Big Bubbles, Some Troubles.

You’ve got to wonder what WHAM-O were thinking when they decided to market a toy to children that was designed to be inflated by mouth, yet was not safe enough to come in to contact with painted surfaces or furniture.

(Re-)Introducing SuperElasticBubblePlastic. Basically you squeezed out a blob of this toothpaste-like goop, molded it over the end of a little plastic straw, and blew for all you were worth. When it worked it was something to see, huge multi-coloured balloons that lasted for as long as a few hours, or until your mum binned it. I often had blow-outs to one side or another however, in theory you could pinch the hole together and keep on puffing, but any engineer knows that once you have a weak spot it’s all over and you may as well start again.

I still remember the distinctive smell of these balloons, somewhere between burnt drinking straws and vomit as I recall.

I suppose we must give WHAM-O credit though for pioneering the field of flammable and creatively toxic kid’s toys. Lead paint was for wimps, you knew you were playing in the 70’s when you stuck a cocktail of Polyvinyl Acetate, Acetone, Pigments and Plastic Fortifiers in your little gob. Ahhhh the 70’s.


PS – Interesting WHAM-O / Aussie connection: WHAM-O introduced the polyethylene Hula-Hoop in the US in 1958, a year after it was created by the great Australian Alex Tolmer, founder of Toltoys. Tolmer sold 400,000 Hula Hoops in Australia in 1957, WHAM-O sold about a bazillion from 1958, and set off a craze that still comes around the school yard every few years even today. So there you go!*

* Page 142, The Playmakers



, ,




One response to “SuperElasticBubblePlastic”

  1. michelle Avatar

    Awesome!!!! We were looking for this today online and could find nothing. My friend and I remembered this as soon as we both started talking about it. I've told others about it and they juts look at you blankly.

    I remember it having a weird smell as well 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.