Fidget toy the Tangle was invented in 1980 here in the city, and 250 million units sold later, will be anthropomorphized into the the star of an upcoming animated children’s television show.
A twisty toy called the Tangle was invented here in San Francisco in 1980, and has since spawned many different versions. By 1996, updated versions of the Tangle were being sold in McDonald’s Happy Meals (See the commercial below!) And according to the Chronicle, the toy has since sold 250 million units. “A chrome version was among the first art toys sold by New York’s MoMA,” the Chronicle reports. “It has FDA endorsement as therapeutic for stress relief, hand therapy and smoking cessation. Michael Jackson posed for Italian Vogue wearing an unfurled 4-foot Tangle slung across his chest like a bandoleer. It got a boost from the national fascination with fidget toys. It’s a TikTok darling. And soon it will star in an animated series.”
Yes, the Tangle is being turned into an animated childrens’ show per the Chron. The Canadian company Wow! Unlimited Media is producing the show, who are also behind the animated Netflix original movie Barbie Princess Adventure, the DreamWorks Madagascar spin-off Madagascar: A Little Wild, and the not-necessarily-for-children Youtube series Cartoon Hangover.
“Tangle is a phenomenon that hasn’t received the attention it deserves,” Wow! Unlimited Media CEO Michael Hirsh told the Chronicle. He says Tangle inventor Richard X. Zawitz “has imbued it with the Taoist philosophy and insights he studied as a young man when building it. It manages to touch on so many aspects that are important to kids’ television today.”
This Richard X. Zawitz character is now a 75-year-old man, and his son, daughter-in-law, and grandson are all in on the family business that since moved to a giant warehouse in South San Francisco. The company’s premier line of products now includes spinoffs like the Tanglemaster, Sculptor, and Thaumaturgist.
“Over the years, I discovered I have some sort of magic object,” Zawitz told the Chronicle. “There’s no getting around it. What else could it be? How else could a twisty plastic noodle last 40 years in this world?”
Related: Childhood Fave Jeffrey's Toys Set To Make A Return To San Francisco [SFist]