Friday, June 18, 2010

WTFriday?! 06-18-10 Colorforms Vs. Presto Magix: Toy Dramz!

Like a dog with a bone, I have been on this Presto Magix kick for a week now and will be until the PMs I ordered from eBay arrive. I've uncovered a few additional items I'd like to share.

This is an ad they ran targeting retailers, to get them to carry the merchandise. I certainly recall the counter top merchandiser they show, as that was my first exposure to this wonderful product. (Magic Market on the corner of my street! Scooby Doo was the first one I ever got!) I never saw the spinner rack though. Most stored probably didn't expect to sell THAT many of them. Oh man! If I saw that today, I'd drop dead from a heart attack! For one thing, there just isn't that much info on the internet about these, so I'd love to find out just how many different properties were part of the series.
One thing I will say is it appears this was mostly targeted at boys. I suppose cartoons like The Flintstones and Bugs Bunny could appeal to girls as well, but it isn't like today where you have certain properties that specifically appeal to girls. Then again, looking back, with the exception of Barbie, I don't think there WERE properties aimed at girls until Strawberry Shortcake came along and PMs began before that.

Here is a closeup of the instructions. Note how you are supposed to removed the backing paper. VERY important step.
Here is an unadorned background onto which you transferred your rub-ons.
And here is a look at what a sheet of transfers looked like. COINCIDENTALLY, this Spider-Man set is the exact same one I FORGOT to remove the backing paper from, leaving just his villains running amok on NYC.
It's kinda neat that they allowed you to determine how to pose Dr. Octopus' metal tentacles, however, I don't think I knew who he was at the time or that those were his tentacles, so I probably slapped them someplace random. I don't like how you were responsible for applying the Daily Bugle sign. Kid's aren't very precise, so that would have looked all wonky. Hopefully, seeing this, you can imagine the good times that lay ahead upon opening one of these little cellophane packages!

Here is an example of a completed Superman PM:
Here is a Batman set:
'Twould appear that the creator of the Batman set only used like 15% of the rub-ons in the set! Lame! I always used every single one on my sheet. It probably looked cluttered, but I was getting the most out of my PM experience!

These apparently lasted longer than I realized, as here is a Jem set from the late 80s:
Awwwww HELL! GLITTER transfers?! How was I not aware of these, considering how much I loved Presto Magix AND Jem?! And glitter for that matter?! (Sigh, wish list.)

Presto Magix were like the cheaper, permanent version of Colorforms. What are Colorforms?

They came in a box and consisted of a laminated background and little slick plastic pieces that you could apply to create fun action scenes. They were literally HOURS of fun! Throw me in the back seat of the family car with a new set of Colorforms and I was silent all the way to Florida. (The only place we ever went on vacation.)
Colorforms began LONG before I was born, as evidenced by this set featuring The Beatles:
And Twiggy:And like Presto Magix, lasted longer than I realized:
Thanks for ruining them! Fucking Urkel.

They made Colorforms of like EVERY property to come along that appealed to kids. (And some, like Brave Star that, didn't appeal to anyone. Wah waaaaah! Brave Star sucked.)
I should also point out that there were different kinds. As I mentioned, most of them were backgrounds upon which you placed characters and their props and such:
But for girls, they also did "paper doll"-esque dress-up kits.
This set featuring Donny & Marie was kind of a cross between the two styles:
I didn't recall this until I saw pics, but Colorforms weren't in full-color.They were like one color with an accent color. They were also pretty crudely rendered. But kids are stupid, so I never thought to find fault with them. They were still amazing and like I said, guaranteed hours of adventuring!
Some, like this Spider-Man set came with multiple Spider-Man clings, in various poses, so you could progress the story as you went along. However, others, like this one featuring the Super Friends...
...featured the characters, um... chopped into pieces... you could mix and match them into different poses. Also, I wasn't aware that Wonder Woman was such an accomplished fire baton twirler. MUST acquire this set! The background actually looks like it came straight from the cartoon!

Like Presto Magix, Colorforms created lame educational editions:
Ugh. The most fun this set could offer was sticking the brain on the figure's crotch.

And some Colorforms were NEITHER educational NOR fun:
So in doing my "research" (wasting time on the internet), I discovered, dun, DUN, DUUUUNNNN... Colorforms RUB-ONS!
They even made rub-on transfers that you made into stand up "figurines."
That is exactly what I always imagined went on backstage at KISS concerts. Sitting around making crafty toys.
Sorry this pic is so small, but I TOTALLY had this Spider-Man Rub'N'Play set:
I remember Dr. Strange and the Sub-Mariner being part of it... and not knowing who they were. I think I thought they were bad guys. I also think you had to color them, then rub them on, but I might be getting them confused with Shrinky Dinks. (Well, now I guess I know what my NEXT blog'll be about!)

But wait! Not only did Colorforms get all up in Presto Magix's rub-on transfer bizznazz, but...
Presto Magix started copying Colorforms, making plastic cling toys!
Such blatant knocking-off! How did they get away with it? Also... why did either stop? Did kids just stop finding them interesting? I don't see how! As strange and seemingly lame as they might seem, I effing loved them and I'm sure other people did too, as they made a bazillion different kinds, for every taste! Then they made Urkel and I guess ruined them for all time, so they ceased.

Maybe I should launch my own revivals! Presto Forms! Coming soon! (Not really.)


  1. OMG! I TOTALLY remember Presto Magix now!! It was that little example wizard that did it. I would kill for those Rainbow Brite Rub n Play transfers! And I got the Strawberry Shortcake Presto Magix Colorforms at an antique show!

  2. I remember when you got them! By the way, the Presto Magix arrived and the Batman one looks WAY shitty! It's Batman and Robin and a bunch of civilians. BOO! Give me some super villains to work with here! I don't want to rub-on Joe Nobody running away from the action!

  3. I have very vivid memories of that spinner rack at the local U-Tote-M convenience store.

    Wacky Wafers, beef jerky, and Presto Magix were how I spent many an evening after t-ball practice.