8-Ball Frequently Asked Questions

People often e-mail us with questions about the 8-Ball. We usually don't know the answer. If you know a good answer to any of these questions, please e-mail us!

I'm in Zaire. I can't find an 8-Ball in stores here. Where do I get one?
We have no idea. (The same goes for any other country.) Believe it or not, we're not privy to the secrets of the international toy distribution industry. You might see if an online toy vendor will ship to you.

Where can I get a ``vintage'' 8-Ball? You know, the heavy kind, not the cheap plastic trash they make these days.
We have no idea. eBay? Antique sites or shops? Surely there's an organization for antique toy collectors out there somewhere.

How would I make a ``custom'' 8-Ball with my own answers, with our logo printed on them, or with some other modification?
PromoBrands.com claim they can make custom 8-ball tchotchke, even modifying the answers (for "larger orders"). If you want to do it yourself, Eric Tompos sent us an excellent how-to. "The process was quite labor-intensive, but anybody could do it," he says.

Tell me about the history of the Magic 8-Ball.
Seth Hoyt of Boston, MA wrote in to shed some light on this question. According to this article, the Magic 8-Ball was invented by Abe Bookman of the Alabe Crafts Company in Cincinnati in 1946. Another site has a picture of the original Magic 8-Ball and packaging material. It seems that Tyco acquired the toy from Alabe; more recently, Mattel acquired Tyco. The history of the actual product is less clear. We do know that the answer cylinder used to be a glass jar, and the outer sphere a harder plastic (or perhaps even ceramic). Today's modern, lightweight construction is doubtless cheaper. Mattel also has a short history of the 8-ball on their site.

Why the number 8?
I have no idea. I can only assume it has something to do with the special color it has and the special role it plays in pool games.

My 8-Ball has developed some trapped air bubbles that make it difficult to read the answers. What can I do?
While this common condition can be treated, it is unfortunately uncurable. In the short term, you can try to reduce the amount of trapped air by inverting the 8-Ball (answer window down) and whacking it firmly against a hard surface. I am also told that rotating a bubbly 8-ball smoothly rather than shaking it violently will help preserve legibility. These techniques may reduce the amount of trapped air in the short term, but in the long term you'll just need to get a new 8-ball. (Luckily, they don't cost very much.)

How many official 8-Ball answers are there? What are they?
There are 20. We've compiled a list here.

I recently dissected an 8-Ball and now my fingers are all blue. Nothing seems to get the dye off. What do I do?
As far as we know you just have to wait for it to fade. Maybe you could paint yourself entirely blue and go to Burning Man or a rave or something where that's typical and then nobody will notice.

Did Eric's girlfriend accept his proposal?
Signs point to yes!

Are you the Jedi Master as it regards the Magic 8-Ball?
No. Why do you ask?

Magic 8-Ball ®