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Pogo Stick Articles of Interest

The Many Alternative Uses of the Modern Pogo Stick
Height enhancer
Wine maker
Mechanical defibrillator
Camouflage in a pogo stick factory
Portable crucifix for traveling missionaries
Deadly if ineffective decapitation weapon

Fads come, go, but pogo sticks
Robert Frank
The Times Herald Record - 12/10/90 

Beneath a giant cinder-block factory tucked in the woods of Ellenville, a cracked wooden sign greets prospective customers: "Master Juvenile Products." 
The owners don't care about image. They don't mind their company being called "old", "boring" or "plain". 

They're used to it. They make pogo sticks. 

"There's not a heck of a lot you can change on the pogo stick," said Bruce Turk, general manager. "Once you try, you're in trouble." 

The company, which is the largest pogo maker in the world, has used the same basic design for 43 years -- a Y-shaped pole with two footpads and a spring. The model was patented by George B. Hansburg, founder of SBI -- the pogo subsidiary of Master Juvenile -- and the man credited with making the first practical pogo stick in 1919. 

"It's a wholesome toy," Turk said. "It's not one of those fads that comes and goes. It's the kind of toy that parents can look at and identify with, no matter how old they are. They know it. They trust it." 

And nowadays, with the baby-boomers having a boomlet of their own, more and more parents are turning to the trusty pogo for their kids -- despite a flashy toy industry dominated by Nintendo and Ninja Turtles. 

SBI will not reveal sales figures, but Turk said that "sales have definitely gone up in the last 10 years" and that during the five-month Christmas rush SBI makes up to 1,800 pogos a day. G. Pierce Toy Manufacturers, based in Chicago, which claims to be a distant second in sales to SBI, said it makes about 75,000 to 100,000 pogos a year. 

The pogo stick has always held a place in the American toy chest. But it never regained the popularity it had just after it was invented in the early 1920's. 

The legend of the pogo stick dates back to just before World War I, when a German traveler stopped at a small village in Burma, where he sought lodging with a poor farmer. The farmer told his visitor that his daughter, Pogo, wanted to go to temple each day to pray, but couldn't because she had no slippers to walk through the mud and rocks. 

Unable to buy his daughter shoes, the poor farmer fashioned a crude jumping stick, by attaching a short stick to the bottom of a longer pole. After practicing on the stick for days, Pogo became proficient enough to hop the stones and mud puddles on the path to the temple. 

The German, returning to his country, attached a spring to the wooden stick to improve the bounce. In 1919, Gimbel Bros. Department Store imported a shipload of German pogo sticks to the United States., only to find that humidity had warped the wood and made them useless. 

Gimbel then asked Hansburg, a baby furniture and toy designer living in Illinois, to come up with a better pogo stick. 

He came up with an all-metal, enclosed-spring pogo, painted it and began producing it himself in a factory in Elmhurst, N.Y. 

Hansburg taught the Ziegfeld Follies how to jump, and the first performance in 1920 featured a marriage on pogo sticks. After that, New York Hippodrome chorus girls performed whole shows on pogos, marathon jumping contests were held, and acrobats hurtled multiple barrels on the sticks. 

In 1947 Hansburg designed a new type of pogo stick with a longer-lasting spring -- called the Master Pogo. Rather than retiring from his job making children's furniture and toys, he moved to Walker Valley and built a small factory. Irwin Arginsky, lifetime area resident and businessman, bought the business from Hansburg in the early '70s, and later moved the firm to Ellenville. The Master Pogo, a plain steel model with no logo, remains SBI's best seller. 

But while SBI plods ahead with its tried and true, other companies have jumped in with their own more "cutting edge" models. Pierce recently introduced the "Go-Go Pogo," a chrome stick with a bright yellow octagon foot rest, triangular handle, and brightly colored-graphics. So far the stick is a big seller in toy stores such as Toys 'R' Us and Toys Plus. 

SBI said its tried putting bounce-ometers, plastic ornaments, and even busts of superheroes such as Wonder Woman, and Spiderman on its pogos. 

"The superheroes worked for a little while," Turk said. "But now plastic's too expensive and superheroes aren't too popular. It's too much of a gamble." 

It would also bring up the retail cost of the average pogo -- $19.99 -- and "people don't want to spend a lot for a pogo stick," Turk said. 

During SBI's peak production months, about 30 workers assemble the pogos -- bending the steel foot plates, punching holes in the poles, attaching the rubber fittings to the handles and foot-rests. Most of the pre-molded parts come from sub-contractors in New York and Pennsylvania. Everything on SBI's pogos is made in America. 

The company's biggest customers are J.C. Penny, Sears and Toys 'R' Us. But Turk also designs custom models. Last year he built a special double-barrel stick used by Cincinnati resident Gary Stewart, who bounced 177,737 times in 20 hours to capture the world record. 

And despite the increased competition in the United States, SBI still has a tight rein over the global pogo market. The company, which just got through its three-month Christmas rush, exports to Hong Kong, Canada, England, Singapore, and, before the Iraqi invasion, Kuwait. 

Popular Mechanics, Jan 95

Paul MacCready made history in 1977 when his Gossamer Condor make the first controlled, sustained flight by a human-powered aircraft. Trust his son -- one of Condor's original pilots -- to get into the act. Parker MacCready, an oceanography professor at the University of Washington, has devised a bizarre human-powered watercraft that draws lift and propulsion from a flapping wing.

MacCready calls his machine -- christened the Pogo Foil -- an ichthyopter. The pilot bounces on a pogo-stick mechanism linked to a submerged foil. Wagging up and down like a dolphin's tail, the wing propels the contraption and supports the pilot's weight.

He's hoping to hop into record books
Margaret Fosmoe
Chicago Tribune - August 1989

SOUTH BEND --- Bill Anzelc is bound for the record books.

Make that leaping and bounding for the record books.

Anzelc, 18, is in training for an Aug. 12 attempt to break the world pogo stick jumping distance record of 11.53 miles.

"I was just looking through the Guinness Book and wondering what I could try," said Anzelc, a 1989 St. Joseph's High School graduate. "When I was 9 or 10, I did like 700 jumps on a pogo stick, so I figured I could beat the record."

Anzelc said he was spurred to try for a record after seeing the recent film, "Dead Poets Society."

"It inspires you to live life to the fullest," he said.

With his effort, the teen also plans to raise money to benefit the Center for the Homeless.
Anzelc already has worn out a pogo stick practicing for his attempt.

During a recent practice, he covered 4.8 miles in slightly more than two hours.
The current record is held by Ashrita Furman of New York City, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. He set a distance record of 11.53 miles on a pogo stick, going up and down the foothills of Mount Fuji, Japan, on Jan. 8, 1986, in 8 hours, 21 minutes.

Furman also made 3,647 jumps on a pogo stick in 8 1/2-feet deep water in the Amazon River of Peru on Jan. 11, 1987. With each jump, his head came above the surface and he breathed through a mask and snorkel.

Anzelc has no plans to challenge the water record.

His attempt will begin about 6 a.m. Aug. 12 on Red Bud Trail at the intersection of Bertrand Road. He plans to hop north to U.S. 12 and back at least two times, which would total 12 miles.

He estimates the distance will require about 7 hours.

While Anzelc is building up his endurance on his pogo stick, he says he already was well prepared for it physically. "I bike a lot and lift weights three times a week. I'm in about the best shape I've been in in my life," he said.

Anzelc has contacted the Guinness Book offices in London and learned he can have five minutes of rest per hour during his pogo stick hop.

A pogo stick manufacturer in New York has offered to donate several pogo sticks for Anzelc to use Aug. 12.

The teen is collecting pledges for his hop, and proceeds will go to the Center for the Homeless. Anzelc says he'd like to raise $5,000 for the shelter, whether or not he breaks the record.

The youth is asking for pledges of $10 per mile from individuals.

People can stop by the Center for the Homeless, 813 S. Michigan St., to sign pledge sheets.

I.U.student hops to it with effort to top mark
Greg Swiercz
Chicago Tribune - 11/4/91

SOUTH BEND --- A subzero wind chill factor Sunday didn't prevent Bill Anzelc from hopping on his pogo stick toward a world record at the South Bend Motor Speedway.

The 20-year-old hopped around the quarter-mile oval 65 times in five hours, 32 minutes and 11 seconds. For the record, that's 14.157 miles.

The effort he will be sending to Guinness Book of World Records in London is the 13.068 miles he hopped in 4 hours, 52 minutes and 45 seconds.

The record now is listed at 13.06 miles by Ashrita Furman of New York.

Anzelc's original goal was 20 miles, but cold temperatures and numb hands prevented him from extending the record effort.

In fact, his last mile took him nearly 40 minutes. Anzelc said he reached a point where his body told him to stop.

"It mostly was in the teens, temperature-wise," Anzelc said Sunday after his feat. "I think I am going to take a nap."

Anzelc hopped to a record two years ago, only to have that mark broken a month later by Furman. Even though Guinness recognized Anzelc's August 1989 effort as a record, Furman's record effort surpassed Anzelc's and was completed in enough time to make the publication date of that year's record book.

Sunday, Anzelc was joined at the track by several official witnesses and members of Anzelc's fraternity at Indiana University. Anzelc is taking a semester off from his junior year at the Bloomington campus, where he is a special education major.

Anzelc should know in a month whether Guinness will accept his effort as the new world record.

Anzelc said Guinness required him to break the distance record in a faster overall time than the existing record. Anzelc feels he has fulfilled both requirements with Sunday's effort.

Meanwhile, Anzelc said his efforts also are expected to help Camp Millhouse because he raised money for the camp with the miles he hopped. Last summer, Anzelc worked at the residential camp for handicapped children and adults.

As for encores, Anzelc will be to busy for any more feats. Anzelc said he will be going abroad later this month before returning to I.U. next semester.

The Pinnacle of Pogoing
Greg Sprout 

It's been a long, bumpy ride, but Gary Stewart has at last chiseled his name---that's G-A-R-Y---in pogo-stick history. 
Five weeks ago in the parking lot of a Burger King restaurant in Huntington Beach, Calif., Stewart, 23, a medical student at the University of Cincinnati, broke his own world record for pogo-stick jumps, bouncing 177,737 times in 20 hours, 20 minutes. 

Stewart had set the previous mark---130,077 jumps in 17 hours, 26 minutes---five years earlier in the garage of his parents' home in Reading. But that triumph was tainted because "The Guinness Book of World Records," Stewart's motivation for the assault on pogo's pinnacle, spelled his name wrong. 

"That's why I started doing it, to get my name in that book," he said. "See, ever since I was in the first grade I would get a 'Guinness Book' for Christmas every year. That book was my bible. Getting my name in it was like really an important thing to me. It was kind of a childhood dream." 

It began innocently enough in 1974, when the lady across the street gave Gary and his older brother, Dave, a dime-store pogo stick her daughter didn't want. 

"That day my brother did 31 jumps," Gary recalled. "I stayed out in the garage until I could do more than 31." 

In time, Stewart became a pogo virtuoso. His stick became a stunt bike and he learned to do jumps from ramps almost four feet high. Stewart figured that pogoing was his chance to earn himself a place in Guinness' revered book. 

"There were other records I thought about trying--catching a grape (dropped from a great height) in my mouth, throwing a five-pound brick, sitting on a see-saw. I even thought about trying to grow the biggest pumpkin," he said. "But I knew I could jump on a pogo stick almost indefinitely." 

Using two sticks taped together to make a stiffer spring and allow more jumps per minute, Stewart obliterated the Guinness record of 11,000 jumps. But when the record book came out, Stewart's first name appeared as "Guy." 

"I was crushed," he said. "I didn't get on the thing five times in the next five years." 

Then Burger King called. The fast-food chain was in search of a publicity hook for its introduction of Paul Newman's salad dressings at its restaurants and had decided to promote the idea that it is supposedly necessary to shake the dressing to blend "its fine, all-natural ingredients." 

The fast-food people thought the best way to make the point to the hamburger-buying public would be to have someone "shake it up" on a pogo stick. They looked up "pogo stick" in the Guinness Book, and despite the misspelling, found Stewart. 

Burger King spared no expense, providing Stewart custom-made pogo sticks, worthy of 240 jumps a minute, and a steel platform with a pressure-sensitive digital jump counter. In addition, the restaurant pledged to make sure the Guinness people got Stewart's name right this time. 

"After 17 hours I really felt the pain," said Stewart, who came away with numbness in his fingers and toes and blisters as big as quarters on the heels of his hands. "But everything worked out great." 

So great, in fact, that... 

"There's a pogo-stick company in New York that may want me to go for another record," Stewart said. "I figure I'll go for distance this time, which would be a lot easier. I think the record is somewhere around 12 miles. That would only take eight hours." 

The BowGo Project

[ Pictures | Articles | Message Board | Q & A | Performance | Details | Contact ]

The BOWGO (patent pending) is a new kind of pogo stick that bounces higher, farther and more efficiently than conventional devices. The BOWGO is a product of the Toy Robots Initiative and is a scaled-up, human-sized version of the Bow Leg. The Bow Leg is a highly resilient leg being developed for running robots at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute. The key technology is the fiber-reinforced composite (FRC) spring that bends like a bow to store elastic energy. Compared to the steel coil spring used in a conventional pogo stick, the bow spring stores 2-5 times as much energy per unit mass, and precludes the sliding friction that results when long coil springs buckle sideways. The BOWGO also uses rollers to guide the plunger, in place of the usual plastic guide bushings, providing smooth, almost frictionless motion. The force/deflection characteristic of the bow spring is tailored to provide high-energy storage with minimal shock at ground contact. A large, rubber-padded foot allows the BOWGO to be used on relatively soft surfaces such as grass, sand and gravel. (We recommend using the BOWGO only on soft surfaces and away from any obstacles that might cause injury.)

Two prototypes, BOWGOI and BOWGOII, have been built and tested with a number of users and spring designs. Performance has greatly surpassed our expectations. A third prototype is presently in the works that should push performance even higher. We are currently seeking licensees for the technology.

See Q & A for more information about the BOWGO's performance and availability.

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