Toymakers in the 50s and 60s loved plastic. And why not? It’s a cheap material, colorful, and can be used in many ways. Building toys, especially. When I was growing up, the main ones were Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs (both made of wood) and Erector Sets (made of steel). But both were limited. Lincoln Logs just allowed you to build log cabins, Tinkertoys were totally freeform, and Erector Sets were held together by nuts and bolts that were a pain to set up and take down. When my parents took a trip to Copenhagen, they brought back a Danish toy that I had never seen in the US: Legos. The other toys were lost in their wake.
Not that people tried. Whitman, Inc. had been making a toy since the 30s, and changed it to plastic. Instead of making houses, you made people and animals. They called it “Krazy Ikes.”
It was a clever design. There were several bodies, with little round stubs – a sphere on a short connector – for the legs, arms, and heads. There were also heads, but the key were the arm/legs. These snapped onto the stubs and could be moved in any position (think ball-and-socket joint). This made the results fully artculatable and posable in any postion. You could mix and match to make anything you wanted.
It was a brilliant idea. Not only could you make whatever you wanted, but you could also play with them, interchange parts, and generally have fun.
Alas, the toy had a very short life. By the 70s, it was gone. Too bad. I enjoyed it almost as much as Lego – and mostly because you could use your imagination.