Upsy Downsy Baby
Synopsis of Toy
“One side’s up—the other side’s upside down!”
Woodstock? The Summer of Love? Psychedelia? The hippie sensibility didn’t just interpretive dance its way right through the adult world, man—it made its way into Toyland too. Case in point: Mattel’s Upsy Downsys, introduced in that uniquely mind-blowing year of 1969.
The line of yarn and plastic Upsy Downsys were all of about 2½ inches tall. Hard to say what they were, exactly—they weren’t quite human, but they weren’t inhuman either. Each little guy (for lack of a better label) came with a fold-open playland mat and accessories of the transportation ilk, like the Bugabout Car or the Airo Zoomer plane. And when the maps from several different models were laid out and pieced together—a process that probably took place right there on the green shag carpeting your mom took such an unsettling decorator’s pride in, by the way—when the pieces were fitted together properly, the whole ‘Upsy Downsy Happidiculous’ world was right there before your eyes!
The Upsys belonged to one family (that of the standing upright family clan), and the Downsys were typically found to work and play whilst inverted. But nobody cared what direction you liked best or what your particular gravitational pull was—everyone just grooved together, commune style. There was Gooey Chewey, with red and white yarn hair, bright blue eyes, blush and lipstick. There was Flossy Glossy with her Elewetter (an elephant fire truck hybrid, thank you very much), Downy Dilly with her Footmobile (which was powered podiatrically, a la the Flintstones), Tickle Pinkle, Pudgy Fudgy…it’s fun to imagine the meetings in which Mattel execs came up with those names. There were special carrying cases for the playland maps and the little guys, and Mattel also issued Upsy Downsy storybooks based on their characters—“Flossy Glossy and the Hard-to-Find Fire” being an example of just one of these tomes.
But you know, maybe the thing to remember about the Upsy Downsys isn’t their seeming connection to the hippie years that spawned them—maybe the thing to remember is that they were just really…well…really cute. Can you dig?