In the 80s, it wasn’t an uncommon sight to see a rubber octopus slowly make its way down a wall – a slimy and slithering slinky of sorts. The critter retained its hold, thanks to its remarkably sticky eight legs which adhered when thrown, then methodically walked towards the ground under the merciless forces of gravity. The Wacky Wall Walker would become a toy fad that gripped the entire nation like no other, to the astounding tune of a quarter of a billion of the wiggly beasts being sold in a few short years.
The Wacky Wall Walker was the brainchild of “Dr. Fad” himself, Ken Hakuta, who introduced the creepily lovable toy in 1983. Having caught a glimpse of a similar toy in Japan, he took a remarkable gamble and pooled together every cent he could muster to purchase the licensing rights to the toy and introduce it to the American toy market where he was rewarded most handsomely for his efforts. Made of a squishy rubber material that was coated with sticky substance, it was an overnight success of epic proportions. All across America, these indestructible octopi were soon flying through the air towards any vertical surface available, landing with a splat and providing endless entertainment value to kids of all ages. And since they were completely washable, even a little dirt couldn’t put the toy out of commission. A little rinse of water was all it took to put the clinging creatures back in adhesive action.
Towards the end of its highly successful run, the Wacky Wall Walker was included free in boxes of Kellogg’s cereal. And as could be expected, a plethora of imitators would crawl onto the market as well, in the form of bugs, spiders, caterpillars and even frogs. And to get people into the Christmas spirit like only an octopus can, the Wacky Wall Walkers even got their own animated holiday special on NBC during the height of popularity.
Fads come and go, but in the case of the Wacky Wall Walker, it slithered its way into the fad hall of fame and its memories will stick in the collective conscious of millions of Americans who ever had the pleasure of flinging one towards an unsuspecting wall and watching it do its little dangling dance of descent. If you were the proud owner of one of these memorable toys, we would love to hear your thoughts in our comments section, as we fondly remember these rubber friends from yesteryear.