Randy Treadway

Major Discovery!

79 posts in this topic

...well, "major" for molderama collectors anyway.

You might remember that these molded Unispheres turn up occasionally in the collectables market, on eBay or wherever. But they are very hard to find.

UnisphereBlueNYWorldsFair62_small.JPG

Several collectors had identified them as having come from a molderama vending machine, because they have the telltale double injection holes in the bottom, and the right kind of material- what we've come to refer to as 'waxy-plastic'.

Yet there were others who argued that holes in the bottom are common to many different kinds of injection molding manufacturers and there is nothing to indicate that these were molded on demand by the customer, as opposed to being fabricated at a factory and sold at the Fair as a souvenir. And nobody had ever seen a machine at the Fair, except for the Sinclair machines, which we finally pinpointed in photos two or three years ago.

YET....there are several other known World's Fair molderama figures, and we've been unsuccessful at pinpointing where those machines were located either.

FINALLY....while watching "March Madness" on TV this afternoon and scanning World's Fair slides at the same time, I was scanning some slides of the Billy Graham Pavilion, and what should pop out but the words Mold-A-Rama on a big banner! Wow! THAT got my attention!

65-xx-09-03_Billy_Graham_Pavilion.jpg

So did Mold-A-Rama have their own Pavilion that somehow got overlooked? No, this closeup reveals that the banner was telling visitors that they could mold their own Unisphere right here! And there's the machine under the little canopy. (A couple of the dinosaur molderama machines at Sinclair had identical canopies early in the '64 season).

65-xx-09-03a_Billy_Graham_Pavilion.jpg

SO WE FINALLY FOUND THE DARNED MACHINE!!! It's at a Brass Rail souvenir stand right next door to the Billy Graham Pavilion.

This photo is 1965 (from features in other pictures on the roll- the slide mounts are Agfachrome and not dated at all).

So....the next question is....was this machine also there in the '64 season? And why haven't we spotted it before?

Time to go to the "archive"....

....and SURE ENOUGH- there's a single solitary September '64 picture in the archive, of that same location, and there it is! Why didn't I notice it before? I remember looking at this picture and pouring over what could be seen INSIDE the gift shop, in high resolution. That little awning didn't get my attention, and there was no Mold-A-Rama banner to point out its presence.

64-09-22a-02_Souvenir_stand_near_Billy_Graham_Pavilion.jpg

But looking at it now, there are clearly two bubble-top machines under that awning. I wonder if BOTH of them produced Unispheres? Maybe one of them was that John F. Kennedy head?

64-09-22a-02a_Souvenir_stand_near_Billy_Graham_Pavilion.jpg

Now we know- everybody watch out for awnings with scalloped cloth roofs in NYWF souvenir stand photos!!

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What an outstanding bit of sleuthing. I am always amazed what can be derived from these photo collections. Thanks for solving yet another mystery.

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What an outstanding bit of sleuthing. I am always amazed what can be derived from these photo collections. Thanks for solving yet another mystery.

Yes, very nice work Randy.

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Now that I look at both pictures closer, each bubble-top Molderama machine has its own separate awning. The one closest to the building is set back about a foot, compared to the one on the left.

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First time I've seen that Man in the 5th Dimension sign..."on the giant curved screen in Todd-AO and Technicolor".

Cool!!

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I wasn't aware of that sign either! Yes, it's great to see more of these discoveries in the photo collections.

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closeup- looks like it was illuminated from within after dark

64-09-22a-02b_Souvenir_stand_near_Billy_Graham_Pavilion.jpg

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Dang This is Great News! Nice Work!

And thank God for Air conditioning in the Graham pavilion.Those wool suits can get very hot in the summer

Regards,Dave

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I just scanned a seemingly typical July '64 view of the Masonic Center. More of those funny Shriners with their fez hats. I decided to zoom in on them for a closer look.........

64-07-30-06_Masonic_Center.jpg

.....and there are our Unisphere machines! This is between the Masonic Center and the American Express Pavilion, with the Billy Graham Pavilion toward the back. These are the same machines as in the other photos in this topic.

Definitely two separate units. There is an Arlington Hat outlet right across the street. Maybe they sold these fez hats...

64-07-30-06a_Masonic_Center.jpg

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I just found a slide (which I had scanned last year) of this same location, on opening day- April '64.

No mold-a-rama machines! So they were added sometime between April and July.

We've now seen the machines at this location in photos dated July '64, September '64, and 1965.

Opening Day

08_Japanese_performers.jpg

No machines. At the front of the buildng there's a sign that says Americana and there's a classroom-type Globe on the counter. Maybe this was a booth selling Encyclopedia Americana.

08a_Japanese_performers.jpg

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If anyone at the Queens Museum had any creativity they would install one of these.

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If anyone at the Queens Museum had any creativity they would install one of these.

With a bust of Estelle Parsons?

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What I found interesting was that the company also claimed to have a full selection of original molds available for sale. So what's to stop somebody from buying molds for Sinclair Dinos and the Unisphere-- and then cranking out faux collectibles?

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They told me a couple of years ago that they retain the "master molds" but make "operating molds" from them (which wear out after a couple of years of use). And they don't re-use the 'nameplates' unless the original licensee requests it.

So we shouldn't see any more that say 1964-65 New York World's Fair, at least not legit from this company.

But the dinosaurs are still being produced at places like the Milwaukee Zoo- they say Milwaukee Zoo on them- or something like Brookfield Zoo if that's the name.

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But the dinosaurs are still being produced at places like the Milwaukee Zoo- they say Milwaukee Zoo on them- or something like Brookfield Zoo if that's the name.

It's the Milwaukee County Zoo, Randy. The Brookfield Zoo is near Chicago and is a Chicago Zoological Society Zoo.

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<!--quoteo--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE</div><div class='quotemain'><!--quotec-->They told me a couple of years ago that they retain the "master molds"<!--QuoteEnd--></div><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Sheesh! Is everything old news to you, Randy?!

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They told me the master mold is made out of something like stainless steel. I'll have to look for that correspondence.

The bad news is that the current owner acquired the business in the 1970's. At the time of the acquisition, they got all the master molds and the remaining machines, but the pre-acquisition records were lost. So they have no information on the number of operating molds made, who they were licensed to, where company-owned machines were placed at the World's Fair, ANY of that kind of stuff.

They DO know all about the formulation change in the 1980's though. All the figures now have a shiny look wich is a result of a more stable formula that results in less cracks and mis-casting. And the machines don't produce quite the same 'melted wax' smell that everybody remembers from the World's Fair.

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The Henry Ford here in the Detroit area has several machines. I had a Lincoln head, Edison light bulb and Oscar Meyer Weinermobile. I stored them in a closet and found piles of waxy plastic bits this summer. I guess they got too cold.

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In that link, they clearly list the "Unisphere (globe)" (their exact words) as a mold still available. Does this mean they would have removed any text that would have been on an NYWF Unisphere mold and retained the shape??

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Several months ago Randy started this thread with a shot of his discovery of two Mold-A-Rama machines:

64-09-22a-02_Souvenir_stand_near_Billy_Graham_Pavilion.jpg

Using a different scanner I was able to pull some additional details out of the slide, especially in the shadows:

nywf-mold-a-rama-1.jpg

I then went in for a closer look of the two machines:

nywf-mold-a-rama-2.jpg

I still can't quite make out what the figure is, but it looks like a standing figure of some kind. Anyone able to narrow down the possible choices?

Also, here's a view of the souvenir stand itself, just to tease my fellow landfill collectors:

nywf-mold-a-rama-3.jpg

This shop is in a building labeled "Stroller Rentals" on the Time-Life map over my desk, and was located on Avenue of the Americas.

Bill

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The only World's Fair "figure" molderama that I'm aware of is a standing Abe Lincoln. But that one says "Land of Lincoln" on the base, which I'd always assumed came from the Illinois Pavilion. That figure is molded with both Abe's hands clutching his collar, as if giving a speech, which I assumed was also a tie to the Disney Abe audioanimatronic exhibit at the Illinois Pavilion.

I've had a white 'albino' version of the Abe figuring for a few years (white resulted when the color pigment ran out in one of these machines). Recently I acquired Abe in the 'normal' blue color.

If you go back to the top of this topic there's a sign hanging up that says mold your own Unisphere. Since the Unisphere is a known molderama subject, I assumed that's what came out of these machines.

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