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Vintage Scuba: Toys for Young and Old

Scuba Outfit w Alec

Hi divers, Alec Peirce again with Vintage Scuba! We’re having a little bit of fun today – literally a little bit of fun. Scuba diving today is very exciting and fun: lots of families and young people do it and so on. When scuba diving first started, when it first became a popular sport in the ‘50s and ‘60s, it was crazy. Everybody wanted to be a scuba diver! It was like Star Trek and astronauts. Everybody wanted to be a scuba diver and I talked about being a frogman; Sea Hunt was on TV and it was great. Kids and adults were really thrilled.

The real market, of course, is always kids because kids always get what they want: they ask for something and their parents buy it for them. There were an awful lot of scuba games that came out for kids, and I have two or three boxfulls of scuba related games from the ‘50s and ‘60s. I want to show you just a couple today.

First of all, take a look at this. I think it’s pretty neat. This is a scuba outfit, specifically an underwater scuba outfit (which, when you think about it makes a whole lot of sense) for a kid. It says ages nine to adult. Before I show you what’s inside, I want you to look at the outside. This scuba outfit includes a mask, and the mask has a couple of tubes coming out of it; those tubes go up into a snorkel, which has one of those ping-pong ball type dry attachments on it. These two things here are two inflatable floats, long tubes made of rubber, and the snorkel attaches to them. The snorkel stays on the surface and then you can put the mask on and go down about five or six feet. It’s not far but you can go under the surface and breathe through the snorkel. It’s almost like being a scuba diver: it’s sort of self-contained and you are underwater and you are breathing. Can you imagine Christmas? A little boy that’s interested in Mike Nelson, Sea Hunt, and scuba diving? Guess what he’s going to ask for. Absolutely.

Flippy Frogmen

A couple of things I find funny about it because I’ve diving for a long time – I teach diving and science – is that this doesn’t work. If you’ve never tried it, get a piece of garden hose four feet long, get someone to hold you down at the bottom of the pool, four feet down, and with the end of the hose sticking out of the water you can’t breathe through it. The human body can’t get air if it’s more than two-and-a-half or three feet deep. However, that’s not necessarily bad: it means someone with this wouldn’t go very deep.

I’m going to take this out of here and take a peek at it. “The new way to explore the mysteries of the sea!” “Scuba underwater outfit!” There’s the instructions on how to assemble it, and how to blow up two floats – you could use this in the pool or a bathtub! The mask on the front goes on your face just like this. It has two tubes that come together, and this tube goes up to the surface. “See you, Mom! I’m going diving!” The floats are in here but they’re very fragile, and the buckles and everything else to hold this on you is all there. It’s a beautiful, wonderful exciting toy from the ‘60s: Underwater Scuba Outfit for Kids. You don’t see those today.

One more I want to show you. This one was famous, and I would be very surprised if a lot of you don’t remember Flippy. There’s Flippy. You could buy Flippy in these cardboard tubes at your local store. Inside you’d find a couple of booklets. “Your Equipment” explains how all this works, “You Too Can Be a Skin Diver!” is a little booklet on how to be a skin diver, and this last one is “The Story of Skin Diving”. So how does this work? Along with Flippy, you get a little plastic bag with pellets in it – little pills. You snap the tank off his back and put one of those pills inside, snap it back on, and put him in the bathtub. Just like a real scuba diver, bubbles start to come out! Then they stop and Flippy sinks to the bottom; then he starts to get bubbles and he floats to the surface; then back down to the bottom. It’s really very simple. If you look at it today through the cynical ideas of an adult, this is simply a weighted diver that has a little calcium carbonate pill that fizzes and makes carbon dioxide gas. The gas fills up the tank and it goes to the surface. This was exciting for kids. Flippy was a popular toy for many years. As seen on TV! The Flippy Frogmen! No wires! No strings! No batteries! Later versions were a little fancier and they came in a cardboard box like this. By this time, Flippy was famous. You could buy them in sets. On the bottom part of this box: “Fifty pellets!” You could play with these two divers at the same time. It was a whole lot of fun for young kids and adults.

There’s a couple scuba diving games for you to look at. There you go. Alec Peirce with Vintage Scuba. Talk to you soon.