The Mattel Spinwelder Was the Coolest Christmas Gift of the 1970s

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Flash back to 1974. I was six years old, and Santa Claus arrived at my house with a sack full of socks, long underpants and pajamas. But in the far back corner was a rectangular box that rattled when you shook it, indicating goodness inside. It was a Spinwelder, and I was the luckiest kid on Cunningham Street.

The idea of the Spinwelder was this: You had a box of miscellaneous parts, including plastic girders and panels with holes. You also got the Spinwelder, which looked something like a hot glue gun.

On the end of the Spinwelder, you’d place a tiny, plastic rivet. Depressing the trigger on the Spinwelder would spin the rivet to about 11,000,343 RPM. Touching the rivet to the plastic generated enough friction to melt the rivet, thereby holding the plastic panel to the girder.

The Spinwelder also had a pointed attachment that you’d use to put something like a butt weld on the plastic girders. When you were done, you’d use the Spinwelder to power the car you built.

Oh, the hours of fun I’d have, inhaling the gentle wisps of burning plastic smoke in my bedroom. I probably gave myself asthma and took 11 years off my life, but come on, DRAGSTER I BUILT MYSELF.

The downfall, of course, was that there was only enough plastic in the kit to do one model, and you had to practice for about 357 hours to get anything that resembled a decent-looking weld, thereby using up your plastic inventory on rehearsals, rather than the final product. If your parents were cheap like mine were, the prospect of purchasing another kit for $11 in the doldrums of February was out of the question.

Nevertheless, if anybody has a Spinwelder, I would drop everything and come to your house RIGHT NOW to use it.

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Craig Fitzgerald

Craig Fitzgerald

Writer, editor, lousy guitar player, dad. Content Marketing and Publication Manager at