You might think the ability to create a plastic bauble on-demand is a new thing brought about by the advent of the 3-D printer, but the concept actually became a reality in the mid-1950s with the creation of the Mold-A-Rama.
Mold-A-Ramas are vending machines that make and dispense plastic toys while you wait. All you have to do is pop in the required amount of change — usually 25 or 50 cents in the early years, though now they run around $2 — and the machine buzzes, whirs and clangs an inexpensive but fun souvenir into existence, from melted plastic to solid form, in under a minute.
In some ways the Mold-A-Rama is a relic of a bygone age, but many of the machines are still operational after all these years, and people are still enthralled by them. Read on to find out what led to their invention and what they do.