“Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down”
The minute they came to town in 1969, Romper Room’s Weebles gave Fisher Price’s Little People a run for their money as the best in plastic people fun. There was a new family on the block called the Weebles, a family of adorable egg-shaped people with an amazing knack for keeping their heads up.
The Weebles originally came as an entire nuclear family of Weeble Dad, Mum, brother, sister, baby and family Weebles dog.
Weebles worked by a counterweight system, and no matter how far you pushed them down on the side or hit them, the Weebles would pop right up.
Much like the punching clown that popped up time after time each time you punched it, a weighted bottom proved physics theory and kept the toy upright.
Soon after the Weeble debut came the Weeble house, complete with Weeble Wobble slides (instead of stairs, since Weebles had no feet). The Weebles effortlessly tumbled head over hull as they made their way from the upstairs window, down the yellow slide, and into the Weeble car in the garage.
In the UK, Weebles were marketed by Airfix and had a distinctly different appearance to their US counterparts. In contrast to the stickers on the American version, the British Weebles had moulded plastic features that looked downright demonic. In Spain, “Los Weebles” were manufactured by Brekar.
As the Weebles gained popularity and became more affluent, they acquired luxury items like a camper, a train, a boat and a plane, all Weeble friendly.
The Weebles family then created a vast empire of real estate and entertainment, sharing the Weebles Wigwam (tepee, horse and Indian Weeble) and Weebles Treasure Island (a tropical island of palm trees and treasure, pirate boat and pirate Weeble).
When the rat race became mundane and the Weebles were feeling a little low, they hitched up the Weeble Wagons and saddled up to the Weeble Wild West Ranch for some good old fashioned fun.
And then the fun came to town via the Weebles Circus, the Greatest Weeble Show on Earth. Wobbles the clown joined ringmaster Bart and trapeze artist Gina under the big top for stilt walking, trampoline tricks, and the Weeble-shooting cannon (popcorn, peanuts and circus animal cookies not included). For athletic needs, the Weebles had a racing team for the Wobble race and celebrated Halloween with the Weebles Haunted House.
In 1978, a variant was released called the “Tumblin’ Weeblies” in which the weight was loose and allowed the Weeble to move more freely and even (shock, horror) fall over. Needless to say, they didn’t catch on.
The Weebles were eventually adopted by Playskool, and though their place on the toy market has been a little wobbly as old favourites have given way to new, they have always been favourites of those who grew up with them.
The beloved egg-shaped Weeble family is gone, transformed into recognisable characters sitting on rounded bottoms. Modern Weebles changed from the clear eggshell to a childlike drawing on coloured eggs, and then the egg flew the coop and a new sculptural relief-style body replaced the classic Weeble wobble.
Weebles remain popular today and have been given the licensing treatment, emerging in sets including Peppa Pig, various Disney characters, the Teletubbies and Paw Patrol.