If you are into conservation and recycling, you'll be happy to hear that the hottest new sport in California consists of tossing around a Frisbee-like object called a Toobee, which is manufactured from old beer or soda cans. Properly thrown, the ingenious little airfoil can soar as far as 50 yards, curling in graceful arcs before wafting gently down into a receiver's hands. And because it's so light, the Toobee can be thrown indoors, bouncing more or less harmlessly off windows, lamps, pets and humans.
The Toobee looks precisely like what it is: a sawed-off section of a 12-ounce aluminum beverage can, complete with label. It was designed by two former General Electric engineers, Dale Klahn and Gary Upham, who spent three years experimenting with used cans, cutting them at different angles and testing each version to find the best gliders, before discovering the Toobee formula. "What we've got here," Klahn says, "is a perfectly configured circular wing." To get used beer cans flying, the engineers removed the top and bottom from each container, sliced a 2.001-inch-long section from one end, then folded back the sharp edge to avoid cut fingers, and smoothed the rim. "The resulting seven-gram vehicle has its center of gravity right over its center of lift," explains Klahn. That, evidently, is what makes the Toobee soar.
Each Toobee comes with these basic instructions: "GRIP with the rim end forward. THROW overhand or sidearm. SPIN the Toobee as it leaves your hand by rolling it off your fingers. Longest throw: aim low." Though the instructions are scanty, even the most uncoordinated should become adept at throwing one within half an hour. Aficionados of the sport will soon discover that because of the Toobee's light weight, even a zephyr will affect its action. Indoor play is best on blustery days, the Toobee performing especially well in enclosed corridors, as was noted by employees of the U.S. Patent Office in Washington. "They loved it," says Klahn, who expects a patent to be issued shortly.
Toobees can be found at some toy stores, or Klahn and Upham will fill mail orders (two for $3) if you write Toobee Toys, Box 7181, Berkeley, Calif. 94707. You'll not only have fun with a Toobee, but, in a small way, you'll also help recycle some potential roadside debris.