Creepy Crawlers were the first species to emerge from Mattel’s ‘Thingmaker‘ concept – other do-it-yourself kits would follow in the decades to come, like the Incredible Edibles and the Custom Car Factory.
The Creepy Crawler set came with an oven, a cooling pan, tongs, different colours of “plastigoop”, and metal moulds. In some of the sets, Crawler accoutrements like feathers and clear plastic cut-out wings were included, which could be glued onto your creations.
Pour the goop into the moulds and, using the tongs, insert them into the oven and start watching the nearest clock. And we mean watching that clock because if the moulds were cooked too long, you were scraping them out for days; if they weren’t in there long enough, you were faced with a semi-shapeless sticky mass of who-knows-what . . .
But if you had a good sense of timing – and if you obediently removed the moulds and gave them their little hydrotherapy respite in the cooling pan like the directions told you to – then a perfectly rubbery model was yours.
And get a load of some of the Crawler options: toads, ticks, spiders, beetles, stinkbugs, octopuses, cockroaches, caterpillars, bees and moths.
If you had a fondness for things that spun, stung, lived under rocks or skittered across kitchen floors, this was just the thing for you.
Of course, the manufacture of Creepy Crawlers wasn’t without its potential for pain. Sometimes the moulds didn’t slide out of the oven with the ease that they slid in with, and sometimes those tongs just weren’t handy when the mould was ready for its exit – so once in a while, you reached into the oven and had at it with your bare hands.
Anyone who worked extensively in the goop medium has a few minor burn stories under their belts – this was a real oven that was plugged into a real electrical outlet, after all, and electricity never had any time for empathy, even when it’s a very gifted goop-craftsman that needs it. Oh well. They say you have to suffer for your art.