In the U.S. of the 1950s, the Space Age and molded plastic flying discs (Frisbees) were both novel. New materials and a supposed resemblance to UFOs made this linkage irresistible for early disc marketers, who named products "Flyin-Saucer" and "Pluto Platter". Colors and designs were exuberant. Early cross-branded discs promoted Buck Rogers, Li'l Abner, and Disneyland. The same firm, Wham-O, also produced the Hula Hoop and Super Ball.

Space-themed promotional photo of Morrison

Outside of games and sports, the Space Age was inextricably linked with the the philosophical and military contention of the Cold War. Frisbee products were quintessentially American, potentially affecting their desirability or reception in the Soviet Union. Almost certainly some small number were imported. Russian Wikipedia says without citation that "in the Soviet Union, the [Hula] hoop appeared in the early sixties, although at first it was not welcomed here, being called a symbol of the emptiness of American culture."

In the late 1970s, molded plastic was no longer new technology and flying discs had been available in the U.S. for thirty years. Domestic disc production began in the Ukrainian S.S.R. at the Ivano-Frankivsk Valve Plant. Discs with "Летающей тарелки" (flying saucer) printed around the edge, at least one model promoting the 1980 Moscow Olympics, became available. Towards the end of the decade the "Frisbee Diplomat" Ron Kaufman used discs in citizen diplomacy.

A frisbee player in Kiev, 1983

As the U.S.S.R. didn't generally import consumer goods from the U.S., going thirty years without local production hints that official and critical interpretations of Frisbees may have changed during this period. Were they initially stigmatized in the Soviet Union, as the Hula Hoop was reported to be?

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    For the GDR & Romania I'd have a few points to add onto this, but as Frisbees developed so diverged the party lines between the three countries. But drawing from there: you are mainly interested in 'official policy', not popularity, not critical voices from the population? – LаngLаngС Jun 19 '19 at 19:56
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    @LangLangC Thank you, edited to sharpen the target. I only want to exclude noncritical, nonpolitical reports like "the kids love it". – Aaron Brick Jun 19 '19 at 21:18
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    My impression from the other side of the curtain at the time was that they had to wait in lines to get things like toilet paper. They didn't really have a consumer economy geared to produce non-nessecities based on feedback from interested buyers. – T.E.D. Jun 20 '19 at 0:25
  • @T.E.D. I agree, but whomever told that Valve Plant to make them seems to have been correct that there would be a local market. The mention of the Hula Hoop's reception suggests some scrutiny of personally imported objects. – Aaron Brick Jun 20 '19 at 3:09

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