Kids Love Bugs and Other Disgusting Things
Original Creepy Crawlers and the Thingmaker
One of my all time favorite toys, when I was a kid, was Creepy Crawlers. Made by Mattel, it was a set of metal molds you could cook up your own creepy frogs, bugs and snakes in.
My brothers and I used to love it, but it's a wonder we didn't burn the house down. I did burn my fingers on it many times, I don't think the design would ever be allowed for a toy today.
The metal molds were filled with "Plastigoop" and cooked on an open hotplate called a "Thingmaker," then when they were done you used a removable wire handle to pick the mold up and place it in a tray of water to cool. The hotplate got very hot, and boy did that water sizzle with you dropped the hot mold in.
Once cooled, the kids used a sharp pick-like tool to remove the creatures from the mold.
These are the Creepy Crawlers I Remember
Even though I burned myself a few times with this toy, it was really a lot of fun. Making the bugs was the best part.
I think the metal handle was really the main problem. It was metal, so it got hot if you cooked the critters with it already attached, and trying to get it into the little slots on the hot mold wasn't easy. Of course we could have unplugged the thingmaker and waited for it to cool, but that's not what kids do.
Photo of Vintage Mattel Creepy Crawlers Set
Above is a photo of the old Mattel Creepy Crawlers set. You can see the Thingmaker, the molds and the metal handle, the goop, and the sharp little pick we used to get the bugs out of the molds is sitting in the water tray. There are even a few completed bugs at the bottom of the photo.
Thanks very much to simonscomics, from ebay for allowing me to use his photo.
Old Creepy Crawlers Commercial
This was just the kind of thing to whet a kids appetite. After we saw it we just couldn't wait to be the first kids on the block to get our hands on this toy!
Vintage Creepy Crawlers Commercial
Mattel and Creepy Crawlers
Creepy Crawlers was first introduced by Mattel in 1964. Over the years many new sets of molds were added, so kids could make flowers, action figures, scars for their face, Creeple People (you could assemble different combinations of body parts into troll-like creatures) even dolls and fashion accessories. At one point there was an edible Gobble-de-goop so kids could eat their Creepy Crawlers.
Around 1970 Creepy Crawlers were discontinued by Mattel. In the late 70s a new version of Creepy Crawlers, featuring "Thingmaker II' was introduced. It was safer, but didn't work so well and was not very successful. Creepy Crawlers faded away once again.
The Return of Creepy Crawlers
In 1992 ToyMax Company resurrected Creepy Crawlers, going back to the metal molds and Plastigoop, but replacing the Thingmaker with a "Magicmaker." The Magicmaker was an oven-like device that heated with a light bulb, it had a door that latched automatically and stayed locked until the mold was cool.
ToyMax reintroduced many of the same lines of molds as the original Mattel Creepy Crawlers. They introduced Plastigoop with many new colors, scents and sparkles. Gradually the company ran out of steam, going under in 2001.
Jakks-Pacific took over making Creepy Crawlers after ToyMax went out of business. Their version of the toy is much the same as the ToyMax model.
In 2010, Jakks-Pacific created an injection mold Creepy Crawler set. Initially it was made exclusively for Toys "R" Us, but now is available in other stores.
New, Safer Creepy Crawlers
These new versions of old Creepy Crawlers are much safer than the one I used to play with. However, they still include plenty of disgusting fun stuff.
This Creepy Crawler set works better one of the two I have shown here. The molds slide into an oven, kind of like the old easy bake oven. It cooks with a light bulb and stays locked until it cools off. Be forewarned though, you need to buy a 40 watt chandelier bulb, that doesn't have a tip, separately.
Mega Bug Maker
Even though this set looks really cool, and you can make wall-walking bugs and gut filled bugs that squish, I can't really recommend it. It works differently than the one above, it uses batteries. It's an injection mold and there are lots of complaints about how you have to put the molds in vertically and the goop leaks out.
What was your favorite toy when you were a kid? - Do kids still play with it today?
Nathan M from Tucson on September 13, 2014:
My favorite toy was probably the Electric football game since I was sport obsessed (although I could never figure out how to get it to work properly). But I got more that a few burned fingers making creepy crawlers as well.
sybil watson on August 03, 2013:
My favorite toy was Kiddles - the little dolls that came encased in plastic shells. My Kiddles always played with my troll dolls. I loved Creepy Crawlers too, as well as Shrinky Dinks - isn't it amazing that we were allowed to play with toys that required hot metal and ovens?
CrazyHomemaker on July 31, 2013:
I always wanted Creepy Crawlers, but I got an Easy Bake Oven. A 2nd grade boyfriend (NOT! Boys had cooties!) put some in my desk because I wouldn't be his girlfriend. I liked playing Mr. Potato Head or Cootie. Cool lens.
blestman lm on May 30, 2013:
My friend had Creepy Crawlers and I loved it. my mother didn't want me to have it because she didn't want bugs that looked real around the house. Oh well.
Sanfay on May 29, 2013:
I used to have Creepy Crawlers when I was young. It was my favorite toy. My dad actually used them as fishing lures.
shewins (author) on May 23, 2013:
@anonymous: Ooh, Mousetrap was a good one! I loved Barbie too, I had Midge. Troll dolls were hot in my neighborhood too.
anonymous on May 23, 2013:
Mouse Trap is my hubbies favorite...we are going through all of the cool pop culture pages and having a blast!
I was a Barbie girl.
shewins (author) on May 22, 2013:
@RationalHedonist: Creepy Crawlers did have the Gobble-de-goop for a while, so you could make edible bugs, but I think I remember the Incredible Edibles, I never had one, but I remember the advertising.
RationalHedonist on May 22, 2013:
Oh, my bad! I just looked it up. What I had was Incredible Edibles! But I think they are still tied in with Creepy Crawlers. Anyway, thanks for the memories!
RationalHedonist on May 22, 2013:
I had one of these when I was a kid, a Creepy Crawler Thing Maker but it was a big monster mouth you opened to put in the molds. I remember the original had odd flavors like mint and even butterscotch. My favorite was the centipede - which come to think of it, was probably the first gummy worm :)
Takkhis on May 22, 2013:
I don't hate insects much, it is not a bad idea for having a Mattel Creepy Crawlers Set :)
Jogalog on May 21, 2013:
I would love to make these, never mind waiting till my daughter is old enough for me to make them with her!
shewins (author) on May 21, 2013:
@CaztyBon: Yeah, I love that commercial. I remember it so well, the creepy voice "spider rings."
shewins (author) on May 21, 2013:
@Gaby81: Well, since they do love them rubber bugs are a good option :) Thanks for reading and commenting.
Gaby81 on May 20, 2013:
Don`t understand why children love bugs and bring them home. They`re prettier outside and far away.
CaztyBon on May 17, 2013:
I remember Creepy Crawler never owned one but I remember the commercial. great lens.
Nathan M from Tucson on May 17, 2013:
Ehhh...What's a burnt finger or two if you could make all these creepy insects, frogs, and scorpions to annoy others with. Well worth it really.
Katie Hazel on May 13, 2013:
My brother has a ton of these as a kid, and I always helped him make it. I enjoyed reading about this, because I had forgotten all about them. I remember the commercials really well too. Great pop culture topic!
PaigSr from State of Confusion on May 11, 2013:
I have at least one child that would enjoy creating bugs. And to answer your question for me one of my favorites was Lego's and yes my kids still play with my sets that I played with and have kept just for that reason.
Kimberly Schimmel from Greensboro, NC on May 10, 2013:
Hooray for fun toys before the helicopter moms ruined everything! We loved everything we could make with our Goop. And we had enough sense not to touch the hot mold. Also had an EasyBake oven.
shewins (author) on May 08, 2013:
@anonymous: I'm guessing you're a bit younger than I. Big wheels are great, my son had one, they're way better than the tricycle I used to have. I see that big wheels are still around.
anonymous on May 08, 2013:
I really liked my Big Wheel. I was faster then the Road Runner in it!