Magic 8 Ball Review: The Toy with All the Answers

Editor's rating:
10.0
Nela Cvetanovska
Reviewed by Nela Cvetanovska
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We like

Iconic, enchanting and mesmerizing design

A fun introduction to the mystical world of clairvoyance

20 possible affirmative, negative and indifferent answers

Endless entertainment that messes with your inner dilemmas

An exhilarating approach to group activity Q/A games

Very durable and high quality materials resistant to damage

We don’t like

Sometimes the answer is hardly readable due to the blue liquid

How it works

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decades, it is highly unlikely that you are unfamiliar with the addictive fortune telling toy Magic 8 Ball. It looks like an over-sized billiard 8 ball that will grant you an answer to all your yes-no questions. It has become a worldwide phenomenon due to its unique purpose and children and adults have been using this toy to solve many of their dilemmas throughout the years.

Let face it, this object is a toy that is not meant to be taken literally however there is something strangely enchanting about it that we all secretly want to try it out. Just by looking at it, almost immediately you experience an urge to ask it a question and hope for a certain answer. Its unique design will undoubtedly leave you wondering if it’s truly magical even though the rational part of your brain will constantly remind you that it is just in fact an object for entertainment.

What is it about the Magic 8 ball that makes it so special and has been hypnotizing the consumers market for so many years? It has been featured on many TV shows, music videos, movies and animated series. It is one of the most iconic toys of all time and it is so mesmerizing that we dare you to hold it in your hands and resist asking it a question. In fact, if you’ve never owned one, maybe what you should be truly wondering is why you’ve been avoiding it for so many years and never actually gave it a chance.

Origin

Origin

The first time someone used an 8-ball as a device to predict fortune was actually in 1940 as a cinema prop in one of the short subject films by the Three Stooges which was called You Nazty Spy! The original idea for a fortune telling device of this nature however, came to Albert C. Carter after seeing his mother Mary, a very popular clairvoyant from Cincinnati, using a spirit writing object called the Psyco-Slate. As a recognized medium, Mary used a sealed container that had a tiny chalkboard inside. Her clients would ask a question out load in order to reach the “other world”. The real mystery that would leave the observers in awe would be the scribbling sounds that would fill up the surrounding space and once they stopped, Mary would open the device and inside there would be an answer dictated by the spiritual forces.

Her son was equally amazed by this ritual so he decided to invent a product that would answer any question without any psychic powers. He experimented for a while using molasses and different liquids in order to create his own device which he called Syco Seer. He partnered up with Max Levinson, the owner of a store that was willing to sell these devices and with the help of Abe Bookman, Levinson’s brother-in-law who at that time was a graduate of Ohio Mechanics Institute, they developed a cylindrical device which would become the original version of the product, called The Syco-Slate.

Bookman was entrusted to find a convenient way so the product can be distributed to a larger scale. They founded Alabe Crafts, named after Albert and Abe and went on marketing the device as a “Miracle Home Fortune Teller”. Even though Albert filed for a patent of his invention which he called a “Liquid Filled Dice Agitator” in 1944, he passed away before the patent was granted in 1948. His partners were lucky enough that Carter shared the credit with them so they could legally continue to develop the product. From that moment, the object was reshaped and redesigned multiple times until it reached its final shape as a Magic 8 Ball with imaginary extraordinary powers meant for entertaining purposes.
Design

Design

The Syco-Slate which inspired the design of the Magic 8 ball was actually made out of cardboard in the shape of a cylinder and had a vintage illustration of a pin up girl with wide open eyes gazing with amazement. The redesigned version of the original Syco Seer happened right after Albert passed, since Bookman had to find a way to reduce the costs of the production. Therefore, he decided to turn the object smaller by removing an end of the tube and make a device with a single window. Once the product got its new shape, it was re-branded as the Syco-Slate: The Pocket Fortune Teller.

He later on made other improvements to bring a more marketable image to its product so he placed the original tube inside an enchanting crystal ball. This caught the eye of the Brunswick Billiards since they were looking for an interesting item to giveaway while promoting the billiards company in Chicago.

Thus the crystal ball was redesigned again and this time into the timeless 8 ball design that remained to this very day even though the Brunswick promotion lasted very briefly. The campaign had so much success that Bookman realized that this is the most wanted look and his product shouldn’t be changed again. In fact, it had so much success around children that Bookman started marketing it as a toy instead as a paperweight.

The current box of the product has a hypnotizing look which is inviting you to “Try Me” written with large letters on it. The overall design of this product seems very simple, like an over-sized black and white billiard 8-ball. The real magic hides in hollow sphere made of plastic where a hidden reservoir filled with navy blue alcohol holds a white icosahedron. The plastic die has 20 sides and each of them contains affirmative, negative and non-committal answers written with letters raised on the surface. The statements are meant to be shown on the bottom of the ball through a small window where the white object is constantly floating.

In order for the whole experience to appear more intriguing and magical, you must hold the ball while facing down the window with the possible answers. Once you ask it a yes-no question, you are supposed to turn the ball upside down and wait for the liquid to set in motion and reveal the side of the die which holds the answer. It is recommended that you gently turn it around instead of shaking it so you avoid the bubbles that ultimately could interfere with getting a clear view of the answer.
Entertainment Value

Entertainment Value

This toy has an undeniable charm to it. It is so addictive that you will most likely find yourself asking the most bizarre questions and look forward to an answer. It is very entertaining for children since they are naturally more curious than adults and really treasure its imaginary powers. They will be playing with it almost every day and wonder: Will I get an A on the test? Should I tell my crush that I like him? Is my mom going to buy me an Xbox for Christmas? Their creativity is endless and it is very interesting to observe their questions changing as they grow older. Even adults find it irresistible.

Many parents have it on their desks at work and sometimes joke with their coworkers asking: Should I get a raise? Will I be promoted? Are we working again this Saturday? Is Jim the laziest employee? It truly brings joy due to its unconventional nature which is not to be taken seriously and even the most rational minds find themselves intrigued and flip it over from time to time. The whole entertainment lies in having conversations with your mind. Magic 8 Ball is the original Siri. It makes us laugh at ourselves for asking the most hilarious things and it puts on a show for whoever is in the audience observing our desperate attempts to find a solution to a problem by summoning magical spirits that seem to know every answer.
Versatility

Versatility

The Magic 8 ball requires asking YES or NO questions however it wouldn’t be as fun if the only answers provided were simply yes or no. It offers 20 possible answers of which 10 are affirmative while the other 10 are equally divided as negative or indifferent. For example, if the ball decides to grant you a reassuring answer it could say: “You may rely on it” or “It is certain.” Others positive statements include: “It is decidedly so”, “Without a doubt”, “Yes - definitely”, “You may rely on it”, “As I see it, yes”, “Most likely”, “Outlook good” or just the plain simple “Yes”. The answers can also point to affirmation by claiming “Signs point to yes.”

The non-committal replies seem uncertain and require asking the same question another time since the ball’s judgment is somewhat clouded at the moment. The answers might be: “Reply hazy, try again”, “Ask again later”, “Better not tell you now”, “Cannot predict now” or “Concentrate and ask again”. The negative ones include: “Don't count on it”, “My reply is no”, “My sources say no”, “Outlook not so good” and “Very doubtful”. It is meant to provide multiple interesting outcomes every-time you turn the ball so you don’t get bored with it and continue to explore its powers.
Age Range

Age Range

The recommended age for using this toy is 6 years and up since it is necessary for children to be able to read and comprehend the meaning of the statements. Even though it is not meant to be taken seriously, the Magic 8 ball is an excellent tool to introduce your children to the captivating world of fortune telling and all its glorious enchantment. It will help your children build up their imagination and unfold their creativity as they imagine spiritual beings helping them solve their everyday enigmas. It is undeniably charming and it will help your child form an emotional bond with an imaginary friend that has the answers to their questions and would last a lifetime.
Price Range

Price Range

This iconic toy is very affordable and will not damage your budget in any way. It is a great investment since it can be used at any age and it has been found very entertaining for the adult audience as well. It is also made of high quality plastic materials that were proven to be very resistant to damage since shaking the ball every time you ask it a question might result in accidental slipping and falling on the ground.

In fact, many owners were so intrigued by the inside of the ball that they tried opening it and were faced with amazing amount of difficulty in succeeding to do so. With that being said, you can rest assure that you will get a toy that you can use for many years to come and even pass it on the next generation since its iconic design is not going anywhere anytime soon. It truly holds a collectible value as one of the greatest toys of all time and it is almost impossible to stay indifferent around it.

Conclusion

The Magic 8 ball is owned by Mattel and the manufacturers are proud with the fact that more than a million Magic 8 Balls are sold every year. In 2011, It has been recognized as one of the “All-TIME 100 Greatest Toys” by TIME Magazine. It has captured the hearts of everyone who had a chance to play with it and has helped children all around the world form an inseparable bond with a trustworthy consultant and an unusual friend.

Just imagine this adorable scenario. Your little ones are asking you a question and instead of answering it directly you tell them: “I’m not sure however I have something that might have the answer!”, as you pull out a Magic 8 ball. Ask it again and shake for an answer then turn it around to read the statement. Their eyes will light up immediately with amazement. With that being said, we asked the toy “Should you get the Magic 8 ball for your loved ones?” The charming fortune telling device told us: “Without a doubt.”

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