Shrinky Dinks Maker
In 1973, a woman named Betty Morris became a hero to the children of the decade. Faced with a pack of bored Cub Scouts, she was brainstorming activity ideas and happened upon a craft book which mentioned that certain plastic container lids would shrink when placed in an oven. The Scouts loved the concept, and Shrinky Dinks were born!
Shrinky Dinks, when heated in an oven for several minutes, shrink to one-third their original size and nine times their original thickness.
Shrinky Dinks lasted into the 1980's and early 1990's, with licensed kits ranging from Pac Man and Masters of the Universe to Mr. T. After being absent from the market for several years, Klutz press published the Shrinky Dinks Book and the Shrinky Dinks Refill Pack, both still requiring the use of an oven to make the magic happen.
In 2001, Spin Master Toys gave parents a break: their Incredible Shrinky Dinks Maker takes the oven out of the Shrinky Dinks equation. Using a light bulb as the heat element, the Incredible Shrinky Dinks Maker is safer for children (over 8) to use than an oven or a toaster oven. The Shrinky Dinks are popped into the Maker on one side, then into a cooling chamber, and then can be removed when they are cool enough to be safe to touch. This means that parents can supervise without having to work the oven for the child.
The Incredible Shrinky Dinks Maker can be found at Kmart, Target, KB, FAO Schwarz and Toys'R'Us, in the $24.99 to $29.99 USD price range. It can also be found online at Amazon.com (sold in a bundle with a refill kit).
Also available in stores are refill kits. (The refill kits also work in a conventional oven.) The refill kits range in price from $5.99 to $8.99 USD. Basic refill kits ("Activity Kits") are $5.99, the deluxe refill kits (such as the "Magical Pony Key Chains") are $7.99, and licensed refill kits are $8.99. The first licensed kits have themes based on the Simpsons and Monsters, Inc. Spin Master will have other licensed kits available in the Spring of 2002.
The Incredible Shrinky Dinks Maker itself comes with three sheets of the shrinkable plastic, three colored pencils, three key chains, a magnetic strip (for making fridge or locker magnets!), two shrink trays, a shrink tray tool, and a booklet with images to trace. Each Maker comes with the same three colors of pencils (red, yellow, and blue), but the refill kits each have random colors included.
You'll need one of these.
Not included with the Maker, but necessary for it to work, is a 60-watt round clear candelabra base light bulb (G16 1/2). The RTM Test Lab Monkey bought the wrong light bulb at first, so be sure to double-check which kind you buy if you are getting this as a gift for someone else.
A Few Tips on Using the Maker
Click to see pictures of the Incredible Shrinky Dink Maker in action
- The see-through window says "hot: do not touch" - they really mean it.
- The trays for the Maker are only 4 inches on each side, so the Shrinky Dink you are shrinking needs to be that size or smaller. If you wanted to do an entire sheet, you'll have to use your regular oven, as it won't fit in the Maker.
- If you are having trouble in pushing the tray evenly into the cooling drawer, turn the machine around. The RTM Test Lab Monkey is right-handed, and found it easier to work from "behind" the machine rather than in "front," so that she could use the shrink tray tool to push with her right hand without twisting around.
- Be sure to follow the instructions: preheat the Maker for 20 minutes before using, and leave each Shrinky Dink in the heating chamber for 4 to 5 minutes (until it is flat) before pushing it into the cooling chamber.
- The timer does NOT make a noise when the cooling cycle is complete, but instead makes noise during the cycle and stops when the cycle is complete.
- If the drawer won't open after the timer stops, it is a problem with the tray-being-cooled not having been pushed all the way into the drawer. The tray pushes down a metal flap as it goes into the cooling chamber. This flap needs to close again before the chamber can be opened. It does take a bit of practice to get the tray all the way into the drawer so that the metal flap closes back, but once you get the hang of it, it's a snap. (Maybe two or three tries to learn it and then you'll have this skill forever. It's not a bad idea to practice with the machine off at first. Even with the machine off, you'll have to run the timer to get the drawer open.)
The RTM Staff enjoyed playing with the Incredible Shrinky Dinks Maker, but were not sure how to explain what we were doing. We were shrinking or dinking? Or shrinky-dinking? A quick phone call to Spin Master revealed that the proper way to express it is: "shrinking Shrinky Dinks."
To see a Shrinky Dink begin to shrink, watch this 468k video. (This video can be viewed with Windows Media Player. Media Player is a free download if you do not have it.) The sound in the background is the timer for the cooling chamber. The camera was very close to the Maker, so the timer sounds quite loud.