Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tupperware Classics: Shape-O

This rather arty shot of the Tupperware Shape-O toy comes from the Australian blog Babyology: Modern Finds for Hip Kids and Parents. Modern? Hip? For a toy that hasn't changed in 50 years, that is quite an accolade. As the blog says, the toy has retained its iconic status because "the Shape-O teaches shapes, colours and logic as well as being a super rolling rattle for bubs".

I find that almost everyone knows the Shape-O from childhood, but that many folks are surprised that it is a Tupperware product. In fact, the Tupperware catalogue has always had one or two products unconnected with food, usually toys. Remember the Pop a Lot. Tupperdiva's fantastic website has a gallery featuring Tupperware toys from 1965 to 1989 -- including the Amphibio and Totempails, which were briefly available again last year during Tupperware's UK 50th anniversary. Today's UK catalogue features the Shape-O, and also the pleasingly old-fashioned Stencil Set that Brianna and Chelsea are enjoying in this 90-second YouTube clip. Note Chelsea's product placement of the Shape-O at the end of the clip!



All the classic Tupperware pieces I am blogging about have had some subtle colour changes over the years, usually to reflect changing tastes in kitchen decor. A 1970s solid opaque orange Quick Shake for sure looks a little too old-school for most current tastes, and it now comes in a see-through colour that the catalogue calls Custard. And while it's true that a Google image search will return a very few Shape-O's that have dabbled with a different palette, that was a very brief interlude. I can certainly only supply them in the classic and timeless red and blue, with yellow shapes.

The Shape-O is a fantastic toy, and brilliantly designed to take children through different stages of play and learning. For the very youngest children, 6 months and up, it is a ball that makes a cool noise because of the shapes inside, and that is easy to pick up by the holes. Eventually the child will learn to pull the little handles connected to elastic, which opens the ball to release the yellow shapes. Posting the pieces back inside the ball teaches about shapes and logic. And when that gets old, each shape features an etched number and dots, for number learning.

A Shape-O is built to last, and they are often passed down from parent to child. I know from my customers that it is also a popular nostalgic gift for an adult friend or family member. The mini-version, attached to a keyring, would probably be my best-seller, if I could get hold of them in any quantity.

Naturally, sometimes the shapes themselves get lost. A very determined and strong pair of children who try to stretch the two halves as far apart as possible might eventually snap the elastic. Spares are available from me.

K02 Shape-O toy: £21.15
Spare shapes and elastic: £1 each
Shape-O key ring: Good luck. Try eBay.

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