Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Ok I really dont know where to start, im bewildered with lava info...Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting with a former LavaSimplex/World worker (from 1988 to 2002) and I spent a hour picking his brain and have acquired a wealth of info AND a 1991 video that shows all kinds of test color lamps and bases, waves, LavaLarry, GemLites etc.This is where the problem starts... the video is copyrighted and I promised not to upload it to the internet and will not break that promise....BUT he OK'd screen pics if no faces are shown as many employees are in the video. He wishes to remain out of the picture due to a agreement that all employees signed forbidding them from giving info about the product, even though I did not learn any trade secrets his wishes will be honored. Im going to my cousins tonight to get a copy of PowerDVD which will take screen shots. If anyone has something better to capture screen pics please let me know. The video quality is good but some shots are very fast as they walk by tables so I hope the pics are clear.

Some info for starters, of course everyone wants to know about the infamous # 01....As I have stated before they are real and I own 2 of them myself both purchased NIB, a former member had received email conformation from LW about them too http://www.oozinggoo.com/cgi-bin/forum/Blah.pl?b-11/m-1192655495/s-0/ , basically the same story I was told, but I have learned something interesting about them, the 32oz was originally done for a employees wedding, there were about 20 made in princess bases, one for each table, they were later tested as a red/white/blue combo pack but not released (proof in this video 11 seconds in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8ErqynlvtY ) The 52oz was tested as a Americana, again red/white/blue theme. He said they were allowed to make "employee" lamps when possible BUT, and this explains alot, the cap coder was not used as they were hand capped and never ran through a machine, he said the bottles were never counted as production. ( I will post test table pictures showing it, its in the video)

The # 06 was the early blood red lava and later reshaded into the # 10 and then brought back as a # 18 Cranberry, thats right its simply a early Cranberry.

The # 07 peach/clear was a Elek-Trick test color that was the first attempt at pink clear later reshaded to the # 14 pink and released. ( I will post test table pictures showing it, its in the video)

The # 11 yellow was a Elek-Trick test color that was too neon and swapped for the # 08 yellow and released. ( I will post test table pictures showing it, its in the video)

The # 16 chocolate was nothing more than a bad batch of black that was allowed to run, he estimates about 2500 of them released in the snake skin and chocolate swirl base. He said they ran them for half a day till the batch was out. Employees took quite a few of these.

The # 23 was a green/blue that was dropped in favor of the # 24 yellow/blue.( I will post test table pictures showing it, its in the video)

I will also get test globe pics of blue/blue and some really off colors as they shaded and tested them. All of this info now makes sense of the numbering system as it follows it right down as color shades were changed.
If you are looking for certain info, post below and I will try to answer or post pics to answer your questions. I am so freaking overloaded right now...LOL


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Thanks for the pics! I love the different lavas shown! The story on the 01's is incredible!
Sorry for the delay but I am on drugs.....LOL, I had my last 2 wisdom teeth pulled Saturday and I was cloudy over the weekend, I am allergic to antibiotics and need to take synthetic ones to avoid infection and they generally knock me down like im sick, now im just on Vicodin's :)
The following is what I learned during my visit with a former LW employee, some things we went into detail about and some things we did not. I will try to answer questions, below is most of our conversation that was covered, so if it dont answer your question I may not be able to either. We talked about how it was to work there and things that LW did, he had limited knowledge prior to 1988 and is not as excitable as we are about lavas.

My first question was about glitters and types or prototypes, I was told LW tried a few different 32oz and 52oz globes but at the time the legal dept. was not interested in the possibility of lawsuits from the larger quantites of glitter fluid (very bad stuff). I was told many glitter lamps were cancelled by the legal dept. as this was a touchy area for LW, lawsuits were common from their products. In the late 80's early 90's they did not fill any other type globes besides the GemLite round, the square and oval bottles were discontinued due to the liquid volume. They did have different fills for the GemLites in big or small glitter, he said the big is more common and there is no reason for the difference besides the glitter they used. They had a test color in gold glitter but it never passed quality as the gold would flake off, he remembers a red and green flake version but the same thing, the color would flake off. He stated a few regular GemLite bottles should be out there that have the green and red color on the bottom gel sheet, they were Christmas color themed but never sold as such.
Later in the 90's they started filling 32oz globes, I asked about the multi-color glitter flake lamps and he was not exact on what colors they had, he said maybe clear, red, blue and green but stated most were dropped and straight silver glitter was used. LW had straight blue, green, gold, black, and red glitter flake but he said none would have gotten out as they were prototype and never considered for production. They also tested the gel sheets on the 32's. He said more lamps would have been available but they were only allowed to have so many variations due to limited stocking at most stores leaving many lamps being cut early in development.

On to the waves, he said LW was not big on pursuing different wave models and not many variations were tested, the only different model he saw tested besides the center tilt/rock wheel type was a vessel that was lifted on each end by separate wheel motors, it sat inside a small rack but the motors were not exact and eventually it would just go up and down instead of rocking LOL, it was more stable then the center version but was never made. They were all hand filled and very time consuming to make, most waves were only made once a year when lava things slowed down. Most of the multi color were delayed, again due to stocking reasons, he said they could make any color imaginable, blue was the best seller. He stated no odd waves exist due to them being filled by hand one color at a time, even the test waves were reused and recolored.

Finally the lavas, the # 01 I covered in previous posts and the only thing I can add is every batch was tested as # 01 before production running. Wax was heated then gravity tested/adjusted with the water before coloring, LW colored all their wax in house. He was very knowledgeable of the Elek-Trick wax colors and pointed out some different colors in the pics I posted. As stated before the blood red # 06 was dropped for the # 10 but returned as a # 18 later, the # 07 was a attempt at pink which was kept and reshaded into the # 14 and later cut, no # 07's were ever ran as production, the # 08 was a reshade into the # 11 which made the Elek-Trick line but was dropped during early market tests and returned to the # 08. He said all colors from # 07 to # 19 were tested as Elek-Trick colors but again limited stocking at stores cut the released number of selections. Spencers later picked up the # 16's, 17's, 18's and 19's in the custom line which were earlier cut out of the Elek-Trick line. I have posted the teal test globe/base and the painted lime bases which were shelved for almost 10 years before coming out in 2001. All early Elek-Trick models were screw tops before being switched to caps.

Many test colors were cut due to duplicate reasons or they were not bright enough, many simply had no room in the lineup. Since the early 90's LW was trying to make a fast heating wax and was testing liquid wax versions all through the 90's but they were not able to ship with contents inside and LW was again advised by lawyers to not sell a ready to make product, the liability was too large. He said none of these lamps made it beyond testing and none would have made it outside the factory, only a few colors were tested as liquids. LW's next interesting attempt at faster heating was a ring similar to the one found on Centurys, he described it as a metal cone that fit over the bulb in 32oz bases and even though it did make the globe burst earlier, it did not flow any sooner. He talked about several different timers and dimmer switches LW tried to incorporate but the cost was sometime greater than the product itself. LW's test bench had several simple high/low relay plugs set to run 100% power for 1 hour and then they would dim down to a pre-picked setting, these were ran with 60 and 100 watt bulbs. If anyone wants details, its a rather complex circuit but I am going to wire one for my own testing as this sounded like the best option to faster heating. His claim was the globes handled 100 watt bulbs without problem, but I am only going to try a 60 watter.

Some test bases were made but they were required to use the same bottles that were in production. Jonas I am fairly confident the base you pointed out as a possible candle lamp base was indeed run by a bulb. I did ask about candle power and he stated LW never tested any candle products, again a liability. The base designs never changed because the test bases either never passed the testing state, were too costly to make or were shot down by lawyers. Each test base had to be hand made then cost compared to current bases and the idea was to lower costs not increase them. The switch from screw tops to bottle caps was again a shield to lawsuits from idiots who drank the fluid thinking it was psychedelic and would make them trip. The 32ozers were switched in 1993 with the remaining screw top globes being filled as Enchantress's possibly as late as 1995. The 52oz switch to bottle caps was delayed until the bottles were gone but with 32ozers outselling the 52's the switch took a long time. Product development was stagnant from 1995 on as LW was continually protecting themselves from lawsuits and new product just added to the problem. The lava formula was changed once in 1992 to eliminate a hazardous ingredient (no I do not know what it is) but was told both the wax and water are only 4 different ingredients, not 15+ like we were lead to believe.

Most of the weeks wax production would be made on Sundays and stored until needed, they had the ability to run 3 separate product lines if needed and could fill 25,000 lamps a week per shift but most of the time it was 1 or 2 shifts running. To me the overall conversation was enjoyable, he said it was a great place to work until 2001 when things went down hill fast, more than half the workers were "daily" help and company morale failed. He believes the lawsuits were the downfall to the move to China, America was just too difficult to manufacture in and protect company assets so you make them overseas and switch the company to a "division of" or "LLC" as LW did do. LW may have been exploring China as early as 2000. He said people were told around Nov 2002 that Christmas was the closing of the factory, he said they would run some production and ship out anything that was not nailed down, only about 15 employees were around the last 2 months. Many items were thrown away or shipped to a warehouse, he said a few racks of globes were shipped which are the ones I believe LW was selling online.

That covers what we spoke about, minus some more info on the move from Keystone Ave. to Dickens Ave. if anyone is interested I will post that later.

This is awesome info, just super great !
The teal #17 electric prototype looks more like a light blue, much lighter than the teal we know today. I have seen several times in Spencer's they would be running globes 14+ hours a day for months and I saw once a light "smurf blue" or cotton candy light blue running (sometime between 1999 and 2001). I assumed it was just a blue or teal that had just faded and run too long. But I wonder if this "lighter" version of #17 they ran a small batch and shipped them to some of the stores? As I say I have seen them this light as store displays in a few locations, but very rarely.
These pictures are from Lava Lite's March 1997 website. Wouldn't have found these if it wasn't for the thread in General Goo. First picture shows the #11 yellow elek-trick. Second picture is an animated gif showing a #06 cranberry princess right after the blue #03.

Thanks for postic the Elektrik series pic, I've snatched it! I forgot how informative and entertaining this thread was! Thanks Lampy, for posting this great discussion. I enjoyed reading through it again!
At least *some* odd Waves came out. I bought an Adriatic #16 from my local Spencer Gifts in the mid-90s that was yellow waves with pink above. Still have it. I was told it was a test market idea.
I found that thread in the general section as well and since then have been finding website after website... very nostalgic at the moment. lol

I added what I can of the video, there is no sound in this clip

Beautiful. The Golden Age of Lava
Back when there was some pride left in the manufacturing...
So cool to read and see all that. Makes me nostalgic and I've only been collecting for two months! It's so sad that such a cool product had such a tragic end (well, the end being the crap LW is cranking out now).

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