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Wham-O Super-Book: Celebrating 60 Years Inside the Fun Factory Paperback – October 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 181 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811864456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811864459
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 8.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #854,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Tim Walsh is an author, game inventor, and fifteen year veteran of the toy industry. He is a frequent speaker on toys and games on radio and TV. He lives in southwest Florida.

More About the Author

As a kid, I always had WHAM-O toys close at hand. At the epicenter of our household was the kitchen junk drawer filled with a hodgepodge of writing utensils, batteries, flashlights, nail clippers, a tube of SuperElasticBubblePlastic, and an assortment of SuperBalls. Yet this stuff was anything but junk. On the contrary, these were items that couldn't be 'put away' for fear that they might be needed at a moment's notice. If I needed a little bounce in my step, SuperBall was there.

Our garage held the larger WHAM-O playthings. Assorted Frisbee discs, a Trac Ball set, a water-stained Slip 'n Slide box, all at the ready. A Hula Hoop hung from the bicycle rack. The closet just off the garage contained wrapping paper, party supplies, and a can of Silly String. At any given moment, my brothers, sisters, and I were within a few feet of fun. The potential for play was palpable.

I discovered things while at play. I learned that a Frisbee could actually rise on a summer breeze and elevate my mood right along with it. I found out that the sticky mud and itchy grass plastered to my skin could be absolutely ignored if I happened to be standing in a neighborhood line of friends waiting for another trip down the Slip 'n Slide. And I learned, after discovering SuperBall's lethal second bounce the hard way (with a welt on my cheek to prove it), that playing with it thrilled me even more. There was something about its danger that enticed me to take my lumps and, like my favorite boyhood ball, bounce right back.

'We're always seeking what we call 'the magical degree of amazement' in our products,' WHAM-O co-founder Rich Knerr once said. Can you recall the first time you saw a Frisbee float in midair or saw someone spin a Hula Hoop in defiance of gravity? Ever see a group of kids giggle with glee while being chased by a Water Wiggle? Maybe an Air Blaster astonished you or a Wheelie-Bar made you stare in wonder. If a WHAM-O toy ever wowed you, then WHAM-O Super-Book is the book for you.

Rich Knerr and his lifelong friend and WHAM-O partner, Spud Melin, squeezed every drop of fun they could from life and it showed in all that they gave us. Their TV ads were fun. Their print ads were fun. Their hit toys were fun. Their fads, and even their flops, were fun. For sixty years the family culture they created has endured through the massive number of Hacky Sack and Frisbee fans who share that family bond.

Rich Knerr, his daughter, Lori Knerr, and Spud's widow, Suzy Melin, generously gave me something that I have tried to share in these pages. After reading this book, it's my hope that you too will feel welcomed into the WHAM-O family.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Pinney on January 25, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you ever owned a frisbee, super-elastic bubble plastic or a super-ball... this book's for you. A great nostalgic look back at all things Wham-O.
I gave this to my wife for Christmas and we spent and hour just reading, laughing and yelling "I had that"!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Colleen M. Evans on December 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
I didn't even need my afternoon cup of coffee after reading this book...I was just totally energized, like the first time I bounced a Super Ball! A very fun read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Brown on December 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
Like most of the outrageously zany toys it showcases, Tim Walsh's Wham-O Super Book "rolls, jumps, skips, whirls, loops, climbs, circles, soars and rotates perpetually with body-english!" Walsh uncovers the unbelievable stories behind many of the fads and must-have toys of our childhoods and reminds us as adults how great it was to have so much ridiculous fun.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By P. P. COOK III on March 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is very enjoyable, and a strong nostalgia flashback if you were born in the 1940s-1960s.

An extremely visual book, with more product packaging graphics than text, it covers everything from the outrageously successful (Superball, Hula-Hoop, Slip n Slide, Frisbee, Hacky-Sack, Silly String) to the hilariously obscure (Purple Moon Cat, Kooky Froot, Superball Dice, Chain Gang Drinking Coasters).

Who knew they marketed a Patio Style Bomb Fallout Shelter Cover? ("40-Million May Die! How about YOU?"). Or a rubber loop with handles that promised "bosom development" and "Swedish exercise for family health!"?

They also made weapons in the 1950s, and I had forgotten that we owned a Wham-O Sportsman ("PROFESSIONAL MODEL USED BY MEMBERS OF THE NAT'L SLINGSHOT ASSO."), their first product, which they created in 1948 to launch airborne meat (I am not making this up! It's in the book!) for training pet falcons! My dad, a biology prof and bird-lover who authored a book on genetics for pigeon breeders, used one to fire ball-bearings at feral felines stalking bird nests in the ravine behind our home in the sixties.

[...]

Get it! It's SUPER! It's WHAM-O! Hours of FUN for the WHOLE FAMILY!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joyce D. Johnson on November 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
Toy enthusiasts, young and old, will love Wham-O Super-Book! This fun and fascinating
look into the amazing world of Wham-O reminds us that having fun is one of the best
parts of life. A child at heart, I bought this book for my own personal collection but
plan on buying additional copies as gifts. The visuals are fantastic too. Another great
book by Tim Walsh that leaves you with a happy heart for sure.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Neumann Being on October 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
I loved this book! IT's SUPER!

I was apparently a WHAM-O addict in my youth... I identified so many products! SuperElasticBubblePlastic, Super Stuff, Water Wiggle, Slip'N'Slide, Frisbee, Super Balls, Hacky Sack... just to name a few.

Either I bought them because they were priced at "allowance" level, or I begged my parents until they relented. Much to their chagrin due to scraped elbows and knees, stained or melted carpet, furniture varnish ruined, or windows smashed. Oh well, childhood was not so "safe" then but I survived with a big grin!

Wonder layout, graphics, ads, photos, stories and anecdotes about the company's full history and the time line of the products: winners, losers and lethal categories.

For kids of ALL AGES... toys 'n'n stuff from the 60s, 70s, 80s and later!

More info and teasers about the book can be seen at the author's website here:

[...]
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Whitney VINE VOICE on December 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
In a recent interview the author of this book said that if a book author or musician sold as many products as Wham-O did, they would be in halls of fame, but the story behind the company has been largely ignored, until now.

I'm from the area where Wham-O was founded an I had no idea about the company. I remember the goofy commercials and the wacky products. But who knew that the company had such an interesting history?

The book's design takes its cue from the colorful packaging of the past and sets the mood for a fun, informative and thoroughly enjoyable book.

If you have a "big kid" on your list who is a little old for getting actual toys, (ahem, I'm looking at you, Dad...) then get this book and make his/her day!
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By ioBuddha on May 7, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fun pop-culture book. If you grew up in the 60's and 70's you will dig the nostalgic blast from the past. The history of the items featured in the book is quite interesting. I have it on my desk at work and everyone opens it and says "I remember that!".
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