Synopsis of Toy
Before flowers from the neighbor’s yard and boxes of melty chocolate, little boys were known to give Creepy Crawlers to the girls they had crushes on. Oh, don't wrinkle your nose...nothing says “maybe we can hang out at recess” like a fistful of Crawlers. And here's an added bonus: they last a whole lot longer than flowers or chocolate anyway.
Creepy Crawlers were the first species to emerge from Mattel’s Thingmaker concept—other do-it-yourself kits would follow in the decades to come, like the Incredible Edibles, the Custom Car Factory (cars made of ‘plasti-steel’) and the movie tie-in Toy Story set, in which legions of little green army men could be whipped out and pitted against each other, or against some other mutinous toy in your collection. But enough with the new-fangled—we're here to talk about the critters.
The Creepy Crawler set came with an oven, a cooling pan, tongs, different colors of ‘plasti-goop,’ and metal molds. In some of the sets, Crawler accoutrements like feathers and clear plastic cutout wings were included, which could be glued onto your creations. Pour the goop into the molds and, using the tongs, insert them into the oven and start watching the nearest clock. And we mean watching that clock, because if the molds were cooked too long, you were scraping them out for days; if they weren’t in there long enough, you were faced with a semi-shapeless sticky mass of who-knows-what. But…if you had a good sense of timing and bake-sensibility, if you obediently removed the molds and gave them their little hydrotherapy respite in the cooling pan like the directions told you to, then a perfectly rubbery model was yours (along with the title of “Master Crawler-Maker,” we might add).
Sure, it took some practice and not a little discipline, but the end result was worth it. And get a load of some of the Crawler options: toads, ticks, spiders, beetles, stinkbugs, octopuses, cockroaches, caterpillars, bees and moths. If you had a fondness for things that spun, stung, lived under rocks or skittered across kitchen floors, this was just the thing for you.
Of course, the manufacture of Creepy Crawlers wasn’t without its potential for pain. Sometimes the molds didn’t slide out of the oven with the ease that they slid in with, and sometimes those tongs just weren’t handy when the mold was ready for its exit…so once in a while, you reached into the oven and had at it with your bare hands. Anyone who worked extensively in the goop medium has a few minor burn stories under their belts—this was a real oven that was plugged into a real electrical outlet, after all, and electricity never had any time for empathy, even when it’s a very gifted goop-craftsman that needs it. Oh well. They say you have to suffer for your art.
So sit down, be careful and be patient, and always use the tongs. You're in the creation trade now: you're a mini-Mother Nature, you're a little Creepy Crawler factory and your product is wormy creatures, churned out one after the other. Give them to a girl, lay a few out on the kitchen counter to get a rise out of your Grandma who’s in from out of town, or just keep adding and adding to your private shoebox collection. No matter what your Grandma says (and she never had a real appreciation for entomology anyway), the Crawlers are works of art