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Monday, April 7, 2014


I am a sucker for cheap tacky souvenirs.  You are talking to the person who accidentally spent 70 dollars on South of the Border Crap.

Seriously, I still can't figure out where my 70 dollars went.
 Since, I travel a lot and always travel on a budget, I aim for cheaper souvenirs.  I always try to pick up a few postcards where ever I stopped, but you would be surprised how many places don't have postcards.  I also have a profound love for cheap plastic snow globes like this beauty.

Oh course, one of the souvenirs that always get me excited are the classic mold-a-rama machines.  These are not as prevalent as they once where, but it is always an event to beable to track one (or a dozen down).

For the uninitiated Mold-A-Ramas are machines that make wax figures for use as souvenirs.  For only 2 dollars (current going rate), you can watch the souvenir being made before your eyes.  A metal for closes and is injected with hot liquid wax, which is then cooled using the metal mold.  The mold then opens up and a metal claw dumps the figure into a whole where impatient children receive 3rd degree burns by eagerly grabbing at their new toy.  No kidding, these things are incredibly hot when they first come out.

Here is a machine in action.

I had quite a collection as a child, but suddenly they have all been crushed, as over the years the wax becomes dry and brittle.  Recently, however I have been trying to rebuilt my collection.

My new collection started at Gatorland in Florida, where my love for Mold-A-Rama was rekindled.

I was overjoyed when I found TWO unique Mold-A-Rama machines.  The first being a White Alligator.

The reason they are not Green is because Gatorland has a collection of White Gators, like this one, known as Feros Zombi.

The other, which is still probably my personal favorite is there mold of an Alligator Wrestler.

Inspired of course by Gatorland's legendary wrestling shows.

Knoxville, TN has a collection of Mold-A-Rama machines as well.  Unfourtanetly, these machines are places outside and have fallen into disrepair.  When we visited last year, only about half of the machines still worked.  What was interesting, was that the machines did not have the traditional Mold-A-Rama design and logo, but instead each machine had a unique look to it.

The Elephant machine has painting by an elephant on it.....

Here is a Mold-A-Rama gorilla going horribly wrong.....

Despite the run down state of most of the machines, I was able to add a few Molds to my collection.

On my recent trip to the midwest I was very fortunate in finding a large number of Mold-A-Rama machines.  While they are pretty rare in the South, it seems that there is a large concentration in the midwest.  (Florida also seems to have a large amount.)

First stop was the Field Museum in Chicago, IL

They have a collection of Mold-A-Rama dinosaurs in their basement.

Including an homage to The Field Museum's famous T-Rex "Sue"....

And the ever popular Brontosaurus and allegedly non-existant, (I refuse to call it an Apatosaurus) (BTW, I'd like to point out that spell check suggested that I spell Apatosaurus "Brontosaurus".)

So I upped my collection by four Dinosaurs......

Then we headed to the Milwaukee County Zoo which has a MASSIVE amount of Mold-A-Rama.  A collector could go broke here trying to collect them all.

And so my collection is massively inflated......

My favorites are the classic waving Gorilla.....

 And the "See No Evil" monkeys......

So, here is my modest collection.

I do have some other machines in my sight............I just found out that Weeki Wachee now has a Mold-A-Rama.........

And the weird micro-car museum in Athens, GA actually had a Mold-A-Rama with Disney Characters.   Damn me, for skipping it....

The Henry Ford Museum in Detroit actually has a Weinermobile mold, and the Zoos in Chicago have seasonal Molds for Halloween and Christmas.

There is a handy site that lists all the locations for operating Mold-A-Ramas.

The Carpetbagger

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  1. i love mold o ramas! i have a bunch from when i was a kid, they have a few at the sanford zoo in florida and my grandparents always took me there. the henry ford museum has TEN and we got them all last time we were there, and I got a few at the knoxville zoo a few years ago.i even found some at an estate sale for the memphis zoo. i actually tried to get another one this past weekend. they have a machine at third man records in nashville, but its broken right now. the girl behind the counter told me that they are going to fly the only guy who knows how to work on them down from detroit soon to get it fixed!

    1. Sweet! What mold do they have at 3rd Man?

      I wish I managed to keep the ones I had as a kid without crushing them.....

  2. SO GREAT! I didn't know what these were called! I used to have a stegosaurus but broke it (ugh! like you said, they're hard not to accidentally mash!), but I do still have the waving gorilla from the Field Museum in Chicago. It actually says "Field Museum, Chicago" on the base of the piece! I used to have it in my dollhouse as a kid as a kind of "Addams Family" esque addition to the decor (mirroring my own desire to have a full sized, waving, taxidermied gorilla in my house). Thanks for all the info about these machines and the different types!

    1. I had the Gorilla as a kid too! But I think mine was from Milwaukee. I definitely like the ones that have the tag where they are from at the bottom.

  3. I am glad I saw this post because I had never paid attention to these until seeing your post. I guess I never thought anything of the ones I may have seen at the Knoxville zoo. I recently learned that one of these has recently made its way to Nashville as Jack White has put one in his quirky record store.

    1. The ones at the Knoxville zoo are in somewhat disrepair. They are exposed to the elements, so they are not all working.

      I MUST have the one at Third Man....I wonder if it is operational

  4. Brookfield zoo outside of Chicago still have originals. I think company who fixes them is in chicago.

    1. I really need to hit up the ones at Brookfield. I have heard that they rotate in seasonal ones around Halloween and Christmas

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  6. I made those same dinosaurs at the Sinclair Oil exhibit at the '64 Worlds Fair in New York. I think that may be where the molds originated because they are in the same poses as the life sized statues.

  7. I had several as a kid. But they are plastic not wax. Mold a Rama was a plastic injection mold machine.

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