Mattel’s 1967’s Strange Change toy was designed for all would-be mad scientists. The sad fact of the matter for myself however is that I was born a little too late to see this on the toy shelves. Furthermore I didn’t even know about the Strange Change time machine until just a few months back.
I was creating a post for the Saturday Frights Facebook Page, looking up some vintage monster toys. Which is of course how I happened upon an article from Boing Boing. I didn’t waste any time attempting to find a TV commercial, so I might see the toy in action.
[Via] Muttley 16
A couple of things spring to mind after watching that commercial. In the first place, they would never make this toy today. As the Strange Change time machine unit was capable of extreme heat. That is how the Time Capsule is able to reveal the creature hidden within.
Not to mention the need for the included tweezers so that children could safely handle their newly freed beastie. The range of creatures appear to have been everything from robots, monsters, and dinosaurs.
Of course the Lost World was the focus of the Strange Change machine. So naturally dinosaurs were the focus.
When a young mad scientist was finished with their discovery. They would place the creature back into the Expansion Chamber, so it would warm up. Then, using the tweezers of course, they would stuff it into the Compression Chamber. Cranking the heavy metal handle to squeeze it back into a Time Capsule.
Image courtesy of Boing Boing.
I have looked on eBay and the prices for a working toy…are very expensive. While the Strange Change machine was only on the market for a year. It appears that in this case it was a well built toy. And while I am saddened that I probably won’t be playing with one in the near future. At the very least I can take some small amount of comfort that I was around for the Mad Scientist Monster Lab!
Read: The Mad Scientist Monster Lab
My streak of good luck at thrift shops and flea markets continued with this awesome little record playing toy, Mattel Instant Replay. Today if you want to check out some great instant replays from your favorite sports star, it’s as easy as pulling them up on YouTube or an ESPN App. However, back in the early 70s when I was a kid it was a little more difficult. You could wait for the sports report on your local TV station, or read about it the next day in the newspaper.
One day at school a friend of mine had a group of kids gathered around him while he was playing what I thought was a transistor radio. Turns out it was this Mattel Instant Replay toy. It plays tiny records on the battery-powered player. There were many different record sets you could purchase too. All featuring great audio clips of the biggest sports stars of the day.
I never got one of these as a kid, but grabbed this one up at a flea market at a great price. I tossed in one “D” cell battery and fired it up. After all this time, the little record player inside still works. The sound is a little noisy, but that is to be expected from a toy that is over 45 years old!
Watch a demo of Mattel Instant Replay
As I’ve mentioned on the site before, when it came to transforming toy lines my heart was always with Hasbro’s The Transformers. Which might be why I overlooked the Computer Warriors toys from Mattel back in 1989…even though now I certainly wished I could have at least picked up the Pepsi transforming hover jet playset!
The Computer Warriors story finds that a government computer has malfunctioned and it is producing an evil army of viruses, their leader Megahert manages to guide his minions into the real world to begin the take over of all computer systems. Thankfully the same computer realizes it’s mistake and programs four heroic antiviruses dubbed the Computer Warriors, led by Romm, to dispatch the evil Megahert and his cohorts before they can take over the world.
To make sure their activities are not discovered in the real world both forces learn to hide in common objects of the day as in the already mentioned Pepsi can, a soccer trophy, flashlight, pencil sharpener, calculator, digital desk clock, a book entitled “Invasion of the Viruses”, and even a desktop computer.
There was even a special animated movie produced for the toy line and since it’s a Mattel production you might even spot a familiar figure hidden in a toy chest. For your viewing pleasure is Computer Warriors: The Adventure Begins!
“Pepsi Can Transform!”
Reading through a Mattel dealer brochure on OrangeSlime.com, I found this for the Mad Scientist toys, circa. 1987. I can’t recall the toy line at all, which is a shame as I think the Monster Lab, from the video below, looks incredible and is definitely something that I would have wanted as a young boy!
I did a little digging on the toys available and there were quite a lot that I would have enjoyed including the Eyeball Maker, Dissect-an-Alien and the Glowing Glob.
As well as the toys, two Mad Scientist cartoons were produced in 1988. Experiment in Error and Night of the Living House are 15 minutes a piece and quite fun, especially the theme tune which is unmistakeably 80’s.
It’s always good fun browsing through old toy catalogues, especially when you find something that you’ve not heard of before. The GUTS! toy line in the image above, found at the always cool Orange Slime website, is one such find.
Released in 1986, these action figures failed to sell in high volume against competitors like M.U.S.C.L.E. and Battle Beasts, and so died out. I think they look really good, and there is an impressive number of models, split between ninja’s and army troops.
For more information, there is a great article over on the X-Entertainment website.