Burt Meyer invented Lite-Brite and co-invented other fantastic pieces of plastic like Mr. Machine, Mouse Trap, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, Toss Across and more.
Burt’s favorite “item,” as he calls his inventions, is Lite-Brite. Burt’s brainstorm of using translucent, colored pegs to funnel light, has given kids creative fun at their fingertips for 44 years. Meyer recalled the moment when he sold the idea to Hasbro’s president, Merrill Hassenfeld. “I brought Merrill into our conference room,” Meyer said. “I dimmed the lights and plugged it [the Lite-Brite prototype] in. As soon as I put a peg in, it lit up. After he tried it himself, he sat back and said ‘That’s my item!’ He and Marvin inked a deal within an hour.” Lite-Brite has been a staple in Hasbro’s line ever since.
When Hasbro released the new art toy Lite-Brite in 1967, it was hard to imagine that young artists would become so attached to a little light box. It consists of a light box with a hexagonal grid of holes using small colored plastic pegs that fit into a panel/panels and illuminate to create a lit picture, by either using one of the included templates or creating a 'freeform' image on a blank sheet of black paper. There are eight peg colors: red, blue, orange, white (clear/colorless), green, yellow, pink, violet (purple).
In the event that pegs were lost or damaged, Hasbro provided refills and/or new colors. Color-by-letter templates were sold with the set so that children could create characters including Mickey Mouse, Scooby-Doo, and My Little Pony, among others.
Lite-Brite allows the artist to create a glowing picture by placing multi-colored translucent plastic pegs through opaque black paper. Using a standard lightbulb, the light is blocked by the black paper except where the pegs conduct the light. When lit, the pegs have an appearance similar to that of LEDs.
The original Lite-Brite had two plates Because of the two plates, the vintage pegs were long (1.125″). At some point the toy was changed to only use a single grid and the pegs were shortened. Modern Lite Brites use even shorter pegs that are not completely translucent. there are even more versions of the toy today, and at least 3 more major variations of pegs.
Lite-Brite has been reinvented into different forms including a flat-screen version, a 3D cube, and an FX edition that spins and plays music. The Lite-Brite LED Flat Screen currently sells at MSRP $10, comes in several colors, is LED lit, and is portable, running on 3 AA batteries.[needs update] The Lite-Brite 3D cube (called the Four-Share Cube) is a LED-lit 4-sided cube that allowed children to play with friends or save 3 of their designs. The FX Edition is no longer on Hasbro's website. The website has SUN 'N NITE BRITE Sets priced at $10 MSRP and running on 3 AAA batteries.
With current technology, Lite-Brite is now offered as an iPad app. The user picks what color peg they want and then every space they touch shows a dot in that color and makes a popping sound. The app has many more dots than the original. There are also various websites online that host virtual Lite-Brite games.
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