Friday, September 02, 2011

Concerning Plasticine

When I was young, there was no playstation or xbox. But I’m not that old so I did have a Nintendo with Super Mario Brothers. When I was not stomping on goombas or saving attention seeking princesses I used to play with plasticine. Multi coloured strips of modelling clay that unfortunately all tasted the same. Luckily, they weren’t for consumption (experiential learning) and I spent hours creating war time scenes between Noddy and the inhabitants of the Faraway Tree (I was messed up – I guess you can blame the plasticine).

The history of plasticine, or play-doh as its called in America is quite inspirational. Back in the early twentieth century, coal powered furnaces were the preferred choice for heaters. The sooty residue would cling onto the wallpaper and the only way to remove it was to use a clay based cleaner. Kutol Products were one of the companies that manufactured this cleaner. After World War 2 these furnaces were replaced by conversion furnaces (powered by oil or gas) This along with new wallpapers made from vinyl which could be cleaned with soapy water meant that Kutol’s wall cleaner was fast becoming a video cassette in a dvd world.

Luckily, they discovered that kids loved playing with the stuff. So they replaced the solvent smell with an almond scent, added some colouring and re-packaged it as ‘Play-Doh’. Thus saving the company, and making a fortune.

James L. Brooks touched on this story in his crappy Romcom ‘How Do You Know’ (2010) when one of the characters used the story as an analogy to drive home a great quote (in an otherwise forgettable movie)

“We are all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work.”

Lego isn’t the same as plasticine. I could build a mean lego house. But that’s about it. Plasticine doesn’t hurt your foot when you step on it. I miss moulding the world in my hands. I miss making dinosaurs and burgers. I miss plasticine.

MJ

References:

Walsh, T (2005) Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them. Andrews McMeel Publishing. (Pages 115 -119)

How Do You Know (2010) Film. James L. Brooks. United States of America. Gracie Films. Columbia Pictures.

1 comment:

Waseem said...

I couldn't make anything with plasticine that didn't end up being a snake.

word veri -matie