Vintage Vending #2: Sticky Stuff!

Today we recall a true old faithful of the twenty-five cent prize arena: Sticky toys that stuck to things with their stickiness.

It’s Sticky Stuff! A collection of gooey doodads that will, quote, discolor paint! Yessss!

The photo looks bad, but rest assured, it’s just as blurry and crude in real life. That’s why I love it. It’s like Mrs. Peshill’s second grade art class doubled as a sweatshop for vending machine teaser card production.

From the low-rent logo to the odd positioning of the prizes, this was truly the work of the mad. If I remove the vision of imaginary Mrs. Peshill, all that’s left is some Igor-like creature, haphazardly assembling balls and bugs in his dead master’s laboratory.

“I ALSO AM WORK,” he’d say. To the mutant rats.

Prizes like these were available in the majority of vending machine areas. For us, they were the perfect backups. If everything else in K-Mart’s vending machines sucked, we could always shoot for a slimy grabber hand. It wasn’t #1 on our lists, but it sure beat stale Banana Runts. Hell, anything did.

This time, picking a favorite was easy. It’s that hot pink spiked mace! The common phrase, “it looks like friendly watermelons but can actually kill you,” has never been so apt.

The most expensive-seeming of the prizes is, of course, the classic large-sized grabber hand. If these have somehow eluded you through the years, the idea was that you’d “whip” them at lightweight objects, and yank those objects back to you using the sticky hand as a bizarre adhesive.

I’m impressed with those sticky mescal worms, too.  I like how they’re all bunched together, as if they’re up to something. These rascals plan to challenge the giant hand and hot pink mace, and ultimately rule the Sticky Stuff kingdom with iron fists. Or iron clitellums? I’d like to move on from the worms, now.

I’m running into trouble with this one. I just can’t identify it. I’m positive that it’s a faithful recreation of some real life varmint, but after Googling “worms” for five minutes to come up with that clitellum joke, I’m tapped out on bug research.

I’m just going to call him an alien space slug, because as a child, that’s exactly what he would’ve been. The only acceptable alternative is a Graboid from Tremors. Even in my younger years, I’d have followed Michael Gross anywhere.

My lighting was weak, but the alien space slug is a very pleasant of bright maroon. You may argue that it’s impossible for anything to be “bright” maroon, but that’s only because you’ve never been ten inches away from this space slug.

Trust me, it’s bright maroon. And I really want to believe that it tastes like cherries.

This spider is an anatomical nightmare, to the point where I’m still not sure that it wasn’t actually meant to be an octopus.

Whatever. It’s easy to look at old, cheap toys and laugh about how their creators knew nothing about what animals really looked like. The truth is, as a kid, any black bug with a bunch of legs passed as a spider.

Things like extra heads and missing abdomens never bothered me.  And I was damn sure to point that out whenever someone said that I was uptight.

The only bad prizes on the display are simple balls, which were just slimy versions of superballs. They don’t seem so awful now, but that’s because we’re old enough to have some semblance of impulse control. As children, nobody would’ve resisted the urge to immediately throw those balls at the ceiling, where they would forever remain, close but out of reach, teasing us like the writhing ghost women from Hellraiser II.

Only one person will get that, but it was still worth it.

Overall, a neat set. And I do appreciate that the makers of “Sticky Stuff” would warn us about the potential for discolored paint. On the other hand, maybe they were evil geniuses, because once I read that warning, the prizes somehow became much more attractive.

If you’re into sticky replicas of deadly weapons, I guess you just like destruction?

(This is Part 2 of the Vintage Vending series. Read part one here!)

36 Responses to Vintage Vending #2: Sticky Stuff!

  1. Oooh these were always my number one pick for vending machine fair (okay, sticky stuff and fake tattoos generally tied). I was pretty good at keeping them sticky for a long time, too. My brother always stole them from me, though, the jerk.

  2. My brother loved these and the eggs full of slime. I couldn’t stand them…the smell or the texture or something gave me the dry heaves.

  3. Sticky toys never did it for me, I had a few but I’d always rather go for candy or play a game if they didn’t have anything good. My ultimate machine was the one with the gun keychains. Those were the greatest, especially the ones that fit the hands of my 12″ GI Joes.

    Oh how their arsenal improved over the boring Beretta’s and comically over-sized Luger pistols that came with them. There was some scale problems with some, like how the PPK’s were huge. I also remember having a Smith & Wesson that had a Star of David on the grip for no apparent reason.

  4. I have to admit I broke some stuff while playing with those things. I get the the Hellraiser II reference. :)

  5. I’m proud of you for googling worms for the purposes of researching this article. I know that can’t have been easy for you. Good work. High sticky five.

  6. I used to really want to eat these because I thought they looked like they tasted good (like cherries), never actually ate any but these are great toys. I can confirm that the balls did end up on the ceiling.

  7. I wasn’t a fan of the sticky stuff, either. My sisters loved them, but they’d drive Mom crazy by flinging them everywhere.

  8. I never liked these because they are loose hair magnets. I hate loose hairs.

  9. Last time I checked, my bedroom still had a giant greasy stain from when a friend and I lobbed two plain sticky balls at the ceiling. I can actually still remember the day when one finally fell down, and one side was flat, dry and crusty.

  10. I love these sticky toys. My favorite is the hand.

  11. Oh, and I also got the Hellraiser 2 reference.

  12. I had a big hand, little hand, and the butterfly. I can’t really say I would’ve went after these if they were strictly in with only sticky things, so I’m inclined to think that mine were received from a variety of toys. I, too, thought they were kinda gross with the dust and hair gathering, but when you opened it up you just couldn’t stop playing with it, no matter how gross you knew it was going to get. Luckily, I think you can actually rinse them off with water and I’m pretty sure they keep their stick.

  13. I wonder if as an adult, I could actually make a sticky hand do my bidding and bring a penny to me, and not just a clump of dog hair.

  14. These were my favorites, right after Slime. In fact, there may have been times I took this stuff over slime, but only because you can only ruin so many carpets before Mom threatens a slime embargo, and its good to give her time to cool off.

    Also, I get the Hellraiser 2 reference. What’s my prize? Is it sticky? :)

  15. That “worm” reminds me of a Chinese Dragon from a Mardi Gras Parade. Better check its underside and see it has little sticky people feet sticking out.

  16. Oh the nostalgia, and the Hellraiser II reference is certainly not lost.

  17. A year or so back I went to my parents’ house to help clear out some of our basement (where I resided during high school and that post-HS wandering period) and had the simultaneous pleasure/horror of going through my childhood “junk drawer” (Matt knows what I’m talking about) and pitching a lot of it. One of the things I found was a little plastic vending machine bubble and after opening it I found one of these sticky ball and chains. It’s weird to call something slimey dusty but it was definitely aged. It maintained its almost translucent purple color. The coolest part of all though was the floodgate of memories it brought back. I also found an old Life Savers Holes container (if you don’t remember those here’s a cool image of some of the flavors) that I must have left a few in it that congealed in the bottom. It was the Tangerine variety and I fondly remember carrying it around with me on neighborhood bike rides.

  18. The alien space slug looks a lot like a Mothra larva to me. It’s even close to the right color.

  19. Can’t go wrong with, as I called them, sticky hands. 25 cents was a deal for those, and they wouldn’t be so cool after playing with them for a few minutes. I never did “steal” anyone’s lunch money with one though(that was always the plan).

    And that worm looks like some type of grub. Not slang for food, but grubs who are larva of other things, and can usually be found inside(dead or living)trees.

  20. I hope you have a lot of these teaser cards because I can see Vintage Vending to become those future classic articles for Dino Drac. Props to Jason Weeks for the Vintage Vending logo, it has a little MAD magazine flavor to it.

  21. I absolutely LOVED those slime hands, but they never lasted more than a day in my house. If they didn’t become unpleasantly coated in fluff and hair, they rarely survived my need to test the elastic limits of the strand.

  22. The last time I had one of those grabber hands, my friends and I were under the influence of… *cough* certain mind-altering substances. Let’s just say I had a lot of fun with that damn thing.

    Three days to Dragon*Con and I am going to be COMPLETELY useless at work.

  23. Man I’m ready for some Halloween stuff.

  24. One more vote for getting the Hellraiser II: Hellbound reference!

    Did have to think for a moment, as I was trying to place images of vampiresses or cenobite women into that dusty old blue-grey hell. One didn’t fit and one wasn’t tempting…

  25. *Sigh, yeah, I loved those grabbers as a kid, but they were hell as a parent. My mom thought it would be a good idea to give my (then) four year old a couple of the grabbers right after Halloween. Right after she had been introduced to slimy, gummy insect candy. It did not fare well. To the hospital we went while my daughter declared the grabbers to be the flavor of “wall”. All we could figure is that she had been licking walls or chipping off paint and eating it. She’s 14 now (somehow).

  26. My siblings and I used to get them in cereal boxes as kids, Corn Pops mostly I think. We always referred to them as Wacky Smackers, although I’m not sure why…

  27. I’ve come to confess a sin today. I stole a Kraang brain sticker out of a TMNT sticker book at Toys ‘R Us the other day.

    In other, less sobering news, TMNT: Next Mutation finally hits DVD on 9/4 and I also just read VR Troopers is on its way too.

  28. Definitely looks like an octo-spider

  29. Many years ago, when I was still quite small, my brother obtained one of those sticky toys- it was a blue spiked mace, not too dissimilar from the pink one shown above. The exact reasons as to why he had it elude me now, but I seem to recall having a grabby-hand one, so perhaps our parents, in a moment of weakness, had allowed us coins to spend in one such vending machine.

    Upon arriving home it took my brother all of about 5 minutes before the blue mace was stuck to the ceiling- the stupidly high cathedral ceiling in the living room which neither vacuum cleaner attachment nor ladder could reach. It remained there for many years- a sticky blue reminder of why my brother is not to be trusted with anything which might create some sort of mess.

    One day it came down. Whether it fell of its own accord or somebody had the means to climb up there and retrieve it I cannot recall. After it was gone one of my mother’s German friends (who would often stay with us when holidaying in Australia) stated something along the lines of “I never questioned it because I thought it was a weird Australian custom.”

  30. I watched Hellraiser 2 recently, and I certainly do NOT get your reference. Of course, I was drunk, and also watched, like, 6 other Hellraisers, most of which would be completely unwatchable to mere mortal man.
    Thanks Netflix.

  31. I recall whipping my bedroom wall with a sticky mace just to see the paint discolor. It didn’t. I still did so behind the curtains just in case. Planned ahead ever so slightly.

    Also, a Hellraiser reference is always welcome.

  32. Just saw this picture on reddit on a sticky hand that had been hanging in place for 11 years I think it said, seemed like a good place for it.

  33. oh shit, the second one is something I’ve been looking for photographs of for ages…though the plastic it’s trapped in kind of mangles it beyond recognition.

    They were just these sticky, fuzzy, bug-eyed nondescript worm creatures, but I used to get them in blister packs from the gas station as “wacky wallcrawlers” …not WallWALKERS, like the famous octopoids before them, but crawlers. Perhaps an attempt to recapture public interest in vertically-biased adhesive invertebrates.

    I got so many of them, so many times, that I thought for most of my childhood that they were a really major toy, but I’ve never found mention or pictures of them. You may have one of the last known specimens.

  34. I loved these! If I had a quarter, and there were multiple options, and the sticky machine was one of those options, sticky every damn time. So much fun, until it got covered in dog hair. You couldn’t get that crap off.

  35. Although not quite Masters of the Universe or Real Ghostbusters slime or even Ninja Turtles ooze in quality, the all time best vending machine prize will always be slime.

  36. A variation of these (with a weighted water ball on the end of the strap) made the papers in the UK a few years back because you can kill children quite effectively with them.
    Kid swings the sticky ball at arms length, winds it around their own neck a few times, and when it contracts it’s almost impossible to remove without scissors.

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