Really cool toy I used to have that your kids will never have

This morning I was walking by one of the labs, and my colleague Lucinda and some students were in there preparing a bunch of planting pots.  This procedure consists of poking holes in the bottoms of plastic cups such as one would have at a kegger.  They were using a soldering iron to do this, as it melts neat holes in them.

The thing was, the smell immediately brought back memories of this toy I used to have.  It was a Mattel Vac-U-Form.  You heated up a sheet of colored plastic on this metal block, then flipped it over onto a platform where you could put various forms.  Then you pumped a handle that created a vacuum, pulling the soft plastic down onto the form.  You could make all kinds of little cars and boats and stuff, and also little signs with raised letters.  I’d forgotten all about this thing.

I immediately asked Walt if he’d had one, and of course he had — we were very similar geeky little kids.  We were marveling at what a great toy it was, and also at the fact that this toy could never be sold today.  We were lucky enough to be around at just the right time — they had invented lots of cool stuff, and nobody had yet started worrying about whether we would burn our faces off with it.

6 Responses to “Really cool toy I used to have that your kids will never have”

  1. Matt says:

    I wish I had one of those. I didn’t have any dangerous toys (unless you happened to be one of the flies I trapped in the vacuum of my super soaker) but my cousins and I did manage to make a lot of our own.

  2. Allen says:

    Yeah, kids can always come up with horrifyingly dangerous stuff to do. There was a patch of woods in the next block from mine, and we found a stack of sheets of corrugated steel there. We spent all summer building forts out of heavy, rusty, sharp-edged pieces of steel. Great fun.

  3. Cabell says:

    Forget about burning your face off–I suspect melting plastic fumes aren’t great for you, either.

    Does anyone still have a chemistry set, or did Hannah put an end to that?

  4. Allen says:

    I don’t know about chemistry sets. Probably killed off a lot of little sisters over the years.

  5. K says:

    We didn’t have a personal vacuum former, but there was one in the technology department at school, complete with Darth Vader mask form. (No, I don’t know why, but it explained why there was never any black plastic sheeting left. Good times.)

    J and I were actually wondering just the other day whether we could get the use of one – he wants to make a housing for an electronic gadget he’s made. I suspect he may have to see if he can adapt a bit of plastic clamshell packaging instead, though.

  6. Reno says:

    Ah, invented toys. I still remember the day my brother found the lump of tar.

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