Written by Jonathan Wojcik, most images from ORANGESLIME!
Bogleech Finally Reviews...
I was only four years old in 1987, when Mattel's Mad Scientist toy line hit the shelves, scared the shit out of my loser baby sensibilities and quite possibly planted some of the earliest seeds of what would become my drawing style and my general taste in anything ever. Lasting only a year or two, few remember these toys who weren't alive to witness them first-hand, and your best possible introduction is going to be this commercial:
Mad Scientist encompassed a pretty broad range of products, including board games, dress-up accessories, digital watches and bendy figures, but we're just going to review most of the smaller, individual monster toys!
The "Monster Flesh" Kits
The first Mad Scientist products I ever laid eyes upon, the "Monster Flesh" kits were simple plastic molds with tubs of a very unusual, slightly rubbery modeling clay, sort of like silly putty, but better at holding its shape. It did eventually dry up and crumble into dust, but the great thing about a mold is that you can put any old modeling compound in there, or even make your own casts, which is exactly what toy guru The Godbeast did at one point by special request, so we'll be using Orangeslime's photos of the end results.
This extremely menacing slime creature almost resembles a melting, humanoid reptile. His face always gave me the impression of a crocodile-like muzzle, though the packaging art implies a flatter, more human-like skull structure. I think my favorite thing about Slugore however is his lazy eye. It just looks like a modeling flaw here, but his artwork shows that it's actually half-shut.
I really, really liked this one as a kid, and I still do. There's just something about that gnarled flesh, the flipper-arms and the doofy face that all seem much weirder and creepier together than they ever could individually. He doesn't really give me an "ogre" impression, though. More like some sort of hairless, blubbery sloth-man.
This monster seems to be the most remembered, and he even made a few other appearances in the line. He's definitely memorable, with his single giant eyeball and fins that almost make the top of his head look like a wrapped lozenge. Bugore's Monster Flesh mold was the first toy in the series I ever asked for and played with, and I even still have it somewhere around here.
The "Living Ice" Kits
The "Living Ice" kits were identical to the "Monster Flesh" kits, except the modeling compound was clear and jelly-like. Like the Monster Flesh, it was nothing like any other sculpting material or goopy toy I've ever had my hands on, and it's likely that no "Living Ice" or "Monster Flesh" exists anymore in its fresh, moldable state. It is extinct. You may have known or will one day know the caress of a lover during your brief time on Earth, but most of you will never and can never know what Mattel "Living Ice" felt like. I win.
I was pretty ambivalent on both I-Stomp and I-Smash as a kid, but now I can better appreciate Smash's little speedo and that his face looks like a Mexican wrestling mask. I guess it's also fairly cool that he has a big, knobbly club for a fist. Living Ice was actually quite sticky, and it easily fell apart unless, of course, you actually put your "Living Ice" monster in the freezer for a while. You weren't instructed to do that, so I felt really clever for figuring it out on my own.
Clearly the best of the Living Ice kits, Chomper is also the only non-humanoid of either the ice or the flesh beasts, a warty six-legged basilisk whose crest looks pleasingly like a chicken comb. This was originally my favorite of all six monster molds, and I think the chicken qualities were actually more than half responsible. I didn't even think of this thing as a "reptile" or "dinosaur" like we were probably supposed to, just a really strange, gelatinous, crawling ice creature. With chicken combs.
The "Alien Blood" Monster Kits
Available in three flavors of oozing orifice, these toys were basically just hollow hunks of rubber you could fill with "Alien Blood," a glow-in-the-dark slime of fairly beautiful translucency and unique consistency which, once again, I haven't quite seen since. You can see how pretty it was just in this photo, though I didn't get a chance to really appreciate it when I could because four-year-old me actually didn't like touching or even looking at slime.
Now, the first thing you will notie about "Sammy Sneeze" is that he does not have the delightful hose-nose of his prototype photo. Why they changed it to this rather mundane pig-snout, I'll ever understand, unless somebody at Mattel was worried his face looked too much like a floppy dong. Actually, now that I really look at it, the original model's upper lip even gives the accidental impression of a scrotum poking out from under his cranial dick. I guess that's why they rushed to give him a facelift, but I still really love the idea of a snot-spurting aardvark-man from a purely innocent angle. For some reason, I own two Sammy Sneeze figures, but none of the others. Also, for some reason, the back of the figure reveals he has a ponytail. The names of these monsters were also changed. In the catalog, he was the much cooler "Sinus Slimus."
Originally "Mucous Pukous," Billy doesn't have a terribly exciting design, but he does have pants, which is a unique edge over every other monster in the Mad Scientist line. His final name also makes me think of Bob's Burgers. Maybe Billy is the fourth child they won't ever speak of. He lives in the walls. Belching. Don't you love the scientist's pose on these packages? It's like he cannot wait to get his hands on these things. It is taking everything he's got in him to resist squeezing that alien blood out of Billy Belcher's mouth. You had better appreciate the effort it takes him to give anyone else a turn. He may look like he's smiling, but it tears him apart inside. That's his Billy Belcher. That should be him forcing vomit out of his beloved progeny.
My favorite of the three is, sadly, one I never actually found. Oscar is just a simple, frightened looking humanoid with a robe and giant, apparently "rotten" eyeballs that gush green pus. His original name was "I-got I-Rot," and I kind of like the rhyming, but I also kind of like "Oscar." You actually have no idea how often I think about this guy. He has probably leaked into dozens of my monster designs. I keep drawing lumpy humanoids with giant eyeballs just to fill the Oscar-I-Rot-Shaped hole in my heart.
On the back of every "Mad Scientist" toy was a short, charmingly illustrated comic demonstrating how to enjoy our new purchase, with Dr. Sy's sadistic glee gushing from every panel. The way Oscar is drawn exactly like the actual figure here is a little confusing; is this a real monster, or just a giant rubber toy? Either way, Sy can barely even contain his unhealthy levels of delight. Every "Alien Blood" comic recycled this artwork, altering only the monster itself.
The Figure Set Monsters
Photo courtesy The Baroness, apparently!
Towards the end of the line's run, Mattel licensed Sy out to Arco, which released several versions of the doctor as a bendable figure, with loads of wacky accessories and even a few un-named companion figures, one of which is actually the single creepiest, weirdest monster in the whole damn franchise.
One nice thing about these sets is that they included what appears to be an alternate take on the scrapped "Sinus Slimus" monster, though a little squatter and more pig-like. I'm glad its dicknose is oozing, though. The oozing dicknose is how we know it's totally Sinus Slimus.
Even a couple of Sy's tools had organic looking components, and this scope's freaky fish-eyes clearly indicate that it is, in itself, a monster. A monster with a very large, parasitic worm friend.
Other, smaller weirdos in these sets included a tiny, bandaged goblin, some sort of living beaker of slime, and weirdest of all, a skull with an eyepatch and flowers growing out of its head. It's missing on mine, but the skull was also smoking a cigar, because why not? The cigar is really what hammers home that the skull is a living "character" and not just an object, because why would you give a cigar to a dead one eyed flower skull? That's ridiculous.
The real reason to get the Laboratory Set, however, was this nightmare hunk of plastic. Twice as large as any of the other accessories, this thing gives the impression of some insectoid demon and a haunted tree, while not actually being at all like either of those things. By far, this creepy freak is the most sinister and dangerous looking of Sy's creations, which might be why its upper limbs are shackled together, though it doesn't even look like much of a hindrance, so maybe it's just a fashion statement.
There was a lot more to this tragically short-lived brand, but the last thing I'll mention is that, at some point, Mattel actually ordered two episodes of a cartoon series. Regrettably, it lacked any of the ghastly horror that was the toy line's entire appeal, but on the plus side, dig that theme song. That is an incredible emulation of Oingo Boingo, and I dare say just as good as any of the real deal's songs. HERE, HAVE A DIRECT MP3 DOWNLOAD LINK ON ME AND ROCK OUT.
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