If you were a kid in the 1970s or 1980s, then you know the joy of the sticky-plastic high that can only come from hours spent playing with your Colorforms sets.
But much like your parents, the horrid reality is that Colorforms had a life before you ever winked into existence.
The 1960s, for example, fairly teemed with the things.
Don’t believe me?
Well, then, Skippy … take a gander at these gorgeous Colorforms from the 1960s and then go ahead and eat your shorts.
Batman Cartoon Kit
This is the only Colorforms kit on this list that I actually owned as a kid, and seeing it now reminds me of two things …
- Of all the superheroes in the world, I still love the settings, colors, and “feel” of Batman better than all others (though Superman is still clearly the best superhero).
- We lived in a real cow town. I mean, this set was made in 1966, yet my parents bought it for me from a local store as a “reward” for getting a shot at the doctor — in 1978. How did those mom-and-pop places ever stay in business?
This is a simple setup with the Bat Mobile sitting catty corner at the entrance to some (probably) dark alley. The Gotham skyline looms behind, with a huge moon rising to silhouette the city.
You also get Batman, Robin, the Penguin, and the Joker … the rest is left to your imagination.
Pure gold. Pure magic.
The Jetsons Cartoon Kit
This early Colorforms set sprang to life in 1963, right at the height of The Jetsons’ popularity.
I have to admit I’ve never actually played with this set, but you can see from pictures that it hits all the usual Colorforms tropes …
- Single-color characters & props — pink (George, Jane, Rosie, Astro), orange (Judy, accessories), blue (Elroy, spaceship, accessories)
- Flat, stationary background
- Colorful box that makes you want to step into the world inside
The Jetsons box really feels like the 1960s, and the black-and-white play board adds to that feel.
All in all, not the most visually stunning Colorforms set, but one I wouldn’t kick off my game shelf, either.
Carry on, Nurse Lucy!
No cartoon character was more compassionate in the 1960s than Lucy van Pelt.
I mean, in the course of one afternoon, she could break Charlie Brown’s back through yet another missed-football incident, trivialize Schroeder’s music to the point of frustration and despair, and offer hard-boiled psychological advice to Linus and any other unhappy soul who ventured by her Stand of Sass.
Who else would you pick as your cartoon nurse, if you were picking a cartoon nurse, that is?
This set is one of the more colorful of the early Cholorform offerings, featuring two-or-three-toned characters, a living room background with bright pink and yello and red, and a gorgeous box with Lucy and Woodstock.
And, Lucy is accoutered with all the equipment she needs to check you out and render her brand of surely devastating medical care.
The Munsters Cartoon Kit
My favorite Colorforms set of all time is the Castle Dracula Fun House … I’m not sure if it’s the reason I love horror movies and fiction so much, or if it’s the other way around, but the two are definitely related.
I spent hours and hours creeping myself out with the three levels of ghoulishness, from the dank dungeon, to the cavernous entryway, to the horrifying laboratory.
Eek! But also … so cool!
Little did I know at the time that kids were getting those same sorts of Colorforms willies 10 years or more before I was, courtesy of The Munsters Cartoon Kit.
Though the setting is not as extensive as Castle Dracula, The Munsters’ living room — rendered in black-and-while charcoal is as creep as all get-out, with plenty of dark corners and foreboding nooks and crannies.
Add in the single-color characters — including blood-red versions of Eddie and Lily — and you can almost feel the spiders crawling over your hands as you set up your scenes.
The Beatles Cartoon Kit
Is there anything more quintessentially the 1960s than The Beatles?
Not unless you’re some sort of Anglophobe, there’s not!
By the middle of the decade, what started as a teeny fad-band had become an international sensation that changed music and pop culture forever, and you could find John, Paul, George, and Ring everywhere.
In 1966, “everywhere” expanded to include the Colorforms shelf of local toy aisles, courtesy of The Beatles Cartoon Kit.
The box features the band name in lights, and big, colorful cartoon versions of the Fab Four.
And, honestly, the box is the best part of the whole shebang for my money.
If you like mono-colored music superstars, though, the inside of this kit is the place for you.
Along with The Beatles themselves, you get blue drums; orange, read, and blue guitars; orange musical notes; and even a blue “YEAH.”
And the background? A stage, naturally, complete with Mystery Science Theater 3000-style backs of heads to cheer on your creations.