"They can really hop!" exclaims Olof Nylander, special effects technician who is producing and selling promotional "jumping discs" to American companies, trade shows, magicians, entertainers and anybody wanting to make a lasting impression on people that they meet.

But the whole idea almost vanished into history, and it took him 20 years to resurrect the concept from its grave.

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Back in the eighties, Nylander found the original jumping discs being made by Edmund Scientific in New Jersey, and he resold them to customers back at his home town in Umeň, Sweden. But suddenly, the manufacturer fell dead, and although Nylander acquired the factory machines, the actual technique of making the novelties followed the originator into the hereafter.

Finding the secret eluded Nylander's numerous experiments, and during the passing years of failed attempts, he established a now-flourishing movie special effects firm, and the jumping discs machinery went to the junkyard. His first breakthrough was to find that the jumping discs were made of a so-called "bi-metal" much like a thermostat.

Nearly 20 years of die making, materials testing and studies by thermal expansion experts helped him find how to rig the pieces so that they would jump.

Calling this "the world's funniest thermostat," Nylander explains that when a person holds the piece, it is heated and bends ever so slightly. Then, when it is placed on a table and cools, it snaps and jumps as much as three feet into the air. He mentions that it's a fascinating promotional gimmick because it evokes chat about how it can jump, how the delay occurs and the whole time, potential customers are seeing company logos, slogans or names on the piece.

He says he hears from 40-60 year olds who have an original jumping disc that they got in their childhood. "Some are now entrepreneurs themselves, and they want to spread their company name with these unusual giveaways," relates Nylander. He muses at the fact that he is now exporting the jumping discs back to the country where they were born.

For more info, see www.jumpingdisc.com