Friday, September 9, 2011

Tiny Treasures: Vintage Gumball Machine Prizes

As a kid, I adored the gumball machines full of tiny toys in the entrance of the grocery store. I would save my change for weeks and then, like a casino slots addict, feed coin after coin after coin into my favored machine, never giving up my belief that if I put in just one more dime, I'd finally get whatever must-have item had obsessed me.

Once I grew up, I was delighted to discover that private citizens can buy their own gumball machines, and I now have 5 vintage venders full of fantastic treasures in my dining room. Still, I'm always on the lookout for cool gumball prizes when I'm antiquing (and actually, still at the grocery store too.) I found this lot at a show this summer, and it had some really great pieces, mostly from the 1960s-70s.


This may look like a pile of cheap plastic, and it is, 
but it's also full of tiny treasures.


My favorite piece was this little pink guy with a really big nose.



The oldest item was this Barney Google charm: 











Monster charms are always a good find; these are from the '60s.



Oh joy of joys: a bunch of Funny Froot rings! I lusted after these as a child, but sadly, only ever got the Avocado Man (second from right).



Keeping with the anthropomorphic theme: a smiling radish guy pin:











An itty bitty parachute toy, barely an inch long, and never opened:



And last but not least: tiny fish and clamshell charms. I can remember seeing these as a kid, too, and being profoundly disappointed when, several dollars worth of dimes later, all I had gotten were lame stickers.

10 comments:

  1. I'm glad you finally got your other Funny Froot charms. You surely deserve it after all of those nickles and dimes spent as a child.

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  2. Wow. You're bringing back a lot of memories for me! I remember all those critters. Definitely the parachute man. That was a top prize.

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  3. i want to scoop them all up! they make such an interesting group too. my addiction was superballs from the machines... day-glo ones.

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  4. I can totally understand why kids want to put these up their noses and in their ears.

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  5. When I was a kid in the 70s I must have had two dozen of those plastic parachute men from gumball machines. Seems like that's what came out most of the time. Great blog! I just discovered it and am making my what through the whole thing. =)

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    1. Thanks! Glad you're enjoying it!

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  6. in the late sixties I finally got that deck of cards that I thought my Barbie could use I was so excited to go home and take those tiny little cards our of that plastic ball . got home showed my mom and you guessed it there it went she loved them more then me and I gave them to her. she recently went to heaven and guess what I found in her jewelry box yes the tiny deck of cards o the memory

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    1. What a wonderful story: thanks for sharing it! It's amazing the hold these tiny little toys can have on people. I'm glad you and your mom enjoyed them so much, and that you still have them.

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  7. Love the fruit rings (these characters were used for other series of toys and are often known as the Munchie Bunch (Named after, I guess, their leader, Munchie Mellon...the guy you lusted after as an avocado is actually a watermelon.) Any chance you might want to part with these rings? toys@wherethingswindup.com

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    1. Ah...thanks for clearing up the avocado/watermelon issue. Good to know!

      I'm afraid I'm too fond of these to let them go, but if I find any more I will keep you in mind.

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