For generations, toys have gone through various stages of popularity and ridicule. You know: new toys are invented, advertised alongside the most recent ‘must-see’ kids tv, become the ‘must-have’ Christmas present for a while, and then fade into obscurity. This is followed either by an attempted revival a decade later, where said toy is ‘reinvented’ for a new generation, or alternatively the toy is universally mocked.
Remember the Skip It? Well it fits the stereotype perfectly.
A twist on the traditional skipping rope
Despite being designed back in the 80s, the Skip It is definitely a toy which will be fondly remembered by the children of the 90s. Aiming to be a twist on the traditional skipping rope, the Skip It was infinitely more difficult to use than its inspiration. A confused mixture of ball, rope and hoop, the Skip it fitted over your ankle. The aim was to swing the rope in a circular motion using your leg to propel it and jump over the rotating ball each time it spun past you.
This required not only the ability to skip, but also an innate sense of balance and some kind of grace. One leg was moving up and down and the other was circling around, a little like the old ‘pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time’ maneuver. Not easy for most 7 year olds to grasp.
A 90s Christmas must-have?
Thousands of kids asked for one for Christmas and, as the toy was relatively inexpensive, Father Christmas was generally kind. Cue lots of broken lamps, scratched table legs and smashed porcelain ornaments at Granny’s house on Christmas day as thousands of eager children attempted to learn the perfect way to ‘Skip It’ and, inevitably, failed. Most Skip Its, as is the way with so many Christmas toys, ended up buried at the back of the garage or at the bottom of the toy box. They were either abandoned by the frustrated child who could not get the damn thing to spin around in fluid circles like the girls in the advert, or confiscated by Mum on Boxing day and hidden. She would, of course, feign innocence when the child asked where the Skip It had disappeared to (as she swept up the third photograph frame to be smashed by the Skip it in as many hours).
So was the Skip It the perfect 90s toy? Well let’s look at it: Annoying advert? Check. Lots of ‘adorable’ little girls using the Skip it perfectly without a breakage in sight while real world children struggled to even get the thing to swing around once? Check.
The most begged for gift of the decade for girls of a certain age? Check. The ability to cause serious ankle injuries, despite being billed as a great fun and keeping kids fit? Check. The strong possibility that it would cause a child to have a massive tantrum after around ten minutes of use due to being so difficult to control? Check.
Yes, the Skip it seems to fit the criteria for a typical 90s fad toy. Including the inevitable ridicule it receives from the ‘modern day’ kids who regard it as stupidly old fashioned and potentially dangerous. These same children sincerely believe that their choice of ‘must-have’ Christmas toy is totally amazing and will never be off trend.
Ah, wait til they grow up and their own children hear about one of the most asked for 2015 games this Christmas: Pie Face.