Thinking back to the visual toys of my childhood, there are many favorites that comes to mind, like Spirograph, but also rather obscure ones like this. Here we have a little lesser-known cousin to Etch A Sketch (which I doodlewashed last year) called Skedoodle that was released by Hasbro in 1979 and achieved moderate success. Unlike the Etch A Sketch, this one had a circular domed screen and a joystick that you could twist around to make your doodle. The commercials claimed you could draw anything you wanted, including writing your name. My attempts to do the latter were met with frustration and turmoil and my name ended up looking pretty much like what’s shown here. The little kid in the commercial wrote his name easily, but to be fair, it was “Joe” and would actually fit on the tiny little screen. I didn’t like Joe. He seemed smug. But I was determined to keep doodling until I was able to make something decent appear.

Another key difference of this doodle contraption was the inclusion of little templates. You could place them over the joystick and get help in drawing little icons like birds and stars. Not really anything very compelling. Just sort of what emojis might have looked like if they had actually existed back then. These weren’t very satisfying as I just wanted to draw what was in my head. So for several days I continued to practice until I finally managed to make something that looked like a frog or boat appear. It was sort of magical to see a dark line draw across the screen simply by twisting a little joystick. But the magic really ended there. Mostly, I just remember the frustration of trying to get something to look like I wanted it to look. Looking back, I’m surprised I didn’t give up sooner. Even its unforunate name is a play on the word, skedaddle, which means to quickly run away and get the hell away from there.

I think perhaps the frustrations of this doodling experience aren’t too dissimilar to when I first started sketching again. My enthusiasm to get something to look the way I wanted kept me going, even though the early sketches looked nothing like I intended. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t an overnight success, I just decided right then and there to take it one doodle, or in this case, one doodlewash at a time. And so, here I am, one year and a half later, making a little something new each day and hoping that it gets a bit better over time. I’m not sure if my early struggles with this devious contraption can be credited with my current commitment, but I’m sure it was all part of the journey in some way. Regardless, you’ll still find me posting a little something each and every day, hoping for a breakthrough, just like when I was a little kid. Way back then, when I was just trying to Skedoodle.

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About the Doodlewash

Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Red Orange, Sennelier Red, Quinacridone Gold, and Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with black ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.
 Day 14 - Skedoodle Cousin of Etch A Sketch Toy Vintage 1979 Hasbro

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9 thoughts on “Trying To Skedoodle

  1. So beautiful and fresh, that shiny red, blimey! Oh my – I never had one of these, probably a mercy considering I struggled with the Etch A Sketch thing! It sounds indeed quite frustrating with just that little joystick controlling your doodle destiny. I’d probably have been put off by Joe, and just gone back to trusty paper ‘n’ pen!

  2. What an interesting toy this is – I’ve never seen one in person, our sons never asked or talked about, though they’re a little younger than you. I love the way this little doodler works but it would have confounded me outright. I’m always happy with a pencil or paintbrush – I leave the digi-techie stuff to others. At least the Skedoodle has one thing going for it – it’s a really bright red.

  3. Awesome! I had a Skedoodle! I would clear out the whole screen so I could see what the stuff was inside that “erased” the screen. Neat little pellet looking things. I was trying to describe the Skedoodle to my kids recently – thank you for painting it with such great detail. I had almost forgotten about the little stencils included.

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