Colorforms: A Touch of Nostalgia

Colorforms 60th anniversary set

The Colorforms brand is celebrating 60 years of creation by releasing new products to match today’s generation.

What do you get when you put two artists together? In at least one case, you get a “sticky” concept of classic shapes that allow imaginations to run free.

In 1951, Harry and Patricia Kislevitz were given flexible, paper-thin vinyl by a friend who manufactured pocketbooks. Curiously, they began experimenting with the vinyl, cutting shapes and placing them on the bathroom walls in their New York City apartment. They noticed the vinyl stuck to the semi-gloss paint, but could also be removed and rearranged, so the two left a pair of scissors and pieces of vinyl in the bathroom so guests could make their own creations.

With that, the Colorforms concept was created. This month, the brand is celebrating its 60th anniversary, with the launch of a special-edition Colorforms set, FAO Schwarz display, an iPad/iPhone app, and more.

Originally designed for adults and artists, Colorforms quickly became a favorite among children. The product is one of the oldest and best-known brands in the toy industry, and was one of the first to be advertised on television, using the phrases “Sticks Like Magic” and “It’s More Fun to Play the Colorforms Way!”

In 1981, Colorforms acquired the licensing rights to Shrinky Dinks kits, and more than 50 different Shrinky Dinks activity and creativity kits were created. The Kislevitz’s sold the rights to Colorforms in the late 1990s. Toy Biz (now Marvel Toys) acquired the brand in 1998 before it was sold to University Games, where the brand remains today.

“Colorforms is a story crafting and story telling toy line for young children,” says Bob Moog, president and co-founder of University Games. “It’s really special because it invites kids to use their imagination and be creative in crafting stories about their favorite characters and their favorite subjects.”

In commemoration of Colorforms’ 60-year anniversary, University Games, which specializes in board games, books, puzzles, and more, has a series of events and releases to pay tribute to the brand. Children from ages 3 to 12 were invited to share their most creative work with Colorforms for the opportunity to win a Colorforms Art Camp Scholarship and an assortment of prizes, including a special prize of a $500 U.S Treasury bond for the best use of Colorforms Stick-Ons as an art medium.

FAO Schwarz, the first store licensed to sell Colorforms products, has put up a display complete with a demonstration area, which will run through the end of this year. The brand has also partnered with Toys “R” Us for an exclusive television campaign, highlighted by a commercial for the Magic Fashion Show and Brush with Genius Colorforms sets.

Additionally, 3,000 special-edition Colorforms sets, in silver packaging complete with a certificate of authenticity and registration number, are available online and at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. A traveling museum exhibit will debut next year.

University Games has partnered with Samantha Freeman Alpert of the New York City-based content creation firm Out Of The Blue Enterprises to release Colorforms Revolution, an app for the iPad and iPhone. Set to release in December, the app will be available for free download through January. Colorforms Revolution brings the same feel of a Colorforms set and is geometric-shaped based (basic circles, squares, and triangles).

Silly Faces and Miss Weather remain the top two best-selling Colorforms products. Newer licensed products include Moshi Monsters, Dora the Explorer, Green Lantern, My Little Pony, The Gruffalo, Tonka, and Transformers. To date, more than one billion Colorforms sets have been sold.

Moog believes that children love Colorforms because the themes are really strong. “It’s safe, self-directed play—very empowering for young children and wonderful developmentally for preschool children,” he says.

This post was originally written by Ericka Johnson and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.