Turn On The Magic of Shining Light!: The Story of Lite Brite

You couldn’t escape the 1980s without hearing that at least once. Did you really think you were going to escape my blog that easily?

I mean, you could click away, but why would you want to do that?

There’s the promise of glowing light peg art, and you know you love your artwork by glowing peg light, right?

What’s old is new again, nothing ever goes out of style, and “you played with that? You must be old!” are the lifeblood phrases of Allison’s Written Words. And while we’re never old (we play with toys, after all!), we love when something old becomes new again, while maintaining the charm of the original.

And nothing could be more in line with maintaining the charm of its predecessor than this week’s toy, a beloved staple of more than a few decades’ worth of play and creativity whose basic concept has not needed (nor warranted) major changes to its purpose: to create fun, colorful pictures with the beautiful glow of colorful light.

And like last week, since it is Friday and we’re in full Flashback Friday mode, a word from the focus of today’s article:

If you lived in the mid-1980s, you remember this commercial. It dominated your Saturday mornings, your weekday afternoons, and is held in many an archival completionist’s kitty. You know, because you’ve watched in many an uploaded commercial block. And if it wasn’t this exact version, it was one of the 1980s versions. There are several, of course.

There was also this 90s version, with a few sets 10-year-old me would have LOVED!

Smiling Friends, Shining Bright…

Lite Brite is a light box-styled toy with colorful plastic pegs. One could create a pre-designed image using the pegs, or create their own images with the pegs.

As licensed characters became an important part of popular culture, Lite Brite was there with design sets featuring different characters.

Among the pictures of clowns, ballet dancers, and “Here’s Suzy!”, there’s My Little Pony, Mickey Mouse, and Transformers to light up the day and night!

Image: Pinterest
Image: eBay

These sets would have been popular in our house!

The original Lite Brite was introduced to the toy market in 1967, the invention of Burt Meyer and Joseph M. Burck of Marvin Glass and Associates, a Chicago-based toy and game design company. The concept was then licensed to Hasbro (and at one point, Milton Bradley, which was under the Hasbro banner), an association that continues to this very day.

The original concept used a lightbulb inside the light box, with the concept simple in execution – punch the pegs through the holes on a design sheet printed on opaque black paper, the light blocked by the paper unless the holes are punched out. Due to this, the designs could only be used once.

Many Ways To Light Up the Day and Night!

Image: eBay

Not content to be idle, Hasbro has re-invented the wheel, giving the convention Lite Brite more ways to play, while keeping the original in the public consciousness.

One such variation is a 3D cube (called the “Four Share”) with four sides and ample opportunities to design with others, or create four different designs.

Lite Brite Four Share Cube, 2003

Another variation, created in 2005, FX version that spins and plays music, while breaking from the tradition of pegs, instead utilizing paint to create art.

Lite Brite FX, 2005

The current version utilizes an LED light, has a flat screen, and runs on batteries, thus giving it more portability.

I even found this AWESOME My Little Pony version that five-year-old me would have LOVED!

Image: Amazon

It Never Went Away

The Lite Brite, simple in concept as it is, has been a mainstay toy throughout the years, improving its look as toys and technology advanced. And that’s all it needed to do, nothing more. It managed to stay a toy built for classic fun, teaching colors, creating artwork, and shining like the light it was meant to be!

Lite Brite is an easy find on eBay, along with refill pegs, classic character sets, and even the Lite Brite FX! Unless you’re super nostalgic and really need one of those classic character sets to go with you 1986 Lite Brite, you can easily get a brand new, LED-lit version in stores.

And, if you truly love nostalgia and are always looking for unusual toys, I found some cool Lite Brite goodies online.

There’s the Lite Brite Funko Pop, under their “Classic Toys” collection:

Image: Funko

Isn’t he cute?!

And this super adorable My Little Pony Mashup, which I’m proud to say I own, still in box, of course!

Image: Amazon

Isn’t SHE cute too?!

But, with all of the cool versions and super adorable tie-in merchandise, the all-important question remains…

Did Allison Own A Lite Brite?

I did not.

But man, I was one of those little kids in the mid-1980s who thought writing “Happy Birthday,” “Good Night,” and “Here’s Suzy!” out in pegs, or creating the ultimate My Little Pony picture with pegs and light was EVERYTHING. I see the current version in stores, and I’m filled with the nostalgic feels of that commercial jingle that brought so much joy to creating pictures with light. I remember the My Little Pony designs being super appealing, and seeing it as an adult makes me so happy that toys like this still exist and evoke creativity in their own very special way.

But don’t weep for me, I actually did have something similar to Lite Brite, yet different and incredible in its own magical way around the same time that Lite Brite’s commercials were all over the place. While not as iconic as Hasbro’s version, it still had some incredible playability. And, well, it will be the subject of next week’s article.

It’s no “HERE’S SUZY!”, but for me, it is memorable!

But until then, turn on the magic of colored light, and have a great weekend!


  1. I had one of the original 1960s LiteBrites as a kid; i was very careful to save the designs so they could be used again. Unfortunately, my parents eventually insisted I share it with my younger brother, who just shoved the pegs in willy-nilly. I begged for refill sheets, but they were never forthcoming (my folks didn’t have a lot of money) and when the design sheets were all wrecked by my brother I lost interest. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

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