The Story of Surprize Balls
Surprise ball History:
I am intrigued with Surprise and what is hidden behind the closed door. Maybe it was all of those early television games shows from the 1960s. I like the unexpected and following through where it leads. A fun time always transpires. Our early motto was “spontaneity, synchronicity and smiles”.
TOPS Malibu wishes to bring people together through the art of surprise and the sharing of wonderment. We design games and activities that encourage spontaneity, intuition and interaction- providing great memories for all.
Our products are handmade in the USA by local artisans.
Unraveling the history of the Surprise Ball.
Our Bami Balls or Surprize Balls are created from aproximately 100 ft of colorfully changing paper ribbon with lots of fun hidden treasures. As the crepe ball unravels, surprises and gifts spill out of each layer. Our Surprize balls are likened to the original 1950's version. My job is to constantly seek vintage style toys, charms, candies etc that will please both adults and kids alike. The Surprize Ball contents always vary. If you bring them to a party, no two will be alike.
Early History of Surprise Balls:
The earliest evidence of Surprise Balls were found in the Native American culture. Traditionally, it was a common practice to tell the history of one’s life with a unique ball made of twigs, grass, string, etc. The first layer represented birth and for each event in life, another layer and memento was added. The Surprise Ball of the Native American’s culture represents a person’s entire life.
In the 1950’s:
Surprise Balls became vogue in the Mid America. A gent named Charles Gregor began creating Surprise balls in New Orleans. He named his version-The Surprise Ball “The Toy You Destroy to Enjoy” The Surprise ball soon made its appearance in prestigious toy stores such as Fao Swartz and the famed Mayo Clinic. We hear that the auxiliary of The Children’s Hospital in Minnesota made the balls for their gift store. Surprise balls were sold at Ben Franklin Crafts as well as a coastal store near San Francisco, The Nut Tree.
And then the trend stopped. There were a few Surprise Balls that were made in Japan . Many of them had a hard plastic ball in the center filled with toys. They lacked the colorful fun layers filled with the wonderful original surprises.
Judy Walker of TOPS Malibu brings back the Surprise Ball:
In the 1980’s Judy Walker, president of TOPS Malibu remembered Surprise balls from her childhood.
She had been highly successful with her invention of “Good Fortune Candles” (a capsule and charms hidden in a candle that were revealed as the candle burned) and wanted to make another product filled with surprise.
She originally called them Bami Balls: In 1967, while traveling thru Holland , Judy stopped at an outdoor vending machine which sold Indonesian noodle balls known as Bami ballen. Inside the middle of the noodle ball was a delicious surprise of meat or vegetables. It was from this fun experience that Judy translated this concept into the Bami Ball Surprise Ball.
Handmade, following the classic design from the 1950’s and using many of the original trinkets and surprises like the fortune fish and old fashioned vintage style toys, Surprise Balls are loved by all ages, adults and kids. They are new to children and bring back fond memories for adults.
Surprize Balls are available for all occasions and holidays. Make every event memorable with unraveling surprises.
Here are some quotes about Surprise Balls:
I recently bought one of your Surprize balls for my niece who was turning 7. Not only was she growing more excited with each untwist of paper but so were 20 other little ones-who for the first time during the whole party sat quietly waiting for the next surprise to fall, and then would all squeal with delight.
Last Christmas I wanted to do a memory Christmas for my younger sister - items that reminded me of our childhood and gifts we always received at Christmas. I found your website by accident and was thrilled to be able to include one of your gift balls as this was something we always received in our stockings. My sister was so excited by the gift ball - she immediately unwrapped it to show her grandchildren what it was and why we loved them as children. She told me at the time that the gift ball was the favorite gift she received because it brought back so many wonderful childhood memories and that she was able to share those memories with her grandchildren.
My sister passed away unexpectedly in May of this year (she was only 58) so will be with us only in our memories this year. I will always be grateful I was able to make her last Christmas with us special, in part thanks to your company and the gift ball I was able to send her.Thinking about my sister and her favorite gift makes this Christmas a little easier to deal with. Thank you so much for giving us one more special memory together. Judy Port Orchard
We had a girls' weekend at our lake house in SC which included girls from 7 years of age to 63 years. We had a surprise 60th birthday party on Saturday night and the Surprise balls were the biggest surprise of all. We had a wonderful time exploring the different layers and comparing what gifts we got each time. It was the hit of a very busy weekend of a family of women....thanks for your quick response to providing the party favors and entertainment on short notice.
I was traveling with my husband and 5 year old daughter 3 months ago. We live in Los Angeles but happened to be on a ferry boat in the San Juan Islands. Another family was sitting next to us with their little girl and our girls started playing. The mom pulled out two of your party balls and the girls were enchanted with them. They played with them for the full hour we were on the ferry and had a wonderful time. For me, it brought back fond memories of party balls I unraveled as a child and I loved watching my daughter marvel in them now. Thank you for a memorable experience.
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