Synopsis of Toy
Before the desired professions were doctor, fireman, lawyer or astronaut, the artist inside each one of us told us we were going to be the next Michelangelo, thanks to the sculptural sensation of that moldable modeling compound, Play-Doh. The kid-friendly clump was much more malleable than marble, but hey, we all need to start somewhere.
The universally-loved Play-Doh has been making hands happy since 1956, when Joe McVicker created a soft modeling clay from wallpaper paste for his sister’s pre-school students. The moldable dough, which stayed soft and safe inside an airtight container, could be shaped into almost anything, and then squashed back into a ball for round two. Rainbow Crafts in Cincinnati, Ohio sold the simple off-white, newly dubbed Play-Doh to department stores and primary schools, and it was soon adopted by Kenner.
Play-Doh was so popular that three primary colors—red, yellow and blue—were created in addition to plain off-white. Play-Doh received the stamp of approval from TV’s Miss Frances of Ding Dong School, from Captain Kangaroo himself, and most importantly, from parents. The non-toxic, fun for all ages goop kept kids quiet and fueled imaginations, as Play-Doh was painstakingly sculpted and shaped into masterpieces by hand, or with the help of its many molding sets.
The charming boy in the smock and beret, Play-Doh Pete, made his first appearance on the can in 1960, and has remained the Play-Doh mascot for over forty years. Within that time, Play-Doh has delivered endless hours of fun and artistry via the squishy, squashy mound of colored dough that became the greatest thing since Silly Putty, and even better.
Kids made cars, cookies, dolls and just about anything the imagination could conjure up. And of course, if all this fun needed more fun, the “Fun Factory” could turn little girls and boys into industrial moguls, churning out tubes, snakes, and spaghettis as fast as possible with their new Play-Doh machine. The simple pump action pushed the pliable Play-Doh through specially shaped holes, extruding a lump of Play-Doh into stringy star-shaped, square-shaped, and squiggly-shaped tubes.
And once kids got a kick out of the Fun Factory, they tried their hands at hairstyling and trimming via the Fuzzy Pumper Barber and Beauty Shop. The whole Play-Doh family—tube shaped Mom, Pop, and child—got a little off the top, or a whole new do. Short hair, long hair, green hair, yellow hair—try it on for size, and if it doesn’t suit you, cut it off and get back in the chair for a new look in hair. A Fuzzy Pumper Monster set gave kids the best of both worlds: creepy monsters and squishy, growing blue hair.
If being a barber didn’t curl your toes, what about practicing for dentistry with Dr. Drill ‘n Fill, your very own patient with Play-Doh teeth? Actually, it was just a big hinged head that opened wide to expose a mouthful of teeth needing your care, but that didn't stop the fun. Fill cavities, create crowns, and restore the smile to perfection; or, for the junior sadists, rip those teeth out with a twist and a yank from the Play-Doh pliers.
Food has always been a natural product of Play-Doh, from the early days when little girls did their best Mom imitations and made elaborate cookies for everyone’s delight. (Just don’t eat them—they don’t taste as good as Mom’s...too salty). But the cooks in training didn’t stop at the simple rolling pin and cookie cutters stolen from the kitchen cabinet. Play-Doh provided the Play-Doh Bakery and Chef’s Oven, the Pizza Party and Sandwich Shop, and the Ice Cream Truck, for all your culinary needs. Imagination and artistic food preparation not your forte? Let the McDonaldland Happy Meal Playshop recreate all your favorite fixings, made to order.
In 1983, Play-Doh enhanced its image by adding four new fashion colors to create the modern (now called "Classic") 8-pack. The cardboard cups were replaced with airtight plastic containers in 1986, and in 1991, Play-Doh became an official member of the Hasbro family. The traditional Play-Doh concoctions got a modern update with glow-in-the-dark color, sparkling glitter addition, and Play-Doh’s comforting smell got new scents with Funshine Sunshine, Splurple and Pinktastic.
Kids in the 90’s needed more than clumps of clay to entertain them, and Hasbro’s Playskool introduced Play-Doh Creations, an interactive computer CD-ROM game that brought virtual Play-Doh sculpting to the screen. But there's still nothing like getting your fingers between the squishy stuff and making something you can feel. So then came a whole new array of textures like sandy, wet and furry for the Seaside, Swamp and Jungle playsets, respectively. And don’t forget to carry the Fun Cutter with you, an oversized Swiss Army style knife—an absolutely indispensable tool for all of your Play-Doh needs.
Stored in an airtight plastic container with a resealable top, Play-Doh can potentially live forever. But a forgetful sleepover with Mr. Air will harden it, and remember that the colors, once mixed together, can’t be separated. A bout of Serat-esque behavior could potentially spoil your bright pristine colors into a spotted, dull clump.
Play-Doh remains as popular today as it was yesterday, thanks to the partnerships between Play-Doh and kids’ favorites characters, shows and food. Corporate tie-ins introduced the Star Wars, Sesame Street and Peanuts characters, Taco Bell, and even included a Play-Doh [ty1048]Mr. And Mrs. Potato Head. Can’t afford all the glorious toys that Play-Doh has to offer? Don’t worry, just get the Play-Doh Cut ‘n Play Wallet, and make yourself some dough.
Release History of Toy1956 - Play-Doh hits the shelf
1957 - Play-Doh 4-pack makes up the primary color palette
1959 - Play-Doh 'Wood-Doh' from Captain Kangaroo
1960 - Play-Doh Pete dons smock and apron, and becomes the mascot
1960 - Fun Factory becomes first in a long line of pump machines
1971 - Fuzzy Pumper Barber Shop, Press 'n Play
1972 - Oddkins Monsters
1973 - Six Million Dollar Man set (followed by Bionic Woman)
1978 - Star Wars action set
1983 - Play-Doh Rainbow 8-pack
1991 - Hasbro adopts Play-Doh from Kenner
1996 - Play-Doh goes smelly with Funshine Sunshine, Splurple 1997 - Fuzzy Pumper Barber shop reintroduced.
1998 - McDonaldland, Pizza Party, Ice Cream playshop