OK, so there’s obviously nothing that magical about the Magic Drawing Slate, but they are a lot of fun to play with just the same. I fondly remember these toys from my childhood, although they were clearly around for many years before the 1980’s had begun, dating back to at least the 1950’s and possibly even further. They are such simple toys, and fairly inexpensive, so most kids have probably owned one at some point in their life.
The Magic Slate consists of a piece of grey acetate like sheet laid on top of another darker layer of a more rubbery construction. Using the tip of a plastic stylus on the acetate, it was possible to draw pictures, as the stylus would cause the acetate to gently stick to the underlying layer only where the stylus had been used. The sticking together of the two materials meant it was now easier to see the under layer through the acetate, thus giving the impression you had drawn something.
When you had finished drawing your picture it could then be erased simply by separating the acetate from the rubbery layer, thus stopping the two layers sticking together and yielding a blank sheet again. On some magic slates this was simply a case of peeling the acetate up and laying it flat again, whilst others encased the whole lot in a frame and provided a plastic slider that could be slid from one side of the slate to the other to separate the two layers.
Obviously the magic slate was limited to only being able to draw in one colour, but I believe there were some that had a rainbow effect applied to the rubbery layer so your lines changed colour depending on where they were drawn on the slate. I also remember seeing a similar idea where the acetate was replaced by a piece of neon pink plastic, which allowed bright pink coloured lines to be drawn on a slightly lighter pink coloured background.