Toys TOYS

Space Hoppers

It's easy to see why skateboards, rollerboots and BMX's were so popular among kids in the 70s, but Space Hoppers? For one, it seems a little odd to be bouncing up and down on a big orange rubber ball at the best of times, and considering it didn't help - but rather hinder - getting from A to B, it could be labelled a bit pointless, really... They didn't enable you to jump higher, go faster or run further than you could on foot. But you had to have one.

The space hopper (Hippity Hop in America) was invented by Italian, Aquilino Cosani in 1968, though he referred to it then as the Pon-Pon, and it was launched in Britain just as trance/rave culture was picking up speed in the summer of '71. This may help provide some explanation behind the trend, and space hoppers went on to make appearances at Glastonbury and Birmingham psychedelic trance parties well into the 90s.

Despite being marketed as 'the amazing inflatable riding ball', its design was pretty simple. The earliest space hoppers were made of red or blue rubber, inflated via an internal valve system, reaching up to around 20 inches. These days though, adult versions are available too, enabling the children of the 70s to relive their bouncing glory days - this time with fewer grazes on their knees.

Each hopper featured two handles on the top so you could keep your balance - but still many kids ended up flying right over these very handles after things got out of control! It really wasn't the safest toy around - its saving grace was its apparent inability to burst, although we had a good try at it. But it was great fun, especially when your mates lines up on theirs and you raced each other to the end of the playing field.

The majority of space hoppers had a smiley, kangaroo's face painted on the front, but kids were also treated to themed hoppers in the late 70s, which featured plastic moulds of Disney characters, including Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, on the front. Despite such efforts, though, the US Hoppity hop went out of production and the Space Hopper's popularity is sporadic. So, let's hope the people of Folkestone might spark a revival after they broke the world record for the most people hopping simultaneously, taking it to 1000 people on 4th July 2006.

Other space hopper world records of note include the fastest time for 100m on a space hopper, which was set by Ashrita Furman in 2004 when she did it in just 30.2 seconds. And Ashrita also set the fastest mile on a space hopper in January 2005. Fancy setting your own record?


Author of this article:



Contributors to this article:

  • There are no contributors yet

Message boards

space hoppers Last post by shilton dipper
20 January 2012
Space Hoppers Last post by Palazzo
21 September 2010
famous films on space hoppers Last post by Sculpher
31 May 2007

Do You Remember Space Hoppers?

Do You Remember Space Hoppers?

  • Anonymous user
    on
    Got one for my 10th Birthday in 1971, was so chuffed, not got it now, but very fond memories, bright orange, which is also strangely, my favourite colour.
  • PJ
    on
    I had a kermit the frog one many many happy hours bouncing on it and the falling off was all part of the fun...
  • Anonymous user
    on
    My sister and I had them. We weould race around the garden or have timed races, and even included hurdles as if we were riding horses. This was one of the most fun things we did as kids. Now I want to buy them for my God Children (and two larger ones for us adults). Awesome memories!
  • adrian dark
    on
    i had a space hopper back in the seventies. i'll always remember the day i got it. my dad put it in the back of the car, and took it to the petrol station to pump it up. only problem was he did'nt realise how big they were once they were up full. how he got it back into the car i'll never know. GREAT FUN!
  • redgirl88
    on
    I loved my space hopper,mine was blue and it too had that strange face on the front.I loved it,and if you've noticed,UK gold have got gold ones on their channel.I wish they'd bring them back.A novel way to get to work,you would have to set off 6 hours before you were due to start but imagine how much you'd save on petrol!!
  • Anonymous user
    on
    We used to call ours Mr Quarange! or Ride a roo! We weren't allowed on concrete, only grass, suppose so we didnt get hurt when we inevitably fell off, and also to reduce wear on the surface of the ball!
  • Anonymous user
    on
    I used to have one... it was green. Dunno where it went...
  • Anonymous user
    on
    Space hopper means High Wycombe 1968 to me. If you have read Aqua Manda comments, High Wycombe was my youth. In 1968 my landlady E´s children Nicola and Ian had an orange space hopper, I think it had a face but no number.I bounced around the living room on it. I didn´t try it outside. I was 18 and they were about 8 and 10.
  • Anonymous user
    on
    Trust you alibags.... just dont even consider bringing one into work!
  • Anonymous user
    on
    i must be old i had a blue one. i went everywhere on it, and was banned from the shop with it.