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January 13, 2009



Ah, the Thingmaker. A hot plate for kids. I had the Superman mold, and a Green Hornet, I think.

I loved my 60s-70s era dangerous toys. Toys that wouldn't come within ten miles of being produced these days. Note the Creepy Crawlers spot has a quick shot of the unit being plugged in! 120 volts AC, kiddies.

Then you got your Vertibird, with its rotor spinning at 1000 rpm or whatever. Watch your fingers! And the Hot Wheels Factory, in which you heat up plastic pellets until they're molten and inject the plastic into metal molds. Fabulous.

Joel Hodgson did a great bit on MST3K about how the wimpy kids ruined it for the rest of us because they cried to mommy when they burnt themselves on their Thingmaker oven.

The Mutt

Not only was Thingmaker a third degree nightmare, they sold an edible version too. Incredible Edibles. "Remember, Johnny, these plastic bugs are for eating and these are not."

It's a wonder we got out of our childhoods alive.

Mark Engblom

Yeah, as I recall, seatbelts weren't much of a priority back then, either...so we were living pretty dangerously there, weren't we?


Mattel also had a somewhat similar toy called the Strange Change machine where the things were pre-made but came in the form of what looked like giant Starburst candies. You put them in the device and plugged it in and when they got hot enough they would start to unfold into dinosaurs or aliens or whatever.

After you played dinosaurs and aliens for a while, you put them back in the device to get hot again, then pulled them out and quickly dropped them in what was basically a miniature car crusher to squeeze them back down into lozenge form (sorta... they never quite went back to their original state, and after repeated cycles they'd get more and more deformed).

Pictures at http://www.snowcrest.net/fox/str.html.

David E Martin

My younger sister and I were 60s kids so we were in the perfect time for good, fun, and yes probably dangerous toys. But ya know, since we all survived 60s toys and cars without seatbelts, how dangerous could thopse times have actually been?

Anyway, here's the Thingmaker sets and additions we had--
THINGMAKER - the classic bugs and lizards set
THINGMAKER II - more bugs, bigger buggs!
FRIGHT FACTORY - scary stuff like prosthetics, a shrunken head, and a skeleton
CREEPLE PEEPLE - cartoonish heads, arms, and feet you attached to pencils
FUN FLOWERS - cartoon faces and stylized flowers
(unknown name) - a set of dimpled grids that let you make pointilist pictures using dots of Plastigoop
SUPERMAN - a two-sided mold with Superman and an S-emble on one side, his cape on the other
BATMAN - a couple of bat logos
GREEN HORNET - a giant hornet and the logo

I did not have the FIGHTING MEN set although I played with a friend's. You could use the molds to make and equip an army of poseable soldiers. It also included molds for parts to make into a tank (although you had to make the basic body out of cardboard).

Nor did I have a VACUFORM, the Thingmaker's predecessor. This device heated small sheets of plastic, then used a hand pump to suck the softened sheet onto the waiting mold. You then cut out the molded parts and assembled them into toys like cars, boats, and planes.

We also had the final 60s Thingmakers, INCREDIBLE EDIBLES, GREAT CAKES, and TOOT SWEETS. IE made Thingmaker-like candies out of jellied syrup which came in packets of various flavors. GC was Mattel's counterpart to the EasyBake Oven. You used the mixes to make and decorate wide, flat cupcakes. TS let you heat Tootsie Rolls, then press the softened candy into molds that let you create whistles (hence the name) and other shapes.


hmm...this is something more to read...


I had Creepy Crawlers in the early 90's [I used to have so much fun!], and also this set that let you make dolls and clothes and such for them.

And I remember this ad on the back of one of the comics I have [Flash I think] and I was like D: when I saw it.


My brother had the creepy crawlers set with the edibles, but by the time I was of age to handle a hot plate, it was broken. Which is astonishing considering the thing was pretty much all metal. They don't make toys like that anymore.

Rich Yan

I had the Freight Factory and The Strange Change machine. I wish I still had them. I remember buying the Superman mold from someone for like fifty cents, a hefty sum at that time.

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