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MoldaRamaGuy

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This is a long shot, but no harm in trying:

I'm a collector/researcher in Chicago working on a book about Mold-a-Rama machines which, if you aren't familiar, are large 1960s vending machines that make a small plastic souvenir while you wait (see photos below). In addition to theme parks and zoos and museums, there were machines located in various bowling alleys through the 60s-80s making small plastic bowling pins, a bowling pin/ball/scorecard plaque, and even a weird little plaque that says "In memory of a once fine bowler..."

We know Willow Grove Lanes in PA definitely had machines because they had a custom mold made of their building. I've also seen labeled figures for Futurama Bowl, Golden Gate Lanes in El Cerrito, Moonlite (?), and even a bowling pin labeled "The Champ of Iceland." These machines definitely didn't make it to the country of Iceland, so thinking maybe there was a bowling alley or skating rink (?) named Iceland?

If anyone has ANY memories, photos, or footage that shows a machine off in the background I'd love to hear from you! No tip too small. I've been researching from the Mold-a-Rama side--I know the vendors, collectors, etc.--but thought I'd try coming at it from the bowling side. Anyone use one of these at a bowling alley as a kid?

Many thanks in advance!

--Alex--

alex@alexanderwebb.com

moldarama.jpg  Champ of Iceland.jpg  68910727.jpg  49782096-crop.jpg 


themrfreeze

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I've never seen one of these machines at a bowling alley, but I did see one at the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit when I was there a few years back.  Only time in my life I've ever seen a machine like that.

mrbowling300

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I haven't seen one of these machines in a very long time.  Usually at theme parks when I was a kid.  But whenever there was one, we would always get something from it.  Good luck in your quest!!!
mrbowling300

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This is cool, from the Henry Ford Museum, I never noticed it there before:

SpinBowler300

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Reply with quote  #5 
I still have my Steam Locomotive from that very same machine. This machine still works. I would love to find a bowling machine.
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themrfreeze

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I got a mold of JFK's limo when we were there a few years ago.  Not sure where it ended up, lol


MoldaRamaGuy

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Reply with quote  #7 

Thanks for your feedback, everyone! Fortunately there are still places that have the machines--primarily near the vendors in Chicago and Florida, but scattered other cities too (Detroit, San Antonio, Toledo, etc.)--but unfortunately I don't know of any bowling alleys that still have them. Given how few vintage examples of these toys I've found over the years I'm thinking they must not've been huge sellers!

As for that figure that's just labeled "Moonlite." Is there a famous (or at least sort of famous) Moonlite bowling alley I'm just not finding? Sound familiar to anyone? Futurama and Willow Grove are easy to find online, but Moonlite is more mysterious. 

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