Studies in Crap: Fun with Chips Colorforms


Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

CHiPs Colorforms

Date: 1981
Discovered at: Thrift store
The Cover Promises: “Create your own scenes from Chips with COLORFORMS plastic pieces that Stick Like Magic.”

Hooray for smiles, highways and authority! At the tail end of those glum 1970s, when that peanut guy hurt America’s feelings by telling it things that were true, TV made everything sunshiney again by giving us Chips, that uplifting drama about male strippers who find redemption in the California Highway Patrol.

These days are kind of glum themselves, so your Crap Archivist felt great relief last week when Erik Estrada and that blond dude whose name has been lost to history motored back into my life.

At first, I thought these Colorforms — those re-stickable plastic adhesives beloved by kids who feared the one-shot commitment of real stickers or Presto Magics — seemed primitive in their coloring and design, especially when compared to later sets featuring fantastic creatures like the Gremlins or Michael Jackson.

For some reason, the Chips set features many unattached arms, legs and torsos. I questioned the sense of this as I applied them to the specially coated street scene included in the box.

It’s every kids’ first freeway carnage simulator!

Weirder still, my box came with two surprise bonus Colorforms.

California is a strange and terrible place.

The fun here is richer than nostalgia. Just as I had years ago, I quickly started affixing them to any surface that they would stick to.

Here’s my Chips Colorforms visiting friends in the country.


. . . and wintering on Tattooine.


They can hang with the Korean Orphan’s Choir . . .


. . . and even audition for like-minded hunks the Chippendales.

Moisten their backs, and they stick to TV screens. Here they enliven Left Behind II: Tribulation Force.


This doubled the film’s visual effects budget.

Like some proto-Blingee, they can pimp up your favorite photos. They make my Kansas childhood sparkle.

Let’s blow some minds! Here’s a CHiPS Colorform on a dusty mirror reflecting a computer monitor showing the cover of Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma.


Finally, the one closest to my heart. Here’s CHiPS on a Studies in Crap favorite: the bizarre postcard I bought in 2003 depicting the inner life of Rudy Giulani.