Help me identify this 1975 toy slide projector
December 31, 2005 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Help me identify this truly awesome toy I had as a child, a kind of transparency projector with groovy slides.

Round about Christmas 1975, my uncle gave me my favourite toy ever. It was a red plastic projector that came with numerous circular slides about three inches in diameter that could be combined in interesting ways. For example, one slide was about 1/8" thick and contained blue liquid with bubbles that made a kind of psychedelic light show on the wall. Another slide was two colour wheels joined together in the middle. You could rotate the wheels independently to get different colours. There was room in the projector for more than one slide, so you could (for instance) combine the colour wheel with the blue bubbles to make bubbles of constantly changing hue. I also had some Shrinky Dink material and cut out circles of just the right size, then drew comic strips on them with magic marker so that I could project those on the wall too. (I think the projector may have come with a blank slide that gave me this idea.) Overall, given the versatility of this toy and the scope it offered my imagination, it's hands down the best toy anyone ever gave me as a kid.

Identifying data: I was well-versed in the major toy manufacturers of my childhood, such as Mattel, Wham-O, Kenner, etc. and I think I remembered noticing that the projector was made by a "no-name" manufacturer, which seemed odd to me. For what it's worth, my uncle lived in New Jersey, and he probably bought the projector at Toys'R'Us.

Identifying this toy has become, well, not quite an obsession for me. My sister and I sometimes talk about it, but we've never seen one since. Not only would I like to pick one up on eBay if it's not too expensive, but I'm also turning my articles on game systems for the dear defunct Games Journal into a book, and it strikes me that my good ol' projector was a striking example of what you might call a toy system.

In sum, anyone ever have one of these?
posted by rwhe to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total)
Viewmaster. I had the same "WTF was that thing called?" experience about mine a while back.
posted by dilettante at 8:42 AM on December 31, 2005

Best answer: If you haven't seen this page yet it might point you in the right direction!
posted by Captain_Science at 8:42 AM on December 31, 2005

Response by poster: dilettante, it wasn't a Viewmaster. Thank you anyway. Captain_Science, I am busily checking out your link!
posted by rwhe at 8:47 AM on December 31, 2005

Best answer: Oh my gosh, Captain_Science, you deserve both a medal and the Nobel Prize! I believe from the picture that my toy was the Mattel Funlight (1970), listed in the Projecteurs à main section! You can see the colour wheel in the photo as well as the bubble slide (far right) and several other slides. Thank you so much!
posted by rwhe at 9:02 AM on December 31, 2005

I was going to say it was the Kenner Give-a-Show Projector.
I believe Mattel inherited the toy when they bought Kenner.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:06 AM on December 31, 2005

As seen here.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:08 AM on December 31, 2005

Response by poster: Thorzdad, the Give-a-Show showed the wrong kind of slides (long and thin, like a filmstrip), but thanks anyway.
posted by rwhe at 9:12 AM on December 31, 2005

Best answer: I had this toy, too, and after checking Captain_Science's link and rwhe's guess, I concur that it was the Mattel Funlight, not the Kenner Give-A-Show or the Viewmaster projector (my brothers and I had those at one point or another, too, and I recall it definitely NOT being one of those).

The bubble wheel was especially entrancing in that late 60s-early 70s psychedelic way.
posted by briank at 9:41 AM on December 31, 2005

I had one of these!
posted by kenchie at 9:42 AM on December 31, 2005

Related: does anyone recall having a small clear plastic thingy (about 4" x 5") with a circle of colored liquid embedded in the center? The heat from your fingers would travel through the plastic, enabling you to create little finger paintings with the liquid inside. Hope I explained that OK. My sister had one back in the early 70's.
posted by davebush at 10:01 AM on December 31, 2005

Response by poster: davebush, my sister and I each had one. It was called a Fidgit. You can still buy one here!
posted by rwhe at 10:09 AM on December 31, 2005

Response by poster: briank, I'm glad you remember the bubble wheel too, because I don't see it in the magnified version of the Funlight photo. Maybe it was included with a later edition, or maybe the Funlight in the photo is incomplete.
posted by rwhe at 10:12 AM on December 31, 2005

rwhe - thanks!

I've thought about that thing many times over the years, but couldn't recall the name. I'm afraid if I bought one now it'd be a letdown. I'll let it stay forever groovy in my memories.
posted by davebush at 6:54 PM on December 31, 2005

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