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Mattel Creepy Crawlers Thing-Maker (1964) Vintage Toy

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Published on Dec 22, 2011

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Mattel Creepy Crawlers Thing-Maker: Vintage Toys & Games for Christmas

Creepy Crawlers is the best-known name associated with an activity toy made by Mattel beginning in 1964. Another name for the toy is "Thingmaker".

A Thingmaker toy consists of a series of die-cast metal molds resembling various bug-like creatures, into which is poured a liquid chemical substance called Plastigoop, which comes in assorted colors. The mold is then heated to about 390 degrees F atop an open-face electric hot plate oven. The Plastigoop is cured by the heat, and when cooled, is removed from the mold, forming semi-solid, rubbery replicas.

The concept of the Thingmaker was actually introduced in 1963, as part of Mattel's "Vac-U-Maker" set. This omnibus toy combined the new molds and Plastigoop technology with the existing "Vac-u-form" machine, which molded simple sculptures by heating thin sheets of plastic, then using a vacuum pump to form the softened plastic over hard plastic forms. Following this introduction period, the Thingmaker portion was spun off as a separate set, and the "Creepy Crawlers" line began in earnest.

Mattel produced many Thingmaker sets as follow-ups to the original "Creepy Crawlers" throughout the 1960s, utilizing a variety of themes, aimed at both boys and girls.

Mattel packaged molds from various sets to be sold separately, and also combined molds into larger omnibus editions, encompassing several themes into one set, under names such as "Triple Thingmaker", "Super Thingmaker", or even "Every Thingmaker". There were also several exclusive single mold sets, such as Superman and Tarzan, and original Mattel concepts like Squirtles and Gangly Danglies.

Giant Creepy Crawlers (1965) — This set featured nine molds (as did the original "Creepy Crawlers"), but these new molds featured just one giant creature apiece. Fighting Men (1965) — This set of six molds could be used to create mini soldier figures, using an innovative two-part mold to give the Fighting Men a front and a back. The set also included pieces of wire to place in the figure, making it bendle with the bottom wire protrusions being able to stand on a styrofoam base. Other molds in the set created weaponry and equipment for the Fighting Men to carry into battle. Creeple Peeple (1965) — This five-mold set formed strange heads, arms and feet. When assembled onto a pencil, they formed weird, Troll-like creatures. Fun Flowers (1966) — Seven molds full of different styles and shapes of flowers and leaves, for use in decorating and design. Fright Factory (1966) — Five of this set's seven molds were dedicated to creepy disguises, making pieces such as fake scars, snaggled teeth, or a third eye for one's forehead. Another mold (with a special insert) made a shrunken head, and the last made a dangly skeleton that one built from parts. Incredible Edibles (1967) - A Thingmaker that made edible pieces. It used a special goop called Gobble De-goop which was placed in molds and cooked like regular Plasti-goop. Picadoos (1967) — A Thingmaker for artists. This one featured molds with 10x10-space numbered grids. By carefully placing colored Plastigoop in the grid, one could create decorative artwork in either beads, mosaic tile, or cross-stitch varieties. Mini-Dragons (1967) — The eight molds in this set formed wings, horns, claws, tails, and other body parts, which could be combined into various fantasy creatures. Eeeeks! (1968) — In the same vein as Mini-Dragons, this set of eight molds formed several varieties of mix-and-match legs, bodies, heads, wings, antennae, etc., to create large, bizarre insects. Zoofie-Goofies (1968) — Seven molds form heads, bodies and feet of various animals, from cats and dogs to elephants and lions. DollyMaker (1969) — Five two-sided molds are used to create two styles of little dolls, and a wardrobe of late '60s fashions and accessories for them. Super Cartoon Maker (1969) — A licensed Thingmaker, the eight molds in this set form replicas of Charles Schulz's Peanuts characters, such as Snoopy, Charlie Brown and Lucy. Jillions of Jewels (1970) — The last of the classic Mattel Thingmakers. The set had five molds, but instead of the liquid Plastigoop, these formed solid plastic "gemstones" and jewelry frames from two kinds of powdered "Jewel Dust" compounds.

It is generally believed that production of the original Mattel Thingmakers was discontinued following consumer safety concerns over allowing children to use a small electric heater as a toy.

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