Remember the Animator?

Did anyone else have one of these as a kid? I kind of feel like I was the only one…

It was made by Ohio Art, the same company that produced the Etch A Sketch. You’ve gotta know what that is, right? The drawing toy that made it impossible to draw a circle.

Anyway, this thing was marketed as the Etch A Sketch Animator. Because, it is, essentially, an Etch A Sketch. Except it required about a dozen AA batteries and you didn’t have to shake it to erase stuff.

As you can see, it looks very dirty. I thought mine was the only one that looked like that, but I found this picture on the internet. So I assume they were all manufactured to look like they had been in some kids grubby hands for at least three years before being put on the shelf at Toys R Us.

Like the Etch A Sketch, the Animator had the two knobs at the bottom that controlled the horizontal and the vertical. I can’t remember which was which. But they moved the little cursor on that screen that was slightly larger than that of a Game Boy.

Those eight red buttons were all of your different options:

  • On/Move turned it on, obviously. But it also gave you the option of moving the cursor from one place to another without drawing a line.
  • Animate was basically a play button. When you had drawn a number of different frames that you wanted to string together into some kind of animated feature, that was the button you would push.
  • Save should be self explanatory. If it’s not, then it did something that I don’t actually recall… other than saving your work. Can’t do that with the old school Etch A Sketch. Well… I guess you could. With a camera.
  • Draw is the button you push when you actually want to draw something while you’re moving the cursor.
  • Next moved you to the next frame. The Animator could hold up to 12 different frames/images.
  • Reverse means that instead of playing Uno in a clockwise fashion, you begin playing counter-clockwise, and the player who just went is forced to go again. Just kidding. On the Animator, Reverse inverts the image. So everything that was black becomes white and vice versa.
  • Recall did… something… I just can’t recall.
  • Erase did that. I’m pretty sure you could hold Erase and another button at the same time and it would clear the entire screen. I’m not sure, though. I hope that’s the case. Otherwise, erasing an entire screen would get to be tedious work. I think I’d just remove that batteries and replace them just to wipe the memory if that was the case.

Like I said, I might have been the only kid who had one of these. I even had the follow-up, the Animator 2000. That was a waste.

It was bigger. They tried to make it look like a laptop computer. And it had game cartridges you could get for it. I know I had one that played miniature golf. It was really, I wanna say, bad. It also had a touch pad instead of the knobs, so you used a stylus to draw the images instead of moving the cursor horizontally and vertically. So I guess one good thing is that you could sort of draw a circle now.

But, man… I got hours of entertainment out of that original Animator. I might have convinced myself I would parlay that into a career as an animator for Disney. Clearly, I followed those dreams.

What obscure toys do you remember fondly? Let me know down in the comments!

Feature Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash


2 thoughts on “Remember the Animator?

  1. Before we had the etch-a-sketch, we had two different ways to draw and make pictures and reuse. One was a magnet pen on a string with tiny slivers of medal under a plastic cover. There was a picture on the board of a face. It consisted of a circle for the face, a nose, mouth, ears and eyes.
    You would use the magnet pen to pickup some of the metal pieces to place hair on the head or a beard, etc.
    The second was a waxy type board with a gray plastic type sheet on top of it. We had a plastic pen to use and draw what ever you wanted to. When you were done you lifted the gray sheet and it removed what you had on it. We used it a lot to play tic-tac-toe, and hangman.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Remember the Animator? — The Confusing Middle | FEEDBACK Animation Film & Screenplay Festival

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