A while back, I tweeted “Our kids have iPads, we had Colorforms,” and it led to some conversations about Colorforms and I was asked to show the sets I have in my collection. It took me a little longer than planned, but I finally managed to assemble all of my sets in a teetering tower for this photo.
Much like board games, I collect these for their box art. Sure, some of the contents are retro and wacky, but let’s be honest, those little plastic stickers are not the most fun thing in the world. I handed my son a Clifford the Big Red Dog Colorforms kit once, thinking that his fondness for Clifford would send him over the top. Imagine, a playset where he could move the characters around and make up his own stories! His interest in the toy lasted literally 12 seconds.
I remember enjoying the sets as a kid, but my main memory of them is licking the plastic bits to make them stick better. Yeah, I know–but the damn things kept falling off!
Anyway, here are a few pictures for your viewing enjoyment…
This Planet of the Apes set is probably my favorite. Surprise!
I made the “mistake” of getting the G.I. Joe and M.A.S.K. sets still sealed in their shrinkwrap–now I’ll never know what’s inside!
These Rub n’Play sets aren’t the plastic static cling toys you normally think of when you hear the word “Colorforms,” but they were in fact made by the company, so I included them here. I actually have the original printer artwork for the Hulk set, which I wrote about a while back.
I’m not sure if all the Colorforms sets came with inserts but this one from the Planet of the Apes set is silly but fun.
I really don’t like this Thundercats set for two reasons: 1. It’s big, way too big to fit on a shelf and not the standard size that most of the other kits use, and 2. It gives me a headache! This set is 3-D and I lost the glasses, so staring at requires a good dose of dramamine.
I love the tri-toned stickers from the Buck Rogers set. Each and every one of those images would make an awesome T-shirt. Get on that TeeFury!
Colorforms are a great item to collect because they cover just about every hot property in pop culture and you can buy them by the truckload on eBay at pretty low prices. I’m still looking for a Batman and King Kong set, but that’s only because I’m cheap. I know they’ll find their way into my collection one of these days.
Colorforms sets are a reminder of a much, much simpler time. I miss those days.
Oh how many hours did i spend playing with my sets of these? too many to count. : )
Dex (@Dex1138) says
Is that Dr Strange I spy on the front of Hulk?
The Buck background reminds me of PrestoMagix backgrounds. I wonder if it could be the same artist.
Yep, that’s the doctor. A bunch of heroes make cameos in those Rub n’ play sets.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the same artist worked on many of these sets. I actually stumbled across this on eBay last night–the original art for that Buck Rogers kit:
Now if that was for the cover art, I’d be pouncing on it!
Dex (@Dex1138) says
I think we need to develop a Colorforms app for the iPad! Can’t imagine the licensing costs though.
Ha! You might be surprised, but there are tons of Colorform-like apps. My son has one for construction vehicles. But of course, you can also make the vehicles larger and smaller, and make sounds. And as a bonus, you don’t need to lick the stickers to make them stick. 😉
In answer to DEX’s question, I fear you are mistaken.
Nope. That’s NOT Dr. Strange in the HULK set.
That’s THE MANDARIN pictured on the HULK Rub-N-Play set.
However, DOCTOR STRANGE was indeed in a Rub-N-Play for SPIDER-MAN.
In fact, I not only have it, but I blogged about it years ago (if you would be so kind to allow me to post a link):
I even show how the process works and what the put-together DOCTOR STRANGE standee looked like.
Reis O'Brien says
Holy cow! What a killer collection! I have three sets, myself; Dungeons & Dragons, G.I. Joe and Dukes of Hazzard. I’d love to start collecting more of these. Uh oh… I feel a trip to eBay coming on….
There are worse things to blow your money on right? 😉
Paxton Holley says
Two things, Brian.
1) In the first photo of the stack, it’s driving me nuts that you put the two GI Joe sets so far apart yet the Pee Wee Herman sets are right next to each other. What happened there?
2) That Battlestar Galactica set has so many things wrong with it. First, it’s packaging is a straight up rip off of vintage Star Wars. And I’m amazed at how close it gets. And two, the set is called “Rub ‘n Play”? Talk about your six different levels of horrific subtext.
I too love the artwork on these sets. I was never really a Colorforms guy, I liked the PrestoMagix. Not sure why, maybe because they were cheaper.
To answer your questions, 1. I put the two Shrinky Dink sets on the top, which is the only logic for separating the Joes. and 2. wasn’t BSG as a whole trying to ride the Star Wars coat tails?
(And as far as the name “Rub n’ Play” well, I did say those were simpler times.)
Paxton Holley says
Yeah, my comment about being a rip off of Star Wars was supposed to also have several levels of subtext. Glad you picked up on that. 😉
I figured it was something like that per the separation of Joes, but the logos have to line up for me regardless. Buck Rogers is also separated.
Your OCD self would not like entering my cave. 😉
Now THAT is a cool collection of Colorforms.
I think I only ever had my older sisters’ hand-me-downs as far as Colorforms go and they had decidedly girly taste in themes … Strawberry Shortcake, Barbie, an Holly Hobbie … that sort of thing. I would have been over the moon for Bionic Woman Colorforms but I’m not sure that there ever was a set of those.
I don’t believe they made Colorforms for either the Bionic Woman or the Six million Dollar Man, which is hard to believe since those franchises seemed to be plastered on everything!
I loved Colorforms as a kid. I just passed up a Batman set on eBay for $23.50. I might shoot myself for that.
Ha! I may have bid that one up. 😉 $20 is usually my limit for these sets (which is why King Kong still eludes me!).