Mattel’s Slime was the favorite toy of every kid with a slight gross streak. It was also the enemy of every mother with a clean carpet. But how did this glob of chemical’s become so popular and intersect with three different pop culture franchises? That is a story that takes us back to the neon drenched days of the disco era: 1976.
Slime was first introduced by toy maker Mattel in the winter of 1976. Green in color and cold to the touch, Slime would ooze between your fingers and encase your hand, toys or even your little sister’s or brother’s hair (if you were particularly mischievous). Made from guar gum (polysaccharide) and borax (sodium tetraborate), the vicious goo would retain its semi-solid form for a long time, as long as you returned it to accompanying “trash can” and closed it tightly after you were done playing. Those that forgot this important step eventually found their gooey fun transformed into a stiff and crunchy mess. Rereleases over its 14 year run, ending in 1990, saw the inclusion of rubber insects, worms and even eyeballs making sure that it was near the top of most Christmas lists especially when it came to the “gross fun” kid set. Mattel also released a Slime Monster board game in the late 70s which saw a group of players working their way around the board and avoiding the hideous green Slime monster that was waiting for you if you were unlucky enough to land on the spot below it.
Slime has oozed its way into several pop culture franchises. The first of these is Hordak’s Horde Slime Pit from the Masters of the Universe franchise in the early 80s. Hordak is the main antagonist for She-Ra, Princess of Power on Etheria and a rival for Eternia’s main villain, Skeletor. The Hordak Horde Slime Pit play set makes excellent use of Slime as a skeletal claw holds the victim against a stylized brick wall with a red archway with Hordak’s face carved into its center. Above them, a huge dinosaur head awaits and when a button is pressed in the back of the head, Slime flows from its mouth and smothers the captive. Sticky green torture ensues for the good guys or even the occasional bad guy that gets on Hordak’s bad side.
Kenner was the next company to create and use a variation of Slime in several ways. This time its Real Ghostbusters toy line was the focus. The Real Ghostbusters cartoon features the characters from the 1984 live action Ghostbusters film and its subsequent sequel. These are not to be confused with the Filmation Ghostbusters cartoon or the 1975 live action series called The Ghost Busters (which is an article of television untangling all its own quite honestly). In 1987 though, Kenner created a purple/pink version of Slime which they called Ecto-Plazm Play Gel. Eventually they added the colors of red, yellow and blue to the line. Kenner then went on to create five action toys and one play set that used and included its Ecto-Plazm Play Gel.
The first of the toys is the Banshee Bomber. As one of the Gooper Ghosts line of toys, the Banshee Bomber was a winged ghost that could hold a bucket of goop in his jaws as it lay in wait for the Ghostbusters. The mouth is also big enough to scoop up one of the Ghostbuster figures. With the included 6 ounce bucket of Ecto-Plazm Play Gel, movement of the tail actually caused air to make the Ecto-Plazm bubble up and flow from the toy’s mouth and nose. The tail also caused the tongue to move so it gives the appearance of the Bomber licking its lips.
The second of the Gooper Ghosts is the Squisher. The Squisher is a gigantic red face with bugged-out eyes, a long nose, huge mouth and white teeth. The Squisher has long, thin movable arms to grab its victim and lift it over its head or push them into its mouth. Moving the tail around would move the arms up and down and pushing the head down would cause Ecto-Plazm to flow from the Squishers nose and mouth rolling all over the trapped Real Ghostbuster figure.
The third Gooper Ghost to come with its own can of purple Ecto-Plazm is the aptly named Sludge Bucket. Resembling a large yellow slug with a plastic bubble in its mouth, this set also held both the included slime and had space for a single action figure within the maw. Marrying the options from the first two sets, moving the tail would make the tongue move and cause the Ecto-Plazm to bubble up until it burst its seal and the Plazm poured out.
The fourth of the Ghostbusters to feature its own included Ecto-Plazm, in this case a 1.75 oz can, is the carded Mini Gooper set called Brain Matter and Stomach Stuff. Both are much smaller ghosts than the previous entries. The Brain Matter ghost looks like a blue version of the head of the mutant from the classic sci-fi film, This Island Earth with tiny tentacles at the bottom. The Stomach Stuff ghost looks like a yellow open egg sack of the Xenomorphs from the Alien franchise with large yellow feet.
The last of the Gooper Ghosts is perhaps the most famous. Billed as the Green Ghost, this ghost is actually Slimer, the famous grub goobling ghost from the films and a member of the cartoon team. This is not the first Slimer toy but it is the first to use the included Ecto-Plazm. Slimer has his mouth open wide and his arms outstretched ready to grab a snack or a bad ghost. What makes him part of the Gooper series is his detachable backpack. Once you fill the backpack and press the attached pump, goop will ooze out of his mouth to give his friends a nice, sloppy kiss.
Last but not forgotten, there is one action figure set we should mention which uses Ecto-Plazm. It is the famous firehouse which the Ghostbusters used as their headquarters. In addition to its other amenities, there is a “ghost grate” to contain the ooze and a containment unit for ghosts. A prize possession in any slime collection!
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchise of toys from Playmates was the next toy line to put Slime to use. Slime in this franchise is called Retromutagen Ooze (or simply Ooze). This name ties the slime to the chemicals that created the Turtles (and the powers of Marvel’s Daredevil as implied in the original independent comic). Like its counterparts, the Retromutagen Ooze was originally available only as a closed bucket. Playmate’s eventually started including the Ooze with its toy sets. However, there were a few toys that directly used the Ooze as part of its working design. The Retrocatapult is such a toy. As the name implies, it is a one person catapult that slings the Ooze as a true catapult would sling a rock. The Retrocatapult has a chair for one Turtle, a turtle shell shield and stabilizer legs.
The unfortunately named Flushomatic is the next TMNT toy that utilizes the Ooze. It is an actual toy toilet on top of an arch way with a reservoir underneath. The figure can be strapped into the reservoir and Ooze can be poured in the toilet to eventually fall on the figure below. There is also a blade just below the toilet that spreads the Ooze as it falls.
As far as action figures go, the 90s Mutagen Man is one that directly utilized the Ooze. A victim of Krang’s experiments, the Mutagen Man is a drippy and ever changing mess of a character. He is armed with a mutagen gun and is the epitome of TNMT ick!
Finally, the Oozey is a mess of a Foot Clan Weapon. Disguised as a pizzeria, the Oozey is actually a standing cannon that shoots trash cans of Ooze at the Turtles. As with many of the Slime related toys, the TMNT figures and sets that used Ooze trailed off after the early 90s.
Slime has also found its gooey way into a number of real world situations thanks the fine folks at Nickelodeon. Starting with the Canada based children’s sketch show You Can’t Do That On Television, slime (also called Gak) was used on anyone who uttered the phrase “I don’t know”. This became so popular that Slime was used liberally in the Nickelodeon game shows Double Dare, Wild and Crazy Kids and Figure It Out. Even today, unsuspecting celebrities might find themselves the recipient of a Slime bath on the Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards. Almost every time, they consider it an honor.
Want to learn how to make your own slime? Enterprising children and retro-minded adults can actually make their own version of Slime with common household products. And while the recipe is far too long to include here (and scientifically beyond this writer’s brain) an amazing summary can be found here. Don’t let your mother catch you playing with it on her carpet!
Slime, ooze, vicious, porous and cold are not generally words that one would associate with children’s toys and fun, but Slime has crawled its way into the hearts and toy boxes of thousands of children over the years. This amazing concoction led to so many other advances in gross fun and at home science that it deserves its own statue in a Hall of Fame somewhere… although I have no idea how you’d get it to stay on the podium.