Synopsis of Toy

"They stick like magic!"

Once in a while, in this fast-moving, flighty world of ours, coloring with crayons is just too time-consuming and indelible. There are plenty of us who change our minds, well, frequently—we can’t commit to a particular wardrobe ensemble in our crayon pictures; we cannot, for the life of us, decide where the sun or the purple horse should be positioned. So for those of us who couldn’t sit obediently at the kitchen table and work in our coloring books for hours on end, for those artistes given to fits of impatience and whimsy and impulse, there are Colorforms. These were a good alternative to the sometimes high-pressure cauldron of crayon art, because no creative decision was irreversible, and no portrait permanent. Besides, as Toy Rule #112 clearly states, things that stick to other things are cool.

In the early 1950’s, a company called Colorforms hit the educational toy market with their eponymous products. The original sets contained either basic shapes or letter and number decals—all in bright prime colors. The decals were made of paper-thin plastic, easy to press onto the Colorform playboard that came in the box, and just as easy to peel off. The sets were marketed as learning toys for ages three and up. A kid could get familiar with shapes, master the alphabet and his numbers…and if he had at it long enough, perfect various math and spelling skills too. In 1965, the smiley Miss Weather Colorforms set arrived, and it was here that the toy became humanized. Kids dressed their two-dimensional friend in clothes appropriate to any kind of climate situation.

Miss Weather was just the beginning. Soon, characters like Popeye and Sleeping Beauty, familiar to kids from books and television, found their way into the Colorform sets. The playboards became slick cardboard renditions of empty rooms or landscapes, and so in addition to experimenting with wardrobe, players could move the decals around and create different scenes. And soon there were sets devoted to more than just singular characters—whole casts from TV shows and movies materialized in decal form. The Colorforms licensing department hustled and bustled, and best selling sets included The Wizard of Oz, rock band KISS and The Green Hornet. If a TV show from the 70’s and 80’s boasted a hearty kid demographic, chances are there was a matching Colorform set.

Colorforms were low maintenance (if the decals became fussy— adhesively fussy that is—the playboard need only be wiped down), low cost, low risk…but high fun. There’s a press/peel artist inside of us all. It’s time to let him out.

Release History of Toy

1951 - original Colorforms sets
1962 - Miss Weather

Sub Categories of Toys

arts & crafts
tv tie-in

Toy and Game Manufacturer


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