You may remember them, delighting children and irritating mothers, by slipping and sliding down the walls and quite possibly frightening the unprepared, who may be assuming that movement on the wall is something less savory. Regardless of the first impression, the invention of Ken Hakuta, better known by the name Dr. Fad, the Wacky Wall Walker walked into the hearts of boys and girls of America.
Called Tako in Japan, these strange toys were the first thing that walked down a wall you might feel safe picking up. The cute little face of the octopus shaped toy was also another selling feature, a feature that was to powerful for a nation unfamiliar with Japanese Kawaii or super cute toys. Dr. Fad began marketing these funny little things in small drug stores and gift shops all over the Washington D.C.
Unfortunately they were a not so impressive sell until what is possibly a slow news day report by the Washington Post, brought this little wall hugging creature to the attention of many. Becoming an instant hit, the Wacky Wall Walker had Americans lining up in long lines just so they could purchase this sticky ball of rubber that sported a cute face and wiggly tentacles. This was how the obscure novelty item became a fad and earned Ken Hakuta, the name: Dr. Fad.
Over two hundred and forty million Wacky Wall Walkers were sold in the following years, even landing inside select cereal boxes as the coveted toy surprise. Fans of VH1‘s I Love The Eighties will recognize the Wacky Wall Walker’s cameo between certain cuts. Proving that the small critter may be absent from the marketplace but never absent in the hearts of its fans.
This was not all for the Wacky Wall Walker. It sparked a cartoon featuring the Wacky Wall Walker as the main star. This was a cartoon made for the holiday season and involving the search for the true meaning of Christmas. (Spoiler alert: It is not to be found sliding down a wall)
Dr Fad himself is something of an oddity. A self appointed helper of inventors, he even had a phone number that you could call for advice of fads. Building himself an empire off of a small bit of rubber and a sticky coating, Dr Fad even ended up have a very successful television show, the Doctor Fad Show. The show lasted for years running from 1988 all the way to the mid nineties.
The show featured the inventions of kids and fostered an appreciation for science and creativity. This was in part because of the creator’s desire to foster these concepts in the minds of students, and Dr Fad made many frequent appearances at schools to stir up excitement for the sciences, and to instill creativity and a sense of excitement for science and engineering. All this made possible by the Wacky Wall Walker and Dr Fad’s very own infectious personality and enthusiasm.
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