When I was a kid, way back in the dinosaur days, we didn’t have computers or the internet or video games or cell phones or blah blah cool stuff blah blah. We had toys and records. That’s it. Oh yeah, and tv with 3 channels. Sometimes 4. There was no cable. There was this thing called UHF, but it never worked in our house. I don’t know why.
Sometimes I forget that I haven’t always had the modern electronic amenities. Not until I go back and look at old home movies. Not the kind on camcorder or video camera either. We had Super 8. You had to send them off to get developed and then watch them on a projector.
A lot of the toys that I had as a kid were dangerous. They could hurt you. Eventually, parents got sick of taking their kids to the emergency room or having to bury them, and complained. Enough of them must have complained because toys are supposedly safer now. Nowadays, if a kid gets hurt from a toy, it’s the toy company’s fault and they can be sued. Not so when I was a kid. If you got injured then it was your fault. It wasn’t even your parents fault.
I remember when I was about 12 or 13, kids were being hurt and permantly disabled because of Clackers. Clackers had a variety of names, i.e. Ker-Bangers. Where I lived they were called Clackers. Clackers were 2 hard plastic balls that were attached to a string. You would swing the string up and down so that the balls would bang against each other. They would make a CLACKING sound.
*CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK *
We would try to clack along in tempo to whatever song was on the radio. Sometimes the balls would chip or shatter, sending pieces of hard acrylic flying. If you got TOO crazy, one of the clacker balls might bonk you upside of the head. I was victim to both kinds of injuries. The flying shards of glass AND the bonks. The bonks usually produced huge purple knots on the forehead.
Eventually, Clackers were discontinued. They resurfaced in the 90s, only this time they were all plastic. There was no string. The handles were plastic triangles, which made it virtually impossible for the balls to become errant. What fun is that?
Another toy that left me with scars was those Thingmaker sets. I had the Creepy Crawlers, Creeple People and the Fighting Men. Creepy Crawlers is probably the best known of all the sets.
How it worked was this; You would put the plasticgoop in a metal bug mold. Plasticgoop was some kind of chemical liquid junk made out of I don’t know what. You would then put the mold on top of an electric hot plate oven. You would let it set on the oven for a while and then take it off. Let if cool, and VOILA!, a rubber bug. Or Soldier. Or whatever it was that came out of the mold you used.
Anyway, you could get burned if you touched the hot molds. Which I always did. Or you could get burned by hot plasticgoop. Which hurt like hell. One time my thingmaker oven quit working, so I started to take it apart. All while it was still plugged in.
In the early 90s, just like Clackers, Creepy Crawlers and all of its little Thingmaker friends made a brief comeback. This time with stricter safety regulations. The newer sets used high-powered light bulbs (like Easy Bake Oven), and had a heat triggered door that remained closed until it was sufficiently cooled.
From what I understand, Creepy Crawlers have made a comeback this Spring. Apparently, they are selling them again.
I should get one, huh.
P.S. BRING BACK CLACKERS!!!