Magic 8 Ball

Magic 8 Ball toy

When you are in need of some quick advice, what better place to turn than to a trusted, all-knowing billiard accessory. For more than 50 years, people have been posing questions to the Magic 8 Ball, a toy that is never at a loss for words and ready to offer enigmatic solutions to all of life’s problems with a quick shake and a glance into the murky window of destiny. Let’s take a look back at this classic toy.

Alabe Crafts introduced the Magic 8 Ball in the 1940s, a toy that could double as a paperweight and provide countless hours of entertainment to inquisitive minds. Tyco would take over production for a stint before the reigns were eventually handed to Mattel Toys, who produce the Magic 8 Ball to this day. Standing about 4 inches high, this mystical ball always has an answer to any “yes or no” question, just by shaking it, then peering into a small window where a blue triangular piece of plastic, with answers printed on each edge, resides in a pool of blue-colored water. As the triangle floats toward the glass, the answer that the Magic 8 Ball deems most helpful, floats into position, solving all of life’s major dilemmas in the simplest terms possible.

Ask the Magic 8 Ball whether you should ask the cute girl in class for a date and you might be lucky enough to score a “Signs point to yes” response, or you might be left dejected and lonely, thanks to a “Outlook not so good”. Of course, when dealing with the supernatural world of fortune telling, you also have to prepare yourself for uncooperative spirits, who might keep you hanging on that cliff with a “Reply Hazy” or “Better not to tell you now”. But hey, at least it is an answer of some sort and you can plan accordingly.

The simplicity of the Magic 8 Ball has made it an iconic toy for almost 70 years. No batteries are ever required, and a handy flat edge created by the magic window ensures that it won’t easily roll off a table and stain the carpet with leaking blue liquid. And should one tire of the stock responses offered, there are plenty of variations on the original concept such as one that gives sarcastic answers and another that offers stock advice (sell!). A keychain version even offers advice on the go, ensuring that one never be without this trusty Dear Abby of the billiard world. And for those who find themselves in need of immediate advice, but don’t have a Magic 8 Ball or toy store nearby, the internet is ready to help; a number of sites are available that offer virtual representations of the Magic 8 Ball. You can even put one on your iPhone:

The only downside to the legendary Magic 8 Ball is one small flaw that anyone who has ever owned one can attest to, those pesky air bubbles that form over time in the blue liquid, making the display hard to read at times. Once again, the internet proves its omnipotence – a number of sites offer instructions on how to “burp” a Magic 8 Ball, returning it to its original glory, complete with crystal clear insight.

Whatever pondered problems manage to present themselves in life, the amazing Magic 8 Ball has always stood in the wings, atop coffee tables, office desks, and any other place where answers are needed at a moment’s notice. Will it remain popular for generations to come? All signs point to yes.

We welcome your memories of the Magic 8 Ball in our comments section, as we pay tribute to this perpetually popular toy.

3 Responses to “Magic 8 Ball”

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  1. Jennifer harris says:

    I had one of these.

  2. Gina says:

    This toy has a featured part in a Simpsons episode, “Bart’s Friend Falls in Love”. It predicted that Bart and Milhouse would not be friends by the end of the day, and sure enough, Milhouse gets distracted by the new girl in school. Later, Bart and Milhouse get in a fight, and one of the boys smashes the eight ball against the other, breaking it. “Bet the ol’ 8 Ball didn’t see that coming,” Bart says, and the two boys are BFF again.

  3. The idea of the Magic 8 Ball actually came from a 3 stooges movie.

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