Questions about 1964-65 NY World's Fair answered by a Mold-A-Rama employee who was there!
A fellow who actually worked for Mold-A-Rama
at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair has contacted me with incredible
detail of his memories. From what figures were vended there, to where
the machines were located, to even the
COLORS of the figures vended. Amazing. Below is a photo from Google maps
that he sent me of the actual building that Mold-A-Rama (and this fellow) worked out of
in Flushing, Queens, NY. He's added a couple thin arrows to show you
that the sign is still there with two dinosaurs on it!
he thought he'd have to carry his stories to the grave. This is the
type 'discovery' that this MOLDVILLE.com website, and the "Moldville" facebook page, are all about. It's a hobby for me (and most of you), and 'finds' like
this are the joy of the hobby.
My INTERVIEW with an employee of MOLD-A-RAMA who WAS THERE during the 1964-65 NY Worlds Fair:
As a 10
year old I worked in the mold-a-rama service plant in Queens NY during the NY
Worlds Fair. I can still remember the smell of the molten plastic and dye, the
high pitched sound as the molds closed, the swuirting sound of the plastic, and
the sound of the compressor as it cooled the molds.
such a vast collection of castings that I have never seen anywhere else since
e.g. the Vatican Pavilion, AMF Monorail, Better Living pavilion to name a few.
Foolishly I gave them all away when I got older. They are gone forever.
However, the address plaque on the building still to this day sports 2 images
of the classic brontosaurus that were synonymous with the NYWF.
strange story how a 10 year old could work at what we in the neighborhood
called the dinosaur factory. But my fascination drove me. I started out
sweeping the waxy floors. In a short time the guys were letting me mix the dyes
and clean the machines. I had my own set of keys to open any machine and their
coin boxes. I learned about relays,
hydraulic and cooling systems as well as plastic injection molding. I remember
how important it was to keep the plate clean and lubricated (we used a spray
from ZEP). I prepared a few machines to be brought to the fair, by myself. (That was some process for a man, let alone a
10 year old)
one time there were about 15 or 20 various machines working. (mostly dinosaurs)
We would fill barrels full (the empty barrels that the plastic came in).
Pre-made dinosaurs were sent back to the fair (why, I don't know - when the fun
of Mold-a-Rama was to watch them be made.)
Some machines made special order promotional items (e.g., Sam Smart
Saver Downey Nat'l Bank in CA)
various sounds of all those machines working non-stop at the same time, the
smell of the plastic, and the heat in the dead of summer cannot be forgotten.
There must have been at least a hundred more machines out of service for low
usage or in storage for future use.
& Colors (as best I can remember):
Various Brass Rail locations - Unisphere (blue) &
Unisphere bank (Orange)
Pepsi-Cola - All Disney characters (2
Vatican Pavilion - Replica of building (blue0
United States Pavilion - Various presidents
(brown/bronze) USS Constitution (white)
Pavilion - Busts of various presidents & Lincoln standing Giving Address)
(Brown or Bronze)
AMF Monorail - Replica of monorail (red)
Florida - Dolphin (blue), Sailfish
(white), Alligator (green)
Oregon - Paul Bunyan with Ax (red)
Better Living Pavilion - (white I think)
HMS Bounty - Replica of Bounty
(clearish/white - little dye)
Hall of Science - Space Lab (blue), Space
Taxi (yellow), Mercury Capsule - (Blue or dark green), Luner Module LEM- (Light
Sinclair Dinoland - Brontosaurus (original
facing back) & Brachiosaurus (?), Triceratops, Ankylosaurus (?) were
(green), T-Rex & Stegosaurus
(bronze). Trachadon, Corythosaurus
were a few other machines scattered around like: Seal & Otter, See no evil
hear no evil speak no evil, Devil, Frankenstein, Gorilla to name a few, but
thats about all I can remember now.
the Mold-A-Rama maintenance building & location 129-01 33rd Avenue,
Flushing NY 11354 from Google maps. Its
hard to see, but there is a small address sign to the right of the garage door.
On top there is a bronto on each side.
I'll try to get a better picture for you next time I pass through the
I hope I
gave you a little insight. Feel free to ask away. I thought I would take my
experiences and memories to the grave.
Also, feel free to post anything I've sent you. BTW, there were other Mold-A-Ramas around New
York. For example, Rye Play land in Rye
New York, The New York Stock Exchange, The Empire State Building come to mind.
Oh my god -
so so many questions for you! We as a
community have been looking for YEARS for information about what molds were at
the NYWF, where the machines were located, etc.
Do you remember what the BACKGLASS of the Unisphere machine looked
like? Were there many different style
Unisphere back glass was diagonally split down the middle. One side was orange
and the other side blue (the worlds fair colors). There was a sketch of the
unisphere in white. I believe it also
said "Peace Through Understanding"
on the lower part. I also remember a reference to presented by United
States Steel. http://nywf64.com/ (If you look at the thumbnail icon for
this page you'll get an idea what the Unisphere's back glass looked like.)
product had its own back glass. (with
the exception of some of the Disney's which were generic)
What are the
"Brass Rail" locations?
Rails were food and souvenir stands scattered throughout the fair. They were made out of fiber glass bubbles
stacked on top of each other. (they kind of looked like an inverted bunch of
grapes) See the green circled areas in the
DISNEY machines located OUTSIDE at the Pepsi pavilion, or inside
somewhere? Where there ELEVEN machines
there (there are eleven different Disney figures).
inside the building, while others were outside enclosed in an open shed type
shelters. There was more than one
machine for each character. (Of course there were more Mickies, Mini's, Pluto's
and Donalds than there were Briar Rabbits, Pinnochios, Plutos and Jiminey
Crickets). There were two varieties of most of the Disney characters, The smaller less detailed were there the first
year (1964) . Larger more detailed ones replaced them in 1965
only 15 or 20 operating machines at the whole NYWF? You've listed way more different figures than
the 2 years there were various numbers of machines running. A lot less in year two, but certainly more
than 15 or 20. At least 50 - 60. Some were short lived and never made it back
for year two.
describe the process of "mixing the dyes". Was it a powder (do you remember the brand),
and what did you mix it with?
very complicated. (not) You would fill the top of one of the card
board barrels the plastic came in with the the colorless plastic. Then take a paper coffee cup full of the
plastic, granular powderish dye and mix it in.
It was all done by eye. The more
dye, the darker the color. We sometimes
experimented with mixing colors, but that usually resulted in a marble effect.
(not pretty). I don't remember the make
of the dye, but it came in paper sacks.
Maybe 40 lbs or so.
experimented with vending machines that sold paint kits (much like model
airplane type ) to paint your Mold-A-Rama toy.
It never really caught on. Too
messy and it did not stick well.
to give my best answers to your questions. However, it was nearly 50 years ago,
I was only 10 and have lost a lot of grey matter from the brain between then
and now. Also, I spent most of my mold-a-rama time in a small dingy factory -
although I went to the fair often but as a spectator. As I said earlier, I did have keys to the
machines so once or twice while I was there I would open the side panel and run
myself a dinosaur or two and not without consequence.
more information: I did not know the company as mold-a-rama (that was what I
thought was the name of the machines). I recall the names ARA (Automatic
Retailers of America which later became ARAMARK). That makes some sense since ARA provided various types of vending
machines. I also recall the name Haber
Industries (where I worked). My best guess would be that either company or both
were sub-contracted or franchised to service the mold-a-ramas in the New York
many more molds that I know of, but don't find anywhere, Democratic Donkey, Republican Elephant, Seal,
Otter, Capital Building.
can't tell you how exciting all this is to me, a collector of the machines
themselves (more than the figures in my case.)
To that end, the actual backglass designs are of interest to me,
particularly the unisphere. What you
described is just like the one very distant photo we've found of what must have
been the unisphere mold-a-rama machine (though I do note that the orange/blue
are BACKWARDS on the unisphere mold-a-rama machine!)
tell me more about the paint kits? How
many colors, where they in a box? What
did the vending machine look like and do you recall the price?
machine kind of resembled the old style cigarette machines. (about 3 ft wide, 5 ft high, 18 in deep) That
is my best questimation. The ones I had seen were decorated in a Disney motiff
which makes me believe they were at Pepsi.
I believe there were 5 paints (black, white, red, blue, yellow) they
came in a small cardboard box with a brush.
The price may have been 50 cents. (no too sure).
guess as to how many MOLD-A-RAMA machines you think were at the NYWF, between
the ones out on location and those that were in storage.
believe I said there had to be at least 100 to 150 all inculded.
machines ALL of the late style, with the spinning pedestal in the display box,
and the four countdown display glasses on the deck of the machine? (Were there
ANY of the early style with the countdown across the backglass there?)
remember the ones with the spinning pedestals (although they did not always
spin) and the four status display glasses.
I do not recall the other one you mentioned.
to the machine locations. That is
extremely helpful to us in finding photos that may exist of any of the
machines. You mention:
Brass Rail locations - Unisphere (blue) & Unisphere bank (Orange) These were
inflatable venues? Were the machines
located inside them?
looked inflated, however I believe they were fibre glass molded. Like most of the mold-a-ramas, they were
usually housed in a 3 sided shelter outside, but near their associated
- All Disney characters (2 versions) (White)
quite a few sets of moldsets of each of the Disney characters, and as you say
there were eight smaller figures, then the next year three large figures were
made. I am REALLY interested in finding
original photos of the Disney machines on location because my personal machine
is a DISNEYLAND TOY FACTORY. How many
machines do you think were located at the Pepsi Pavilion?
to be at least 2 dozen throughout
Pavilion - Replica of building (blue)
Do you think
this machine was indoors inside the pavilion?
Did this have its own custom backglass too?
both. As you left the Pieta display on
your way out there was a lobby type area where the machine was. I only remember
one. I actually made my Vatican pavilion
mold-a-rama at the fair (free of course)
The display glass had a picture of the pavilion
States Pavilion - Various presidents (brown/bronze) USS Constitution (white)
recall which presidents? And where these
machines were located?
Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy (a smaller
and the normal size as well), Johnson and for some strange reason we had
of Barry Goldwater (which was not at the fair and I don't know where it
was used). I think they had a room called the great hall
or the Hall of Presidents (which would make sense) where they may have
Pavilion - Busts of various presidents & Lincoln standing Giving Address)
(Brown or Bronze)
Any idea where
these machines were?
they were in some type of lobby on your way out of the building.
Monorail - Replica of monorail (red)
I didn't even
know about this moldset. I have to look
it up. Any idea where this machine was
located? Or what the backglass looked
think it made year two, as the only known mold and machine were stored in the
"factory". But when it was out
there, it was at the base of the monorail station in the amusement section of
the fair. It also had some inscription
on the back, but I don't recall what it said.
The back glass had a very common picture of the monorail heading into a
Dolphin (blue), Sailfish (white), Alligator (green)
Do you know
which dolphin by chance? Or where the
machines were, and did each figure have its own custom backglass? (You may know that NONE of the original,
vintage backglasses survive today, because they all peeled off at some time or
dolphin later was used at the Miami seaquarium, I think they added the Flipper
name to it. I did not see it in the
examples on your page, but it resembled the Moby Dick rising above the crest of
a wave. (I would know it if I see it) I think it's back glass was more generic. Something like a souvenir
Paul Bunyan with Ax (red)
Where do you
think this machine was, and do you remember its backglass design?
the Oregon Pavilion was out door exhibitions, I believe the machine was too,
but like the monorail, I don't think it made year two. I got mine by opening the display glass and
taking out from a machine in storage. The back glass had a picture of Paul
Bunyan and an outlined map of Oregon. I
think the letters were made out of logs.
Living Pavilion - (white I think)
moldset I have no knowledge of! I wonder
where it was located, and the backglass design.
Better Living Pavilion had a large open floor area in the center of the
building, The machine(s) were located there.
Again there was a picture of the building on the back glass.
- Replica of Bounty (clearish/white - little dye)
Aha! I knew it!
When I reissued this one a few months back I guessed it was from the
NYWF, not only because of the serial numbering of the moldset, but because there
are quite a few copies of the moldset still in existence (like 4 or 5), which
is indicative of use at the NYWF - it seems that a HUGE number of molds and
machines were made just for the NYWF.
size replica of the Bounty from the movie was docked in the Worlds fair
Marina. There was a machine or two on
the pier leading up to it.
Science - Space Lab (blue), Space Taxi (yellow), Mercury Capsule - (Blue or
dark green), Luner Module LEM- (Light Blue)
the machines at the Hall of Science located?
And what did the backglasses look like?
Lastly, are you SURE that the LEM moldset was there? I didn't think it was designed in 1965.
machines were in a walkway leading out of the building after you left the
"rendevouz in space demo". I
only worked there in 64 & 65 and I had a LEM in my collection.
There were a few other machines scattered
around like: Seal & Otter, See no evil hear no evil speak no evil, Devil,
Frankenstein, Gorilla to name a few. Was
it the frankenstein bust, or standing frankenstein? Anything you can remember about where these
machines were located, and what the custom backglass looked like?
Frankenstein Bank was a bust (which one of your collectors has). There was also a Devil and some other unknown
trollish creature bust.
that all machines were the BABY BLUE?
(with the exception of the Sinclair machines which for the second year
it appears they came back green.
although I think the Disneys also had some type of covering like a castle or
stone back ground.
that the Sinclair machines were changed out between years 1 and 2: any idea if they were, and why?
only assume that it was because they were undoubtedly the most used. Most service calls were to Sinclair.
Do you have any PAPERWORK, manuals, or
unfortunately a 10 year old wouldn’t think of those things (sigh)
vintage figures have been found with the UNISPHERE engraving on the
underside. Do you know if/why the
Unisphere vat cover plate may have been used on other machines (or the converse
- maybe other molds were put on the unisphere machines)? Examples I have heard of include the KEWPIE
DOLL, and the LINCOLN BUST - were those figures vended at the NYWF? (Where would the Kewpie doll have been
Unisphere plates were everywhere, UNISPEHERE AS PRESENTED BY UNITED STATES
STEEL Pat####. The plates were suppose
to have been reserved for other moldings, but often were not. I'm sure there are many molds with that
statement on the bottom between the blow holes.
saw the Kewpie doll mold in the storage cabinet and made a copy for myself. I
never knew where it came from.
the brontosaurus looking back replaced for the 2nd year? Similarly, why were the smaller DISNEY
figures replaced with larger versions?
I think I
recall hearing the molds were very popular, but not up to Disney
standards. I can't swear to that. I just think I recall hearing the guys talk
about it as the new ones were more detailed
for the NYWF were all serial numbered.
Do you have a list of the molds by serial number, or know of any detail
about how the moldset designs were decided on?
wish I could.
(ok, maybe lastly for today - I have SO MANY questions I want to ask-) quite a few of us want to know more about the
machines at the PEPSI pavilion. Do you
have any more detail you can add about where at the Pepsi pavilion they were
scratch my head a little harder, but I think there is not too much left there.
backglasses SILKSCREENED, or did they have a PAPER BACKING with the custom
design for each figure?
they were silk screened as they seemed to be painted on - not paper. They were also translucent and back lit.
In that same
vein, were the SINCLAIR backglasses SILKSCREENED, or did they have a PAPER
recall seeing any other type. However,
there were some in storage that were inaccessible as they were stacked and side
by side with little room to get to them.
paint vending machine, was it the type with the knobs down low that you pull on
and the package flips back? If so, any
guess as to how many knobs there were?
recall correctly, they had 4 pull out type knobs. The package seemed to just
drop to a pickup slot just below the knobs.
dolphin that was at the NYWF like this one: (http://www.moldville.com/20__Carolina_Snowball.html)
was like the one like below (courtesy moldamania.com):
that were made at the service building and stuffed into the supply
barrels: do you think these were merely
sold at souvenir stands?
we cranked out barrels of them daily.
Maybe they were given as promo items, but they were brought to the fair
in our van.
Was the US
CAPITAL BUILDING mold at the NYWF?
I don't think so. We had all sorts of molds in the storage
closet that were not at the fair. It may
actually have been sent to DC.
Were the COW
and BULL molds at the NYWF?
saw a cow and bull anywhere.
DEMOCRATIC DONKEY, REPUBLICAN ELEPHANT vended at the NYWF? Any idea which venue?
they were at the fair, but don't know where...sorry!
And by the
way, I just realized that the LUNAR MODULE (s/n 1158) is serial numbered just 2
higher than the SPACE LAB (s/n 1156) that most certainly was at the NYWF, so it
is entirely possible (and with your recollection certain) that the Lunar Module
WAS vended at the NYWF! Any idea what
venue, and what the backglass might have looked like?
I was pretty
sure it was at the Hall Of Science, but I also think it may have been at the
Transportation & Travel Pavilion.
They had an exhibit called the Moon & Beyond. In fact the roof of that building was the
moonscape. I know there were definitely
mold-a-ramas in The Transportation & Travel Pavilion. The LEM, Donkey & Elephant seem to stick
out in my mind.
back glass was of the LEM on the moons surface with an astronaut kneeling at
its base (exactly what the mold-a-rama was).
As I previously mentioned there was a complete story of the LEM molded
in the back of it.
Any idea who, and where, the new moldsets
were being designed, sculpted, and made?
What other locations in the NY area (or
anywhere else for that matter) were you aware of, and what was vended? LIke what was vended at the NY Stock exchange?
mentioned, Rye Playland, Stock Exchange and Empire State Building. I have not seen examples of the later two
since I gave up my collection. Unfortunately I don't know where in their
respective buildings the machines were placed.
I also think (but not 100% sure) that there may have been some at the NY
Aquarium at Coney Island.
Do you know anything about the EMPIRE STATE
BUILDING moldset? Was it located at the
top of the building? Just wondering if
seen a picture of someones mold-a-rama of the skyline of NY with the Empire
State Building in it, but the one I had was a 3d replica of the building (in
Forget the Sam Smart Saver Bank for Downey Savings & Loan in CA. We produced them in house and shipped them to
CA in barrels. We made the coin slots
using a hot metal slug attached to a soldering iron then slowly melted away the
predesignated slot into the top of his head.
Then we melted a hole in the bottom of the base with a hot pipe to put a
removeable plastic plug to retreive the money.
thought for sure mold-a-rama was in DC as there were molds of: the Capital,
Lincoln Memorial and Valley Forge (I know that's in PA) I figured surely some of those president
busts would have made it there too. BTW,
the pedestals were added to the busts later.
The first molds did not have them.
Basically, they screwed extenders to the bottoms of existing molds.
best of my knowledge Lincoln Memorial was not molded at fair. It was fairly large, 3D and a replica of the
memorial in DC. The more I think about it the more I believe there were
machines in DC as I recall 2 of the guys going on a weekend field trip to
quite a few batches of GLOW-IN-THE-DARK figures of various colors: orange, yellow, green, blue, and I'm ready to
try red glow.
glowing mold-a-ramas. Miller would be proud of you
Were the LINCOLN MEMORIAL or the
NY STOCK EXCHANGE molds plaque-like designs (like say the EMPIRE STATE
BUILDING), or were they shaped like the buildings?
the Empire State Building were 3D replicas (shaped like the buildings). I
only saw 2 types of Empire States, and I only had the 3D type.
Summary of the MOLDS vended at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair (per our friend who worked for Mold-A-Rama):
Monorail (red)[AMF monorail]
capsule(blue or dk gn)[Hall of Science]
bounty (clearish/white-little dye)[pier]
(copper)[US pav/Illinois pav]
bust (copper) [US pav/Illinois pavilion]
standing (copper) [US pav/Ill. pavilion]
(copper) [US pavilion/Illinois pavilion]
(large) (copper) [US pavilion/Ill. pav]
jumping (blue)[Florida pavilion]
(copper) [US pavilion/Illinois pav]]
(copper) [US pavilion/Illinois pav]
(copper) [US pavilion/Ill. pav]
mouse (lg)(‘65only)(white)[pepsi pav]
duck (lg)(‘65only)(white)[pepsi pavilion]
(sm)(‘64only)(white) [pepsi pavilion]
(lg)(‘65only)(white) [pepsi pavilion]
(white) [pepsi pavilion]
cricket(white) [pepsi pavilion]
pan(white) [pepsi pavilion]
rabbit(white) [pepsi pavilion]
(blue)[brass rail locations]
bank (orange)[brass rail locations]
facing back (’64only)(green)[Sinclair]
(large) (brown/copper) [Sinclair]
(large) (blue) [Sinclair]
(large) (brown/copper) [Sinclair]
(large) (green) [Sinclair]
(large) (blue) [Sinclair]
(large) (green) [Sinclair]
(white) [Florida pavilion]
(green) [Florida pavilion]
lab (blue) [Hall of Science]
taxi (yellow) [Hall of Science]
blue)[HallofScience or travel pav]
(blue) [Vatican pavilion]
Constitution (white) [US pavilion]
bunyan (red) [Oregon pavilion]
living pavilion (white?)[better living pav]
donkey [maybe at travel pavilion]
elephant (large) [maybe at travel pavilion]
MOLDS at facility in storage closet, but not
monkees (no base)
pin ‘the champ’
pin & card
JFK bust (small)
RYE Playland, NY:
NY Stock Exchange:
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