Click Clacks / Clackers / Kerbangers

It’s a shame that the very thing that makes a toy attractive is the one thing you can’t advertise: the danger factor. If the makers of lawn darts had been allowed to write on the packaging, “The toy that could kill you if you use it wrong!” then nearly every kid in the world would be begging for a set. So it was with the simple, seemingly harmless 70’s toy called Click Clacks (or, depending on where you grew up, Knockers, Knocker Bockers, Clackers, Ka-Bangers, Knicker Knackers, etc.). Had they worked only as the toymakers intended-as a noisy little twist on paddleball games-then Click Clacks might now be collecting dust in the Hall of Forgotten Toys. But no, these little spheres had a grander destiny: the much cooler Hall of Dangerous Toys.

The Click Clack design was like the answer to a Zen riddle: two orbs attached by a common string. By holding the middle of the string and moving their hands in a constant up-and-down motion, kids caused the thick acrylic spheres to collide at the top and bottom. Aside from looking great (especially if the balls were speckled inside with glitter), the toy made a highly satisfying clacking noise that you controlled. Many a parent was driven to profanity by this hellish metronome, but that was only the start of the Click Clacks’ problems.

If you don’t know the story, right now you’re probably thinking, “pinched fingers.” And you’re halfway right. Those spheres could deliver a mighty whack to the untrained hand. But that was totally your own fault for being such a lame-oid with your Click Clacks, doofus. The real danger was a hidden one, at least until you managed to smack your Click Clacks together long enough and hard enough. When that critical breaking point was reached, those thick acrylic balls would shatter, sending Click Clack shrapnel flying. Usually, the spheres were chipped away a little at a time, but if you were on the wrong end of a surprise shattering, boy, were you in for a dandy treat.

Not surprisingly, just when Click Clacks got interesting, they were taken away. The toy went out of production, moving forever into the realm of schoolyard rumor and urban legend. Click Clacks did make a comeback in later decades in a safer (in other words, more boring) form, but the days of explosive, noisy fun were gone forever.

If your childhood the 70s included playing with these infamous toys, if you ever got bonked on the head by one of them, or if your beloved Click-Clacks ever caused bodily harm to those around you, these are all stories we’d like to hear at Retroland. Share your experiences in our comments section as we remember these unforgettable noisemakers.

40 Responses to “Click Clacks / Clackers / Kerbangers”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Smudge says:

    I got sent to the principals office for bringing mine to school in the 2nd grade. My family hadn’t heard about the dangers of Clackers (as they were called in Reno, NV at the time) yet. I thought I would be so cool if I showed up at recess with mine. I was cool for about 5 minutes before I was whisked away, Clackers still warm from a furious round of clacking, by my teacher to the principals office. There I got a lecture on the danger I was putting myself and my classmates in. I didn’t get into any real trouble but was told I had to leave my Clackers in the principals office till the end of the day. It actually worked out for me as I got way more “street cred” by getting sent to the principal than I got by bringing Clackers to recess. Of course when I got home I had to see if the exploding action was true. My brother and I spent all afternoon trying various techniques to recreate the shattering effect. Lets just say hammers and bricks were involved. Luckily we didn’t get hurt and in the end they just kind of cracked and crumbled.

  2. Jaki K says:

    Still have two pairs. What I remember most were the bruises all over my forearm from my less-experienced ker-banger days. They were also a pretty effective weapon in a sibling battle. I was usually the victor, as evidenced by the fact I still have mine AND my sister’s. Lol!

  3. April says:

    OMG! My wrist still hurts from those darn balls coming down and hitting me. I am telling my kids all about them and getting so animated! Those were cool, but crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Sandy Eggo says:

    Yes,I remember having many bruises on my arms from that dang toy! I not only remember my clackers, I have a set now that I got off Ebay a while back. The ones I got off Ebay were original from the 70’s, still in the package. I use them once in a while, but I don’t want to use them too much and have them shatter.

  5. Florian Myrtozai says:

    I remember playing with those bad boys back home in Albania in 1997 or 98. We use to try and see who use to be the best by seeing who use to get the Clackers to bang the fastest. The quicker you were the faster and louder the clackers banged the more street credit you got in the neighbourhood. I remember being really good and getting the clackers to bank really fast tiki-tiki tiki-tiki tiki-tiki tiki-tiki. Some guys were really really good.
    I was wondering where i could buy some cheap decent ones? If anybody knows could they write on here please and maybe leave a site i could go on and buy some Bad boy Clackers! Thank you!

  6. patty says:

    My father Peter Mitchell was the inventor so we were the first kids to have as well as slip and slide and water wiggle

  7. Meaghan Edwards says:

    I am old enough to remember the early 90’s revival of Clackers. Loved them. Such a simple, low tech toy that provided so much amusement.

  8. Drahken says:

    I first encountered them in the early 90s. The ones I had weren’t glass though, they were some kind of hard plastic/resin material, possibly the same stuff they use for bowling balls.
    Later they started making the “safe” version, where they replaced the string with plastic brackets. The new contraption removes all challenge from the toy, making it pretty useless & boring.

  9. Emily says:

    Yeah, I had the “safe” version of Clackers too, from the 90’s. They did take some skill to clack properly, but probably nothing close to the shattering, bruising, glass version that preceded them.

  10. Jan says:

    I still have mine – the original harbingers of hurt from the 70’s. I am looking at them right now. Ah…the memories of bruised elbows and concussions! I still can’t get them to go more than three or four times in a row mainly because I am ducking and covering my face with my left hand and arm while extending my right arm as far as possible away from my body while clacking. Obviously, I still am terrified of them. But they make a great sound!

  11. Lynn says:

    Maybe I was a knocker prodigy without realizing. No bruises or any damage other then dropping them on my toe once. I could get those suckers in a blur for as long as I could take the noise. We lived out in the country so no complaints from neighbors or family.
    I heard they could shatter and sadly try as I might mine didn’t. I still have mine. Hmm just gave me an idea about the next apartment when they blast their music at 3am……

  12. HDS says:

    I seem to remember them ending up hanging off of the electric power lines.

  13. Debbie says:

    I just got a set from the 70s…still in the pkg.!these ones are called Klatterballs, but I remember them as Click-Clackers…they surely ere painful.

  14. Debbie says:

    I remember having several pairs and several bruises too back in the late 60s and early 70s. Loved them and became quite good at working them. Of course we always had neighborhood competitions to see who could go the longest or the fastest so our whole neighborhood was actually good at it. Gosh, I know now they weren’t safe, but they sure were fun.

  15. Kurious says:

    We had steam heat radiators in school, which were great for two things: melting crayons, and exploding Klackers!

  16. peter heburn says:

    I can’t belive that people have enough time to be researching such minutia. But, while I’m at it I would like to mention the carpal tunnel sysndrome I developed from the rubicks cube and the sea monkies that I raised that grew up to bite me….

  17. Doug says:

    I lived in Tampa Florida in the early 1970s. We had a neighbor that said he invented the clicker-clacker. Me and my older sister got to make a tv commercial using the toy. It never aired because I was told he got in trouble due to the glass breaking and hurting people. So I did not get to become famous. ha ha.

  18. Karen Marie Vela says:

    Grew up with these in Chicago in the 70’s. I had one set where the middle handle broke. They flew off and broke a kids nose. And I STILL begged for another set!

  19. Robert Jenkins says:

    I had a pair of these and I don’t remember getting any more hurt then a couple of bruises on the wrist. I had a great time and they never chipped or broke. I had one pair that the string broke but the ball didn’t. I also had one pair later that when the clacked together it made a bang noise like a fire cracker. It would only work when they hit each other. I’d like to find another pair can’t remember what they were called.

  20. Scott Hill says:

    For one glorious summer, klick klacks were the ultimate prize to win on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights NJ. All a kid had to see was the guy in the prize booth demo them once and he would spend his very last quarter spinning that big wheel. Imagine the sound of hundreds of them echoing down the Midway.

  21. Roberta says:

    At my elementary school they had a special area that we were allowed to play with our “knicker knockers”, as we called them. I remember getting hit and bruised on the forearm/elbow! Lovely memories!!

  22. Patrick says:

    Don’t know if it was urban legend about these or not, but the ’70’s version had a story going around about them that they’d explode if you put them in the freezer overnight, perhaps several days so they’d get good and hard. I could see where it might make the glass more brittle and if you suddenly went from freezer to 90 degrees outside, the thermal shock might have had something to do with it. Does anyone else know of this?

  23. lita says:

    The inventor had a mean streak no doubt: from reading the statements and testimonials about the toy, Click Clack.

  24. Rose says:

    Mine were “hot pink” and I remember the day that I really got them going on the playground at recess and they exploded … what a huge loss …what a shock !!! GONE, just like that
    .. I was heart broken, but no one was hurt and I got another pair….eventually. Now as an adult, I am a bit afraid as I clack away. Ahhh, to be young and fearless :))

  25. W P Gardner says:

    I broke my front tooth playing with these (called Click-Clacks for us) around 1972 or 1973. I was in seventh or eighth grade. For us, in the Chicago suburbs, these were a must-have toy, everyone wanted one (before they were banned). They made a hell of a lot of racket. When we would start playing with them my mother would say “Outside!”.

    I can understand why they were banned.

  26. Mervin j Carson jr says:

    I remember these actually I still have mine got them for my 10-11 birthday my sister had a pair metal flack red she lost hers in the power lines was wondering what they may b worth

  27. Sarah says:

    I swear I have scar tissue on my bone before the elbow! Loved ‘em!

  28. Robert says:

    Had them in the early 80s. I had an all green pair and a blue/red pair. I loved them, had quite the bruised arm, but once I got it I made a lot of noise. One day they took enamel off the stove, I got a beating that night lol. Remember when you could beat your kids lol.

  29. doug sebens says:

    Some of my friends and I was at the apple pork festival in Clinton Illinois just last weekend and and to my surprise I saw 2 young girls with a couple pairs of these. When I was young we called them knockers. It took me about ten minutes to chase these girls down and ask them where they got them. The big laugh of the day was me chasing them down to ask them about their knockers. I even got to touch them.

  30. Pam says:

    My brother and I each had a pair of these. They were great. My pair only chipped at the bottom of the sphere. Great times competing against the neighborhood with them.

  31. ladyjae65 says:

    I’m the youngest of nine kids. My sister had a light purple pair of clik clacks with the sparkles in them. I used to play with them all the time when she let me. I had to leasrn how to clap them right, as I hurt my fingers from trying to move them to much or too fast. Nevertheless, they wer fun to use. My older brothers used to play with silver cap guns our father bought them. They are now 50+. They’ve never shot anyone or been to jail! I used to also enjoy my slinky, the original coiled one. When I went to purchase one years ago for my niece, they only had these pathetic plastic ones that you can not even bounce down the stairs, for God’s sake! I hate that a few careless kids or total nutjobs have ruined the continuation of so many toys that were awesome to use when me and my family were younger, but are now deemed “dangerous” or a bad influence( toy guns….) on kids nowadays…..Damn shame.

  32. Osiris says:

    Click Clacks were never made of glass, that is just ridiculous.

    They were always acrylic plastic.

  33. Clickclackchamp says:

    I sure would like to have a pair these if anyone has them and want to part with them. They were my favorite toy next to jacks. Please let me know. Thx

Leave A Comment...

*