Lite-Brite is an electric toy introduced in 1967 by Hasbro that allows the artist to create a 'glowing' picture by placing multi-colored translucent plastic pegs through opaque black paper. The light from an illuminated light bulb 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. Most Lite-Brite toys come with a series of pre-prepared patterns. Classic patterns include the 'Wizard of Light' (a picture of a wizard with the 'Lite-Brite' name above), and a clown.
While a Lite-Brite set did provide hours of entertainment for children, it could also be a little challenging for parents at times. Lost Lite-Brite pegs were often discovered by vacuum cleaners later, and replacing the light bulbs contained inside the display box often became Dad's responsibility. The small, colorful pegs were also appealing to very small children, which occasionally led to accidental but non-toxic ingestions. As long as older children remained diligent about picking up stray pegs and turning off the light box, however, Lite-Brite was a relatively safe toy.
1970s Lite Brite commercial:
Hasbro still manufactures Lite Brite sets, although they have made a few modifications along the way. Today's Lite Brite sets could have pegboards on the top and sides of a cube, for example, and the color spectrum has been expanded to include more pastel and fluorescent shades. There is also a Lite Brite set which combines traditional peg lighting with elements of Spin Art. A blank piece of paper is attached to a spinning table and the young artist applies various fluorescent paints to create abstract designs. Future generations may still be able to enjoy the simple fun of creating colorful pictures with the help of a Lite Brite set.
The Lite Brite had a surprising number of possibilities despite its small size. Over the years, Hasbro created dozens or color-by-letter patterns to fuel the creative mind which could be purchased separately. Merchandising made its way to Lite Brite, and soon kids were making luminescent masterpieces of Scooby-Doo, Darth Vader, My Little Pony, Mickey Mouse, and Mr. Potato Head. And because of the tendency to misplace very small things, Hasbro also made it possible to buy refills of colored pegs.
Looking for instructions? Download the Lite Brite manual.