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What Is a Lite Brite®?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2014
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Combine a light box with colored plastic pegs and a pegboard and the result is Lite Brite®, a creative toy first introduced by the Hasbro toy company in 1967. For a generation of post-Baby Boom children, Lite Brite® was a welcome addition to other electrified toys such as the Easy Bake Oven® and vibrating football tables. Lite Brite® also had the added appeal of working best in the dark, an interesting place for young children to explore. Stencils included with the set took much of the guesswork out for younger artists, while the open pegboard and wide spectrum of colored pegs appealed to older children and even adults.

A Lite Brite® light box was usually powered by a single high wattage incandescent bulb judiciously placed out of the reach of young hands. Various stencils contained in the Lite Brite® kit could be attached to the pegboard, which encouraged children to place the appropriate colored pegs around the outline of their favorite animals, flowers or other fanciful designs. Once all the pegs were firmly in place, the finished project could be enjoyed by all, especially in a completely darkened room.

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While a Lite Brite® set did provide hours of entertainment for children, it could also be a little challenging for parents at times. Lost pegs were often discovered by vacuum cleaners later, and replacing the light bulbs contained inside the display box often became a parent'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.

Hasbro still manufactures Lite Brite® sets, although they have made a few modifications along the way. Modern 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.

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tolleranza
Post 12

I actually did not use a light brite until a few years ago, when I worked at a daycare that was in a basement of an older church. One day I went into the supply closet to find something new for the kids to do. I saw two light brites and I was so excited to find them, I grabbed them and the pegs without giving much thought to how I was going to set them up.

I ended up just setting the two light brites on the table and letting each child come up two at a time to use the light brites. The children loved it, as they had not played with anything like that before.

After all the children used the light brites, I tried it. It was fun, I am sure it would have been more fun if I was younger. The clean-up was a bit much though, as somehow like half of the pegs ended up on the floor. So we all cleaned up the pegs together.

I brought the light brite out a couple more times at the end of the day, when parent's were picking up their kids, and a lot of their parents shared fond memories of back when they were kids having and creating on their light brite.

Tomislav
Post 11

I had friends who had a Lite Brite just because their older siblings or parent's had played with it and liked it so much they kept it and gave it to them when they didn't want to play with it anymore.

I have three other siblings, but I don't think any of us had one at any point of our life.

When we were younger, some of the neighborhood kids and my siblings and I would spend countless hours playing games outside, so we didn’t play indoor games like light brite very much. We preferred playing tag, kickball, soccer, baseball, and the like instead.

myharley
Post 10

I also had a Lite Brite growing up, but don't remember spending much time playing with it. I liked the bright colors, but got bored very quickly by just sticking pegs in a small hole.

Recently we were birthday shopping for my niece, and when my husband saw the newer Lite Brites, he thought it would be a great gift for her.

I talked him out of it, thinking my niece would be just as bored with it as I was. The newer model might look more appealing, but with all the electronic toys she has, I can't see her spending much quality time playing with a Lite Brite.

andee
Post 9

It's easy to show my age when I start talking about how much I loved playing with my Lite Brite and Easy Bake Oven.

I knew they still made the small ovens, but had no idea you could still buy a Lite Brite.

My sister and I shared a room, and loved to play with the Lite Brite when we were supposed to be sleeping.

I still remember making colorful designs with all those little pegs. I was not very artistic, so always followed the pages that had patterns on them.

My sister is very artistic, and always used the blank pieces to make her own creations. We just had to take turns with one Lite Brite. I think my mom still has that somewhere at home in the attic.

serenesurface
Post 8

I loved Lite Brite as a kid too but I don't plan on getting it for my daughter because we have the iBrite application on our iPad. It's basically the digital version of Lite Brite. My daughter really likes it, draws on it all the time.

It's actually pretty similar to the original one, it has the same pattern on the screen and there are different colored pegs that you can select and put down on to the tablet. The best part is that you can't lose the pegs and you can save your picture and start over if you want.

When my daughter lets me have it, I play with the new generation Lite Brite too!

burcinc
Post 7

@truman12-- I completely agree with you. There is an artist I like who actually made the world's largest Lite Brite art. It's like twenty feet long and it has been made so well that it looks like a real painting or portrait from a distance.

I wonder if the artist played with Lite Brite as a kid? I'm pretty sure he did and his example probably proves how great this toy is for developing talent and skill in the arts.

manykitties2
Post 6

@Sara007 - You shouldn't have too much trouble finding Lite Brite accessories from places like Toys 'R Us, or any of the other big chain stores for that matter. Hasbro has put out a new Lite Brite Flatscreen and it uses the same pegs, and while it doesn't do the original justice, it can be fun for kids.

I have found that the problem with the new Lite Brite is that it seems to be more cheaply made than the original. The pegs don't stick as well as I recall and there are issues with it being battery powered. I think if you got an original it is a much better way to go. Plus, you can always download some printable Lite Brite designs if you're on a budget. So there isn't really any need to go buying extras.

Sara007
Post 5

We found a Lite Brite for sale at a secondhand shop recently and my husband insisted I get it for our kids. I remember playing with one when I was really young and while I had fun with it, I always recall losing the pegs. The Lite Brite we found though was in surprisingly good shape, and had most of the pegs from what I could tell.

Does anyone remember the paper patterns you could use to help your kids create designs? Any chance you can buy those nowadays?

While my kids are having fun creating some freestyle stuff, I think it would be good for them practice copying designs as well. A bit of learning to color within the lines as it were.

truman12
Post 4

Lite brite is a great toy for young kids because it encourages their imagination. Lots of toys really have no purpose, they are just dolls or shapes or mindless activities. But the Lite Brite encourages children to think about art and design in a really clever way.

All of my children have loved Lite Brite and I have a friend who is an elementary art teacher that has done a number of projects with Lite Brites. Children respond to it and it is good for them. We should encourage our children to play with educational toys that engage their minds as well as their sense of play.

tigers88
Post 3

Oh my gosh, light brite was one of my favorite toys when I was a kid.

My brother and I shared a room in the attic of our house. It had no windows so it got really dark up there with all the lights off. There were so many times that we would play with the light brite in the pitch black and look at all the colored lights on the walls.

cupcake15
Post 2

I used to play with Lite Brites as a kid and a few years ago I got a set for my kids and it really brought back memories.

This toy is really fun to play with because you can create several different images and by plugging in the lights you will cause the outline of the image to light up which is really exciting. The package comes with a lot of different pictures that kids can play with but you have to make sure that you don’t lose the little Lite Brites which can easily happen because they are so small.

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