I remember clearly the first time I met a Koosh ball. I was in the playground and it landed at my feet with a “Koosh” Sound. I didn’t know what it was at first. It looked alien, like it might be a Muppet or some kind of mock animal.
One of the best things about a Koosh ball is playing with it, it’s so much fun just to chuck it about and catch it. It’s actually a pleasant experience – a lot like idly playing with a slinky, or a piece of putty. It just feels GOOD in your hand!
It looks like a cross between a Terrorhawk and cousin “it” from the Addams family and Animal from the Muppets. But it’s just a ball! It is made from hundreds of lengths of rubber strings that are attached to a rubber core and it feels great to the touch. Like the Slinky, or the Rubiks cube, the Koosh Ball was something entirely new to the world when it arrived in the 1980’s.
It was developed in 1986 by Scott Stillinger – and actually had a practical thought behind it – as Stillinger intended it to be easy for his 5-year old daughter and 8-year old son to hold and throw.
Not surprisingly it became a massive hit – in fact I think I had about 10 different Koosh Balls within a year – big ones, small ones, dark ones luminous ones. It was easily one of 1988's best selling Christmas toys.
Perhaps like the Pogo ball, it was actually technological innovation that helped make it possible to actually create the Koosh Ball – it hadn’t been possible before 1970 to make a ball made of 2,000 natural rubber filaments of many many different colours.
They were very hardy balls as well, and because they were made of rubber could be cleaned easily. I never once managed to break one, sure you could break the odd bit of rubber off, but you wouldn’t notice it amongst the thousands of other bits!
The Koosh balls then came out with different types of ball – and keyrings, and balls with cartoon-like faces and hands. As is so always the case with a toy-craze it wasn’t long before it was made into a comic book mini-series (“Koosh Kins” by Archie Comics)
Brilliant to play with, easy to throw, and just so darn pleasant to knock about, I wish I had one on my desk right now, just to fumble around with, they are a lot of fun.