Many thanks to Mark for this interesting e-mail:
I don't remember the 70s, but the Beeb made a groovy job of them in "The I Love 70s" progs. I'm surprised by things I read on here and on your Spacehopper blog that the spacehopper wasn't released in the 70s. You have a feature on "The Perishers" on Spacehopper and I have some old books of them with Baby Grumpling having a spacehopper around 1973.
I agree with you, Mark - the BBC DID make a groovy job of the 1970s - the only trouble was, a lot of it wasn't accurate.
The space hopper newspaper ad from 1969 on the "Space hopper" blog, and its labelling as a "Trend", indicates that the hopper was up and bouncing in Britain well before the end of the 1960s. We've since found many newspaper ads from April 1968 onwards, revealing that the space hopper was available and articles about spacehopper races from 1968 onwards - including one in Hyde Park, London, in 1968 as part of a huge charity effort.
The BBC's I Love... series had a little tag in the opening titles informing the world that the hopper was released in 1968. But the I Love website states that the first hoppers arrived here in 1971 - or at least it did the last time I looked!
The Toy Retailers Association (formerly the British Association of Toy Retailers) was listing Clackers as the "overwhelming toy mania of 1971" - until the I Love 1970s series, when the association joined the merry chorus, labelling the hopper a new arrival and "Craze of the Year" for 1971. This was done recently. The BATR had no "Craze of the Year" award in 1971. Nor any other year.
And as for Baby Grumpling - true he did get a hopper c. 1972 or 73, but Perishers writer Maurice Dodd wrote in the introduction to Omnibus No 3:
Some little time ago I introduced a space hopper, which is an inflatable toy, into the strip. That toy had been hopping around my house for about five years until, when my children had outgrown it, I gave it to my Godson. It was only when I saw him enjoying it I recognised it as a potential runner in the giggle stakes and gave one to Baby Grumpling.
So, the space hopper had been around Mr Dodd's house for about five years when he introduced one into The Perishers strip in 1972/3. Work it out.
An acquaintance of mine contributed some items to the I Love 1970s series. He was astounded that most of the researchers were too young to remember much, if any of the 70s, and suggested that, anyway, the 60s would be a better decade for the series. He was informed by one young researcher that they were too far back, and nobody remembered them!
So, instead, the researchers transplanted 60s pop culture into the 70s as new fads.
My acquaintance advised about an item lined up for the I Love The 1970s series:
"Er, I think you'll find that's 1980s pop culture. It was released in 1980."
"Too late now, it's scheduled," he was told.
So some 1980s pop culture tumbled into the 1970s black hole too. I think this had something to do with many BBC researchers' political stance. The organisation recruits largely in The Guardian newspaper, and is rather anti-80s - being the decade of Reagan and Thatcher. I'm a lefty myself, but I still have fond memories of the 1980s, an amazingly polarised time, and shifting likeable pop culture from that decade into the 1970s is simply childish and nonsensical.
I hope an image of the real 70s will emerge here on this blog, and space hoppers may well be part of it as they continued to be popular after the 60s, but the craze was really very much in its heyday from 1968 to about 1970 and the type of thing purveyed by the BBC or Toy Retailers Association about it is not accurate. As this blog is based on actual material from the 70s, the BBC stuff has no place here.
Having said that, Mark, you might find other reasons to love the 70s, not based on BBC fantasy! I hope that doesn't sound patronising. It's not meant to be.
I'm absolutely fascinated, as I wade through a mountain of magazines, newspapers and other bits and bobs, to recall my 70s childhood and to see a wider picture of the decade beginning to emerge.
Nostalgia based on accurate info is illuminating and fun!
I hope that you will enjoy the true picture.