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Experience the souvenir fun of the 60s & 70s again, for the first time...

(MOLDVILLE is not affiliated with Mold-A-Rama, Inc. of Chicago, IL nor with the 1960s company Mold-A-Rama, Inc. of Los Angeles,  original operator of the "Disneyland Toy Factory.")

Website last updated:  04-18-2016

The Moldsets

 


J.H. Miller first used his invention of the plastic injection mold machines to produce a line of plastic nativity figures for release in December 1955, followed by his large and small dinosaur series in 1956 continuing on into 1957.  In 1958 J.H. Miller's plastic injection mold machines churned out their "Earth invaders", more affectionately known today as "Miller Aliens".  All of these items (which are today highly collectible) were produced on plastic injection mold machines that Tike Miller filed for a patent to in September 1957:

 

J.H. Miller's plastic injection mold machine that he used to produce thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of plastic dinosaurs, cavemen, and Miller Aliens was extremely similar in operation and structure to the coinop embodiment which he helped develop for Mold-A-Rama, Inc.  The differences were largely  as would be expected in a manufacturing setting:  the ceiling of the manufacturing floor likely had a cool water pipe, a steam pipe, and a pressurized air pipe crossing above each machine, and hoses dropped down to the deck of each mold machine.  The deck was likely level, not slanted toward the patron as in the machine we know. But even though they churned out figures for an entire country of fans, believe it or not J.H. Miller made each of his figures one at a time, just like we do to this day on the few mold machines still operating - and on the MOLDVILLE.com machine each week for the members of the Club-A-Rama!

The Moldsets used by J.H. Miller on his manufacturing floor to make dinosaurs, Miller Aliens, etc., were nearly identical to those we see still in use today with the exception of just a couple very minor details.  Firstly, the base of the figure being molded was entirely enclosed and molded within the moldset (not molded with the bottom of the base of the figure open and flush against the vat cover.)  And secondly, the moldset wasn't mounted directly to a collar which mated to a mold arm piston.  Rather, it was clamped into an adjustable width adapter, which in turn had a mounted collar that mated to the mold arm piston.  These differences are functionally extremely  minor and in fact, with a suitable clamp made for the coinop mold machine, (and matching vat cover selected) I am certain that an original J.H. Miller Alien moldset, or an original J.H. Miller dinosaur moldset, could be put back into commission with no changes needed whatsoever to the original moldset.


This, my friends, is an actual JH MILLER moldset from their "Miller Alien" series introduced for Christmas 1958 - fitted onto MOLDVILLE and put back into operation for the first time in 54 years!


This might be a bit deeper than some enthusiasts are interested in, but for those machine-history nuts like myself we believe this to be half of one of the very earliest moldsets ever made by Mold-A-Rama for the coinop machine.  It is structurally nearly identical to those made by J.H. Miller for the Miller Alien series, with the exception of the bolted-on collar.  (The Miller Alien moldsets had no bolt holes in back other than in the four corners to mount the back plate to the casting.)  But, having said that, let's call it the SECOND mold ever made for the coinop mold machine, because...


This moldset is actually believed to be the VERY FIRST made by Mold-A-Rama.  (It's either that, or it's a J.H. Miller moldset converted for use on the coinop machine.)  It's certainly the oldest in existence for use on the coinop machine.  What figure does it mold?  I won't say just yet, but there is only one known original plastic figure still in existence molded from this moldset.


Very soon the collar became integrated into the back plate.  Next to the very first mold shown above, this is probably my oldest 'production' oriented moldset.  Wondering what figure it molds?  HINT:  It was used at the '62 Century 21 Exposition (aka the 1962 World's Fair) in SEATTLE, WA.  It is milled aluminum block (rather than cast aluminum as in the later molds.)  Most interesting (ok, maybe to me) is that the BACKS themselves of these earliest prototype molds are cooled.  Note tapped holes in top edge of back, and one tap hole on the side near the bottom edge of the back.  This permitted the formation of a "U"-shaped tubular cavity within the back to allow for the cooling liquid to pass through.  The cooling liquid passes through the molds continuously whenever the machine is turned on.  (OK, if you're still wondering which figure it molds, it's the 1962 Seattle World's Fair Space Needle!)


This is another early mold of nearly the same vintage as the previous (also used at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.)  This mold has both the back AND the mold fronts drilled for passing the cooling liquid therethrough.  Obviously the early tests of the machine made by Mold-A-Rama, Inc. at the '62 World's Fair in Seattle indicated a need for greater cooling of the mold halves.  (This is particularly true when the machine is operated nearly continuously as it was when first introduced.  The cooling needed to keep up with the repeated injection of 250 degree hot plastic into the mold.)


This is what the great mass of the BACKS of the molds look like.  Note the additional mounting screws to hold the back and front halves of the mold together; and the additional 'rib' down the center of the back.


This is what the great mass of molds look like: CAST aluminum mold fronts.  The backs of the mold are essentially the same as the mold previously shown.  The real COOL part of this mold is that it forms a DISNEY character.  How can you tell that?  The baby blue stripes on the edge of the backs, which is found on just about all the original Disney molds.  Even cooler?  There is a tap hole for a small mounting screw about halfway down in the blue paint.  See it?  That's where the bendable Disney figures' hands were mounted.  The wire Disney figures moved in and out with the mold halves after you dropped your 25c.  Most typically Goofy's left hand mounted to the right half of the mold, and Donald's right hand mounted to the left half of the mold!  Drop your quarter in and Goofy and Donald pushed the mold halves together (and later pulled them apart) for you!


Here Goofy and Donald Duck, though on temporary break, are still in position to help move the mold halves open and closed.  Note the mounting holes drilled in their hands (and the corresponding screw holes on the blue stripes of the mold above).  That's where they hold on!


Here's a COOL photo to share:  This is a MASTER from which an aluminum mold half was made in the 70s or 80s.  Enthusiasts will recognize this fellow as the RHINOCEROUS.  The block on the right is a first master image, from which the non-shrink rubber block shown on the left is made.  The non-shrink rubber block is used to impression the front side of a sand-cast aluminum mold half. The molds are somewhat complicated to make, and actually include another master set for the reverse side of the same mold half to evacuate much of the aluminum mass, leaving a thickness of around 1/4" aluminum all around in the final mold half (which then forms a sealed cavity once the mold back is mounted.


Inside a mold half:  cast aluminum mold on left, back of mold on right.  These two parts are mated with a gasket material, and screwed together to form a water-tight seal.  In operation the water/coolant fluid is constantly injected into one tap hole of the cast mold, and returned out the other.  A formed aluminum divider ensures that the cooled fluid passes along the bottom side of the mold.  The backside of this cast aluminum mold required a 'master' as well.  Any guess as to what figure this molds?  HINT:  As FANTASTIC and inspiring as the www.moldaramaville.com web site is, it doesn't have this figure identified.


Moldset heaven!

A little bit of trivia: Back in the 1980s quite a few original moldsets were stolen and sold for scrap.  (AHHH!)  Sad, but true.  As a result, quite a few original moldsets no longer exist.  Of the dinosaurs which were made in both a large for the 1964 NY World's Fair, and then in very late 1966 a small size, only two dinosaurs survive today with moldsets in both sizes: corythosaurus and trachodon.  A little more trivia:  the triceratops and ankylosaurus were made by Mold-A-Rama for Sinclair only in the large size!  (A small triceratops was made many years later in the 1990s.)

A little more trivia:  In 1965 an operator could buy a used standard moldset from Mold-A-Rama, Inc. for $20, or a new standard moldset for $100.  A custom moldset was a bit more pricey in 1965 at $750!



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