While some kids wrote to Russell Grant for guidance, and others turned to the pages of Jackie for theirs (or even went to the trouble of making those paper fortune-teller pyramid thingys that were so popular in the 80s and 90s), the more devil may care among us would have sought solace from life's most difficult decisions from the Magic 8 Ball.
Produced originally in 1946 by Alabe Crafts, after the idea was sold to them by Albert Carter the son of a clairvoyant, the Magic 8 Ball was he sort of game that featured in most peoples' childhoods whether it be the 80s, 90s or 21st Century (yes, they are still going strong). Ok, so the magic element might well have been shaken off over the past 60 years, but this black and white ball still has the power to settle someone's swaying mind. Whether you're thinking about asking the girl who lives down the road out on a date, but you're not sure if its the right thing to do or not. Or you can't decide which My Little Pony to purchase next. The ball will deliver the answer that you must follow if the world (well your world) is to remain on its axis. And watch out anyone who acts against it!
Measuring roughly four inches in height, the Magic 8 Ball is a plastic orb emblazened with a white number 8 on its top - rather like a snooker ball in its design. On the underside, there is a small window where its answer to any yes or no question you put to the ball will be revealed... magically. The way this works is that inside the ball is a pool of alcohol and blue dissolved dye, in which floats a blue objects with different answers written on each of its 20 sides. After asking your question to the ball, you would give it a good shake, then turn it over to see which of these written answers floated to a standstill in the window of opportunity.
The best outcome you could hope for from your Magic 8 Ball would be something along the lines of 'All signs point to yes'. Simple and to the point, it made your mind up for you on the spot. However, the ball consisted of a number of annoying answers that would regularly leave you more confused than before and in a state of mind that cried out for another shake of the Magic 8 Ball. These went along the lines of 'Reply hazy' and 'Better not tell you now'. Ooh, the frustration! Or maybe it was the ball letting us know who was the boss. Other possible answers included: As I see it yes; It is decidedly so; Yes-definitely; Concentrate and ask again; Ask again later; My sources say no and Very doubtful, among others. In total, 10 o the possible answers were positive, five negative and 5 sat on the fence.
Thankfully, just when most of us had tired of the standard answers supplied, a raft of new Magic 8 Balls came onto the market, and Mattel is still producing versions. There's even one primarily designed for stock traders, offering advice such as 'Sell!' no doubt, a Yoda shaped Staw Wars model ball, and a ball that only has good answers, like: 'You look marvellous' and 'Your breath is so minty'. What's more, in a stark deviation from the 1940s, the Magic 8 Ball is now online offering web surfers a virtual decision maker.
After cameo appearances in the 1995 movie Toystory, when it told Woody 'Don't count on it' and in the film Interstate 60, it would seem the Magic 8 Ball has secured its place in game history. Will its popularity continue? And would the world explode if Russell Grant started using a Magic 8 Ball? The answer to both would probably be: 'As I see it yes'.