys. Mattel provided some accessories such as a plastic bowl where you could watch it twirl around the sides.  But usually we simply used our imaginati0n and staged mock battles (crashing into each other at top speed was almost always mutually-assured destruction.)

Or pretended they were tornados and sent them zooming across the floor to wreak destruction on our little brother’s play farm or village.  Or sent them bouncing down the stairs.

The Wizzer rated high on the Mom-hating scale for two main reasons. One, revving it up on the floor usually created ugly streaks of rubber residue. Two, revving up the top to full speed and then putting it in your sister’s hair was too much fun for most little boys to resist.

Mattel astutely offered Wizzers in different color schemes to promote collectibility (the head of the top was usually divided into two colors) and provided sticker packages so you could customize them.

The original Wizzzers disappeared long ago but the name survived. By the late 1990s, Duncan — who had purchased the rights to the Wizzzer brand — was manufacturing these gyrating gems. Evidently they have disappeared altogether from the Duncan catalogue however, although they are still available on eBay.    For more history on this unique toy, wiz on over to this excellent and comprehensive website: http://www.snowcrest.net/fox/wiz.html

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