16 weird and wacky Wham-O toys that failed to become the next Frisbee

The Flexil, Circus Cycle and Instant Fish were not quite the Hula Hoop.

Image: Trivia Happy

Few companies had a bigger impact on 20th-century American childhood than Wham-O. After humble beginnings in a Southern California garage in 1948, the toy manufacturer repeatedly captured lightning in a bottle with its creative products. Wham-O gave the world the Hula Hoop and the Frisbee.

The company later rolled out the Slip 'N Slide, the Super Ball and Silly String. The marketing department that came up with the brilliant product names deserves just as much credit as the inventors. What else would you expect from a company called "Wham-O!"

However, as any inventor can tell you, not every idea is a billion-dollar brainstorm. For every fantastic Frisbee, there are countless failed Flexils. 

Let's take a look at some overlooked products from the Wham-O toy chest that largely hit stores in the 1950s and 1960s.

1. Air Blaster with Electric Gorilla Target

Blowing gusts of air from a cannon is not too weird of an idea, even in 1965. You can still buy similar playthings. However, only Wham-O would include an "Electric Gorilla Target" with googly eyes and bared fangs. 

Image: St. Louis Flashback / YouTube

2. Circus Cycle

This tiny pedeled ride was basically the hoverboard of the 1950s. It seemed just as difficult to maintain your balance, too.

Image: St. Louis Flashback / YouTube

3. Flexil

Not only was the Flexil a flexible pencil, it was sold in five-foot lengths. The commercial showed a young girl wearing it around her waist. It's a writing utensil! It's a belt!

Image: St. Louis Flashback / YouTube

4. Hula Board

Wham-O figured it could slap "Hula" on another gimmick and sell millions. If it worked for a hoop, it could work for a warped piece a wood, right? However, the Hula Board never took off. Well, until recently, in a way. There are similar swivel boards sold today as exercise equipment. Wham-O was far ahead of the pilates curve.

Image: St. Louis Flashback / YouTube

5. Instant Fish

Not to be confused with Sea Monkeys, these living things promised something far more visible. Just fill your "Aquarama Tank" with water, shake in some powder, and fish eggs would soon be spawning. Can anyone attest if this worked or not?

Image: St. Louis Flashback / YouTube

6. Kooky Froots

Technically more of a food product, Kooky Froots were "toy-fruit flavored" drinks, like Kool-Aid, packaged in plastic fruit shapes. So it tasted like toys? Or plastic? What is that slogan implying?

Image: St. Louis Flashback / YouTube

7. Monster Magnet

Hitting the shelves in 1974, Monster Magnet was simply a powerful magnet that resembled the flayed arms of a bodybuilder. When you put your fingers through the handle, they looked like teeth. The toy would at least inspire a hard rock band to use the name in the 1990s.

Image: gettybfree / YouTube

8. Super Elastic Bubble Plastic


Blowing swirls of colors through a small pipe is bizarre enough, but it would be the toxic fumes that took Wham-O's Super Elastic Bubble Plastic off the market.

Image: twentiethcenturykid / Tumblr

9. Super Sneaky Squirtin' Stick

Perhaps the most obscure product on this list, the Squirtin' Stick looked like a gentleman's cane with a small gorilla head at the top. The "Sneaky" thing about it? The gorilla spit water. Probably as revenge for getting hit with all those Air Blaster blasts.

Image: kobia / eBay

10. Water Wiggle

A plastic bell that attached to the end of a garden hose, Water Wiggle would unpredictably whip around the yard like an paranoid cobra. What were the odds of getting smacked in the face? You can figure them out.

Image: St. Louis Flashback / YouTube

11. Wheelie Bar

In 1996, Wham-O offered up this genius idea, a U-shaped section of chrome tubing with skate wheels attached to its curve. Hook the thing to the back of your bike, and you could pop wheelies just like Evel Knievel. If he used training wheels.

Image: starrfilms / YouTube

12. Whing-Ding

Remember when you failed at working a yo-yo so you just violently swung the thing around like bolas? This was like that.

Image: St. Louis Flashback / YouTube

13. Willie

What was Willy? Willy was a furry worm.

Image: gettybfree / YouTube

14. Wham-O Bird

They kind of slacked in naming this one, yeah. A cross between a kite and a paper airplane, the Bird flapped its wings and certainly failed to perform as well as it did in the commercial.

Image: St. Louis Flashback / YouTube

15. Wham-O Tank

Sure, you could just roll around inside an empty cardboard box, but that doesn't have cool tank graphics printed on the outside.

Image: St. Louis Flashback / YouTube

16. x-20 Monorail

A dangling train set, the X-20 promised the same sleek and glorious future on display at Disneyland's Tomorrowland. What ever happened to all those monorails we were promised?

Image: St. Louis Flashback / YouTube


We have fond memories of these toys, too. READ MORE

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LeeHarper 49 months ago
I had the Air Blaster, the Hula Board and the Super Elastic Bubble Plastic. We made our own Tanks.
Jon 49 months ago
The Water Wiggle was much worse than described above. It caused a couple of deaths, was recalled and Wham-O was sued over it.
AndrewHuxleyMiller 49 months ago
Um... about #11.... 1996??
Russ AndrewHuxleyMiller 49 months ago
You're right, it was 1966
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