Looking into the history of Remco’s Frustration Ball yields an excellent example of truth in advertising. The toy’s ads touted its “three-dimensional madness” and innate ability to “drive you up the wall.”
Released in 1969, the game superficially appears to be a simple dexterity puzzle. The Frustration Ball is a self-contained transparent plastic sphere that contains 8 affixed, inward-facing cups in various colours, and a marble.
Each cup is labeled with a number. Players take turns tilting the sphere in an attempt to move the marble sequentially from cups 1 to 8 without missing a step. The first player to complete the task (in a pre-determined amount of time) is declared the winner. Some of the cups are opposite of each other, making the transition fairly easy. Others, however, are placed in the rotation at 90-degree angles, forcing players to grapple with the daunting task of calibrating the proper speed and angle to successfully flip the ball from number to number.
Remco marketed the Frustration Ball as an all-ages game, even promoting it as a suitable diversion for the “cocktail crowd.” While the ball wasn’t overly delicate to handle, mixing alcohol with game play likely resulted in many repeat sales for the company.