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Thingmakers By Euphrates
Do you remember how old TV commercials for toys always promised "hours of fun"?
For me, this boast proved to be true with the Mattel Thingmaker series. This
man's flesh bears many a scar that can be traced back to the production of
Creepy Crawlers and Fighting Men. My guess is that if you are reading this
article, you too may be able to find some tiny imperfection on your forearm or
hands that until today, was missing the history behind its existence.
The basic Thingmaker sets came with an open-faced oven, a cooling pan, tongs, plastigoop, metal molds and a few little accessories like paints, feathers or other adornments. How were all of these items married so that they produced rubber bugs? Tongs go into the side of the mold, plastigoop goes into the mold, mold goes into the hot oven, mold comes out of the hot oven into the water.
If you did everything right, you had a nice, dry, rubbery replica of the mold. If you undercooked the piece then you ended up with a toxic, sticky ball of goo. If you overcooked the piece, you had to get a knife or needle and start digging the stubborn goop out of the mold. If you cooked the mold the right amount of time, but were greedy and didn't let it cool long enough, you would get burnt.
Here are some of the other playsets, variations and evoloutions in no particular order:
Batman - Maker-Pak Card
Plenty of these sets still exist with their original packaging. Yep, you can find them complete with oven, molds, instructions and empty bottles of plastigoop. There are still unopened bottles floating around but they are like gold and can often cost more than boxed Thingmaker sets!
The most sought after and most expensive sets are the Dolly Maker set, Batman, Tarzan, Green Hornet and Superman molds, the Cartoon Maker set with the Peanuts molds and the Disney molds by Marx.
At some point, Mattel surrendered the license for this toy so it was ressurected in the '90s by Toymax. Of course, the flesh searing oven was changed from the open-faced style to more of an Easy Bake Oven-style. The good news: the rebirth of plastigoop! The bad news: the new goop doesn't work as well with the old ovens.
There are some great Thingmaker sites on the web that are more comprehensive and actually display some beautiful pictures of the sets and of actual creatures painted by professionals. You can find them from the Links Page at The Big Red Toybox or by typing "thingmaker" in your favorite search engine.