Wizzzers from Mattel (1969)

Company: Mattel | Release date: 1969 | Where to purchase: eBay

“World’s wildest whirler!”

In 1969 Mattel released the Wizzzer, a new twist on the classic spinning top.

In scientific terms, the Wizzzer was classified as a gyrostat, thanks to the gyroscope it contained within its bulbous plastic casing. The toy also had a pin that protruded from its bottom, surrounded by a rubber nub to further differentiate itself from traditional tops.

The Wizzzer was spun into action by rolling its nub against a flat service, engaging the gyroscopic motor inside. The toy’s two technical upgrades allowed it to spin at very high speeds while also maintaining its stability for longer periods of time, attributes that made it a massive hit with children.

Early releases of the Wizzzer were shipped with several plastic accessories that allowed children to perform balancing tricks and other spinning stunts. A Whirl’d Series Trick Book (pun intended) was included in the box that promoted the toy’s “no strings, no batteries” mantra and super spinning action. Part of the Wizzzer’s appeal was its boldly coloured packaging and design. Early models were decked out in a two-tone colour palette that could be seen through strategically placed holes in the box. Mattel also saw fit to give Wizzzers action-oriented names, like The Spinfire, the Night Winder, and the Wedge.

With a hit on their hands, Mattel doubled down and extended the Wizzzer toy line through various playsets, including a Wizzzer Hockey Game, Super Competition Set, and Trick Tray Set. New Wizzzer variants were also released, including the Wild Wild Wizzzer line that added siren sounds, spinning colour changes, and a spark shooting model. Wizzzer-mania continued with a line of Wizzzer-driven vehicles, dubbed “Spin-Buggies,” Mini Wizzzers that were pocket-sized and could be stacked on top of each other, and Canned Wizzzers, which placed the toy’s gyroscope in branded cans, like Campbell’s Soup, Planter’s Mixed Nuts, and Minute Maid Orange Juice.

After disappearing from store shelves, Wizzzers have seen several revivals over the years, including branded offerings from Matchbox, Duncan, and Goliath Games.

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