ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The classic ‘Bop It’ game was just one of the finalists unveiled for the class of 2023 National Toy Hall of Fame.
One of the designers of the legendary toy? Rochester native Bob Welch. News 8 sat down with him this week to hear about the creation of the toy, and the idea behind it.
“One time, we had an Adventure Inventor Relations guy, and he would bring in hundreds of products every year,” Welch said. “I was in the preliminary design group, and we would evaluate products. He brought in a product called ‘Bop It’ And what it was, was a big hammer. I thought it was like a ‘Whack-a-Mole’ type of hammer but had two big round balls on the end of it. It had a little collar that you twisted, and something on the bottom that you pulled. “
The inventor behind that big hammer — Dan Kisner. Welch says Kisner was looking to make a “remote control for kids.”
“He thought, ‘Well, if you hit it, if you bumped it, it would change the channel. If you twisted the collar, it would change the volume if you pulled it.’ […] He showed it to Inventor Relations guy, and they said ‘We’re not looking for a television remote. But hey, maybe this can be a standalone product where you get commands, like Twister. And so, it came in. And it was a call and response game.”
At the same time the idea for ‘Bop It’ was starting to come together, Welch had simultaneously been working on the concept of “Rhythm Sticks.”
“The idea there was that it would be a kind of an instrument that you would hold in your hand,” Welch said. “And as you hit certain parts, they would all sync up and make music. So, I heard that ‘Bop’ and ‘Twist’ and ‘Pull,’ and I thought ‘I think if we add music, if we add a beat to this, it’s going to help with the game.’ Because it speeds up and goes faster and faster. So, as you play, if you stay in beat with the rhythm, you’re going to be able to do this game right?”
And behold, after bringing the idea to the Parker Brothers and Hasbro, ‘Bop It’ hit the shelves in 1996. Welch says with the different variations of the game over the years, seeing the game be a candidate alongside other classics is “incredible.”
“To see it as a candidate along with games that I played as a kid, ‘Battleship’ and ‘Nerf,’ ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.’ Welch said. “Those were kind of big items that again, they pervaded the culture, right? So, to see ‘Bop It’ in there. I think this is the first year that it’s been in there, so, Come on! Vote for it! Let’s get this first ballot win!”
The induction for the National Toy Hall of Fame will take place in November. They do allow a fan nomination, with more information available here.