Sometimes the very repetitive nature of games is what makes them so mesmerizing. Such is the case with Whee-Lo, a toy that was introduced in the 1950’s, and was so unique and addictive that it continues to sit on store shelves today. Let’s take a look back at this memorable toy that has perpetually entertained us for over half a century.

The first Whee-Lo toys were produced by Maggie Magnetic, Inc. in the early ‘50’s. The concept was both straightforward and timeless – a red, plastic wheel with a magnetized axle and a j-shaped, two-pronged piece of curved wire. You placed the wheel within the wire loop and angled it so that the wheel rolled toward the curved end. The magnet, combined with the momentum, kept the wheel spinning as long as you kept tipping the wire loop back and forth.

Here’s a familiar motorized store display, to serve as a reminder of the fun one could have with a Whee-Lo:

The toys were perfect accompaniments to dull activities such as car rides and waiting for the school bus. Parents liked the fact that they kept kids quietly occupied, and teachers used them to illustrate scientific principles like kinetic energy, gravity, and rotational energy. Kids just liked them because they were hypnotically fun.

You can still purchase Whee-Lo in toy stores today. Skilcraft is the current manufacturer, but similar toys exist, such as the Wizmo made by Binary Arts Corporation. Over 50 years later and kids STILL aren’t getting tired of spinning that wheel back and forth.

Are you a former owner of a Whee-Lo? Were you mesmerized for hours on end by this timeless toy? Share your memories with us in our comments section. Of course, if you dug out your old Whee-Lo while reading this article, we’ll understand if you need a little time to yourself before responding.

9 Responses to “Whee-Lo”

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  1. Chuck Baker says:

    I had one of those back when I was a boy. I played with it for hours on end.

  2. Scott says:

    Cool! So what was the song for the TV commercials? At least the words? I’ve looked everywhere and haven’t located it yet.

    • Rhonda says:

      I don’t recall all of the words but here’s what I remember – “How many Whee-lo’s can you do? I bet cha I can do as many as you.” . . . “You put the little wheel here, get ready to play, tilt up, tilt down, that’s the way to play Whee-lo, Whee-lo, whee it’s a lot of fun!!!

  3. Kim says:

    I was out shopping yesterday and saw one, modernized of course with changing lights (really fun to play with in the dark btw) The friend I was with couldn’t resist getting it for me for my birthday. I played with it for hours last night, had to wrestle it away a few times from a 15 that had never see one LOL

  4. jordan says:

    I have fond memories of playing with this as a kid when my family would travel to Missouri to visit my grandparents. They had one and that was the first and only toy I would play with. Loved that thing!

  5. Alan says:

    I still have one, with the box that had the pattern discs you placed on the wheel to watch as they spinned. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I used to play with it when I got high.

  6. Peter H says:

    When I was a kid in Hollywood Fla. In 1964 I would do small jobs for a TV studio called Soundac. One of the jobs was for the Whee-lo toy. I spent hours perfecting my skill with this toy for the TV commercial shoot. All you can see is my arm working the toy. I was like 13 years old then but I think the commercial was still running 10 years ago. I didn’t get paid much for the shoot, but I did get a bunch of the toys to take home.

  7. Rick says:

    Where oh where can I get the song? I have scoured the web!!!


  1. Tarco Whee-Lo! with Whee-Lets! | Retro Hound says:

    This cool toy is a Whee-Lo from Tarco. Probably several companies made them, some of them called it a magnetic rail toy. Whee-Lo started in the 1950s. This one is my Mom’s (and not for sale, at least not cheap), and it was at my Grandparent’s house for us kids when we visited. When I showed it to my kids I said “Boys, this is what a gameboy looked like when I was a kid.” Frankly, I find these preferable to texting or video games. They’re still made, a couple of my sons had some of these and they were chincy. The one pictured here is pretty solid, heavy gauge wire, etc.

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