The spinning top is one of the world’s oldest toys. It has been used for centuries to entertain children of all cultures. They are made of all kinds of natural materials including wood, terracotta and clay, we have even seen the introduction of the metal spinning top toy.
Spinning tops have long been a popular pastime for Japanese children. Their tops come in many shapes and colours with different variations around the country. There are many different games to play with them and ways to spin them too.
Spinning tops is also a performing art in Japan that has entertained audiences for years. As a result Japan probably has more variations of spinning tops than any other country. Most are made from wood but there are exceptions which include metals spinning tops made from steel and tin.
How does a spinning top toys work?
Just how is it that a spinning stop stay upright once it is set spinning when it is only balanced on a very small point? Well, it is all down to the “gyroscopic effect”. This effect amalgamates the laws of inertia, momentum, friction and gravity. Although as a child the various types of spinning tops are both mesmerizing and magical rather than scientific.
What are the different types of spinning top toys?
Twirling top – A twirling top is spun by manually twisting the crown. These were the first type of spinning tops to be made, yet they are still popular today as pocket money toys, or in games.
Whip top – A whip top is set into motion and kept spinning by whipping it with a whip. A common toy in the Victorian era, along with the wooden hoop.
Throwing top – A throwing top has a string wrapped around its body which is attached to a stick. When top is thrown, causing the string to be rapidly released from its body, the top spins.
Supported top – A spinning top which is spun with a string while the top is held upright by a support. The gyroscope would be an example of a supported top.
Pump top – A pump top has a crown that is pushed down or pumped several times to create the spin. Usually made from metal, these spinning tops contain a twisted metal rod and a spring inside which makes the top spin. Pump tops often have small holes in the sides which cause them to hum, so they are also known as humming tops.
Are spinning top toys still played with today?
Well, yes of course. Have you seen the children going crazy of the collectible Beyblades? These are snub-nosed, funky named metal spinning tops that fight each other. As well as collecting them the kids are hosting Beyblade Blowout to fight them. Humming tops or pump tops are still a very popular toy for toddlers too.
Japan are renowned for mining the past to create the future and Beyblades are testament to this. The game is in fact very old school, with it’s peak in popularity pre WWII. The game has been revamped and branded with manga characters which has turned it into a modern day craze.
Did you ever play with spinning top toys as a child? Do you have a Beyblades crazed child in your house? Let us know in the comments.