Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I was just brushing my teeth and for some reason I suddenly had an olfactory memory of the Goop from my Thingmaker Fun Flowers from about 1969 or 1970. My brother had the Creepy Crawlers Thingmaker. Now THIS was from the time when a toy was a toy, and so much more exciting because there was the added element of risk: electricity, and a boiling-hot little baking tray to cook your little deadlies on.

These days, the fun of toys is utterly quashed by a generous girding of foam-padded safety rails and low-voltage battery operations. How is a kid supposed to learn about life and that sometimes a person needs to be careful? Gosh, no wonder people are so disturbed these days!

Anyway, I'd love to get a whiff of that Goop one more time - it had an interesting smell, and I always loved the excitement of making my big useless rubbery flowers in dayglo pinks and oranges. Perhaps my obsession with wonky, flamboyant beads stems from just such experiences, that and being born smack in the middle of the sixties. Who knows?

Anyway, this over-child-proofing of toys reminds me of what John Waters always said about all the padding and gear that football players wear: "What's the point of all that violence if you're prepared for it?"

Yeah, kids need to break stuff, learn how not to break stuff, and even have the occasional boo boo. This way they won't be so helpless in a big scary world.

8 comments:

Rabbit said...

OOOoooh....Vac-U-Forms and Thingmakers!

I think my old Thingmaker is up in the garage at Mom's house. She's making noises about building a new house and wants me to come collect a bunch of stuff at Thanksgiving. Seems to me like I saw bottles of Goop somewhere in Dallas a couple of years ago, but off the top of my head I can't recall where. I'll invest a few cycles and see if I can recall for you.

If I have any to spare in the attic I'll share!

Regards,
Rabbit.

Meg Nakagawa said...

I never knew there was a flower kit as well; this kid Peter used to give me purple spiders, and I thought... why? Though, you know the wrist rests and the other soft spongy stuff you're supposed to put near your keyboard to help you? They kind of feel like the Goop, dontcha think?

turboslut said...

I have been reminising about the things I had as a kid. I will search ebay for hours trying to find the same toys I had as a kid so that mine can share in my enthusiasm. Unfortunatly, when my kids get a gift like this they look at me like i'm scum for giving them such a crap gift. Toys just aren't as good as we remember them. I say remember the old days fondly and don't ruin it all by seeking out these things again.

Myron said...

Bikes and skates and no helmets or elbow pads or knee pads. I had a little radio once that had a metal case. Not a battery powered one, either. Oh, and pointy scissors. The kind that "will put your eyes out if you're not careful". And we played soccer on a gravel playground. And "touch" football. And got in rock fights not far from school on the way home. And went out to the Big Elm Fork of the Trinity River and went swimming with no adults around. Must be a true blue miracle that my generation survived to adulthood.

Anonymous said...

I had shrinky dinks that went into a 350 degree oven. Scary stuff!

My chemistry set was full of toxic chemicals and we didn't have bike helmets either.

Like Myron said, it's a wonder we are still alive

Fathairybastard said...

Two words... Lawn Darts!

Jacquie said...

I love remembering childhood toys..especially how the 70's was better and a little dangerous.
You have inspired me..hope I can find a picture of my favorites.

phlegmfatale said...

rabbit - good memories, eh? Of all the crap me mum kept, Thingmaker was not one of them!

meg - those wrist-rests DO feel like Goop!

turboslut - yeah, I agree- it's better just to leave them in the mind's eye and remember them, rather than see them now with your twenty-first century critical vision - but for back then, they were pretty neat.

myron - these days you'd get some kind of disease swimming in the Trinity. Flesh eating bacteria, or somesuch. No telling. Yeah, a wonder any of us survived.

hammer - yup, a marvel. Someone let you handle chemicals? Well, maybe you had a lick of sense, which they're not front-loading on kids these days.

fathairybastard - I'm picturing a pierced foot. YEAH!

jacquie - Yup, 70's toys were something to look forward to. ANd if I remember correctly, it was always a challenge to find out what mischief one could get up to with them before they broke or mom took them away or whatever. Adventure!