Gripidee Gravidee (sometimes called Grippity Gravity) was an imaginative toy made by TOMY of Japan that was showcased by its ability to travel up walls and upside down! Gripidee Gravidees used a plastic track that had two great features: gear teeth molded onto the surface of the track, with a 'safe-edge' that held onto the battery operated car so it would travel straight-up, up and down, and even upside down without falling. The track was about 2.5 inches wide, and an inch high and was manufactured in straights, convex humps, and concave humps.
There were two ingenious turn-arounds included in every variation of the sets. The car, battery powered, would enter these circular whip arounds, and the gear wheels (the cars used wheels with gears molded on them to pull them along the toothy track), set in motion a series of gears beneath the whip-around that causes the car to turn and head back out onto the track, resetting after the car departed with a quick spring like snap! Some of the larger sets contained a four way switch you controlled by throwing a lever and as the car entered the 4-way it caused it to spin around and around until you chose what path it should take by sliding the lever back into locked position. Not a speed demon toy, it was none-the-less quite quick!
The first set was the C-cell powered little finned rocket that came with blue track and two whip-arounds, (set 803). Larger sets with this car had the 4-way, and more track, (842). TOMY must have really enjoyed making this toy, because the variations are many. There was a children's set (3019), that had multi-colored track, two whip-arounds, and a car that was the other typical entry: a 2 AA powered squat 'moon crawler' in red and white (so was the rocket), with two blue bubble windows upfront, and had a fin on the back,(TOMY called this their "double rocket car").
The 'children's set had one item that was not found in other sets: 2 blue feet, (stabilizers), that allowed the child to make a loop that was far more stable than the other sets. After all this was, the starter set. Another variation was the large 'space-capsule' set (2018), again the capsule was red bottom, white top. but it was much bigger than the previous two examples above. It held an MPC kneeling spaceman holding camera, (did MPC know? hmmm..), that had a piece of steel up his, uh, backside. A slot was molded into the top of the capsule, for the spaceman.
This set had another unique item other than the large capsule: a "space-station". Actually, it was a red bottomed white topped arch that fit over the 4 way switch. It had a chrome plated dual dish antenna on the top. As the big capsule entered the 4-way, there was a dowel sticking down from the arch, engaging the capsule, spinning the antenna and popping up the astronaut! This set contained the same amount of track as the big set for the little rocketship, (842), but 842 did not have the arch.
The child could also play with the cars on the floor, if he attached the rubber wheels supplied with some sets. The rubber wheels allowed the gears to rise above the surface, and the cars went without the track. Of note are two very rare and odd variations: the first is an ultra thin, single gear toothed red track that was a radical departure from the other sets. Besides the absence of the safe-edge track, the sets had teeny battery operated examples of the little-rocketship, and the 'double-rocket'. It had the whip-arounds, though greatly scaled down. This set would in no way, interchange with any of the other sets listed above.
The next one is amazing, honestly, just amazing: Set 632: AQUAGRIP GRAVIDEE. The Aquagrip's claim to fame was that "you can play with it on land, or in your aquarium"! It came in the same size boxes the big sets (842, and 2018) did. It contained two "Aqua-rockets" that had red light up noses (!), two big wings on the rear, a red backend that resembled a cluster of rocket thruster tubes, a screw (propeller) and little rudder for playing with the cars in the water outside of the track! The batteries were inserted by unscrewing the rear end, with O-ring attached, and putting the rear end back on made a true water tight seal!
The track is also unique. The track is translucent blue, to blend into the background of your fish tank I suppose, but it goes together like the other sets: each track piece has two ends: one male curbs, one female curbs. The track allows the child to slide the male track ends onto the female ends, then underneath are little white locking slides that you move over to hold the pieces in place. These are riveted, and have stops to prevent turning them too far.
But of all the unique variations in the Aquagrip, the track takes the award. By this time the folks at TOMY discoverd a way to make righthand and lefthand turns by simply eliminating the gear teeth on the outside of the turns! So not only could the Aquagrip go up and down and upsidedown, it can go right or left!
The set came with a nice amount of track, including the whip-arounds, etc. and it had the yellow blown plastic insert to hold all the pieces in place that was popular at the time. I believe this set was near the end of the Gripidee Gravidee line. Which was a shame, as modern children can now only bang their heads against computer screens and PRETEND they build things.
One big technical fault of this toy is the enormous strain on the internal gearing that resembles a mini-transmission. Each car has a "clutch" that allowed the child to push it in and the gear box went into neutral, for manuvering the car around the track in emergencies. Invariably, a toy that has been forced, will have cracked gears. The cracks may not be visible, and cause much frustration. The culprit is usually the drive gear on the motor shaft.
The sets ran from a few dollars up to ten, with the Aquagrip asking around $15! Today a good set can be had for as little as $40, but the Aquagrip, in mint condition will bring upwards of over $100! Still, the fun of assembling this ingenious toy and watching the car climb straight up or travel suspended upside down is worth it.