The 1980s battery
-operated electronic update of the classic Etch-A-Sketch
, the Etch-A-Sketch Animator allows users to create twelve different screens worth of drawings and animate them in any order they choose. It was one of Christmas
1986's hottest items, but faded into obscurity soon after and never rivaled the original Etch-A-Sketch
in overall popularity.
The Animator featured a 30 x 40 pixel screen with each pixel measuring 0.1" x 0.1". The two traditional knobs (colored blue) move a special flashing pixel (the "cursor") around the screen. Eight pushbuttons are placed below the screen: Move, Draw, Erase, Animate, Reverse, Save, Recall, and Next. The Move button allows the cursor to move around the screen without leaving a trail of pixels behind. This allows the user to position the cursor easily. Pressing Draw causes a trail of dark pixels to be left behind the cursor, and likewise Erase removes that darkening by passing the cursor over the darkened pixels. Next advances the frame to the next in the sequence. Note that there is no direct way to go backward in the order of frames. To do so one must "Next" all the way through the twelve frames and loop back to the start. Reverse causes all darkened pixels to become light and vice-versa. During animation it also reverses the order of frames being animated, and speaking of Animate, pushing that button causes the device to scroll through the series of frames one at a time (all the while making a chi-chi-chi noise) until another button is pushed. Animation can be sped up by pushing the Animate button repeatedly, although eventually doing so will cause the animation speed setting to loop back to the slowest speed.
As long as the batteries are in the unit, the Animator will save your work. To save battery life the unit will auto-shutoff in three minutes, although pushing any button will turn it back on.
The Animator was revived briefly in the late 1990s as the Etch-A-Sketch Animator 2000, although it too never became wildly popular. The original Animator is one of the most recognizable toys of the 1980s even if it never set the world on fire.
I used to have one of these when I was a kid