You have to admire the person who came up with the idea of turning a device for restraining prisoners into a child’s play thing? Taking an item like a heavy ball and chain and converting it into a keep fit toy was a stroke of genius!
I’m talking about the Skip-It, which basically consisted of a rotating plastic ball on a length of flexible plastic that was attached at the other end to a plastic ring. You placed one foot into the ring, then by skipping up and down you could get the ball rotating around your leg. You then had to skip over the long chain-like part of the toy whenever it came round by your other foot.
Whilst I can’t prove that the ball and chain was the inspiration behind this toy, it seems pretty likely given that it looks exactly like one and was worn in the same way!
The Skip-It first appeared in the Eighties and became one of those instant fad toys that everyone wanted to have, and before long there were many badly constructed but cheaper copies of it in the shops, and children up and down the country were tripping over themselves trying to master the action required to keep the ball in motion.
In the early Nineties the popularity of the Skip-It was on the wane, but the makers then had to great idea of adding a counter to the ball which kept track of how many times it had been swirled round your ankle. A great idea, assuming it was accurate of course, as it then meant you had the aim of trying to beat your highest score, and you could compete with your friends to be the playground Skip-It champion too!