Stress Ball

How much stress can a stress ball take?

  • Stress balls are objects that fit in the palm of one’s hand, and are used primarily to relieve stress by manipulating or throwing the item.
  • ‘Stress balls’ are also known as ‘stress relievers’, and they are commonly found in both offices and homes.
  • Although typically of a spherical shape with a diameter of approximately 5.7 centimetres (2.25 inches), stress balls can come in all shapes, colours, designs and sizes.
  • Stress balls can range from soft and squishy to hard, and depending on their firmness, they can provide noise, texture, absorb force, be smooth, or have a weightiness, that helps to relieve stress.
  • Many stress balls contain gel or other substances, which affect the density and flexibility of the object, and they may also include noisemakers including chimes.
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A Stress Ball
Image courtesy of J E Therlot/Flickr
  • Stress balls originated in Anicent China around 1368 AD as hard Baoding Balls, that are still used today, and these traditional balls are intended to be rotated in one’s palm, and are said to stimulate a person’s acupressure points on the hand.
  • Stress balls are among the most common promotional objects, often featuring company logos as a marketing strategy, and they are frequently given as gifts.
  • American Alex Carswell invented the first of the modern style stress balls, in 1988, and his invention contained a microchip that when thrown at something, activated a glass shattering sound, as Carswell wanted to convey the sense of something breaking.
  • In addition to relieving stress and muscle tension, stress balls are commonly recommend by doctors and physiotherapists for hand rehabilitation, while other benefits may include hand coordination.
  • Modern stress balls are typically made of foam, rubber, plastic, and synthetic textiles, or a combination of these materials, while the traditional style Chinese balls are often formed from stone or metal.
Arthurton D, Using Stress Balls to Experience Relaxation, 2016, Out of Stress,
Chetwynd J, The Secret History of Balls, 2011, Penguin Group, New York. Accessed at:
Morris S, The History of the Stress Ball (and Why They’re So Popular), 2015, Quality Logo Products Inc.,
Stress Ball, 2016, Wikipedia,


Rubber Duck

No bath is the same without a rubber duck.

  • Rubber ducks are popular buoyant, duck-shaped toys that are stereotypically yellow.
  • Rubber ducks are typically played with in the bathtub, especially by young children, and they have been used to encourage children to be less fearful of having a bath.
  • A ‘rubber duck’ is also known as a ‘rubber duckie’ and ‘rubber ducky’; and in 2013, the duck was included in the Toy Hall of Fame.
  • The rubber duck originated in the late 1800s, and was originally made of the newly available hard rubber, and as they were intended as a toy to chew on, they were not hollow, so they were not buoyant.
  • Since the 1950s, flexible PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic has been used to make rubber ducks, and they are usually relatively soft and squeezable, sometimes making a squeaky noise; and many variations to the common simple-shaped yellow ducks have since been produced.
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Rubber Ducks
Image courtesy of Felix/Flickr
  • Sesame Street’s Ernie popularised the rubber duck in 1970, when he first sang a song about his own ‘Rubber Duckie’, the Muppet’s favourite toy, and the song became a hit and had significant impact on some aspects of western culture.
  • The modern style of the rubber duck is believed to be based upon one that was patented in 1949 by Peter Ganine, a Russian-American artist, and it is said that at least fifty million ducks of his design were sold.
  • Rubber ducks are collected by a small population of people, and the largest collection, as of 2011, that was recognised by the Guinness World Records, included 5631 unique ducks, and these were owned by Charlotte Lee of the United States.
  • The largest floating rubber duck in the world, as of 2016, made its debut in 2014, and it was created from inflatable vinyl with a steel pontoon for a base; was 18.6 metres (61 feet) in height; and owned by American Craig Samborski; though other giant rubber ducks exist or have existed and have been placed in harbours and other waterways around the world – an idea originally birthed and designed by artist Florentijn Hofman from the Netherlands.
  • Rubber duck derbies are events held around the globe, often as fundraisers, consisting of thousands, or as many as a hundred thousand ducks set afloat in the race, and the first to cross the finish line is designated the winner.
Meyer L, Rubber Ducks and Their Significance in Contemporary American Culture, 2006, Celebri Ducks,
Rossen J, Wise Quacks: A History of the Rubber Duck, 2016, Mental Floss,
Rubber Duck, 2016, The Strong National Museum of Play,
Rubber Duck, 2016, Wikipedia,



A bobbling bobblehead catches your eye.

  • Bobbleheads are novelty toys, usually consisting of a figurine with a bouncy or wobbly head.
  • A ‘bobblehead’ is also called a ‘bobbing head’, ‘wobbler’, ‘nodder’, ‘nodding doll’ and ‘nodding head’.
  • Typically, bobbleheads have a body with a head attached to a spring, which bobs or wiggles when it is touched or moved, and sometimes the head is disproportionate to the body.
  • Depictions of people are most commonly made into bobbleheads, the majority of which are important figures, such as politicians, musicians or sportsmen, while custom designs and animals are also available.
  • Bobbleheads are believed to have originated in China, and they first arrived in Europe around the 1760s; while a depiction of two Chinese ones can be seen in the background of the 1765 painting Queen Charlotte in Her Dressing Room by Johann Zoffany.

Bobblehead, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Invention, Toy, Novelty, Figure, Statue, Japanese, Porcelain

  • Original bobblehead designs from China portrayed Chinese people in a lifelike manner, while early European designs of the 1800s included animal forms, as well as humans.
  • Bobbleheads have been made from porcelain and other ceramics, metal, wood, resin, clay, paper-mâché, and plastic, while cheaper materials and processes, have allowed for mass production of the toys.
  • Over the past century, a wide variety of bobbleheads have become available, many of which have become valued collectible items, with sporting team ones reaching significant popularity in certain decades.
  • Bobbleheads are commonly distributed for promotional purposes, especially in the United States, often as free merchandise, especially to encourage support for sporting teams.
  • As of April 2016, the largest bobblehead officially recognised by the Guinness World Records was 4.69 metres (15.4 feet) in height, and it was a depiction of a St Bernard dog; the mascot of the Applied Underwriters insurance company, in the United States’ Orlando.
Bobblehead, 2016, Wikipedia,
History of Bobble Heads – Shop for bobble Head Dolls, Bobbing Heads, 2016, Pop Culture Spot,
History of Bobblehead Dolls, 2016, Dolls For You,
History of Bobbleheads, 2016, National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum,


Silly Putty

Silly Putty is everything you would want, in one.

  • Silly Putty is a pliable putty toy that has been particularly popular among children since its invention, and in 2001, it earned a place in the National Toy Hall of Fame.
  • Silly Putty is known for stretching when pulled, fragmenting when smashed, bouncing when dropped, and deforming when given time.
  • The Crayola company, ‘Crayola, LLC’ owns the Silly Putty brand, and the putty was originally known as ‘nutty putty’ or ‘bouncing putty’.
  • Silly Putty comes in a wide variety of colours, and some can be metallic looking, or others glow in the dark; and it is sold by Crayola in an egg-shaped casing.
  • Silly Putty is a type of silicone polymer, which was originally made of silicone oil and boric acid, a formula that has remained mostly the same to date.
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Silly Putty
Image courtesy of Hanna/Flickr
  • The inventor of Silly Putty is controversial, and is often attributed to Scottish chemical engineer James Wright, or American chemist Earl Warrick, both of which are believed to have independently created the same compound around 1943.
  • Silly Putty was an accidental invention created during attempts to make a synthetic rubber for the United States military in World War II, as the Japanese had taken control of rubber supplies.
  • When Silly Putty was invented, it was distributed to a variety of scientists and industrialists in attempt to find a practical purpose, however none was found, and it was not until 1949 it was first sold commercially as an amusement for adults.
  • Silly Putty is an adhesive, in that it collects dirt, grit, lint and hair when pressed on a surface, as well as some inks, making it capable of copying prints of texts onto the putty.
  • Silly Putty is affected by substances containing alcohol, which cause the putty to dissolve; though some of these substances can be used to release the putty from clothing and hair, to which it tends to stick.
Harris W, How Silly Putty Works, 2016, HowStuffWorks,
Hiskey D, Silly Putty Was Invented By Accident, 2011, Today I Found Out,
The History of Silly Putty, 2001, Crayola,
Silly Putty, 2016, Wikipedia,


Snow Globe

Shake up a snow globe and be mesmerised by the sight.

  • A snow globe is a decorative novelty item consisting of a scene inside a transparent globular or ellipsoid-like shape.
  • ‘Snow globes’ are also known as ‘snow domes’, ‘snow shakers’, ‘snowstorms’, ‘snow scenes’, and ‘water globes’.
  • Snow globes generally consist of tiny white flakes in a liquid, which is mainly water, which when shaken up, simulates snow falling.
  • It is thought that snow globes originated in France in Europe, with the first known record being a globe of water and white powder, with a man holding an umbrella, which was on display at the Paris Universal Expo in 1878.
  • To prevent the liquid inside a snow globe from freezing during cold temperatures, an antifreeze such as glycol, is often added to the water, while glycerine or another ingredient is sometimes added to slow the movement of the flakes in the liquid.
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Snow Globe
Image courtesy of Nick Harris/Flickr
  • Snow globes were first patented in the year 1900, in Austria, by Erwin Perzy, a mechanic of surgery instruments, who is believed to have thought of the idea whilst attempting to increase light bulb luminescence.
  • The production and demand of snow globes increased between the 1920s and the 1940s, with the rise of cheaper production methods and materials, while popularity grew as a direct result of the globes being dramatically smashed in a scene of the 1940 film Kitty Foyle.
  • Although snow globes are commonly used for ornamental purposes, in some cases, they were initially purposed for and used as paperweights.
  • Snow globes are commonly sold as collectible items or souvenirs, and they have sometimes been distributed for free for advertising purposes.
  • Traditionally, snow globes consisted of a glass globe with bone, ceramic or rice particles, though in modern times, both the globe and flakes are often plastic, and occasionally glitter is used.
Ames L, The View From/Harrison; Collector of 6,000 Snow Domes Knows Kitsch From Priceless, 1997, The New York Times,
McRobbie L, A Brief History of Snow Globes, 2015, Mental Floss,
Pichler B, Into the Wintry World of the Snow Globe, 2010, Los Angeles Times,
Snow Globe, 2016, Wikipedia,
Soteriou H, The Family Company That Invented the Snow Globe, 2013, BBC News,


Toy Soldier

Do you remember the days when toy soldiers were the bomb?

  • Toy soldiers, also known as ‘tin soldiers’ are small figurine toys, typically based on members of combat or military groups.
  • Folk depicted as toy soldiers range from those of modern to historical armies, pirates, cowboys and knights, among others, sometimes in both genders.
  • Modern toy soldiers are most commonly made of plastic, although resin, as well as metal ones are also available – typically made of tin, antimony or pewter; while wood, lead, rock and clay ones were produced in the past; and while they are typically three dimensional, sometimes flat two dimensional soldiers were made from tin in the 1700s and 1800s.
  • Toy soldiers are often used for child’s play, though some figurines are designed for collecting, however before they were reinvented as toys, they were made for and used by the military and/or rulers to plan attacks against enemies.
  • Generally, toy soldiers are of a scale ratio of 1:28 to 1:35, with 1:32 is the most common and thus they are an average height of 5.4 centimetres (2.1 inches), though larger and smaller scale ones are available.

Toy Soldiers, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Invention, Toy, Pirates, Army, Collection, Plastic

  • Figurines depicting army men were sometimes used as part of burial practices in Ancient Egypt thousands of years ago, while toy soldiers created for the purpose of play started appearing around the early 1700s, and were made by Germans.
  • Toy maker William Britain from the United Kingdom invented hollow metal toy soldiers in 1893, which due to their greater affordability because of less metal used, led to an increase in popularity of the play soldiers.
  • Toy soldiers can be purchased either painted or not, while the unpainted ones can be painted by the buyer, or they can be left unpainted, with green being the stereotypical base colour, as depicted in the Toy Story animation films.
  • Popular games using toy soldiers are often orientated around war themes, especially involving the knocking down of said soldiers using cheap, home-made weapons.
  • Toy soldiers are most commonly sold in bulk, often in barrels, buckets or boxes from toy shops, large department stores, or specialty outlets, however, collectible figurines are often sold individually.
A Brief History of Toy Soldiers, n.d, The Toy Soldier Company,
Toy Soldier, 2015, Wikipedia,
Toy Soldiers, 2016, Collector’s Weekly,
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