Picture Maker from Mattel (1970)

Company: Mattel | Release date: 1970 | Where to purchase: eBay

In 1970, Mattel released the Picture Maker series of drawing sets featuring patterned stencils that allowed children to create illustrations based on popular brands and licensed cartoon characters.

The tools of the Picture Maker trade included a plastic drawing board that incorporated a frame and magnet to hold a standard 8 ½-inch x 11-inch piece of paper in place, six Picture Cards, and four coloured pencils.

Each Picture Card did triple duty and was colour-coded with three different colours. To start an illustration, kids lined up a colour bar at the bottom of a Picture Card to the Picture Pointer on the frame and used a pencil to trace inside the like-coloured cut-outs. The process was repeated for the remaining two colours to complete the picture. The final result was a line drawing that could be coloured using markers or crayons.

By mixing and matching the six patterned Picture Cards, kids could create up to 216 unique drawings. As a bonus, several sets also came with additional stencils or texture blocks integrated into the drawing board that could be used to add other creative elements to a drawing.

Mattel produced Picture Maker sets for a number of its brands and licensed properties, including Hot Wheels, Barbie, Peanuts, and Hot Birds.

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