Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

Toychest Time Machine: Mattel’s Mad Scientist Toy Line

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August 5, 2010

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Want to be GROSS? Read on.

Long before the live-action insanity of TYCO’s Doctor Dreadful series of messy, sugar-packed wares hit shelves, Mattel had developed a way to tap into the male youth market of the 80s with their Mad Scientist series of toys, accessories and faux-science shenanigans.

It’s fairly well known that all 8-12 year old boys are, by law, required to like gross-out humor full of fart jokes and “running,” goopey snot gags. Just ask anyone from Cartoon Network and I’m sure they’ve got the stat sheets to prove it. Even as an adult, I must admit that I get an occasional kick from freaking out a co-worker or my 12 year old daughter with some carefully hidden whoopie cushion of conspicuously placed rubber bug.

Therein lies the genius behind the Mad Scientist’s marketing gimmick. As evidenced in the commercial above, the animated mad genius was always paired against some unseen censor (I’m thinking uptight toy maker or angry parent) who deemed his experiments to be “Too Gross.” Of course, reverse psychology is bound to kick in and drive kids screaming through the aisles of their local Toys R’ Us to find the lastest, greatest gross-out to impress their friends.

To magnify the experience, Mattel even developed a series of comic strips that fleshed out Dr. Sy N. Tist’s (the Mad Scientist) background and which would run on the back of each toy/product. The comic strips really helped draw me in as a kid, most likely even moreso since Dr. Sy looked like some cast-off from an episode of Inspector Gadget. Since I didn’t know off-hand who each character was meant to be, the comics helped give me an incentive to squish, squash and stretch each creature to my heart’s desire.

The initial series consisted of “Monster Kits” with two varieties: Monster Flesh (think Play-Doh) and Living Ice (Gummy Bears from Hell). Both sets came with three different and yet equally derivative names such as Slugore or I-Chomp. The concept behind these “Monster Kits” were that you could take either the flesh or the ice and by placing them in a small mold (included), you could create custom little monsters of you own. Fun to a point, but not very effective in re-creating the awesomness found on the back of each package.

After these came the ever-so-pointless, but oh so fun “Alien Blood” creatures which essentially consisted of three separate squeezable monstrosities that oozed glow-in-the-dark slime from either there mouth, nose or eye socket. With toys like these its little wonder that male horror fans of my generation have grown to be fans of “splatstick” horror comedies. Apparently there was also a larger, “Dissect-An-Alien” kit released that allowed you to peel off layers of the creature as slime poured out of its body (geez, no wonder aliens hate us so much).

This really covers the extent of my knowledge of the line, though I have seen other toys and accessories from the series such as the “Monster Lab” from the commercial above, an “Eyeball Maker,” “Time Freaks” (monster watches with digital readout, oh boy!), and “Splatters” which where sorta like full-bodied Madballs that splattered ooze and bodyparts in all directions upon squeezing them. There was also a costume complete with “crazy eyes” and lab equipment and some pretty cool action figures (see below) by a company called ARCO. I’d love to get my hands on one of the action figures for the awesome-looking accessories alone… is that a skull with red daisies/horns smoking a cigar?! Sweet!

BONUS ROUND:

While doing research for this article, I also discovered that there had been a direct-to-VHS Mad Scientist cartoon produced by Southern Star Productions in 1988 that featured the adequately animated exploits of Dr. Sy and his young ward Brian, who also took part in many of Dr. Sy’s kooky, comic strip adventures. Consisting of two 15 minute episodes, the short-lived series probably served as just another outlet for Mattel to fill their pockets, but still proves to be slightly entertaining nonetheless. Check out the first episode right here:

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About Author

Rondal

Rondal is the Editor-in-Chief of Strange Kids Club and a creative instigator who tackles each day with Red Bull-induced enthusiasm and a mind for adventure. Rondal has written for other sites including Rue Morgue, Fuel Your Illustration and Bloodsprayer. His obsession with horror movies, 80s animation and action figures is considered unhealthy by medical professionals.

  • Paxton

    F**K and YES these toys were awesome. I had totally forgotten about them. Loved the logos and the little mad scientist dude. Great call back.

  • The Spooky Vegan

    Fantastic post!!

    I wish I had these when I was a kid (and I still want them as a grownup)!

  • jmcozzoli

    Now this brings back a lot of fond memories. I collected this series. It's so naughty! Great photos, thanks. These days, you can't have any fun :(

  • Strange Kid

    Haha, glad you guys enjoyed this one. It really brought back some memories for me as well.

    @Paxton: The Mad Scientist was a great marketing mascot, just wish I had known as a kid that there was a cartoon. Now its nigh impossible to find any of this merch.

    @Spooky Vegan: Thanks! It's my belief that every self-respecting adult should want at least one of these great toys. What's not to love, right?

    @JohnCozzoli: Glad I could tickle one of those memory bones, it was such a fun series. I think there's some sort of 'phantom censor' that systematically does away with these kinds of toys in favor of *shudder* MTV Reality TV.

  • ladracul

    It kind of reminds me of something Don M. Martin would've created…though I got that feeling while watching "Inspector Gadget" and "Despicable Me", seeing many characters looking like they came from his goofy mind. :)

  • Strange Kid

    @LaDracul: You know, I was thinking the same thing. Even moreso in regards to the animated show… those noses are a dead giveaway. :)

  • Knights End

    Thanks for this! I couldn't remember the name of these toys for sure. I had a inkling they were Mad Scientist, but it seemed like to generic of a name to be true. I had that Operating room action figure toy set (yes, with a cigar smoking, Daisy horn wearing skull) as a kid. He generally terrorized my He-man figures with his bone saw and a gallon of ooze. Due to my inability to part with any of my toys, I still have him boxed up back home. Great memories!

  • Strange Kid

    @Knights End: For sure, and thank you for stopping by and sharing your memories! =)

    That's awesome that you still have all those toys packed away. Most of the Mad Scientist figures and sets are notoriously difficult to find online.