The Thingmaker: Mattel’s vintage sets that let you mold Creepy Crawlers, Fun Flowers & other little toys with Plastigoop

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THINGMAKER toys from 1966 (1)

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.

Vintage Thingmaker toys were pretty basic — but could be so much fun. Kids would fill an aluminum mold from a squeeze bottle of some colorful plastic compound (that would undoubtedly be considered unsafe today), then would use a high-temperature heating element (estimated to get up to 440 degrees F) to cure the goop into the desired shape. The result: rubber bugs… and flowers, dragons, monsters, men, cars and more. (Want to see the candy version? Check out the Incredible Edibles maker.)

As columnist Dan Craft remembered in the Bloomington, Illinois Pantagraph newspaper in 2010, “for a 7-year-old recently graduated from Tinker Toys, the Thingmaker was practically a weapon of mass destruction.”

The toy that made toys used “bottles of luridly hued synthetic liquid known as Plastigoop — non-toxic in that very special way other chemicals were non-toxic back then,” he wrote. Then, “after reaching white heat, it baked the Plastigoop, which bubbled and sizzled and emitted a stench that some grown-up told us smelled ‘like the Devil baking a pie.'”Vintage aluminum Thingmaker molds (2) There were a dozen Thingmakers that used Plastigoop — 1965: Creepy Crawlers, Creeple Peeple & Fighting Men / 1966: Fright Factory & Fun Flowers / 1967: Mini-Dragons & Picadoos / 1968: Eeeeks! & Zoofie-Goofies / 1969: DollyMaker, Hot Wheels Factory, Super Cartoon Maker with Peanuts characters.

“For the next several years, our Thingmaker’s output was prodigious as bottle after bottle of Plastigoop was squeezed dry,” wrote Craft, “and hordes of wriggly synthetic bugs infested every nook and cranny of our lives.”

Despite such delight, Mattel stopped manufacturing the classic Thingmakers and Plastigoop in late 1972 or early 1973. Here are some vintage ads and packaging from the old toy’s heyday. Take a look!

Because boys like to make kooky things, and girls love pretty things, Mattel makes TRIPLE THINGMAKER

Triple Thingmaker for boys: Frightful Fun – Boys can create a triple supply of Creepy Crawlers, Mini Dragons and EEEEKS. Absolutely shockingly funny.

Triple Thingmaker for girls: Fancy Fun – Girls create a triple treat of Fun Flowers, Picadoos and Zoofie Goofies. Lovely, decorative and pretty.

Nov 14, 1969 Triple Thingmaker toys

Our Thingmakers make things. (Like Creepy Crawlers, Creeple Peeple, Fighting Men.)

A year ago, we invented the Creepy Crawlers Thingmaker. Now millions of boys and girls are making Creepy Crawlers, playing with Creepy Crawlers, even selling Creepy Crawlers.

This year, we’ve got two new Thingmakers. One makes Creeple Peeple. They’re kind of ugly, but lovable. And fun to wear, or stick on the end of a pencil. The other Thingmaker makes Fighting Men: whole armies of toy soldiers, and all their equipment.

There’s just one problem. We can’t figure out whether kids have more fun making toys with our Thingmakers, or playing with the toys they’ve made.

THINGMAKER toys from 1966 (2)

Silly Putty: The history of the stretchy, bouncy wonder toy of the 20th century

Thingmaker toys: Fright Factory, Creepy Crawlers, Fun Flowers

Vintage toys from November 1967 - Mattel (1)

Vintage Incredible Edibles maker: A toy that let you mold and color your own gummy candy

Vintage Fright Factory Thingmaker

Now you can be the monster you always wanted to be

Make all kinds of icky, sticky things to wear… bloodshot eyeballs, scars. mustaches, drooling lips, monster fangs, and more. You make them with Mattel’s new Fright Factory Thingmaker. It comes with a Thingmaker, molds, 4 colors of Plastigoop … everything you need to make yourself into a new monster every day.

And while you’re out scaring the neighborhood, why not fill it with slinky, creepy, ugly bugs and beetles and lizards and centipedes. The kind you make with Mattel’s famous Creepy Crawlers Thingmaker.

Text on eye: Cut out – Hold up to mirror – See what Mattel’s Fright Factory can do for you!

Vintage Thingmaker toys Fright Factory and Creepy Crawlers

Space Fidgit - the cosmic color-changing disc toy from the '70s and '80s

Boy’s World Thingmaker

3 frightfully funny toys in one! Mold hundreds of fantastic plastic things. Mini-Dragons, Fright Factory, Creepy Crawlers

Vintage Boy's World Thingmaker toy

Mattel’s Dollymaker – A Thingmaker Toy

Make pretty Plastigoop Dolls N Dresses!

Vintage Mattel Thingmaker Dollymaker toy

Flower-shaped non-slip bathtub decals - Rubbermaid appliques (1969-1974)

Vintage box: Zoofie Goofies Play-Pak

ONLY to be used with Mattel Thingmaker – Heating unit not included – For use only with genuine Mattel Plastigoop

Thingmaker Zoofie Goofies

A Thingmaker toy featuring FUN FLOWERS





Vintage Thingmaker Fun Flowers toy box

Mattel Thingmakers (1965)

If you could have only one toy in the world, what would it be? How about a toy that makes toys? You can get a Mattel Thingmaker that makes:

Creepy Crawlers – slinky (ugh!), creepy (arrgh!), bugs, beetles, frogs, bats, centipedes, and lizards. They all look almost real; got somebody you want to scare?

Or Fighting Men – make as many soldiers as you want! Pose ’em any way you like. Make all their equipment — rifles, machine guns, bazookas, tanks, and more!

Or Creeple Peeple – Make ’em yourself. They’re so ugly you’ll love them. Decorate pencils with them. Wear them as jewelry. Or just stare at them and shudder.

Make ’em. Trade ’em. Sell ’em.

Vintage Thingmaker toys - Creepy Crawlers and mroe

Lite-Brite: The beloved low-tech toy from the '60s, '70s & '80s that let us make glowing pictures with colored pegs

Vintage aluminum Thingmaker molds (1)

A Thingmaker accessory kit featuring Squirties

Make big black bugs that squirt water! Funny foolers with a built-in surprise SPLAT!

Thingmaker kit - Bugs

See how vintage Spirograph toys made it easy for anyone to draw amazing geometric designs

A Thingmaker accessory kit featuring Skeletons

Make dangly, wiggly skeletons! Torsos – arms – legs you link together! Complete with “ball anc chain”! Lots of funny bones. Glows in the dark. (Includes Plastigoop.)
Thingmaker Skeletons kit

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