5 Interesting Facts On The Viral Toy 'Lato-Lato' You Probably Don't Know About


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By now, you've surely seen your fair share of these colourful orbs being sold at the roadside stalls and night markets in your area

This children’s toy is called lato-lato and is easily identifiable by its two plastic balls connected with a string. To play, players would swing the balls up and down via the string, creating a clacking sound as they continuously hit one another.

The toy made a viral comeback since Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo was seen playing with it late last year, and has slowly but surely crept its way into our fine land.

Image via Harian Metro

1. The toy lato-lato has many other names

According to Borneo Post, lato-lato got its name from a Bugis word latto-latto which if translated means ‘making clacking sounds’. However, that isn’t the only name the toy has been given.

Over the years, the toy has also been called katto-katto, etek-etek, nok-nok, and toki-toki, in several parts of Indonesia, and clackers, click-clacks, knockers, ker-bangers, and clankers, in other English countries.

Image via Borneo Post

2. It was first made popular in the US

According to Groovy History, before making it big in Indonesia, the toy first swung its way into the hands of American children in the late ’60s to the early ’70s.

Known as clackers at the time, they were dubbed a ‘parent’s nightmare’ due to the clacking sound they made, and the dangers that came with these toys. 

The toy was finally taken off the US market after its safety was brought into question.

Image via Suara.com

3. It used to be made of glass

The clackers were once made of tempered glass that would often lead to children swinging them until they exploded.

The glass was then switched for a rubber plastic, which although safer, could still cause injuries if played haphazardly. 

Glass clackers.
Image via Groovy History

4. It is banned in four different countries

According to Kosmo, lato-lato has been banned in the US, the UK, and Canada.

This was due to the safety hazards of this game and the increasing number of reported injuries at the time. The toy was also deemed a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands.

Egypt has also banned this toy but not for reasons one would expect.

The toy was banned in 2017 when it copped the nickname: ‘Sisi’s balls’. Their president, Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi, was not very happy with the name and therefore, ordered the police to arrest sellers, and confiscate all the toys in the market at that time, before banning it completely.

Sisi's balls.
Image via Middle East Eye

5. It's been featured as a weapon in the anime, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

According to Suara.com, the toy has been featured in the extremely popular anime.

In the scene, the toy is used as a deadly weapon but ironically fails when the villain accidentally hits himself on the head with it.

Screenshot from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure.
Image via abesolutzero (Youtube)

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