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A classic 80's toy
A quick lunchtime review
When I was young It was the 1980's and there were no such things as Computers, iPads, Smart Phones or a channel 5. Back in the 80's I played with actual toys and became engrossed in something that was not a screen.
Things have now changed and pretty much the bulk of toys are electronic with screens or crushing candy or splashing jellies. However there are many companies from the 1980's and earlier who are still producing classic toys which still make a child's eyes wide with delight. One such toy is the classic (but admittedly hard) etch-a-sketch.
What is it?
An Etch-a-Sketch is a drawing tool about the size of a modern tablet computer with a screen size of 7.9 inches (this is about the same as an iPad mini. The red plastic casing and black plastic back hold in a flat grey plastic screen. The red frame has the words Etch-a-Sketch Embossed in Gold paint. On the front are two white textured knobs in each corner to control the drawing. Twisting the white knobs in either a clockwise or anti clockwise direction moves a stylus inside the screen that moves a metal powder onto the reverse of the grey screen leaving a neat dark grey key line allowing you to create images. The left dial sends the stylus off in a left to right direction and the right dial moves the stylus up and down. Simple! Although creating an image is quite hard! Maybe I am a bit thick.
What can be achieved?
If you take your time and learn to co-ordinate your hands on the dials and remember which direction you are moving the stylus, you can create some interesting, but rather blocky drawings. If you are very skilled, moving the dials together you can create a curve, but this is very challenging and will take a lot of practice. However this challenge is all part of the fun and the harder you try the more involved you get in trying to achieve the perfect drawing. When I was young I remember writing the words 'you are thick' and holding it up to my sister. She hit me. Hard.
The only thing is that if you make a mistake, you cannot undo it so if you have spent hours and hours making something, it could be ruined by one false move - on this basis it might get frustrating!
However, erasing your poor attempt at drawing a tree can be erased simply by shaking the etch-a-sketch until the metal inside has removed itself form the screen and then you are ready to go again!
Does it need batteries?
The Etch-a-sketch is brilliant in that it does not need batteries and is therefore fully portable. So this is a cheap toy. We paid just £12 from a local toy shop and this represents great value for money. It also feels heavy and well built.
It allows children the chance to test their co-ordination skills by using the dials whilst testing their artistic skills and imagination. My children like just seeing the lines appear like magic, although my 5 year old made a house and city scape last week on his etch-a-sketch which was far more impressive than my tree!
This is a great retro toy that reminds me of my youth, but I still think it has it's place in 2014 as a novelty - and it still seems to fascinate my children more than a kindle! I highly recommend the small outlay on an etch-a-sketch - even if it is for yourself and not the kids!
Available everywhere including Argos. Recommended age Range 3 and Up
_Also on Ciao under the same name sirodar_
I can remember when I got my first Etch A Sketch. It was in the late 70's early 80's. I had asked Santa Clause to bring it to me for Christmas. I can really remember it like it was yesterday. I woke up and literally flew down the hall way to the living room. I stopped short just before the living room and looked at the tree. There were millions of presents under the tree. At least that's how it looked to me in my child's Mind.
As a child on Christmas morning we had a rule. No presents were to be opened till my parents were up. Needless to say it took me like a nanosecond to turn around and run to there room to wake them and my brother. As soon as every one was awake we could open presents. I can remember being so impatient with them. They were taking what seemed like forever.
All I wanted to to was to open my presents and see if Santa thought I was a good girl to bring me the Etch A Sketch I so wanted. As we sat down to open presents my mother handed me the first one it felt like clothes and it was. I was not gonna be having a good day if it continued this way. The last present my parents gave to me was my Etch a Sketch. I played with that toy till I fell asleep with it. My mother had to pry it out of my fingers.
The Etch A Sketch is a toy that has been around for a while. I could look it up and see what makes it work but why that would ruin the fun that is the Etch A Sketch. The Etch A Sketch is a hard plastic toy with to little knobs that you turn to move the piece that is inside that etches your picture that you draw.
It used to be that you could only get the Etch a Sketch in one size and in one color now they have many sizes and many colors. We bought my daughter a travel size Etch a Sketch that was purple in color. When we got her's they also had blue and pink.
As this is a toy that has been around for a while now they have made it much better. When my Etch a Sketch reached its life expectancy it started to leak the silver powder that was inside of it. Eventually there was no more in it and I could see the workings of the inside of my Etch a Sketch. It was a mess as well. I would be covered with the silver powder on my fingers and hands I would then get it all over my self and the house. My mother must have hated that toy when it got to that point.
Now a days the etch a sketch has been around for a while and they have been able to iron out quite a few kinks. How ever there are still some problems that I have come across with my daughters. The silver powder still leaks out not nearly as bad as mine did but it still leaks out. No my daughter has seen the pictures that were drawn on them on the TV and thinks that she should be able to do that as well, but try as she might she just can seem to get the knobs to make it write in a circle or anything other than steps and straight lines. I have tried my self and either we are just incompitent or the etch a sketch is smarter than we are.
The best part of this toy is the clean up. When you want to draw another picture you just have to shake it up. There is no clean up really other than putting it back in its place once your done playing with it. This is a toy that can be used again and again.
Even though this toy does have several faults its still a good toy and it has brought my daughter many hours of joy. Not to mention it does me good to see a toy that I played with as a child and to know that my daughter is getting the same chance I got to play with it and enjoy the same things her mother did.
It would appear that while having never actually left out shelves, the etch-a-sketch is making something of a come back, with adverts featuring adults who are insanely good at drawing on them. I requested one of these for my birthday, half as a joke, but as luck would have it I got one, and I LOVE it.
The product comes in one of those really difficult to open plastic sleeves that require a large amount of scissoring in order to actually get into it, but when they are on the shelf, this packaging allows you to play with the toy a bit. The idea is that by turning two knobs, one for the horizontal lines and another for the vertical lines, you can create pictures. This obviously does limit your drawings and I'm not quite sure how this is still so popular.
For kids I can see this being so frustrating, because it's just not as fun as a pen and paper. For adults, it's great because you have a bit more control than kids and it becomes a bit of a challenge to create picture by only using two knobs. The other large advantage is that the item is sturdy, and although a little big, can be taken away therefore removing the need for pens and paper when travelling. To clear the screen you have to shake the product, and my only concern with this is that I will be mid creation of my Mona Lisa replica, when somebody accidentally comes and ruins what I've done. That is really my only gripe, and otherwise this is a great gift for somebody (or even to yourself) for only £10.
Etch a sketch has been around for a very long time, i had one of these when i was a child and my daughter recieved one of these as a gift this christmas.
The etch a sketch as pictured above is a red plastic outer with a grey screen and two white turnable buttons, to make a picture on the grey screen you have to turn the white buttons, turning the one will draw a streight line up or down your screen and turning the other will make a streight line across your screen, turning the two together will give you a vertical line, once you have finished you just shake the etch a sketch and the picture disapears ready for you to draw again.
Well as a child i was never particularly keen on my etch a sketch as i couldnt realy draw anything of interest with it due to the fact it only did streight lines, i thought as an adult i may be better at this but sadly not, the picture shown on the box and above in this review has proven impossible to draw.
My daughters do enjoy watching the lines appear on the board and being able to shake it to make them go away but i doubt that this is ever going to be a popular toy with them and for what they are i think they are very expensive as they retail at around £15
I have an etch a sketch that is a few years old and it gets played with daily. My son has autism and likes to twist the knobs and watch the lines going in different directions.
When I try to draw anything on it, well basically I can't, I find it very difficult and those that manage to produce such good art work on them are really talented people.
One of my grandsons came to visit last weekend and was fascinated by it and played with it continually over the weekend and really enjoyed just making lines and squiggles and I like the fact that it was a very entertaining toy that also made no mess or noise.
He has his fourth birthday next weekend and I asked if he would like one. Total delight and glee from him. Yesterday I wen to Toys R us and searched high and low for etch a sketch, finally gave up and asked an assistant who took me to the two areas the were usually kept. Sadly sold out and he told me it is one of the best selling toys and would be in again before Christmas. I told him I needed it for next week. I called into boots and also sold out. Tried Woolworths and Tesco with no luck. Went online when I got home and on the Toys R us and boots both sold out and play.com sold out. Argos had them available, cost £12.99, so reserved online and collected in the evening as I was getting the feeling that they are a popular toy to have. If you need one I suggest searching for one early.
I know they are difficult to actually draw a decent picture with but to me the pleasure of a toy is that it is used and played with and I have no doubt that it will played with often and recommend it as a good buy.
Etch A Sketch always seemed to be one of those toys which looked great fun in the adverts when I was a kid. You get a board with two little knobs. Twiddle the knob, and guide a little dot up and down and sideways and draw brilliant pictures. When you get bored, shake it and the picture's gone.
It looked great in the adverts, and yet real life was harder. No matter what VerySmallMe did I could never produce anything more than a mess of lines. Possibly it could be a tangled knotof of wool or something. Eventually the thing ended up relegated to the back of a cupboard in disgust.
Apparently it survived the eighties, and on visiting a friend with kids I picked it up and suddenly felt the urge to doodle. After all, it would surely be much easier now I was an adult, right?
Not unless I was an adult wanting to draw a tangled mess of wool it wouldn't... Maybe it's my lack of creative ability, but I don't think anyone could get a picture out of this, let alone a child.
You get get one for around £13 now, but why would you do that to your kid? Buy them a pencil and paper. It may not look as cool, but it's far less frustrating.
Etch A Sketch
Remember the Etch A Sketch? I do although I haven't seen them being sold in any toy stores. I just happened to be browsing through the toys category on EBay just before Christmas looking for some stocking fillers for my sons Christmas when I spotted a blast from the past for a fiver. I didn't have to think twice, I had to buy it because my son would love playing with it and so would I because it would remind me of my childhood.
At one point or another you have most probably either owned an Etch A sketch or played with one. They have been around since the early 1960's and were one of the most popular toys for kids back in the 1960's and 70's which was well before I was even born. One of the main reasons you don't see an Etch A Sketch being sold in toy shops is because it is being replaced with more modern easy to use toys such as the Aquadraw mats, Magnadoodles and the Megasketchers.
The Etch A Sketch was invented by a clever French man called Arthur Granjean and was originally called the Magic Screen. The first ever Etch A Sketch was manufactured on the 12th July 1960 and millions of them have been sold over the years.
What Is An Etch A Sketch??
For those of you who have never seen nor heard of an Etch A Sketch please pay close attention. An Etch A Sketch is a drawing toy so to speak. It is a medium sized square piece of plastic which has a bright red frame and two white knobs attached to the bottom of it. Inside the bright red frame there is a light greyish coloured plastic screen which is displays the picture you are creating. When you are drawing on an etch A Sketch you can only create linear drawings; this is because the two knobs at the bottom of the Etch A Sketch only move horizontally and vertically. Hence the reason you can only draw linear pictures. The Etch A Sketch is pretty hard to operate because of the horizontal and vertical movements and this is another reason why it has been replaced with modernised easier to operate toys.
How Does The Etch A Sketch Work??
To produce a picture on the etch A Sketch all you have to do is rotate the two white knobs which are located on the bottom of the red frame. When you rotate the knob on the left side of the Etch A Sketch then a horizontal line is produced. When the knob on the right hand side is rotated then this produces a vertical line. When you are rotating the knobs on the etch A Sketch then they will produce a dark grey coloured vertical or horizontal line depending on which way you rotate the knobs. When you have finished producing a picture on the etch A Sketch then all you have to do is turn it upside down and shake it and this clears the screen so as you can draw another picture onto it. When you're shaking the Etch A Sketch to remove the picture you can hear a faint rattling sound and this is because of the particles which are beneath the plastic screen.
Underneath the plastic screen of the Etch A Sketch there is a small metal stylus which is mounted on top of two metal rods which move when the white knobs are rotated. There are also lots and lots of small beads and aluminium powder which are also beneath the light grey screen on the Etch A Sketch. The aluminium powder and beads stick to the screen of the Etch A Sketch and when the knobs are rotated the metal stylus scrapes the aluminium powder from the screen which results in a black line being formed. You can create lots of different pictures if you practice using the Etch A Sketch although I can only manage to Etch a car, square and my name lol.
The black lines which are produced on the screen of the Etch A Sketch aren't in fact black, they are actually clear lines, but they are displayed black because it is dark beneath the Etch A Sketches screen, due to the aluminium powder coating the whole of the screen. If you keep rotating the knobs on the Etch A Sketch then you will eventually remove all of the aluminium powder and be able to see deep inside the Etch A Sketch and see all of the components which are inside of it.
Whenever you are finished etching a picture on the screen all you have to do is shake the Etch A Sketch and the aluminium powder will stick to the screen again completely covering it so as you have a blank drawing surface to draw onto again.
I loved the etch A Sketch when I was a little girl and I like it just as much now as I did when I was younger. I find it a little frustrating at times because it is quite difficult to manoeuvre the stylus to create a picture and if you make a mistake you cant erase it, the only way of erasing it is by shaking the Etch A Sketch so as you get a blank screen again.
My son likes playing with it too although he can only etch horizontal and vertical lines. But I'm sure he will soon get to grips with it and be able to produce better pictures over time.
Price And Availability
I found our Etch A Sketch on EBay and paid £5 for it; I searched the internet and found a few online retailers who sell the Etch A Sketch although their prices are significantly higher than what I paid for it. So my best advice is to look on EBay of you want one...
EBay from £4.99
There are also mini Etch A Sketches and Etch A Sketch Lollipops available on Amazon too.
~~~~Review written by me and also posted on Ciao~~~~
Turn the knobs to draw horizontal, vertical or diagonal lines on the drawing screen. Simply shake to erase your drawing and begin drawing a new picture.