Creepy Crawlers Thingmaker - Great Old Toy
Let's face it, kids love bugs and other disgusting things
One of my all time favorite toys, when I was a kid, was Creepy Crawlers. Made by Mattel, it was a set of metal molds you could cook up your own creepy frogs, bugs and snakes in. My brothers and I used to love it, but it's a wonder we didn't burn the house down. I did burn my fingers on it many times, I don't think the design would ever be allowed for a toy nowadays. The metal molds were filled with "Plastigoop" and cooked on an open hotplate called a "Thingmaker," then when they were done you used a removable wire handle to pick the mold up and place it in a tray of water to cool.
Mattel and Creepy Crawlers
Creepy Crawlers was first introduced by Mattel in 1964. Over the years many new sets of molds were added, so kids could make flowers, action figures, scars for their face, Creeple People (you could assemble different combinations of body parts into troll-like creatures) even dolls and fashion accessories. At one point there was an edible Gobble-de-goop so kids could eat their Creepy Crawlers.
Around 1970 Creepy Crawlers were discontinued by Mattel. In the late 70s a new version of Creepy Crawlers, featuring "Thingmaker II' was introduced. It was safer, but didn't work so well and was not very successful. Creepy Crawlers faded away once again.
These are the Creepy Crawlers I Remember
Even though I burned myself a few times with this toy, it was really a lot of fun. Making the bugs was the best part, and I'm sure it's not the same putting them away in the oven to cook by themselves.
I think the metal handle was really the problem, it got hot if you cooked the critters with it already attached, and trying to get it into the little slots on the hot mold wasn't easy. Of course we could have unplugged the thingmaker and waited for it to cool, but that's not what kids do.
Photo of Mattel Creepy Crawlers Set
Here is a photo of the old Mattel Creepy Crawlers set. You can see the Thingmaker, the molds and the metal handle, the goop, and the sharp little pick we used to get the bug out of the molds is sitting in the water tray. There are even a few completed bugs at the bottom of the photo.
Thanks very much to simonscomics, from ebay for allowing me to use his photo.
Old Creepy Crawlers Commercial
This was just the kind of thing to whet a kids appetite. After we saw it we just couldn't wait to be the first kids on the block to get our hands on this toy!
Vintage Creepy Crawlers Commercial
The Return of Creepy Crawlers
In 1992 ToyMax Company resurrected Creepy Crawlers, going back to the metal molds and Plastigoop, but replacing the Thingmaker with a "Magicmaker." The Magicmaker was an oven-like device that heated with a light bulb, it had a door that latched automatically and stayed locked until the mold was cool.
ToyMax reintroduced many of the same lines of molds as the original Mattel Creepy Crawlers. They introduced Plastigoop with many new colors, scents and sparkles. Gradually the company ran out of steam, going under in 2001.
Jakks-Pacific took over making Creepy Crawlers after ToyMax went out of business. Their version of the toy is much the same as the ToyMax model.
In 2010, Jakks-Pacific created an injection mold Creepy Crawler set. Initially it was made exclusively for Toys "R" Us, but now is available in other stores.
New, Safer Creepy Crawlers
These new versions of old Creepy Crawlers are much safer than the one I used to play with. However, they still include plenty of disgusting fun stuff.
This Creepy Crawler set seems to be the more preferred one of the two I have shown here. The molds slide into an oven, kind of like the old easy bake oven, that cooks with a light bulb and stays locked until it cools off. Be forewarned though, you have to buy a candelabra light bulb separately.
Mega Bug Maker
Even though this set looks really cool, and you can make wall-walking bugs and gut filled bugs that squish, I can't really recommend it. It works differently than the one above, it uses batteries. It's an injection mold and there are lots of complaints about how you have to put the molds in vertically and the goop leaks out.