I confess I was besotted with the IDEA of "Shaker Maker," not the least for it's vague "ick" factor. The box art was vivid and attracting, including a pink pop-art cat in spectacles that I fell instantly in love with. The reality of the toy was something else altogether.
I remember the stink of that "Shaker Maker" crud as if it were yesterday; I can still summon it up the same as I can recall the odor of a particularly foul excretion from one of my baby nephews that I diapered 20 years or more ago. The olfactory assault was nothing as terrible as babyfilth but it was certainly unpleasant and lasted until the gloppy, gray compound dried, so you had to endure it a few days at least, while the figure you'd just created leered tauntingly at you from a window sill or shelf.
And that was another thing. Shaker Maker toys seemed to take forever to dry--here's the worst idea for a kid's toy ever invented: something where the child has to WAIT for RESULTS! Next to the apple "shrunken head" kit that Vincent Price hawked in the late 70s I can think of few "toys" that were as patience-testing (and the shrunken head one only wins because the set up you had to go through to make an "apple drying" station was so elaborate and unpleasant) and yielded such unsatisfying results.
At the end of a few days or so, if you could wait that long, what started life as a fun, wiggly, round character model turned into a tiny, shriveled piece of...chalk! In fact, my brother and I eventually tried using the figures we'd made for chalk on the sidewalk in front of our house and the toy even disappointed in that office...
Actually, the figures weren't just useless, they were ugly too! By the time they had shrunk to their final size the things were so small and wrinkled looking they were hard to paint, and the paint was porous (one assumes because it was safer than something oil-based) so it never covered very well. You inevitably ended up with something that looked like a small, garish, clown-colored effigy of Bette Davis in "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane." And if you made the mistake of adding the accessories to your figure before it was COMPLETELY dried (which could take up to a week) you risked the figure growing too small for the accessory and having the parts fall off or something.
And what were you to DO with the thing, once it was created? My memory is that you got about 4 or 5 packs of powder, enough to make one or two of each creature on the box cover, and assuming you did that the first night you opened your toy that meant you were done in about 15 minutes and the rest was all waiting for the stuff to dry into ossified offal! And then of course you were out of "magic" powder and had to order more, immediately, if you wanted to keep playing with your beloved toy.
Even "Sea Monkeys" were more fun, ultimately!
The next line, the "monster" version, was better in that the shriveled final form actually worked as a goal to strive for, but the hair never glued on properly and became a sticky mess, the glow in the dark paint never adhered well and was much better utilized, I found, dabbled on my sister's face while she slept in her room next door to mine.
It's rather hard for me to believe I was so in love with this toy as a kid that I got TWO lines of it (and, researching it on-line I remember coveting the "Flintstone" and "Disney" renditions). I don't remember it ever being anything but a nuisance! And yet the popularity of the "Shaker Maker" toy remains to this day.