This blog post about Lite Brite triggered memory of some of the toys from my childhood. I needed some help from the hive mind to recall the name of some of these, which I hadn't thought about in a long, long time.
Mighty Men and Monster Makers holds the distinction of being the first present I ever found before it was given to me. I was probably in first grade and was snooping in my parents' bedroom closet. I'm pretty sure I felt guilty then about what I did. Remembering it makes me kind of relive the guilt all over. The toy allowed you to switch out various parts and make rubbings of, well, mighty men and monsters. (Scroll to 4:36 to see the old TV commercial.)
The name of rub-on transfers, or action transfers, eluded me, but once I was assisted in identifying them, I found them by the brand I remember most: Presto Magix rub-on transfers. You could use a sharp pencil or the included special stick to rub the transfers onto a canvas to make your own scenes. Along the same line were the thin vinyl images known as Colorforms that you could stick onto a laminated background.
Looking back at these toys, I'm sort of amazed that such items held my interest as a kid. I suppose the attraction was the ability to interact with these simple playthings, to create my own stories and creatures. How powerful too is the nostalgia that comes with remembering them. I wasn't entirely prepared for that.