The Thingmaker was the coolest toy ever


One of my favorite toys as a kid was Creepy Crawlers. Introduced in 1964 by Mattel, it was a kit that let you make rubber insects, spiders, snakes, lizards etc. It came with a set of metal molds, squeeze bottles of liquid plastic called Plastigoop, and an electrically-powered, 390 degrees Fahrenheit open-face hot plate called the Thingmaker to cure the Plastigoop. It's the kind of toy that would be deemed to dangerous today because of the high heat and shocking hazard (the kit came with a mold cooling tray that you filled with water and placed next to the Thingmaker).

I may have gotten a couple of first-degree burns using Creepy Crawlers, but I never regretted it. It would occupy my friends and me for hours at a time. My kids would have loved the Thingmaker as much as I did.

The Fright Factory was an especially cool Thingmaker toy. It was a kit that let you make macabre prosthetics: scars, long fingernails, a third eye, a diseased tongue, fangs, etc.

Nightflight's Bryan Thomas has a good article about the history of the Thingmaker line of toys, with lots of images. And Bob Knetzger wrote a terrific article about Mattel's line of DIY Toys for MAKE.

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MPAA loves fair use so much they don't want to share it with the rest of the world

The Hollywood studios always claim to be "pro-fair-use" but when the US Trade Representative made a move to put fair use into the Trans Pacific Partnership, the MPAA sent a scathing, furious letter to the Obama administration condemning "the inclusion of fair use' in free trade agreements" as "extremely controversial and divisive." Read the rest

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NSA conducted commercial espionage against Japanese government and businesses

New leaked documents published by Wikileaks show that the US spy agency conducted surveillance operations against Japan's top government officials, prioritizing finance and trade ministers, as well as the Japanese central bank and two private-sector energy companies. Read the rest

Rare look at how big business defends "Investor State Dispute Settlements"

ISDSes are the most controversial element of secret trade deals like TPP and TTIP: they let giant international corporations sue countries to repeal environmental, safety and labor laws that interfere with their profitability. Read the rest

If David Lynch made a platform game, it might look like Strawberry Cubes

Enter a red-hued glitch dream where you explore your grandmother's house to find seeds, skeletons, frogs and songs by Patsy Cline.

State Department willing to overlook Malaysia's mass graves for the sake of TPP

The fast-track bill rammed through Congress last month lets the president walk right into any trade deal he wants, so long as it's with countries that have decent human rights records. Read the rest

Sparkle Labs' Amy Parness on "pink girly engineering kits"


I asked Amy Parness, the co-founder of Sparkle Labs, maker of fantastic educational electronics kits, to write a Medium post about gender and the business of being a maker business person. Her terrific essay calls out the problems with "pink girly engineering kits." From Medium: Read the rest

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Stephen Harper ready to sign TPP and throw Tory rural base under the bus

The Canadian Prime Minister said he'd only sign the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership if it had safeguards for Canada's farmers, but now that it's clear that he hasn't got a hope in hell of being re-elected, he's ready to sign TPP and damn the farmers. Read the rest

TPP fast track is dead! (for now)

On Friday, the US House of Reps overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would have ensured the acceptance of the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership treaty without any chance to debate or amend its clauses. Read the rest

TPP: TODAY IS THE DAY! Call Congress now!

This is the day that Congress votes on whether to give "fast track authority" on the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership, ending any meaningful debate about a treaty that will prohibit America from passing environmental, labor and Internet laws that interfere with multinational corporate profits. Read the rest

Emails: corporate lobbyist thanks US Trade Rep for pasting his wish-list right into TPP

A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit has extracted emails between corporate lobbyists and US Trade Rep officials working on the secretive, corrupt Trans Pacific Partnership treaty. Read the rest

To save free trade, kill TPP

The enemies of the Trans Pacific Partnership don't necessarily oppose free trade, but they're foursquare against the kind of corrupt, secretive negotiations that line the pockets of favored industries at the public's expense. Read the rest

Former IMF chief economist on the problems with TPP

Tim Harford writes, "Simon Johnson is a fascinating character, former chief economist of the IMF and now scourge of bankers and lobbyists everywhere." Read the rest

URGENT: Senate backtracks on TPP fasttrack -- call Congress to oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership

Just days after the Senate rejected the Obama administration's bid to fast-track the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership, they've backtracked, and now they're getting ready to rush fast-track through. Read the rest

Guard tells top senator that she can't take notes on TPP

We thought it was crazy when Obama's trade threatened Congress with prison if they disclosed anything about the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership. Read the rest

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