The 10 Best Hopper Balls
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in December of 2016. These hopper balls offer a great opportunity to let your children — or yourself — bounce off excess energy, getting a bit of exercise and having fun at the same time. As well as being a perennial toy that almost all kids love, they can also help with the development of coordination skills. Of course, they should always be used with plenty of adult supervision, especially on hard surfaces. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
February 15, 2021:
New to the list, the AppleRound Horse isn't technically a "ball," which can be appealing for parents whose little ones have trouble balancing. This wide and low-to-the-ground option can be a good choice for little ones as young as 3 to start out with, helping them master the coordination they need to move on to the tricker round shape. Its friendly horse-like appearance also makes it a good prop for acting out stories: it can be a cowboy's loyal companion, a knight's noble steed, or a young child's friend Flicka.
Another option for kids who want to pretend they're riding an animal is the Waliki Triceratops. This one is a more traditional shape than the AppleRound Horse, though it features two textured handles instead of the classic loop found on most options. The dinosaur exterior is a plush cover than can be removed for washing. It features legs, a tail, and a smiling face.
When choosing a hopper ball, you'll want to pay attention to the size. A smaller option like the Hedstrom 15-Inch Graphic is best for younger kids, while some larger models, like the Waliki Toys Tie Die Rainbow, can accommodate teenagers and even adults.
Weight capacity is also very important to keep in mind, as well as instructions regarding inflation. Some manufacturers warn that over-inflation can make the ball more likely to get punctured. This can vary based on materials used, so make sure to heed any warnings that come with your new toy.
Finally, you should avoid rough terrain and sharp objects. Some options are okay for outdoor use, but you should stick to grass or pavement that is free from sharp sticks and rocks. When using indoors, always clean up any stray Lego bricks or action figures before you start bouncing.
March 08, 2019:
When considering hopper balls, it's important to think of safety first and foremost, so we selected brands that are known for providing high-quality bouncers. That said, each choice will still require adult supervision and judicious use. At this time, we believe it's still hard to beat the SueSport Kangaroo Hoppity Hop and the AppleRound Space Hopper. Both versions have undergone substantial testing and are adequately sized. Of course, with these, and any other version, you'll need to verify that the size of the rider matches the sizes intended by the manufacturer. For those who need something on the smaller end, there's the Little Tikes HB, but there's one big drawback in that you can't choose which color you receive, potentially leading to a frustrated child. And for something just a little different, we added the Waliki Toys Jumping Hot Dog, which has a longer, larger footprint that could help with coordination issues.
Hopper Ball Selection And Safety
Even with a correctly sized hopper, children could potentially harm themselves as they're learning to drive the ball effectively.
It's hard to dispute the idea that a hopper ball is an excellent way to have some good, clean fun and exercise at the same time — as long as you find the one that's right for you or your child. Otherwise, riding a hopper can be uncomfortable, impossible, or even dangerous, as using the wrong size puts your new toy at risk of breaking. But don't worry, you'll have just the right hopper by taking into account a few of the toy's features.
Weight limit should be your first concern, since putting more weight on the ball than it can handle is one great way to ruin it. Manufacturers are usually explicit about how much weight their models can handle, displaying this information prominently along with product information. In general, less robust models can accommodate around 100 pounds or less, while the brawnier versions may be able to handle up to 250, or even 300, pounds.
The overall size of the model is your next issue, and fortunately, manufacturers also make finding the right size simple. In general, when looking at a hopper ball, you'll see two pieces of sizing info: the diameter of the ball and the size of individuals it was designed to hold. This latter piece of information is either expressed as a general group (like "adult," "teen," or "toddler") or as a height range. When you see a group designation, consider that anyone who's on the taller end of their group might find the hopper too small; be sure to look at the ball's diameter to gain a better understanding of sizing.
Once you know that your hopper is both large and strong enough for its rider, you're almost ready to take it for a spin, but you still need to inflate the ball. Many, but not all, hoppers come with a hand pump; if yours doesn't, it will most likely include an adapter for inflating it with any type of pump used on sports equipment or air mattresses. Before you begin the inflation process, read the directions, as they will tell you how much you should inflate the ball. Go beyond this, and you risk damaging the toy.
And finally, a word about safety. Even with a correctly sized hopper, children could potentially harm themselves as they're learning to drive the ball effectively. To lessen this risk, you might ask them to ride on grass at first and to wear protective gear, including knee and elbow pads. You'll probably want to supervise young children, too.
Good Health? Hop To It
Whether you are new to hopper balls or remember these retro toys from your childhood, you'll perhaps notice that navigating a hopper ball gives you plenty of benefits beyond mere fun. These toys are sure to boost you in more ways than just literally, in other words, making them an excellent choice for just about everyone.
As an added bonus, the hopper ball does so in a way that's safer than some of the alternatives, like a trampoline.
For example, with obesity and its associated health problems continuing to rise, any form of exercise and movement is welcome — for both kids and adults. This extra movement is not only a step (or bounce) toward weight loss, but also better mood, as exercise has been shown to lessen the harmful effects of depression, anxiety, and stress. And the more time that your kids (or you) are out hopping, that's less time spent in front of a screen.
Some health professionals also claim that hopper balls help build motor skills and boost confidence for those children who may have developmental roadblocks. Hopping on one of these toys could build proprioception, for instance, and aid in the development of balance and coordination. As an added bonus, the hopper ball does so in a way that's safer than some of the alternatives, like a trampoline. And unlike some other retro toys, such as Simon, it probably won't be incredibly aggravating after about 10 minutes.
Consider, too, that if you invest in a hopper ball for each member of the family, you'll have an excellent way to foster togetherness. You might stage races or an obstacle course and encourage some friendly competition, perhaps attempting to find out who can hop for the longest without stopping. Whatever activity you choose, you'll have a way for the family to hang out together without resorting to electronic entertainment.
A Brief History Of The Hopper Ball
The hopper ball is one of those toys, like Strawberry Shortcake and Troll dolls, that just never seems to disappear, although its popularity may ebb and flow. The original version was the creation of Italian designer Aquilino Cosani, who called his initial version the Pon-Pon after the sound the ball made in use. Originally introduced in 1968, the toy made its way to the U.K. in 1969 and the U.S. in 1971. This first version was orange, so as to avoid the perceived gender specificity of blue or pink, and had a hard plastic handle that was eventually replaced with a softer, more rubbery model.
The original version was the creation of Italian designer Aquilino Cosani, who called his initial version the Pon-Pon after the sound the ball made in use.
Because Cosani only patented this handle, not the entire design, plenty of knock-offs soon followed. In the U.K., children begged their parents for a Space Hop, while in the U.S., kids enjoyed playing with the Hoppity Hop. In order not to run afoul of Cosani's patented design, each version offered its own particular spin, using slightly different handles or shapes. Some popular versions featured characters, including Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse.
Through the years, the hopper ball in all its forms has had an impact not just on riders, but also on popular culture. Fans of the TV show Friends may remember Phoebe's mile-long ride on a hippity hop (from "The One Where They All Turn Thirty"), a feat that fans of the show have been inspired to recreate and post online. Hopper balls have even left their mark on the rave crowd, with events devoted to capturing the spirit of childhood offering hoppers, along with ball pits and play areas, to club-goers.