MAGIC TOP 64 FIGURES WITH 5 LED LITES MUSIC I found this at the dollar store today, along with a half a dozen software CDs that I haven't tried out yet. It's really pretty fascinating. It has five little LEDs along a radius, alternating red and green. You spin it and it plays this little tune repeatedly, while cycling through a whole host of spinning patterns:
Magic Top patterns

It gets through 13 patterns in each time it plays through the song, and it always starts at pattern 1. So you have to spin it really, really fast on an oiled glass surface in order to get through the song 5 times and see all 64 patterns.

22 September 2000
top view updated 25 October 2000

I've had to open it up and repair it already--the piezoelectric element broke and I had to tape one of the leads back onto it.

top view with 5 LED lites
bottom view with music holes

Long overdue update from February 2001:

At Khyber Pass Restaurant on Saint Mark's Place, my wife suddenly asked what the song playing on the stereo was. After listening for a few seconds, I broke down into hysterical laughter upon realizing it was the Magic Top song!

We asked the waitress what it was, and she produced the CD cover for us, but aside from the title "Rubak by Quraishi" and the address for the record label (Afghan Music in Sterling, Virginia) and studio (also in VA) all the text was in Arabic lettering. Was my collection of little Chinese tops playing a traditional Afghan folk song?

Someone on soc.culture.afghanistan finally put me out of my misery. Before you go read the answer, here's my expanded rendition. To think it managed to escape my brain after only 10 years! I thought the two weeks we spent driving across Georgia with our Mingrelian bus driver playing it over and over had lodged it in there more firmly.

20 December 2007

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