Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Children can replicate their toys!

vacuform-front-of-box.jpg

This is a strong reason to be nostalgic of the past! According to Wikipedia, Vac-u-former was a toy made by Mattel in the 1960s. Based on the industrial process of vacuum forming, a square piece of plastic was clamped in a holder and heated over a metal plate. When the plastic was soft, the holder was swung to the other side, over a mold of the object to be formed. Then pressing a handle on the side of the unit created a vacuum, sucking the plastic down over the mold and shaping it to it. When the plastic cooled it solidified, making an impression of the item. Various molds came with the kit, but almost any small object could be used as a mold.

Because very hot surfaces were easily accessible to a child (or adult) playing with the toy, it probably could not be sold today ...

instructionsvacuform.jpg


Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

5 comments:

csven said...

I'm old enough to remember this and other "manufacturing" toys. Someone with whom I collaborate on occasion purchased one of these on eBay a few years ago and uses it to vac-form small parts for models and prototypes. I've been tempted, but haven't yet had the need.

In the event you're unfamiliar with it, Creepy Crawlers Thingmaker is another interesting DIY toy ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creepy_Crawlers ).

Mike T. said...

I had a Vac-U-Form when I was a kid, and I used the living daylights out of the thing. I was forever buying new molds and sheets of plastic for it. Don't remember what became of it.

Mike T. said...

I should add that the way it worked was, you put the sheet of plastic in the thing you see the boy lifting in his left hand, and flipped it on to the left-hand side (the boy's right) directly over the heating element. The mold then went on the other side. You checked for the right operating temperature and consistency by a very technical method: you poked the plastic sheet with something, like the eraser end of a pencil.

Once the plastic was soft enough, you flipped that flippy thing over, held it down with the left hand while pumpimg a handle furiously with the right hand to pump air out and pull the plastic down around the mold. The boy has his right hand on the vacuum pump handle. You had to do the whole thing really quickly, and you didn't have time to grin endearingly at your kid sister.

The Vac-U-Form was one of the most solid, industrial-strength toys I ever owned as a child. Say it with me -- "they don't make 'em like they used to."

Gordon said...

I tell you, that was the best "toy" I ever had. Wish I had one now....!

Paul said...

Burned the snot out of my finger on the heating pad. Lesson learned - no way I would do that again.

Not a chance the Feds would allow such a toy to be sold today, and if they did, the parents of the first kid who burned his finger like I did would sue Mattel for millions.