Shine On, Leon Neon!


“Make your own wild, outrageous designs to wear for dancin’ in the dark!”

Yes, why pay someone good money to make outrageous designs for you when you could purchase a box of glow-in-dark strips and make your own? And then (presumably) you’ll be all set to boogie down to the classic Bruce Springsteen hit, dressed as Kevin Flynn.

In 1985 Mattel Toys introduced us to Leon Neon, which was trademarked with the description “a phosphorescent bendable plastic toy.” Sounds basic enough, right? But how awesome are the kids in this commercial? Their creativity is limitless! They’ve made hula skirts, sunglasses, Donna Summer-ish hair pieces, funny giant neck ties, and even a sweet flying V style guitar. I’m pretty sure that the most I could ever accomplish was to connect two or three circles together. Turn off the lights, buddy, coz it’s show time!

A production currently running on Broadway, which you might also recognize if you’re a viewer of “America’s Got Talent” is iLuminate Artist of Light, which, if you think about it, works off the same premise as Leon Neon. The troupe of dancers in the show basically dance around in the dark together, clad in suits with wireless lighting technology that allows for the various strips of light on each dancer’s costume to change color/change patterns/sync up with one another/etc.

Side-by-side, Leon Neon designs and iLuminate are virtually indistinguishable! (I kid). However, I do think the basic influence is evident. (Well, again, maybe it’s more reminiscent of Tron, but still….)


It makes me wonder why there wasn’t a resurgence of Leon Neon in the early ’90s when the rave culture really took off in the U.S. I would imagine wearing Leon Neon would have been a heck of a lot easier and less taxing on your hands/wrists than dancing for 8 hours straight while waving glow sticks back and forth in an abandoned warehouse. Definitely a missed marketing opportunity for Mattel.



It's all just pops and clicks within the vinyl groove I'm listening to. Music, movies, commercials, action figures, cassette tapes...anything that you left in your parents' attic when you moved. I want to talk about it.
-DJ Darko, Your Pop Culture Mixologist

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