Jul 25, 2007

Ding-A-Ling Robots Topper Toys

At the end of the 1960's Topper Toys released a series of 6 inch tall robots known as the Ding-A-Lings. Each Ding had it's own personality which usually revolved around their occupation. They also had some manual function they performed, usually by pushing down on their heads. [For instance, the fireman squirted water, the chef shook salt, the boxer would punch etc.]

The thing that makes this small line of robots stand out is the track. Topper designed a suspended track system that let the Ding-A-Lings run both over and under their track. Dings ran right side up on the top and traveled upside down on the bottom. Three separate playsets could combine to create a sort of robot train layout in infinite combinations.

While you could just roll your Dings across the kitchen floor for imaginary adventures, getting them to run on the track required a little juice. The traveling Dings were powered by 2 AA batteries from a power pack purchased separately. You could run as many robots on the track as you wanted as long as you had a power pack for each one. It wasn't long before tykes like me were begging for more than one power pack and more track.

Toy catalogs of 1971 reveal that Topper had bigger plans for the robot line with more Dings and more accessories, but Topper's president was charged with mismanagement of funds and the company was forced to file bankruptcy. It wasn't long before Topper closed down completely.

In it's short run, the Ding-A-Lings series produced approximately a dozen robots, three playsets, the Ding-A-Lingmobile and a huge King Ding the Ding-A-Ling king. There are also a few Ding-A-Lings that were only available overseas.

Usually a toys name has something to do with it's function, but in the case of the Ding-A-Lings, I don't know the connection. What makes them dingy-lingy? Did they have some bell that rang in the prototype stage? Is it something incredibly obvious I've missed? Above are five of the 12 to 15 dings still in their individual packages. Every Ding-A-Ling came in it's own packaging and one or two also came in the playsets.

This big guy is King Ding, leader of the Ding-A-Lings. King is run by Brain one of the small Ding-A-Ling's who fits inside. He had his own elevator that slowly took him up into King Dings big empty head. This was the guy you wanted to see under the tree.

If you're interested in this line of toys, I'd start with these three sites:

Big Red Toybox is one cool site for vintage toy collectors. Besides selling reproduction parts for hard to find toys, it's got a great encyclopedia of toys.

Toppersdingalings.com & the dingalings.com have a lot of info as well.

This last tidbit is a link to a 4 minute Ding-A-Ling commercial. I tried to embed it here but my computer skills suck. It was created to get retailers excited about the new Ding-A-Lings and track. If you had these toys in your youth, you may notice a few old favorites look different. That's because they were using prototypes for the commercial. Prototypes are the Holy Grail of collecting. It's every collectors dream to find an early edition of a prized toy.


Christopher said...

I remember my King Ding-a-ling!

Just thinking about it is how I found your blog about it.

Those were the days.

Decades before Robo-sapiens and such.

Good times.
Good times.

Thanks for the post. At least now my Wife won't think I am crazy!

Rip Barnes said...

Wow ive been looking for these for along time couldnt remember the name finaly i know now thank you I use to have these when I was little brings good memories thanks again