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July 16, 2004

Our very own Strange Change Machine

Warning! Useless Knowledge is eminent! Warning!

There used to be a toy in the late 60?s called the Strange Change Machine made by Mattel. The Strange Change Machine used hot air to cause a small cube of plastic to unfold into a small monster, insect, etc. After assaulting sisters and friends with the miniature menace you then stuck it back into the Strange Change Machine and compressed it back into a cube. (E-polymers rock!) Who says recycling is a new concept?

Obviously modern society cringes at the thought of something like this today. This was a toy that essentially was a stationary heat gun that used temperatures that would strip paint at a couple of yards to cause plastic to expand. (?Never mind the fumes son.?) For your safety Mattel was kind enough to include a pair of tiny plastic tongs to handle the molten plastic after it was heated. The first version of the Strange Change Machine included a plastic heat shield that the second version discarded all together. (?Too clumsy! Rip it out!?)

Here's a picture of what the box looked like:


How cool is that! This was your very own 3rd degree burn kit in a box! It makes the gash inflicting Evil Knievel toy I got for Christmas one year seem pale by comparison. How could a 9 year old boy standing in a toy section of his local department store not begin spasming uncontrollably when he beholds the ability to unleash these sorts of horrors on his family. It brings tear to my eye I tell you.

All of this just goes to prove that the Mattel of the 1960?s was a glorious company. Couple this with things like Hot Wheels and Major Matt Mason and you just stand amazed. Comparing it to the hollow mockery that bears the Mattel name today is like night and day. What once was the embodiment of California creativity has become a public concern trapped in an endless cycle of zombie like brand revival. Bah! Fools!

In that cruel twist of fate I never owned one of these. My neighbor Noel had one courtesy of her older brothers. (Care to guess what day she was born on?) I remember wanting it desperately but no such luck. Cruel, cruel world. If you know of one that works and needs a good home let me know. Jack MUST have one.

I know. Your eyes are starting to glaze over and you want to ask:

?What the heck does this have to do with your child??

Jack is starting to unfold. (Without the use of a stationary heat gun I might add.) His legs are getting straighter and he is stretching his arms and legs a lot. As he slowly looses the bowlegged cowpoke look he?s growing before my eyes. Every day he grows and changes it the most unexpected of ways.

I may not have had the original but our new Strange Change Machine beats the old one any day of the week.

(Many thanks to Fox's Strange Change Machine webpage for the picture. Highly recommended.)

Posted by Jim at July 16, 2004 03:58 AM