For less than $300, you too can own a piece of comics-related plastics history!
As of early Nov. 11, this Batman item was listed at $220 on the auction site eBay. It's Batman's Bat-Maker Pak from sometime around 1966, when Bat-mania was at its peak because of the classic TV show. Toymaker Mattel had launched the Thingmaker in 1964, shortly after it introduced Vac-U-Form.
The Thingmaker let kids pour a mysterious liquid called Plastigoop into molds, then heat them to make rubbery toys. It later was rebranded as Creepy Crawlers and had a longer shelf life, even later owned by two other companies. Vac-U-Form did something similar by thermoforming plastic sheets.
Around the same time, Marx Toys introduced a toy similar to the Thingmaker with Disney characters. In 1969, Mattel added a set with Snoopy and the Peanuts characters. These toys undoubtedly introduced kids to manufacturing processes and maybe even inspired future plastics engineers.
It's hard to figure out exactly what kind of plastic was in Plastigoop. Some fan sites — yes, they do exist — just call it "a liquid chemical substance." The original version proved to be unsafe (remember, this was the era of lawn darts) but a safer version is still available on fan site Patti-Goop. In 2016, Mattel had plans to bring back the Thingmaker as a 3D printer, but those plans appear to have stalled.
Thanks to nostalgia site Plaid Stallions for finding Batman's Bat-Maker Pak. We raise a bottle of Plastigoop to you!