When inventors in Patterson, NJ put a wheel on magnets and rolled it around a parallel set of wires in their hands, it’s doubtful they had any idea what an impact this new toy would have on the world. Fifty years after the Maggie Magnetic company first put Whee-Lo on the shelves, one thing is safe to say: The Whee-Lo is here to stay.
Also produced as a souped-up version called “Wizmo” by ThinkFun, this toy has captivated children and adults for nearly three generations. The mesmerizing spinning wonder (a lesson in gravity and kinetic energy disguised as fun) has spawned other toys such as Wizmo Orbitron, a large circular version of the J-shaped original, and even a Mini Orbitron–designed to fit on the end of a pencil.
“When we first looked at updating it, we were fascinated by the continued popularity of this toy through the years,” said Bill Ritchie, president and CEO of ThinkFun. “Even today, with video games everywhere you look, the Wizmo continues to sell. It’s fun, and it’s educational–and that’s what makes it such a hot item with both parents and kids.”
“Stop anyone on the street, show them the Wizmo, and chances are they will remember having one as a kid,” Ritchie continued. “People’s eyes light up at the sight of it.”
Despite the popularity of high-tech, interactive games, toys like these still have a large market, so here’s to the next fifty years of magnetic fun!