Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Dr Fad... Dr Fad... Dr Fad...
July 28, 2011 9:49 AM   Subscribe

In 1983, Ken Hakuta's mother in Japan sent him some toys in the mail for his kids. They were octopus shaped, and when you threw them against the wall they "walked" down the wall. Seeing some marketing potential, he bought the rights to the toys for $100,000, and the Wacky Wall Walker was born. It became a HUGE success after a slow start, being offered as a prize in Kellogg's cereals and even inspiring a Christmas special on NBC. Eventually they ended up (according to Hakuta) selling a over 240 million units! Sometime during this wildly successful period, Dr. Fad was born. Ken wanted to everybody to invent and create. From 1988 to 1994, the Dr Fad Show featured a Wall Walker-covered-sweater wearing Hakuta as "Dr Fad" in a kids' gameshow format, with contestants coming on and showing off their inventions, the winner being judged by an applause meter. The show also had a "Golden Gizmo" segment, honouring the great fads of the past - a young Rodney Mullen accepted the Golden Gizmo for skateboarding, while other "famous" folks responsible (or in some other way related to) the fads appeared to receive the award in other segments.

More Dr Fad 80' TV goodness:

Dr Fad clip featuring Betty James, wife of the inventor of the Slinky accepting the golden gizmo
Dr Fad clip featuring a totally nonsensical 1978 flashback
Dr Fad clip featuring "Fad Court", a segment with kids judging "good" and "bad" fads
posted by antifuse (35 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Apparently, MeFi's own taumeson was also on an episode. This post was inspired by me remembering the show out of the blue for some reason, and not being able to remember the name of it for the life of me. And I figured there has to be a good few folks out there that remember this show as fondly as I do. :)
posted by antifuse at 9:52 AM on July 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wacky Wall Walkers were awesome. Anybody know where I can pick some up? I have this giant sliding glass door begging for a sticky octopus to spastically saunter down. I purchased a Kellogg's cereal box prize version of the Wacky Wall Walker from ebay a couple of years ago, but for some reason I am afraid to take it out of its plastic packaging, as if it is an artifact from my childhood that I need to protect.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:55 AM on July 28, 2011


he bought the rights to the toys for $100,000

Ah, back then when people were so naive. Nowadays, he would have sued the living crap out of the original company for infringing on his wall-walker idea.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 9:57 AM on July 28, 2011


Though I was perhaps a little old for the show, I strangely remember it not at all. However, the one thing I *do* remember about the Wacky Wall Walker, aside from its particularly strong dust-attracting properties, was the knowledge, somewhere in my little pre-teen brain, that I was, in fact, participating in a fad.
posted by balberth at 9:59 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Weirdly, those things gave me nightmares when I was four years old. I can still remember them creepily crawling down the wall to get me. AHHHHHHHH.
posted by dobie at 10:01 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking of crawling octopods, I am reminded of the awesome animated gif of a crawling squid, served as Odori-Don, I saw the other day ..
posted by k5.user at 10:01 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


OMG! I got a few of those as a kid and never knew that you were supposed to throw them at walls. I always thought they were just an octopus toy!
posted by Vindaloo at 10:02 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I was in high school, all of the girls in my school had to go to an assembly about breast cancer and the importance of self-exams. To show us what a tumor in breast tissue would feel like, they gave us small, blue fake breasts with a tiny hard lump inside. These breasts felt like they were made of the same material as Wacky Wall Walkers, but were stickier. So for days, there were hundreds of these fake breasts all over the school -- on lockers, walls, ceilings, etc. I don't know who thought it was a good idea to give teenagers sticky fake breasts, but I don't think they did it again.

Anyway, whenever Wacky Wall Walkers are mentioned, I think of boobs.
posted by amarynth at 10:06 AM on July 28, 2011 [24 favorites]


As soon as I read the words "Dr. Fad" I remembered the theme song in its entirety. I can't remember where I put my goddamn keys this morning, but I have apparently dedicated at least one dusty drawer of my mind to filing away the theme song lyrics of a Saturday morning TV show I haven't thought about once since I was 12 years old.

Dr. Fad! Take a walk on the wacky side..."
posted by peachfuzz at 10:24 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


My god, I remember waking up before 5am on Saturday mornings, sitting through the last ten minutes of whatever the late late movie was and then Dr. Fad would come on. I was the oldest child, so I was alone in my bedroom, the only one awake in a house still dim in the cool Michigan morning. I was convinced that I was the only person in the world who remembered Dr. Fad. Thanks for posting!
posted by Maaik at 10:29 AM on July 28, 2011


Speaking of fads, does anybody remember Crazy Foam? It was an aerosol can that was filled with foam -- stuff that looked a lot like shaving foam, but that cost a lot more.

I remember being really seduced by the stuff. It was crazy. It was foam. If the tin was correct, you could use it for everything from custard pies to fake beards.

But it wasn't any better than shaving foam for those things -- just several times more expensive.

So was there some purpose to the stuff that I just wasn't seeing?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:31 AM on July 28, 2011


Hakuta later bought a large collection of Shaker furniture and other Shaker artifacts from the Darrow School at the Mt. Lebanon Shaker community site, Lebanon NY. "With the money I had to spend, I could either buy a third-rate Picasso or this entire collection, which represents one of America's most important contributions to the arts," Hakuta said at the ime. The collection has been widely exhibited and published in book form.
posted by beagle at 10:36 AM on July 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Another collection of Dr Fad videos
posted by antifuse at 10:36 AM on July 28, 2011


Oh, how I loved Dr. Fad and Wacky Wall Crawlers. My brothers and I used to fight over the Wacky Wall Crawlers in the cereal box. My school even had a spin-off Dr. Fad show of our own (circa 1989-90), where I so creatively "invented" mitten keepers / clips (you know, to keep you from losing your mittens).
posted by geeky at 10:39 AM on July 28, 2011


(Note that the above link also has videos that feature "Dr" or "Fad" and not necessarily Dr Fad :))

And thanks for that, Beagle - I meant to add that bit about Hakuta as well, but got so excited about the Dr Fad stuff that I forgot. :)
posted by antifuse at 10:40 AM on July 28, 2011


The 45-year-old Harvard M.B.A. earned $20 million

Ahh, a simpler time when $20m was alot, now it is just Zuck's walking around money.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:43 AM on July 28, 2011


All skate videos should be accompanied by that music.
posted by pmcp at 10:44 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


. . .the Wacky Wall Walker was born.

More like Wacky Wall Dust and Grime Collector.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:45 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wacky Cat Hair Collector.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:54 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Speaking of fads, does anybody remember Crazy Foam?

I seem to remember it was a soap-replacement. I think we had superhero versions. For kids who won't use bar soap but will love it spitting out of Aquaman's mouth.
posted by Mchelly at 10:56 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


A wacky wall walker was lost in my room, and it somehow (fell from being stuck on the ceiling?) landed on the lightbulb of my lamp. I found this out the next day when there was a puddle of green ooze all down my lamp and on the desk. The only cooler thing I ever got out of a Kellog's box was a 2010 movie poster.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:58 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking of crawling octopods, I am reminded of the awesome animated gif of a crawling squid, served as Odori-Don, I saw the other day ..

DO NOT WANT!!! Holy fucking crap, and I've -seen- tentacles so fresh they wiggle on the way down. That's like frog legs times ten (or at least four). Man, I was going for bad Japanese food for lunch, too.

I expect there's a dusty warehouse someplace with about 1.6 million Wacky Wall Crawlers left over from the boom days. Seems how those things always go.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 10:58 AM on July 28, 2011


More like Wacky Wall Dust and Grime Collector.

... well, you could wash them off with soap and water, you know. Somehow they got magically sticky again when they dried; never could figure that one out.
posted by balberth at 11:07 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Behold! the bitter ASCII truth of a Wacky Wall Crawler in action:
 \
  \
   o
  /
 /
o
 \
  \











__o__

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:08 AM on July 28, 2011 [16 favorites]


balberth: "Somehow they got magically sticky again when they dried; never could figure that one out."

The one or two in the house when I was a kid must have been defective, because in my memory they worked great at first, then did the wacky dust-collection, and never ever worked as well again no matter how you tried to clean them. A similar problem to the even more limited and slightly early Suckerman, really.
posted by Drastic at 11:10 AM on July 28, 2011


I also remember that those things (and the sticky hand on the end of sticky rope-whip) would muck up indoor paint on the walls and leave an oily-ish stain that will not wash off, provided that the paint is of a certain type (latex? can't recall). Sorry, Gramma!
posted by FatherDagon at 11:38 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


You have to catch them before they fall into the windowsill

While wearing powder-free latex gloves

In a clean room with perpetual air ventilation

And store them in an airtight glass container, out of the sunlight.

Enjoy.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:40 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also remember that those things (and the sticky hand on the end of sticky rope-whip) would muck up indoor paint on the walls and leave an oily-ish stain that will not wash off, provided that the paint is of a certain type (latex? can't recall).

At my last office I tossed dozens of these on the drop ceiling, and they stuck on the tiles. Couple years later it was time to move so we tried to pull them down. They tore chunks out of the tiles. Whoops, we had to pay to replace the ceiling.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:07 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I LOVED Dr. Fad as a kid. It captured my delight in inventing things perfectly.

I still remember the greatest part of it:
There was a section where kids would show off their own invention ideas. One kid had a clothesline pulley system to retrieve the mailbox. Stuff like that.

One kid talks about his new tool for getting cats down from trees: It was a funneal attached to a vacuum cleaner.

It still cracks me up just thinking about it.
posted by Theta States at 12:15 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kids in the 80s had all the best slimy, sticky toys. I loved wall-walkers. I remember mine worked best on the fridge. And I ruined my fair share of upholstery with this stuff, let me tell you what.
posted by penduluum at 12:37 PM on July 28, 2011


well, you could wash them off with soap and water, you know. Somehow they got magically sticky again when they dried; never could figure that one out.

True enough. Though I could never be troubled to do so. Soap? Water? What are those?
posted by IvoShandor at 1:27 PM on July 28, 2011


Wonder if you could make them these days out of microfiber pads such as insects and Geckos use to walk up walls rather than sticky plastic.
posted by jamjam at 1:38 PM on July 28, 2011


Back in 89/90, I was a potential candidate for the magnet school Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. I, along with several other of my elementary school classmates, took a Saturday to go there and become familiar with the school in case we wanted to eventually go there.

As we entered the school, I remember that there was a big deal because Dr. Fad was there and he would be speaking to us about pursuing our interests in science and all around geekery.

I remember that we all got wall walkers, and he was extremely enthusiastic about making sure we knew how important science was in our lives and that we were the future invention makers of America.

Then he left and we dissected diapers and saw what happened when you applied water directly to the absorbent material. I think we also mixed water and cornstarch with green food coloring and put it in baggies so we had something to take home with us.

I took home a warm and fuzzy feeling that this guy who could have gone and spoken anywhere to anyone came and spoke to a bunch of nerds about embracing our gifts and shaping them to benefit others. He'll always have a place in my heart for doing that for us.
posted by hgswell at 5:12 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, I haven't thought about Wacky Wall Walkers in a long time.

It seems to me that the summer I was nine, a huge amount of my identity was somehow tied up in Wacky Wall Walkers. I had several black ones, I think.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:16 AM on July 29, 2011


Speaking of crawling octopods, I am reminded of the awesome animated gif of a crawling squid, served as Odori-Don, I saw the other day ..

Odori-don is blowing up right now and I have no idea why.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:23 PM on July 29, 2011


« Older This Man was Hired to Depress Art This is the opin...  |  Don Clinchy, with the Texas Ar... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments