Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Power of Mattel Compels You!

Ad for Mattel, from Family Circle, November, 1974

Idle hands do the devil’s work, said her mother.

Give her something to keep her busy, said her sister.

Your daughter needs a hobby, stammered the psychiatrist, twisting his hands together worriedly.

Honestly, thought Chris, you’d think the man could have come up with something more original, considering how much she was paying him per hour.

Still, she dutifully went out to Macy’s and picked up the most time consuming project she could find. A nice, ordinary knitting machine for making hats and doll clothes, and four small balls of orange and brown yarn. There was no way her little Regan could do anything...

Anything weird with it.

For even more snark:

Regan was delighted with her new toy. She clutched it to her chest and ran off to her bedroom beaming.

Hours later, the sound of cranking finally ceased. Chris walked back to Regan’s bedroom and knocked on the door. “Sweetie? Dinner’s almost ready.”

“Come see what I made!” chirped Regan.

What could her daughter have possibly done with four balls of yarn? Chris opened the bedroom door. Regan was seated in the middle of an enormous pile of brightly coloured stuffed animals, perched on a brand new afghan, her clothes entirely fashioned out of yarn coils. As Chris stared in disbelief, the yarn snake yawned widely and wiggled its fuzzy acrylic tongue at her.

Okay, thought Chris. That psychiatrist is useless. I’m calling a priest.


  1. LOL!! Too funny. You always crack me up.

  2. Haha - funny !

    Plus, who knew that snails could be "snuggly"

  3. The snail had to be *something* beginning with S - and "slimy" was right out. ;-)

    I rather like the "timid tiger". I think he could star in his own children's book. "Terry the Timid Tiger and the Terrible Turtle Trio."

  4. Oh my gosh - I think I actually HAD that - or some more recent version of it.

    But the snake I made wasn't inhabited by an evil demon. It was just a really long snake. I remember a few doll dresses and a piece made with very fine white thread so it was open enough to use as a basketball net, too (which was my intention - I was looking for something to match a stuffed miniature basketball that I crocheted, and once my younger brothers and sisters outgrew the ball it became a toy for the family golden retriever).

    I haven't thought of that in years. Thanks for the memories!

  5. You're welcome! It's neat to hear how the Knit Magic was actually used.

  6. I woke up with a strange nostalgic craving for my old Knit Magic this morning. Thanks for the awesome photos. I never could figure out how to make panels, but man did I have lots of snakes. You should probably check out "Jewel Magic" too as it was an awesome source of King Tut inspired Isis power jewelry (if you missed the TV show Isis, my apologies. She was a 1970's super hero who shared time with the much less historically interesting "Shazam!")

  7. Hi, Sarah!

    Sorry for the late reply! I am very familiar with Isis - I watched it as a kid, religiously! And I now own the DVDs. Strangely, it's not as good as I remember... But still, lots of fun.

    I'm glad you're enjoying my blog!

  8. Love the blog! I am consuming mass quantities of it and had to comment on this particular one-- I had a knit magic machine and loved it. I made my Barbies tons of knit tube dresses-- but little else.

  9. Anony - When I first saw the ad, I couldn't imagine anyone actually inflicting it on their child. But apparently it was quite popular! Besides, I'm sure it made better Barbie dresses than what I used - Kleenexes and rubber bands.