August 30, 2007

All Hail The Mold-A-Rama!

One of the perks of growing up in Chicagoland is the high per capita of mold-a-rama machines found in the museums and zoos. I have no way of proving this, but I'm going to take a stand and say the area has the best collection of still-in-use machines in the U.S. Of those Chicago institutions, the Brookfield Zoo certainly has more of those machines than than any other. The primate house's gorilla mold-a-rama is particularly cool. I have a great story about stuffing one full of sparkler dust and setting it ablaze & damn near blinding myself. The smell of a freshly made mold-a-rama is on the same level of mouth-whetting awesomeness as the smell of Play-Doh or a big box of Crayons. The Mold-A-Rama Menagerie has a cool collection of the Chicago figures, and over at Moldaramaville, they have has a freakishly exhaustive online catalog. Here's a machine at the Field Museum in action.

5 comments:

stexe said...

You're correct, chicago does have far more mold-a-rama machines than any other city. But it's a brandname; the zoo here in Los Angeles has several nearly identical coin-op injection molding machines, but they're called something else.

Hey Lance, I think we've corresponded about this before, and I recall even in college how we were talking about owning a custom machine. Here's how:

http://www.replicationdevices.com/vintage.html

they'll not only sell you a reconditioned Klassic 1960's mold-a-rama factory, but if you send them a sculpture, they'll make a customized mold!

Lance said...

$12,900.00! Jesus Christ! I'm trying to think of something really cool that I would want to replicate over and over for that price, but I'm drawing a blank. I mean, if the machine was going to be in my home, it would have to be something personal for people to take away like a miniature bust of me.

stexe said...

I was thinking more along the lines of something in the lobby of an art gallery selling miniaturized versions of your sculptures. You'd have to be someone with artworld clout, like jeff koons, to really do it right. I mostly like the idea of mass-produced cheap art on demand.

Last time I was in chicago I bought a mold-a-rama of a brontosaurus at the field museum, took a few whiffs of the hot plastic for a full-throttle nostalgia rush, then thought, "what the hell am I going to do with this?" and threw it out. Just like my first mold-a-rama from when I was five: a bust of abe lincoln, which I distincly remember smashing into little pieces on the sidewalk outside chicago's museum of science. More junk for the landfills. God bless the U.S.A.

SpaceMan5000 said...

Stexe, I'm glad someone else mentioned the smell of a fresh mold-a-rama. That is my fondest memory....

Lance said...

My cousin and I filled a bowling-ball-sized plastic ball completely full of sparkler dust and mounted the mold-a-rama gorilla on top. Once night fell, we took it into the alley behind my grandma's house, and this is what happened: we lit the fuse which ignited a "cigar" (a smoking firecraker) stuck into the gorilla's mouth. This burnt down to a series of witch whistlers drilled into the base of the figure. These created the effect of the gorilla screaming in agony. The lit fuse continued downward, and when it hit the sparkler dust, the entire thing ignited all at once into a blinding white light. When we could see again (and that took a while), nothing was left but a black plastic pool on the concrete. A guy shouted "FREEZE!" and leaped out of a yellow Corvette. He'd been parked there in the alley the whole time making out with a chick. We ran. The hardened black plastic remained for at least a decade afterward, serving as a lingering badge of pride.