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!