Slime was a toy product manufactured by Mattel, sold in a plastic rubbish bin and introduced in the winter of 1976. It consisting of a non-toxic viscous, oozing green material made primarily from guar gum. Different variations of Slime were released over the years, including Slime of differing hues containing rubber insects, eyeballs, and worms and Masters of the Universe Slime for Hordak’s Slime Pit playset in the 1980s.
The late 1970s also introduced a Slime Monster board game; the object of the game was to avoid having your game piece ‘slimed’ on by a foot-tall plastic monster that had slime oozing from its mouth. Other toy companies have produced their own slime such as the “Ecto-Plazm [sic]” sold with select figures in Kenner’s Real Ghostbusters toyline. Playmates’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figure line also had Retro-Mutagen slime sold in containers and included with playsets.
In scientific terms, slime is classified as a non-Newtonian fluid. These are thick liquids that have a variable viscosity, the measurement of the resistance to flow when a shearing force is applied. Newtonian fluids have a constant viscosity depending on their composition. For example, water is always a thin liquid with a low viscosity. Molasses is thick and has a high viscosity. Non-Newtonian fluids, like slime, have a different viscosity based on the amount of force put on them. If a small amount of force is applied, such as stirring them slowly with your fingers, they feel thin and water-like. If a high force is applied, like throwing it against a wall, the resistance is very strong. They are called non-Newtonian fluids because they do not behave as predicted by Newton’s laws. Other materials that also behave like this include ketchup, gelatin, glue, and quicksand. Slime as a toy dates back to the 1920′s when chemist Hermann Staudinger was researching polymers.
In non-scientific terms, slime was one of the must-haves for any 70’s or 80’s youth. The shocking uranium imbued colours and endless possibilities were simply too much to resist. Alas, as with many of these fantastically marketed toys, the sad truth was soon realised – there really wasn’t anything you could do with it.
After five minutes of sneeze-related gags your hands were soon both cold and neon and the clean-up operation had to begin in earnest. Perhaps more than any other substance created, it was doomed to find itself troubling inanimate objects, in my case the family roll-top bureau, the only piece of furniture we had which we were specifically told to be careful around. To compound the issue, the particular strain of slime I had was the day-glo pink with rubber worm trim.
The main components are the polysaccharide guar gum and sodium tetraborate. Instead of the polysaccharide, other alcohol-group containing polymers may be used, such as polyvinyl alcohol, however polymers formed in this way are more often called flubber. It is possible to make slime in the comfort of your own dwelling.
- 1 cup hot water
- 1.5 tsp. Borax (non-toxic/available by laundry detergents)
- 2 cups clear glue
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 tsp. liquid watercolor
What to do:
- Mix 1 cup hot water and 1.5 tsp. of Borax until dissolved. Set aside.
- Mix 2 cups of clear glue and 2 cups of warm water together in a plastic bowl.
- Using a metal spoon, slowly pour Borax mixture into the glue mixture while stirring quickly. Stir until the mixture leaves the side of the bowl. Slime will be sticky. Knead the mixture until it is no longer sticky. The more you work with it the easier it will become.
I have not attempted this and accept no responsibility for mishaps, fatal or otherwise.
Realising that slime alone was quickly being rumbled as even more useless than silly putty, Mattel put the wheels in motion to give the substance more of a purpose. Their big hitter was their Slime Monster board game, a typically baffling affair that consisted of a pleasingly large marauding plastic monster who you had to stop destroying a town. Via a spinner, you worked your way across town in a big to plant a landmine (!) to destroy him. If you were unlucky, the monster would spew slime over the plastic character representing you, ruining the carpet and anything else in its path.
Following later were Slime It’s Alive!, the same sticky goo but with eyeballs and other treats hidden within, the aforementioned pink slime with rubber worms, and Ooze It, an oddly pathetic-looking green monster who when filled with red slime would expel it from various orifices.
By 1986, it was a no-holds-barred affair, Dissect an Alien was a toy from 1986 where an alien could be cut open, its organs removed, with a bucket of “slime” to serve as blood.
Daz Lawrence, MOVIES and MANIA
Image credits: Plaid Stallions | Stretch Armstrong World