So many people remember these doodads that were all over the US during the ’70s and ’80s. (They’re often described along the lines of, “Remember that little round toy from the seventies where you pressed on the back with your finger to squish stuff around and it changed colors?”)
They were about 3 inches in diameter, usually cost less than a buck, and were a fun and mesmerizing — almost soothing — novelty toy. The concept was pretty simple — there was a hard transparent plastic top, and a white vinyl sticker on the back. And in between the two? That’s where the magic happened.
The Space Fidgit (which people often remember as just “a Fidget”) was filled with an iridescent liquid crystal goo that changed color depending on the where and how you applied pressure to the sticker side, as well as how you tilted the toy when looking at it. The colors mostly ranged from a blue-green to an orange-pink, as you can see on this page. The toy was also sensitive to heat — and if it got hot enough, the crystal goo became dark until it cooled down.
We’re guessing that the “space” in the name either came from the fact that they said the liquid crystal was “space-age material” — but the patterns that could be created also looked like mini-galaxies.
It was good they were cheap, because they didn’t last forever. If you pushed too hard on the squishy side, or nicked it with a fingernail, the goop inside would come out. And if you managed to keep it intact, after awhile the crystal gel would dry out.
Where can you get one now? These vintage toys have been available on and off over the years — mostly sold through companies who offer them as sales freebies — but we haven’t seen any new ones for sale since about 2008. You can, however, check auction sites to see if any come up for sale, and if you want something somewhat similar in the meantime, check out these liquid crystal sheets.