Magna Doodle

Magna Doodle

While the magic of the Etch-A-Sketch was well documented by the mid 1970’s, its prevalence as the dominant magnetic means of making art was soon brought into question by small group of Japanese engineers. The erstwhile developers tinkered with numerous designs, eventually stumbling upon the means to create a toy they dubbed the Magna Doodle. While similar to the aforementioned Etch-A-Sketch, Magna Doodle replaced knobs with an actual plastic pen that made for far more accurate drawing.

Introduced by Mego in 1974, and originally marketed as a toy for children, the Magna Doodle enjoyed a more diversified success in the years that followed. Athletic coaches drew up plays on the fly while pacing the sidelines. Hospital patients suffering from any number of speech impeding ailments used the Magna Doodle to communicate with staff, friends, and family. Of course, the ultimate use of the Magna Doodle perhaps lies in its ability to mollify children confined in the dreaded “automobile road trip.”

Magna Doodle’s screen was a respectable eight by eleven with the drawing pen clipped to the side. For ease of use, several magnetic stamps came with the Magna Doodle, allowing a kid to create a variety of symmetrical shapes by simple pressing the stamp down on the screen. When the time came to clean the slate for the next great masterpiece, the user simply slid the eraser bar across the screen.

Over the years, countless incarnations of the Magna Doodle were introduced. The Handy Dandy Blue’s Clues Notebook featured the kid-favorite cartoon dog in its design, with Blue himself as the eraser and a striped green pen. The Magna Doodle Learning Bus made more educational inroads, incorporating ten Magic Learning Cards that one could trace in order to reveal all kinds of numbers, letters, and words. The bubble-shaped Fisher-Price Talking Magna Doodle chirped out eight different phrases to young users. And, the coup de gras, the Deluxe Magna Doodle, went a step beyond simple sketches and used face-shaped stencils to put the power of personification in the palm of kids’ hands.

Giving credence to the claim that it’s “America’s favorite way to doodle,” Magna Doodle sales have topped forty million since its release. Thus, while one can wipe the slate of a Magna Doodle clean in one effortless swipe, the legacy of this popular drawing toy remains intact.

Did you doodle to your heart’s content on a Magna Doodle back in the day? If so, we’d love to hear all of your thoughts and recollections in our comments section below.

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