“They stick like magic!”
Actually, magic had very little to do with what made a Colorform stick, rather it was just the adhesive quality of the thinly-cut plastic. The real magic lay in their ability to encourage the imagination. Colorforms were mere props, whether they resembled geometric shapes or a sitcom star. The box provided the stage; it was up to you to choose and arrange the props and, most importantly, concoct the story. Perfect for rainy days and long car trips, generations of kids have created millions of Colorform settings over the years.
In the middle of the twentieth century, the toy market welcomed a new and unheralded member to its ranks. Easy, educational, and entertaining, Colorforms (both a company and the product) was perfect for those lacking artistic talent but drawn to the savors of composition nonetheless. Instead of suffering under the torment of broken, waxy crayons, Colorforms put plastic safely and cheaply into the hands of kids. Colorforms were bright, shiny, wafer-thin plastic decals that stuck to and peeled off of the accompanying playboard with equal ease. Parents praised it for its low price, low maintenance, and low risk (appropriate for ages three and up) while kids embraced it for its high fun.
In its initial release, Colorforms went with very simple themes such as basic shapes, or letters and numbers. Not unlike refrigerator magnets, kids could spend time learning simple math or improving their knowledge of the alphabet under the guise of playing. Change came in during the next decade when the ever-pleasant “Miss Weather” Colorforms blew into stores in 1965. Prepared with the very best press-on fashion, Miss Weather Colorforms could handle any climate and, as popularity goes, they were quite the storm.
What began with the friendly but unfamiliar Miss Weather quickly translated into fashionable and famous marketing tie-ins. Popeye, Sleeping Beauty, and many others made their way from T.V., comics, and cartoons into the Colorforms world. Colorforms issued new playboards that featured empty bedrooms or expansive landscapes just waiting to be enhanced with sticky plastic decals. Not only could kids dress the characters, they could now set the stage as well. As time moved through the 70s and 80s, the stream of characters made into Colorforms became a flood. Virtually every popular T.V. show aimed at kids found itself living the Colorform dream. Colorforms threw open the doors to movies (such as The Wizard of Oz) and superheroes (The Green Hornet). Even the legendary rock band KISS delighted kids, collectors, and groupies alike by settling into the Colorforms neighborhood.
While Colorforms are still produced by University Games, the selection available today pales in comparison to the heyday of the 70s and 80s, when there were literally hundreds of sets available. Do you have a favorite set from your youth? Share all of your Colorform memories with us as we celebrate this collection of creative toys from yesteryear.