80s, 90s, Blog, Obsession of the Day — March 1, 2013 11:45 am

Obsession of the Day: Playground Equipment

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playground_title

We take a lot of things for granted these days, and one of those things is playground equipment. Do playgrounds really even exist anymore? Or are they merely locations for kids to trade Pokemons and buy drugs?

In any case, playground equipment was a classic staple in many of our youths. There were swing sets, slides, those boss jungle gyms with the wooden bridge and a captain’s wheel. But there was something else, too, something that captured my heart more than anything: playground equipment that looks like something else.

giganta

The strangest yet most epic piece of playground equipment I’ve ever seen (and unfortunately this wasn’t in person) is Giganta from Jamison Fantasy Playground Equipment, which seems to be part of the Miracle Recreation Equipment Company as far as I can tell.

Giganta, circa 1974, is a frightening contraption. I’d love to spot one out in the wild, so if you know of where I can see one, be sure to leave a comment. It sort of reminds me of the Big Mac Climber from the old McDonalds PlayLand in that you can climb up into the robot’s head and have it act as some kind of prison. Giganta also captures children in his belly and shoots them out two covered slides. This thing is huge, too—22.5’ high with a shipping weight of 4,400 lbs. You don’t mess with Giganta.

fishyfishy

And yes, speaking of McDonalds PlayLand—that was some of Miracle’s handiwork, too.

horsedinosaur

My elementary school had a blue dinosaur jungle gym with yellow “eyes” that were actually just round bars to hang onto. You could climb right up and sit inside of his head. I was too scared to climb up and the thing was carted off by the time I finished kindergarten anyway. This thing was pretty magnificent. I haven’t managed to find a photo of it, but I did find this horse one from Miracle as a substitute. The dinosaur was very similar in structure, which leads me to believe it’s either by Miracle or some weird Canadian company.

caterkiller

Founded in 1927, Miracle is still around and producing equipment today. After a quick trip to their website, I recognized park equipment from my own city. Unfortunately, there’s no giant killer robots. There are no animals or dinosaurs or spaceships, either. Gone are the times when children saw a mangled steel tube and thought, “I’m gonna ride that caterpillar!”

What are some of your favorite pieces of playground equipment? Have you crawled into Giganta’s brain? Leave us a comment!

10 Comments

  • I love this post! Brings back so many great (and a couple of painful) memories. It’s a well-known fact the dangerous-looking playground equipment is more fun. They don’t make ’em like this anymore because nowadays everyone’s afraid of lawsuits. There’s a playground in my hood I used to love going to as a kid because of the crazy jungle gyms it had, including one that looked like a tee-pee and a large climbable something that looked like a giraffe (or dinosaur?) unofficially known as The Thing We All Stood Around Waiting For Some Stupid Kid to Slip Up and Get Hurt On. There is no finer entertainment for a kid, except perhaps swinging as high as you can and then jumping out of the seat. The playground itself is still there, but sadly all the good (i.e. dangerous) stuff has long since been removed. It does, however, still have a wooden bridge with ship’s wheel apparatus. And I cherish it.

  • Well, probably about 12 years ago now my best friend and I went back to our elementary school playground. They still had one of the original generic metal square jungle gyms up but they had taken down the massive 2-3 story behemoth deathtrap one. That thing was so big that we didn’t dare touch it until we were in 5th grade. It might have even been a school rule. That thing was incredible..

  • That was my father and uncle’s fantastic and wildly creative company-Jamison Playground equipment.  They sold the company to 
    Miracle in the 70s.  It was an amazing company, committed to stylish and modern design.  You can still see geodesic dome climbers and arch swings in parks.  I’m still proud of their gorgeous work!

    • Cyndy Jasiman That is awesome, thanks for sharing, Cyndy! If you ever want to chat Jamison Playground, share memories/photos, etc., please let us know! I love passing by parks/schools and recognizing their work!

  • I live in a mobile home park and we have a playground.  It seems empty a lot. We have a jungle gym, slide, swingset, and one of those things that go around in circles while you hang on–what are those called?

  • We had one growing up in the 90s.  It was terrifying to climb in and once you got up there it smelled like pee.

  • Great minds think alike.  I had similar thoughts on playground equipment a few years ago.

    http://blog.paxholley.net/2010/03/19/9-reasons-why-playgrounds-back-in-the-day-were-more-awesome-than-playgrounds-of-today/

  • paxtonholley Sweet! Thanks for sharing your article! Yeah, they just don’t make playground equipment like they used to. I noticed an elephant-shaped piece at a newer park this weekend, but it doesn’t look very dangerous:(

  • PopRewind paxtonholley  Yes!  More danger and death on children’s playgrounds.  How else are they going to learn to survive?  

    There are no safety nets in the real world.  😉

  • I spent many a hot day and night playing on a Giganta when I was kid back in the 70’s. It was located at a Hardee’s restaurant playground. I got so excited when I found a picture of it on the internet. I would love to know if any still exists today!

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