I came across this great Merlin hand held electronic toy the other day at Waverly Wholesale antiques, and just had to get it.

These were released by Parker Brothers in 1978, and were quite popular. Super popular in fact, with over 5 MILLION of these units sold in the initial run, lots more sold through the 80′s. I had never seen one for sale except on ebay, so I grabbed it when I saw it on a stall closing down at half price!

I only vaguely remember them being around, but never owned one and don’t have any friends that did either.

They have 6 games which are

  • Tic Tac Toe
  • Music Machine
  • Echo, a game similar to Simon
  • Blackjack 13
  • Magic Square, a pattern game similar to Lights Out
  • Mindbender, a game similar to Mastermind

Here is the one of the original commercials

The best mode is the Music Machine game, and with a bit of skill you can crank out a cool tune with it. It was in fact one of the earliest versions of a home digital sequencer and consumer level synth. Its all pretty fun, and the kids and I have all had a go.

I dig the tune in this commercial

Parker Brothers also released a new version of Merlin in 1995 called Merlin : The 10th Quest (to go along with the fantasy theme of the name) and this had games like “Singing Sword” and “Spell Bender” and a different display setup. I think I have to find myself one of those next !