This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2007)
In 1968, tempered glass sphere models emerged that would eventually shatter, sending glass shards into the face of the user and anyone nearby. In the early 1970s, manufacturers changed them to plastic spheres suspended on each string. When they were swung up and down, banging against each other with a lot of force they made the loud "clacking" sound. Clackers are similar in appearance to bolas, the Argentine weapon.
The toy is formed out of two solid balls of polymer, each about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, attached to a finger tab with a sturdy string. The player holds the tab with the balls hanging below and through up-and-down hand motion makes the two balls swing apart and back together, making the clacking noise that gives the toy its name. With practice one can make the balls swing so that they knock together both above and below the hand.
Clackers were taken off the market in the United States and Canada when reports came out of children becoming injured while playing with them. Fairly heavy and fast-moving, and made of hard acrylic plastic, the balls would occasionally shatter upon striking each other. In the United States, they were classed as a "mechanical hazard" in United States v. Article Consisting of 50,000 Cardboard Boxes More or Less, Each Containing One Pair of Clacker Balls.
A redesigned version of Clackers enjoyed a revival in the 1990s. The new design used modern plastics which would not shatter and two free-swinging, opposing triangles attached to a handle, with weighted balls at the ends. They are often sold in bright neon colors as noisemaker toys or party favors.
In 2017, the original form of the toy was revived in Egypt and gained publicity among school children. It became famous under the name "Sisi's balls" referring to the testicles of the Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The police subsequently arrested 41 clacker sellers and confiscated 1,403 pairs of the toy which they considered offensive to the government.
In late 2022, the toy was revived throughout Indonesia and quickly gained fame among the public. They are known as "latto-latto" or "katto-katto". Latto is a Buginese word which means clacking sound, while Katto is its Makassarese counterpart with similar meaning. Its popularity spread through TikTok to the neighboring Philippines in 2023, where it is known as "lato-lato".
In popular culture
Clackers have also made some appearances in pop culture media. In film, they are shown in Beware! The Blob (1972).
Clackers are a plot point in the 1993 "Love and Sausages" episode of The Kids in the Hall TV series. They were also used as weapons by Joseph Joestar in Battle Tendency, the second story arc of the 1980s manga series JoJo's Bizarre Adventure; their appearance there is anachronistic, as Battle Tendency takes place in 1938. They also reappear in the eighth story arc of the manga, JoJolion, in the final chapter released in 2021.
- "Clackers", Toy info, BRTB.
- "Working the web: Retro toys", The Guardian, UK, 2001-07-26.
- Johnson, Barb (20 October 2009), Books, ISBN 9780061944048
- "'CLACKER' INJURIES REPORTED BY F.D.A." The New York Times. February 12, 1971. Retrieved 5 January 2023.
- Kastor, Elizabeth (October 18, 1990). "THE TOY THAT DRIVES ADULTS CLACKERS". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
- "'Sisi's balls': Egypt cracks down on popular children's toy making fun of president's 'clackers'". The New Arab. 9 November 2017. Retrieved 2018-02-17.
- m.b.H., STANDARD Verlagsgesellschaft. "Ägypten: Festnahmen wegen "Sisis Eier"-Bällen". derStandard.at. Retrieved 2018-02-17.
- Safhira, Vidia Elfa (2022-12-24). "Mengenal Latto-Latto, Mainan Tradisional yang Kembali Viral". Pikiran-Rakyat.com (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2023-01-17.
- Santos, Justine Nicholas (1 June 2023). "'Lato-lato': What is it and why is it trending now?". Retrieved 5 June 2023.
- "Lato-lato toy trends on TikTok; doctor shares safety tips when playing". GMA News Online. 4 June 2023. Retrieved 5 June 2023.