Archive for February 11th, 2006



February 11, 2006

When I was a child, the best thing about any trip to the zoo would be stopping by the Mold-A-Rama hot plastic animal sculpture machine on the way out, fifty cents in hand, eager to purchase a new Lion, Alligator or Gorilla.  It combined all my child nerd loves in one experience.  Vending machines, dangerous wild animals, being able to see the mechanics of how the thing worked, getting a new toy and exciting space age technology.

Also, invariably, each molded plastic animal sculpture would have a weak spot, a plastic Achilles Heel where the mold wasn't hammered properly and the plastic had run thin.  Invariably, before I could even get my new sculpture home to do battle with my other, non-plastic molded toys, I would poke my fingers through the thin plastic.  It wasn't that I wanted to, it was more that I was powerless NOT to.  Once I treppaned a hole in the toy, it would begin to crumble, a process I would hasten with my fingers until I arrived home from the zoo with a pile of colored crumbled plastic in my hands, no sign of the magnificient beast that had been there fifteen miles ago.

I've not been to the zoo since the early 1980s, but I believe the arrival of the little one signals a time when zoo trips may yet again be in my future.  I'm thinking that the Mold-A-Rama machines are no longer there, unfortunately, but maybe they've been replaced with a new trinket that will capture my daughter's imagination the same way mine was captured 30 years ago.  I'll bring my quarters when we go.