Released in 1971, Ideal’s Shaker Maker allowed children to create their own toy figures using a special powder called “Magic Mix.”
The magic behind the mix was a form of plaster of Paris that was non-toxic, strong, and reasonably fast-drying. To create their masterpiece, children ages four and up added plain tap water to a packet of Magic Mix into a shaker fitted with a two-piece plastic mould.
Shaking the setup vigorously started a chemical reaction and the mix filled in all of the contours of the inside of the mould. In roughly 5 to 10 minutes, the mould could be removed, revealing a wholly formed cast. The cast was placed on a drying rack where it would continue to dry and shrink in size over the next several days. Once completely dry, the figure could be painted and accessorized.
Each Shaker Maker came with a set of two-piece moulds, shaker, paint set, drying stands, brush, crayon, accessory kit, and enough Magic Mix to make three figurines. Initially, kids could choose from sets that allowed them to make people, animals, or birds.
Buoyed by the line’s initial success, Ideal expanded it to include licensed characters from Walt Disney and the Flintstones. A line of Shaker Maker Switchables was introduced, allowing children to mix and match different casts of bodies and heads.
After disappearing from store shelves, Shaker Maker was revived in the 1990s and 2000s, first by New York City-based Toymax and then by Spin Master.
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