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If you are looking to see how much your melmac is worth, read this post. MOBILE USERS: Scroll down below posts to find a searchable directory of plastics and antiques.
Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Hong Kong's Spinning Tops Gumball Machine Plastics Fantastic Era of Love

Hong Kong Spinning Tops
Rare color variants in spinning tops toys from Hong Kong find them at RetroChalet

I think my favorite vintage plastics are the tiny toy sized miniature creations that stemmed out of Hong Kong.  Most of these novelty gifts were just being phased out when I was growing up in the 70's. Hong Kong was big into making toys for the USA in the 60s and 70s, but by the 80's production shifted to China and seemingly, never turned back.  According to this article by Alisa Chau, she claims that Hong Kong was the largest toy exporter of the 70's. That must be true, because I remember seeing so many of these type toys growing up. 

Much like you see some of the manual gumball machines today, these things were everywhere. My parents could not go into a store, restaurant or mall without me seeing the brightly colored vintage gumball machines.  There were usually rows of them, the higher priced (25 cents) in the back and the cheapie ones in the front for only 5 cents or 10 cents.  The ones in the back usually had those plastic football helmets with peelable stickers on them.  For being a quarter, they were very detailed, stickers well-made and fun for you to put together. 

vintage spinning tops retrochalet

The toys were colorful and the size of acorns. I thought they were molded well. RetroChalet

I however, liked to spend my money wisely, and I could obtain five 5 cents gumball machine toys for the price of that one helmet.  So, I had a bunch of little novelty items come out.  Sometimes it was a pencil eraser, a mini plastic car, or a small replica of King Kong, (or sometimes I just wanted the Spree candies) however once in awhile I got lucky with a great quality molded plastic toy much like these, a plastic spinning top. 

hong kong plastic toys

I thought I did quite well for a quarter back in the day... Find them at RetroChalet on sale now.

Most , if you looked closely enough, had the tiny words "HONG KONG" printed on them.   For the rest of you who were not even a thought when I was growing up, I hope you can see the cuteness that I see in these toys.  They were molded quite well for "el cheapo" toys and some have even lasted all this time. 

I would imagine some will still be floating around much after the kids of my era are long gone. Plastic is fantastic, and less and less of it will be in existence one day.  It's nice to think of the story of the item rather than just collecting it.  What are your favorite toy memories? 

This post sponsored by Vikings in Maine, and Living a Vintage Life Podcast. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Steri-Lite Plastic STERILITE COMPANY Connections to Tupperware

Sterilite Picnic Set
Sterilite Box with full picnic set For sale at RetroChalet

The Sterilite Corporation

Kudos to Sterilite who is one of the few plastic factories who has withstood the test of time.  The Sterilite Corporation is still in business and started in 1939.  You may or may not realize originally the company started in partnership with Earl Tupper.  (One of the creators of Tupperware.) Imagine that!  All good things come from plastic.   According to the website at the time of today's post, I took this little snippet, . " Sterilite is the largest plastic houseware manufacturing company in North America with seven plants totaling over 12 million square feet'  

I'm glad as a small bbq business owner myself, that a family business has lasted so long. You may not even realize when you are walking through the Wallyworld just how many products they make.  From pull out plastic cabinets to totes and bins,(of which I'm looking at some now that hold my Etsy stock),  their presence in our daily lives is prominent.  For vintage collectors, you may find pieces marked Sterli-Lite or Sterilite.  For the sake of this post, I'm only talking about the picnic sets. They weren't made of melmac, but most likely a Polystyrene plastic.

steri-lite vintage plastics
Inside of an Original Sterilite Picnic Set  at RetroChalet

The picnic sets were quite popular in the 40's and 50's and are a hit with people who had campers. For the working families of the 1950's, having a travel trailer would be the ultimate family vacation.  Picnics were also a huge thing, whether it be in a park for the day or not, these sets were very popular.  Grandparents also enjoyed them, due to the fact they were light weight and pretty and easy to deal with making a quick snack for the grandkids. 

In collecting, some of Sterilite Picnic Sets you will find:  (often unmarked)  Steri-Lite 

1.  RARE TO FIND:  Actual Wicker Wooden Baskets full of Sterilite Picnic Sets - with dishes strapped in and places for plastic sterilite utensils.  Finding a set with all pieces and still mint is rare, but it happens.  I assume utensils would have been easier to break or lose. 

2. RARE TO FIND:  Boxed sets like mine, often called Picnic Sets , rare but out there.  Especially in primary or pastel colors will be most collectible. 

sterilite vintage plastics
This item sold at LSVintageDesign but shows the snakpak, more common and what I often find in the thrift stores. Note the original silverware will be hardest to find.  The box is a rare gem.

STILL COMMON:  SNAK PAKS -(ABOVE) These pieces are more common and popular, and easy to find.  Often these were four rounded picnic plates with indents in the center to hold the cup.  A big hit with moms with kids.   Finding the original box is not as common and considered rare. I have not seen one in years. 

UNCOMMON:  The picnic sets still sealed in plastic bag sets.  Most often I think these were found in the dime stores of the 1970's and maybe into the 1980's, they came in a bag with graphics.  If you are lucky enough to find one unopened, that's impressive.  Often they were opened, and used, and floating around in flea markets. 

Other manufacturers of simliar vintage picnic sets: 

INGRID - Big for their party balls. 

TUCKER - Often looks much like Sterilite

JERYWIL - Often rectangular 

REGALINE - Simliar to the SnakPaks

Mod PIcnic Set

This STERILITE set from HipFindsCo, is most likely a 70's-80's set, shaped much like INGRID party balls. This a prime examle of Sterilite staying on top their game!

Back to my set, the funky bright colors make this set a rare find and a real gem. You can see how the original set was packaged by the manufacturer, carefully thought out. In this original box, there is a premade slot for display and actually thin kraft like paper in between the pieces.  This would have displayed nicely in a retail store. 

Sterilite vintage plastics
Rare original stickers say this can withstand scalding water! Pic: RetroChalet

The rarest of rare, is the original stickers still on these little cups.  It says they can withstand scalding water but does say to avoid ovens and any surfaces with open flames.  As you know, tea was quite popular as was coffee back in those days and one of the problems in melmac collecting is often the unsightly coffee stains.  Additionally, when I looked closely at the yellow plate in my set, I could see swirling which is a super cool part of the molding process. 

This set is a rare find in the original box. I picked it up years ago at an antique mall in Pennsylvania. The dealer had cleaned out an old hardware store, and I assume these would have been sold in the picnic or camper section. It stood in a dusty attic of the store for years, and thanks to the strength of the plastic, it withstood the test of time.  I hate to part with it, but I'm making a huge move cleaning out some of my precious plastics. 

It's currently offered for $125.00 and free shipping but to my readers you can use code RETRO10 at checkout to take 10% off.  Find it here:

Do you own any Sterilite? Let me know!

If you like this post, Read about INGRID's party balls here. 

This Post Sponsored by: 

Retro Chalet Studio: Natural Home Decor

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Vintage Garden Plastic Flowers Mettlesome Means Ivory Snow

vitnage plastic flowers from etsy
Vintage plastic flowers on Etsy : Glory in the Cabinet has a small bunch for $29.72 note the stems.

All vintage plastic is fantastic!  Lately I have been happening across these really funky vintage plastic flowers at estate sales and yard sales.  Often stored in the attic or basement, it's hard to find them in good shape.   Today I'm going to tell you how to notice them and tell you some really cool history!

Vintage Cornucopia from Meddlesome Means
Mettlesome Means on Etsy has this great vintage cornucopia. 
Imagine your plastic flowers in there. BOOM.

This post is inspired by Mettlesome Means Etsy shop.  They focus on super cool garden and home decor. Many planters, flower frogs and vases can be found in their home to mix and match with your plastic fantastic.   

Molded plastic flowers were primarily sold from the 50s to present, and often bought for decorations in the home, garden, or to put on graves. I can spot the vintage ones really well thanks to the following traits. Often people confuse the newly made molded plastic flowers with the vintage, but here's some hints on how to spot the difference. 

1. The vintage molded flowers will feel more brittle and look way more fake than today's creations.  The new plastic components give them more flexibility and some plastic flowers of today look just like the real deal.  This is not true of the vintage ones.  Often times when you find them at estate or flea markets they may be so brittle that the petals may fall off in your hand. This is due to the earlier plastics mixture used and storage in hot areas, you may also see discoloration in the petals, which is caked up dust from years of storage. 

2. The flowers may appear thicker in design that the ones you see today.  The petals will be thicker and often "chunky".

vintage candleholders from etsy
The Flamingo Meadow has these candlerings on Etsy.  These are most likely 70s-80s

3. Candle ring style flowers have an easy tell.  I group them into the 50's-60's or the 70's-80's era.  The flowers with either look a) completely fake and gaudy (70's-80's)  or b) have a more simplistic, gappy design (50's-60's).  For instance, a vintage candle ring which is to adorn a long sleek taper candle from the 50's will have unsightly gaps in the flowers or spots where you simply seen the green ring and not flowers, as if some were missing or the designer thought a candle ring would look good this way but in fact it looks cheesy.   They were made in my opinion not as detailed, more simplified, and have gaps in their designs. Fast forward to the 70's and 80's they became  less gappy and more gaudy, flowers flowers everywhere!  Totally more unrealistic.  Although lots of pinks and baby blues, they were cute in tehir own right, but mainly the middle or the flowers above, you can tell is really fake.

4. The stems aka stalks will be simply wire, coated in green plastic.  Over time the plastic may have chipped off . 

5. The plastic flowers of today are much more detailed, often having four and five sprigs to a flower, where the older ones may have one flower per stalk. 

6. Todays' flowers may make you look twice, to know they are fake!

Flower Frog, Vintage, Meddlesome Means
Gorgeous flower frog for sale at Mettlesome Means Etsy Shop on Etsy. 

Ivory Snow!

Believe it or not, Ivory Snow used to give all kinds of free things away, back in the day, such as free Christmas ornaments in the box, but also FREE ARTIFICIAL ROSES in every box for a limited time. 

Free molded roses in Ivory Snow

Limited boxes had these free giveaways.

The bigger the box, the bigger the buds , you can see a video which shows you all about the roses and how they look. This will not only help you identify vintage fake roses, but give you a cool glimpse into yesteryear! Watch the full video here: 


home decorators melmac go with

These remind me of one of my favorite Home Decorators melmac patterns by Russel Wright, they would make a cute go-with.  Find them at Mettlesome Means on Etsy.