Archive for July 2nd, 2009

ThingmakerThe world has certainly changed since I was growing up.  I was reminded of this when I came across a list of the 10 most dangerous toys of all time and several were recognizable from my childhood, including my favorite, the Thingmaker from Mattel.

The Thingmaker was a device that allowed kids to make plastic toys.  There were Creepy Crawlers which made bugs, worms and lizards and the Fright Factory that made things like shrunken heads, vampire fangs and the like. There was also Creeple Peeple which made little Troll-like folks and Mini-Dragons which are pretty self explanatory.

The Thingmaker was basically a series of metal molds into which the kid would squeeze a liquid substance called Plastigoop.  The molds were then placed into the Thingmaker oven which was really just a small open hot plate that reached temperatures in the range of 310 degrees.  Just what every 9 year old should have– toxic plastics and burning hot surfaces.

I really loved my Thingmaker and spent a lot of time making little doo-dads that were pretty cool at the time.  Mini-Dragons were especially popular and I sold a lot of them on my school bus to subsidize my love affair with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  I guess the occasional burn and the loss of a fingerprint or two was a small price to pay.  The Thingmaker was eventually pulled from the market by Mattel but returned in a revised and safer form years later by another company.  

Like I said, it was a different world with a lot less adult supervision and more room to roam.   I can’t say if it was a better or worse childhood than today’s kids experience.  I will say that it fostered a lot of self-dependence, at least in my case.  

Here’s another example of the difference in the times …

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