Decades before the dawn of 3-D printing and resulting wonders like self-portrait gummy bears, Mold-a-Rama vending machines were pressing hot wax into tiny figurines delivered in seconds. These vintage contraptions still exist at zoos and other attractions, where miniature keepsakes cost only a couple of dollars and smell like melted crayons.
At the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, machines magically make models of Rosa Park’s bus and wee wax Weinermobiles before your eyes:
Zoos are hotspots for Mold-a-Rama machines. At Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, several generations of visitors have taken home 3-inch-tall wax gorillas. The city’s Brookfield Zoo has 13 machines, currently spitting out dinosaurs.
According to the fan site moldamania.com, other zoos proffer macaws, dolphins, manatees, panthers and killer whales. The bust of Frankenstein and tiny space capsules can be found if you’re lucky. Hundreds of molds existed back in the technology’s heyday (the original was invented in the 1960s and spawned several imitators). Back then, Disneyland delighted park-goers with figurines of favorite characters, ready in 30 seconds.
Cheap? Check. Packable? Check. Better than a gummy bear in your likeness? You decide. Here’s a list of Mold-a-Rama locations.
Do you have Mold-a-Rama memories from childhood?