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Space Hopper

Space hopper or Jumping Ball?

 

From Wikipedia:

 

space hopper, also known as a moon hopperskippyball,kangaroo ballbouncer,hoppity hop, or hop ball, is a rubber ball (similar to an exercise ball) with handles which allow one to sit on it without falling off. The goal is to hop around with it, using the elasticproperties of the ball to move forward.

The term "space hopper" is more common in the UK; the toy is less familiar in the United States, and may be known as a "hoppity hop" or some other name. A similar toy popular in the U.S. in the 1980s was the pogo ball, which has a hard plastic ring encircling the ball instead of a handle.

Use

The space hopper is a heavy rubber balloon about 60–70 cm in diameter, with two rubber handles protruding from the top. A valveat the top allows the balloon to be inflated by a bicycle pump or car-tyre pump.

A child can sit on top, holding the two handles, and bounce up and down until the balloon leaves the ground. By leaning, the driver can make the balloon bounce in a particular direction. In practical terms, this is a very inefficient form of locomotion, but its simplicity, ease of use, low cost and cheerful appearance appeals to children.

History

The space hopper was said to have been invented by Aquilino Cosani of Ledragomma, an Italian company that manufactured toy rubber balls. He patented the idea in Italy in 1968, and in the United States in 1971. Cosani called the toy PON-PON.

Space hoppers were introduced to the UK in 1969 — theCambridge Evening News newspaper, England, contained an advertisement for the hopper in November of that year [1] and described it as a "trend". Although in practical terms they served absolutely no useful purpose whatsoever (in that they didn’t allow the user to go faster, bounce higher, or run further than they could on foot), nevertheless they became a major craze during the late 1960s/early 1970s. The space hopper also lent its name and face to the Birmingham Psychedelic trance parties that ran from the mid-nineties to 2000, and also appeared at the Glastonbury festival.

The original UK space hopper was manufactured by Mettoy (Mettoy-Corgi). Wembley made a similar model which had smooth handles rather than the ribbed original. The orange kangaroo design is now available in adult-sized versions in the UK.

In the United States, the first mass-marketed hopping ball (a version of an earlier European toy[citation needed]) was the Hoppity Hop, released by the Sun company around 1968. Because of the market and media saturation by this toy, any such ball — regardless of origin — is now generally known in the U.S. by that name (or sometimes "hippity hop").

The earliest HHs were made of rubber (usually red or blue) with a round ring handle on top and automotive tire valve for inflation. In the 1970s Sun introduced various character versions of the HH, such as the Hoppity Horse, Disney's Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck (with hard plastic versions of the character's head attached to the ball).

The HH sold rather steadily for decades, but by the 1990s sales apparently started to slip due to increased competition from foreign hoppers. At some point the HH came to be made of a vinyl-like material, some molded in fluorescent colors. The Hoppity Hop now appears to have been discontinued, but the original — sometimes still in the box — comes up from time to time on online auction sites.

It is interesting to note that the Hoppity Hop's original targets (according to advertising materials) were adults as well as kids. Since the balls only inflated to around 20", however, it's doubtful any but the shortest hop-minded adults could have gotten much use out of one.

Today, numerous (usually Chinese) versions can be found in most stores, ranging anywhere from 16" to 24".

The European Hop! balls appeared in the early 1990s and are still available. Made by Italy's Ledragomma/Ledraplastic, these are essentially the quality Gymnic exercise ball with a handle attached. The sizes of these balls range from the Hop! 45 to the Hop! 66 (66 cm, about 26").

While it is still is used for fun and exercise by many adults, the Hop! 66 is still borderline child-sized. So demand for truly adult-proportioned hopping balls was met with two notable items.

The first of these was Kitt 2000 Velp of the Netherlands Mega Skippyballs, a huge hopping ball which by virtue of its size was intended only for adult use. There were three sizes: 120 cm, 100 cm and 80 cm. The Mega Skippyballs are made of extra strong vinyl, and in the Netherlands there are various Skippyball races and Skippyball championships.