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!)