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Colorforms

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In the early 1950s, a company called Colorforms hit the educational toy market with their eponymous products.

The original sets contained basic shapes or letter and number decals, all in bright prime colours. The decals were made of paper-thin plastic, easy to press onto the Colorform playboard that came in the box, and just as easy to peel off.

The sets were marketed as learning toys for ages three and up, as kids could become familiar with shapes, master the alphabet and numbers and perfect various maths and spelling skills.

In 1965, the smiley Miss Weather Colorforms set arrived, and kids began to dress their two-dimensional friend in clothes appropriate to any kind of climate situation.

Miss Weather was just the beginning. Soon, characters like Popeye and Sleeping Beauty, familiar to kids from books and television, found their way into the Colorform sets. The playboards became slick cardboard renditions of empty rooms or landscapes, and so in addition to experimenting with wardrobe, players could move the decals around and create different scenes.

Soon there were sets devoted to more than just singular characters and whole casts from TV shows and movies materialised in decal form.

The Colorforms licensing department hustled and bustled, and best selling sets included The Wizard of Oz, rock band KISS and The Green Hornet. If a TV show from the 70s and 80s boasted a hearty kid demographic, chances are there was a matching Colorform set.

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