Mar 22, 2017

Fundimensions Sound Gizmo Toy (1980)

With the advent of the internet, it's become ridiculously easy to revisit one's childhood. Whether you're reconnecting with friends or searching for that favorite toy, it seems everything is a mouse click away. But then there are those rare occasions when you go to Google up something and find just about nothing online and you remember that all that information out there has to be put there by someone.

In 1980 Fundimensions released a weird electronic toy called the Sound Gizmo. I don't remember exactly how I came by mine. It might have been a gift for a special occasion but I do remember not knowing anyone else that had one. This might explain why they currently go for $200-$300 on Ebay and why I can barely find any mention of it online.

Image from Neato Coolville
So what was the Sound Gizmo? Ready for this? It makes...sounds! If you were to play with one now, you'd think it was junk, barely a novelty. But to a kid barely into double digits that was obsessed with sci-fi, it was magic!

You've got a slider on the right that lets you pick from 9 different sounds, three knobs to tweak the sound, and two buttons for duration.

The manual (click for larger view) gave you suggested control settings for typical sound use. But having 9 sounds with variable pitch and speed, who wants typical? This is really where the replay value kicks in. I remember when I was outside playing (it's a thing kids used to do a long time ago) it was sort of a imagination multi-tool useful in any situation.

Need a machine gun?
Use the Train sound and crank the speed up.

Need to break out (or in) somewhere?
Use the Siren and keep adjusting the pitch and speed until you hit the right frequency and you've got a sonic lockpick! And yes, that's totally a riff on the sonic screwdriver.

Need to really annoy someone?
Set it to Tone and crank the pitch all the way up.

Here's a little demo video. I did not make this and (apologies to the creator) it's not a great showcase of what the Gizmo can do but it's the only thing I could find that isn't related to a certain Mogwai.

Here's a fun read I found at the Howard Stern show, of all places, where it was used in the days before soundboards to provide sound effects for the show. There's also a brief audio talking about the toy.

Do you have any childhood toys you don't think anybody else remembers?
Let's reminisce in the comments!

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