Remember the pogo stick? In its heyday in the early '60s, no hip kid could be without one.
It's the '80s, and the pogo's been taken a step further. Pogo Bal was introduced early this year and is riding a wave of popularity.
The Pogo Bal is actually an inflatable double ball whose middle is pinched by a plastic platter with a 4 1/2-inch rim to support the rider's feet. To use, one simply stands on it and bounces.
It sells for $14.99 and comes in six color combinations, from a splashy orange and yellow to a flashy silver and black.
And it's selling as fast as its riders can bounce.
At Toys R Us in Van Nuys, Pogo Bal is so hot that the shelves are emptied as quickly as they're stocked. "We get Toy and Hobby World magazine, which every month lists the top-selling toys, and it's always in the top five, right up there with G.I. Joe," said Larry Gardner, Toys R Us area director of stores.
Jerry Dobbins, manager of Toy Korner in Newhall, said, "We don't get near enough to make people happy." He credits television advertising with making Pogo Bal desirable to the 7- to 12-year-old set, but admits that some parents are wary, "especially when it comes to hearing about kids jumping off picnic tables."
Some parents are cautious because using the toy requires a degree of coordination and concentration.
"I think parents know how dangerous they can be just by looking at them," said Peter Grisanti, manager of the Van Nuys Toys R Us. "But all the kids look at them, even my 4-year-old granddaughter."
Peggy Martinez, a customer service representative at Toys R Us in Burbank, said parents have returned them "because there's nowhere to hold on, and sometimes they do pop when you bounce off them."
For restless youths who can't find a Pogo Bal, which is made by Hasbro, there's already an imitator on the market--the Lolo Bal.
"When they start making knock-offs," Gardner said, "you know you've got a popular item."