When I was younger, we had this toy called knickerbockers, or maybe nickerbockers (no "k").  It was just two hard plastic balls connected by a string that was about 12-18 inches long.  The balls were about the size of a golf ball and were brightly colored (orange?).

This strange device also came with one other piece, a small flat plastic stick with a hole in one end, which was the handle for the device.  You pulled the center of the string (as a loop) through the hole in the handle, and then put the balls through the loop in the string so that the string was then locked onto the handle.

The idea was, you would hold the handle out in front of you, so the two halves of the string both hung straight down below the handle, with the balls at the bottom.  You’d then rapidly move the handle up and down, causing the balls to swing apart, out to the sides, and up to the top above the handle, each one forming a half-circle, where they’d then slam together.

I think the point of the toy was the cool sound that the balls made when they clicked together.  Or, the cool sound they made when you separated them from the handle and threw them really hard into the air across your yard.

Anyway, I haven’t seen this toy anywhere for years, and I can’t seem to find it online.  Does anybody else remember this toy, or better yet, know where it could be bought today?

Posted by Anthony on 13 replies


01. Apr 24, 2006 at 06:41pm by Rolly:

I remember them as "ker bangers", or something like that.  Good times. 

This article has lots more names.

Google a few and you’ll see links to recalls, lawsuits, and other stories.

This is a NASA experiment on toys in space.  The last page has a picture of klacker balls-the newer, safer, lamer version.  Instead of string, the plastic balls are attached to two rigid plastic legs each that spin on the handle.

02. Apr 24, 2006 at 06:46pm by Rolly:
03. Apr 24, 2006 at 07:02pm by Anthony:

Nice!  No wonder I couldn’t find them.  Knickerbockers is of course the name of a basketball team, and it’s also apparently the name of a stuffed-animal toy company, so my searching yielded nothing of what I was looking for.

Yeah, I remember the lame version too, but I don’t think I ever associated it with real knickerbockers -- it’s just totally different.  I think I remember Maria having one of the lame version ones; I don’t know that they were out while I was still a kid.

I guess I can see the safety concerns.  (And the article you linked says some were made of glass??  Mine definitely weren’t.  That’s obviously a terrible idea...)  Still, I’d really love to find some of the original hard-plastic ones with the string in between.

04. Apr 24, 2006 at 07:15pm by Anthony:

Here’s a FAQ page from a guy who is selling some "vintage Clackers"; those ones actually do look like glass and they’re not the ones that I had.  But the FAQ has this gem:

Q: Do they break?

A: Yes, all things break, and I am not responsible for them.

I am not able to refund or replace them if you break them... and the highest speed is guaranteed to break.

Clackers were taken off the market because some people are power Clackers and the force caused by power Clacking destroys all clacker Balls.

05. Apr 25, 2006 at 07:30am by andy:

i only remember getting the cheap plastic version at some point along the line (WHY i don’t know... the original sounds cooler)

oh well.

side note: jack bauer owns

06. Apr 28, 2006 at 12:19pm by Maria:

Yeah, I sometimes get them for prizes at carnivals, or you can get them at the dollar store or dollar sections at stores.

07. Apr 28, 2006 at 12:39pm by Anthony:

You mean the ones where the balls are attached via plastic rods, right Maria?

I love your new avatar, by the way!

08. Apr 29, 2006 at 11:23am by Maria:

Yep!  They’re very noisy, but they’re fun.

09. Jun 13, 2006 at 01:36pm by Wendy Hilleary:

We called them knickerbockers also.  I think the only ones they have now have plastic sticks and not the strings anymore. 

You could check ebay to see if anybody is selling the older string version.

Wendy Hilleary

10. Aug 5, 2006 at 09:54pm by Dave:

Great site to purchase Clackers!

11. Sep 16, 2006 at 09:18am by Ray:

Hey, I am a collector of these relics and have several dozen pairs of these things! I dont sell them though, I give them away as collector items.
If you want a set let me know where to send them and specify a color please.

                          Most of them were given
                          to me as well so i’m
                          just passing on the joy!


12. Aug 2, 2007 at 11:54pm by Diane:

Hey I have a pair of orange clackers, from when I was a kid. I dont remember what they are made of, but boy did I have fun with them! My sister had a pair that was a blue swirl, but she doesnt have hers any more. I got mine out the other day, and my kids thought they were great! Not bad for 30 some years old!

13. Oct 28, 2007 at 09:14am by bobbi:

They has a hundred names lol, I had the ones on the strings in the 80’s , they were plastic from South of the Border, in the carolinas, I miss them so much, but I cant find any less the $40.00

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