Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Spacehopper - 1960s Pop Culture First & Foremost...

The famous Mettoy space hopper first bounced into the UK in 1968...

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 spacehopper newspaper ad from 1969 on the "Spacehopper" blog, and its labelling as a "Trend", indicates that the hopper was up and bouncing in Britain well before the end of the 1960s.

The 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.

My acquaintance advised about an item lined up for the 70s 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 80s pop culture tumbled into the 70s black hole too.

I hope an image of the real 70s will emerge here on this blog, and spacehoppers may well be part of it as they continued to be popular after the 60s, but the type of thing purveyed by the BBC or Toy Retailers Association about the spacehopper is not accurate and as this blog is based on actual material from the 70s, 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.

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