As if footing the bill for their children's ice time, lessons and costumes wasn't expensive enough, parents have long had to contend with the expense of the annual visit from Santa Claus. And guess what? Their precious little angels weren't only expecting a new pair of skates under the tree. They wanted the latest skating games and toys as well!
Ker-Plunk!, the 'Adorable Skating Bear', sold by UnicornSport, circa 1988. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine".
In 1900, the Bay Shore, New York game manufacturers H.B. Chaffee & E.G. Selchow produced what was perhaps the first skating themed board game, entitled The Skating Race Game. The company (best known for coming up with Scrabble, Parcheesi and a knock-off of Clue called Whodunit) was founded in 1867 and no... there was no relation to Ulrich Salchow, although it's a pretty neat little coincidence. The Skating Race Game was a typical 'goose game' where players rolled the die, moved around the board and were sent forward or back if they landed on certain obstacles.
The Barbara Ann Scott and Sonja Henie dolls
Though skating paper dolls had a certain charm, they failed to have the same popularity as the 'real deal'. Barbara Ann Scott and Sonja Henie composition dolls were hot commodities in the forties and fifties, and countless skating Barbie dolls have appeared on department store shelve. Surprisingly, skating-themed jigsaw puzzles, such Lee Olney's "The Skaters", enjoyed almost the same commercial success that dolls did.
The Skating Bears
In the sixties, a Japanese toy company called T.P.S. (Tokyo Plaything Shokai) came up with a wind-up trio of skating bears. A Hungarian toy company called Lemezárugyár Budapest 'borrowed' the idea and mass producing them. This toy was marked internationally the Champ On Ice Bear Skater Trio and was hugely popular in Europe. The concept for a wind-up skating toy wasn't a new one - similar toys with roller skates had been around for decades.
Chicago based D. Gottlieb and Co.'s Ice-Revue pinball machine came out in 1965, just in time for those pre-Christmas trips to the arcade.
Mr. Christmas Skating Pond
Two years prior, John Joslyn of New York's Luehland Company was granted a patent for a 'magnetic skating pond' game, where the player had to move a bug through a maze of traps to the freedom of a skating pond. Joslyn's skating pond paled in comparison to the much more elaborate Mr. Christmas skating ponds which Sears offered in its Wish Book in the nineties. The latter ponds, which came in themes ranging from Victorian to Rock N' Roll, each had an animated and lighted display and played thirty to fifty songs.
Photos courtesy "Skating" magazine
A trio of charmingly obscure games made 'by skaters, for skaters' appeared in the late sixties, early seventies, and mid nineties, respectively. The first, "Patch", was manufactured in Boston and was billed as a "colourful, exciting, educational, fun-filled an extremely portable game" for ages eight through eigty. "Figure Eight", which like "Patch" was sold via mail order, appeared not long after. The third, a card game called "Silly Skating", was produced by Foy's Toys in Las Vegas.
The best part about "Winter Games" and it's triple 'Axle' was that you could make history every time you played. The character in the game you were controlling was female and no woman had performed a triple Axel in the Olympic Games at that point. Midori Ito had that honour at the 1992 Games in Albertville.
In the age of online shopping, vintage skating dolls, puzzles and games have become surprisingly collectible, so if you're looking for a truly unique gift for that figure skater in your life who has everything, looking back in time may just be your answer.
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