Why the Strange Change Machine is my favorite toy

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Definetly the smell has a lot to do with the allure. I can’t believe you have a working one, with creatures. That’s amazing. It was a real favorite when we were kids, but we got too carried away heating and trying to smash other things in the press, and eventually made a mess of the whole thing and had to get rid of it.


when i was seven years old that was THE hot gift for the christmas season and i was the first kid in my cohort that got one. it worked exactly one time and then the heating element burned out after the first creature was revealed but before i had turned it back into the square. it was one of those moments when triumph turned into disaster in a matter of seconds.

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My coworker brought this in to show us youngsters how his pre-video-game generation used to amuse themselves. If anyone is interested in seeing an aging Strange Change Machine in action, I recorded this video (in 2009):



Wow! I have never heard of this thing, and I’m not much younger than the author. How wonderful – congratulations on the great find, and thank you for sharing.

This thing came out when I was in first or second grade.

I was into science fiction and loved dinosaurs so you can imagine that the commercials blew my fucking mind.

Alas, it was way out of my family’s league.* There was no hope of getting it for Christmas or my birthday.

I remember visiting a wealthy friend from school. He had one stowed in his garage. I tried to convince him to show it off but he was “meh!” It blew mind again that someone would have a toy like that and not play with it 24/7.

*The Hot Wheels Supercharger I got around this time came unboxed with the stickers already pasted on, slightly crooked; I had helped my friend down the street with unboxing his so I knew, to my puzzlement and shame, that I’d gotten a thrift store find as a Christmas present. Well, it worked.


This is nuts. I want to know how it really works.

The commercial is tonally awesome, and features a black boy and a white boy engaging in the creepy fun together, which is cool for such an old commercial.


Mild in comparison to Creepy Crawler.

Those are the plates you put in a device and filled them with a liquid plastic. And cooked them.
Then after you burned a good portion of your hand removing the hot metal plates because you had this gummy plastic thing. And you could make jewelry etc with the result.

It’s still available today in a ‘thing maker’ thing. that uses low temp plastics and edible plastics in a low wattage oven thing.


My grandparents had one of their kids’ ancient Creepy Crawler sets in their basement for decades. I pestered them about but they wouldn’t give it to me, and it was then unfortunately disposed of. Someday!

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They were also great for making fishing lures. The long worm thing and the little bugs you could put a fish hook in while it baked.


I borrowed one from a neighbor in the late 70s and was obsessed with it. I finally found one at a garage sale, which I kept until my little brother lost all of the creatures at the beach.

Another cool feature is you can smash multiple creatures into 1 cube :slight_smile:

I had Creepy Crawlers! This version:

I ran out of goop pretty quickly.

You know, there was even a Creepy Crawlers cartoon:

I remember when one of my friends got one of these. It was the BEST toy ever. Being extremely dangerous was part of the allure.

I, on the other hand, had an even better toy: The Zeroid Robot Zintar! I loved that thing and spent many, many hours lost in imagined worlds with it. In the early eBay days I briefly cornered the market in these toys, then came to my senses.

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