I Had That! #49: Blip and Digital Diamond

The digital revolution provided by Atari and the arcades caught some toy manufacturers off guard. While Mattel flourished in the new market with its “Mattel Electronics” games and Parker Brothers had some nice offerings, Tomy kind of lagged behind, aiming for a visually competitive yet mechanically cheaper alternative.

Its most famous game was Blip, more well known for its ubiquitous earworm ad than its gameplay.

Blip was electronic but scarcely digital. The required batteries did nothing except provide power to the LED. The game play itself required winding it up to get that LED moving. Everything else was mechanical, as a series of gears moved the arm with the light on it in a non-random yet complex pattern back and forth. (At one point I realized the movement wasn’t random and had to repeat eventually and I tried to figure it out by brute force. I remember writing down where the “ball” went but not ever figuring out the pattern.) Even the scoring was mechanical; you had to manually turn the scoring dial yourself.

I also had another of Tomy’s games, Digital Diamond. Again, this wasn’t even a little bit digital apart from some lights. The rest of the gameplay was purely mechanical. Pulling down the lever on the left “wound up” the ball, The pitcher player, I think could choose basically to throw a normal pitch or a ball, which moved to the side. The batter pressed the button to bat, and then the “readout” at the top (actually just a drum with a light behind it) would show the results of the hit. The humans were required to note strikes, balls, outs, what bases were occupied, and keep score.

I have to hand it to Tomy, these games weren’t bad, even given their limitations, and were actually much more clever in the ways they feigned computer games without being them. Even though I was never into baseball, I got more mileage out of that one. Blip was noisy (the plastic gears made an awful buzzing racket) and kind of boring.

When did I get it? Both debuted in 1977 and 1978. I guess I got them around then?

Do I still have it? Neither one.

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