Production of electrical powered toys and games has increased tremendously over the years. Early inventions required connection to a wired electrical system, which meant the products were generally not portable. Even so, many of the early toys and games powered by electricity are still popular today, either in vintage form which is often sought by collectors, or more modern versions. The increased electrical load demanded by the plethora of electric devices in the average home requires extra measures be taken to guard against electrical shock and fire.
Electrical Outlets & Safety For Games & Toys
Proud to have several pinball machines and video games in your game room or man cave? Have the biggest, baddest model train layout in all of North Texas? You should consider having AFCI and GFCI protection installed to ensure the maximum protection possible for your playmates and your sensitive electronics. Simply put, AFCIs prevent fires and GFCIs prevent electrical shocks. Both should be installed by a licensed electrician to make your home safer.
Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) help prevent electric fires. Electricity can “leak” from damaged or decaying wires and start a fire. These fires spread quickly in the wiring behind walls, cause more damage than other types of fire and, most important, they are twice as deadly as other types of fire. AFCI protection uses sensors to detect an electricity leak; immediately upon sensing an electricity leak, AFCIs automatically shut down electrical current. Stopping the electrical current before overheating occurs is key to preventing electrical fires.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) help prevent burns, electric shocks and electrocution. A GFCI has sensors that measure the current going out and the current coming back in. Normally, the current is balanced in both directions; if the current is out of balance, something is not working properly. This creates a personal safety hazard. The GFCI senses this, and immediately shuts down the circuit, stopping the flow of electricity. Because water is a highly dangerous electric conductor, GFCIs are extremely important in areas where both water and electricity are present such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and garages.
Call Nisat Electric at (214) 536-5555 to install additional electrical outlets for your electrical toys! We can even install dedicated circuits and whole house surge protection to ensure the maximum protection possible for your sensitive electronics. In the meantime, we hope you are inspired by the following information about the earliest electrical powered toys & games!
Early Electricity Powered Toys & Games
The first electric train set was produced in 1897 by the American company Carlisle & Finch. By 1901, Lionel made its first electric train for use in store display windows. Because the average home did not have electricity to power model trains, the earliest electrical train sets were only found in the wealthiest homes. As more homes became “electrified” and prices for the electric toy trains dropped, the toys gained in popularity and beginning in the 1920s they were mass-produced for the general public. Initially developed with young boys in mind, train sets have become very popular among adults spawning an entire industry that supports the collection and operation of toy trains. Modern toy trains incorporate digital technology both on board and at the control panels.
- The National Model Railroad Association
- San Diego Model Railroad Museum (San Diego, California)
- National Toy Train Museum (Strasburg, Pennsylvania)
- Trainland U.S.A. (Colfax, Iowa)
- Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg (Video), largest model railway in the world.
- One Man’s Model Trains (Video)
The earliest version of the modern pinball machine evolved from the table game bagatelle. Coin operated versions known as “marble games” or “pin games” were introduced in the 1930s. The table was under glass and incorporated a spring-loaded plunger device to propel the ball into the play field. In 1932, the game Ballyhoo was invented; it featured a large playing field and ten pockets. Immensely popular, the name was later changed to Bally. Around the same time, Pacific Amusements in California produced Contact which had an electrically powered solenoid to propel the ball out of a bonus hole in the middle of the play field; another solenoid rang a bell to reward the player. Bells, music and electric lights designed to attract players soon became a standard feature of all subsequent pinball games. Popular among both males and females, pinball machines were the undisputed electronic game of choice for older kids throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s.
- Pacific Pinball Museum (Alameda, California)
- Pinheads – The Story of the Pacific Pinball Museum (Video)
- Replay Amusement Museum (Tarpon Springs, Florida)
- Pinball Wizard Flash Mob in San Francisco (Video)
- How To Build Your Own Pinball Machine (Video)
The first electric football game was produced by Tudor Metal Products in 1947. Tudor used a vibrating model for their electric race car game as the technological basis for Electric Football. When the motor beneath the playing field was activated, the metallic field vibrated causing players on the field to spring into motion.Licensing rights with the National Football League in the 1960s brought about the use of team logos and replication of real life stadiums. Rising popularity of the game led to frequent improvements over the years including greater control of player movement and digital scoreboards. However, as with nearly all early electrical games, electronic football has lost in popularity to the increasingly more convenient and technologically advanced video game.
Invented by Burt Meyer and created by Hasbro in 1967, Lite-Brite allows the user to create illuminated designs using small colored plastic pegs by pushing the pegs through opaque black paper lit from behind. When illuminated, the pegs appear similar to LEDs. Children can create a design using color-by-letter templates or create their own designs. Modern versions of Lite-Brite include a flat-screen version, a 3D cube and a FX edition that spins and plays music. Prices range from $10 to $40.
Feeling a nostalgic desire to play with your old Lite-Brite but don’t have it anymore?
- You can play online here and here.
- Create your own Giant Lite Brite (Video).
- Buy the modern version or the classic version.
Generations of American women baked their first cake at a very young age using a cherished Easy-Bake Oven. Introduced by Kenner in 1963 and currently manufactured by Hasbro, the original toy used an ordinary incandescent light bulb as a heat source to cook. Modern versions of this toy, the use of which is considered a rite of passage by many, use a true heating element. The oven comes with packets of cake mix and small round pans. Still highly popular today because it is generally considered a safe and fun product to introduce children to cooking, there is an entire website devoted to Easy-Bake Oven recipes of all kinds!
Operation Board Game
John Spinello, inventor of one of the first battery-powered pop culture board games, Operation, is raising funds for his own real life surgery. Operation debuted in 1965 and by the early 70s was a hit among youngsters “shocked” by the lighted nose and buzzer sound. Although the game is still produced by Hasbro and sold by many retailers, Spinello does not receive any royalties; he sold the rights for $500 shortly after inventing the game when he was an industrial design student.
Testing players’ hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, Operation consists of an operating table featuring a comical image of the patient, “Cavity Sam.” The surface has a number of openings (cavities) filled with fictional and humorously named plastic ailments. Using a pair of tweezers, players must remove the ailment from the cavity without touching the tweezers to the metal edge of the cavity opening. When a player fails to safely remove an ailment, Cavity Sam’s red lightbulb nose lights up and a harsh buzzer sound is played.
If you’re wishing you had thought of a better Halloween costume this past weekend, consider dressing up as Cavity Sam next year! Some of the best Operation-themed Halloween costumes are featured at Coolest Homemade Costumes.
Battery Powered Toys
Although it had a relatively low battery life, zinc-carbon batteries were the primary battery of choice until the late 1950s. In the mid-50s, the National Carbon Company Parma Research Laboratory focused development on economically feasible alkaline batteries, thus the birth of the common alkaline battery in 1959. Quickly gaining use worldwide, the batteries spawned the battery operated toy industry. Early inventions were mainly battery-powered vehicles of all different types, interactive activity centers which featured lights and noises and, for some unfathomable reason, monkeys and bears that played drums, banged cymbals or engaged in other strange activities. There’s even a battery operated bartender (video) that we hope was for adult entertainment only. Collectors can share their finds at Collectors Weekly.
Nisat Electric Reviews & Licensure
Nisat Electric is proud to maintain three different categories of electrician licenses in the State of Texas: Electrical Contractor, Master Electrician and Journeyman Electrician. Please, take a few minutes to check out our reviews and licensure in the State of Texas and you will understand why thousands of customers entrust their electrical installation and repairs to Nisat Electric!
Visit our website or call Nisat Electric today at (214) 536-5555!