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Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Although this product was intended for the german and dutch markets, I guess it was also commercialized in many other countries. This kind of drawing sets was very popular before and along the 70s. During the 80s there were some tries, but as far as I can remember, that sets were mostly intended for girls, as they allowed to draw fashionable dresses by combining three parts of a model (head, chest and arms, legs) creating a “unique” look.
This one is intended for boys, as it allows drawing Hot Wheels! cars. Up to 216 models can be drawn by combining 6 patterns. In this next picture, we can see the contents of the box, and a detailed view of the six patterns. These contents are: the Mattel-o-Graf, a set of four crayons, a pen, the six patterns, plus instructions. I guess it was very cheap to produce.
The patterns have three slots in each side to be attached firmly to the Mattel-o-Graf. One of the slots is placed in the middle of the drawing frame, depending if you want to use the upper, central or lower pattern. Previously, you have inserted a sheet of paper under it. Then you can draw the lines with a pencil, and repeat this operation three times. To complete a car, you have to superimpose three patterns: a red, a black and a green one.

To my surprise, the paintigns are great. I tried myself drawing (randomly) a couple of cars, and I was astounded to recognise real Hot Wheels models. I don't know who designed this toy or how, but, it's a great work.

The last page of the instructions show another "Picture Makers" / "Zeichemeister" that were also available at the time: one to design dresses for Barbie (which is also a Mattel product), and another one to make caricatures (see last picture). Unfortunately, these toys are now very rare to see. With the internet there are many possibilities to find images to colour (this tool seems very primitive in comparison to web applications in which you can design virtually an infinite number of figures, changing heads, chests, arms, hands....) I guess children nowadays don't find entertaining to draw using this kind of invention. Or maybe they haven't tried yet...

  • Year: 1969
  • Company: Mattel (U.S.A.)


  1. Strange enough the box is German, but all other text is Dutch.
    Very cool!

  2. Good point! Maybe it came with German and Dutch instruction sheets, but the German one got lost, who knows? Anyway, a simplified version of the German instructions is printed in the box.

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. I was just going through stuff in my basement and found my old American version. Where your box says "Zeichenmeister," mine says "Picture Maker." Instead of "Heisse Rader Seichen Set," mine says "Car Designer Set."

    Just to the left of the kid's head, mine has some extra text which indicates it was a newer version. It says "Now Included! Textured Color Patterns for Perfect Pictures." And in tiny print below that, it has a 1969 copyright notice.

  4. Hi John!

    Thanks a lot for that information! I just updated the entry to include it. If you were planning to play it with your children, I am curious about what would they say about that...

    And mine doesn't have that texture patterns, but I can imagine what it is.


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