The Snapazoo was a fuzzy, flat, and foldable children's toy invented in the 1980's. It consists of two fused-together pieces of velour cut into a shape that suggests many animals, but does not directly represent anything. An array of symmetrical snaps allows a child (or adult!) to fold, twist, and roll the toy into many shapes, such as a bear or a lobster, and hold the shape in place by snapping. There have been at least 25 documented recognizable animal shapes made from a Snapazoo, and a countless array of shapes that look nothing like any animal you've ever seen, but nonetheless have a certain cuddly appeal.

Besides its initial manufacturing run, there was a brief resurgence of interest in the Snapazoo starting in 2005. Some designers in Sweden had a Japanese toy company manufacture some Snapazoos for a conference in a limited edition blue/yellow color combination. The same company also made some for general sale (available in pink/brown, orange/purple, and blue/green). The idea of a configurable toy that encourages creative play is apparently as attractive to professional designers as it was to my parents in the 1980's. However, production and sale of these new Snapazoos has since ceased, and the Japanese manufacturer's website no longer functions.

I bought a green and blue Snapazoo from Japan while they were available, even though the shipping was ridiculous and I was a poor college student. It now sits on my coffee table to amuse my guests and remind me of its purple and teal cousin that I had as a child.


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