Witness the miracle convergence of hot polyethylene plastic, 1960's vending machine technology and great design!

Army Green Helper Dragon

Posted: December 2nd, 2012 | Author: | No Comments »

We’ve been a little lax about updating the blog here with news of new colors. I’ll try to do better in the future.

So…if you didn’t know, we change the color on the Roto-a-matic every month. For December 2012 we’ve taken inspiration from the classic plastic Army Man and made the Helper Dragon the same shade of green. Put a Helper Dragon under (or on) the tree this year!

Available here.

Meet Helper Dragon

Posted: August 2nd, 2012 | Author: | No Comments »

Designed and sculpted by Tim Biskup, the Helper Dragon is the very first Roto-a-Matic figure. The Helper Dragon is 4.5 inches of blow-molded polyethylene art! Each figure comes with it’s own Certificate of Authenticity indicating the name of the figure, name of the artist, date of manufacture and color.

If you’re in Chicago, swing by the store at 2780 N Lincoln Ave and you can make your very own! If you’re outside of the area, we are currently selling Orange Helper Dragons online here. Thanks!

The Roto-a-Matic Lives!!!

Posted: August 1st, 2012 | Author: | 2 Comments »

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Well, that took forever.

After more than a few starts and stops, the Roto-a-Matic is up and running in the store now! Six dollars gets you a token to make a figure. Right now the machine makes an awesome “Helper Dragon” figure that was designed and sculpted by Tim Biskup.

For those not fortunate enough to be in Chicago, we’ll also be selling figures via our online store. Thanks!

Getting There

Posted: October 24th, 2010 | Author: | 3 Comments »


If you’ve been following this project, you already know that we’re moving forward at what could best be described as a “glacial” pace.  Right now we’ve got our refurbished machine 99% ready. We still need to hook up the final token mechanism and re-attach the bubble, but those are minor issues that will be easily resolved once we have a new mold.

That new mold, however, is the biggest stumbling block. We’ve had a lot of issues finding a capable mold maker to take our new sculpt and create a working Mold-a-Rama mold. We’ve even tried our hand at fabricating it ourselves, with a little success, but not good enough for production.

Enough blather…what you probably want to know is “When will it be ready!?” …. the answer is “eventually.” We’re working on a new angle to produce the mold right now (3D modeling and rapid prototyping are our new buzz words) but we don’t have a definite timeframe. In the meantime, please know that we have no intention of giving up on this project, ever. Thanks for your patience!


Posted: June 14th, 2010 | Author: | 7 Comments »

We’ve made even more progress since our last report….here she is with her frame back on and the doors in place. We’re working diligently on finishing the first new mold we’re producing and then just need to put the cosmetic final touches on the machine. Expect the debut of the Roto-a-Matic sometime in August if everything works out!


Still Not Dead

Posted: March 4th, 2010 | Author: | 9 Comments »

I guess it’s time again to jump on here and say, nope…still not ready, though it’s looking shinier every day (or every weekend since that’s when we usually have time to work on it).

This time I’m not going to make any more guesses on when we’ll have the Roto-a-Matic up and running in the store. I’ll just say that we continue to make progress and this project will come to life at some point, we promise.

There are a few of you out there (Oscar, Stephan and a handful of others) whose encouragement on this project has been really, really awesome. Thank you guys, we won’t let you down.

We’re not dead…

Posted: October 30th, 2009 | Author: | 14 Comments »

Nope, not dead yet! The handful of folks that are checking in here from time to time are probably beginning to wonder if we’ll ever get this done!

Good news is that mold for the new artist-designed figure we are are making is almost done. I’ve also spent the last few days working on rehab on the machine and will be meeting with an electrician on Saturday to get some bits re-wired for safety’s sake…and will likely give the old beast a new paintjob in the next two weeks or so.

Current plans are to have the machine up and running in the store no later than the first week of December! Yay!

The Future Roto-a-Matic

Posted: May 29th, 2009 | Author: | 3 Comments »

I thought you might like to see what the future Roto-a-Matic looks like right now. We’ve been pretty busy with other projects, but still plan on having this bad boy up and running with a new artist-created mold in July or so.

Right now we’re just waiting to get the first cast of the new figure in hand and get an estimate on how long it will take to make the mold before we announce it…hopefully we’ll be able to spill the beans soon.

This project has me so excited at the idea of spreading the love of MARs worldwide to a new base of collectors who may have never had the chance to get one. There’s just something….awesome…about them.

Checking In

Posted: April 3rd, 2009 | Author: | 1 Comment »

Just checking in with a progress report. I don’t have any images or anything I can share just yet, but we did get some photos from the first artist that will be featured in the Roto-a-Matic and I can pretty much guarantee that you will not be disappointed. So, so awesome. As soon as we tie off a few loose ends I’ll let the cat out of the bag.

The re-hab process for the machine we purchased (it needs a little TLC) will be starting sometime in the next couple weeks…I’ll post some photos of the process once we get started.

Thanks everyone who has expressed an interest in this particular pipe-dream-come-true of ours…and stay tuned…it’s going to get interesting, I promise!


Posted: February 3rd, 2009 | Author: | 11 Comments »

Roto-a-Matic is a collaboration between Chicago-based product development specialists Squibbles Ink and designer toy store Rotofugi

Those of you in the midwest (especially around Chicago) and parts of Florida and California have probably, at one time or another, came across a magic vending machine that, when filled with the correct amount of change, creates for you a plastic toy right in front of your eyes. Those machines, usually found in musuems or zoos, are called “Mold-a-Rama”*

Kangaroo MAR

A Mold-a-Rama machine injects a molten concoction of polyethylene plastic into a mold, hits it with a blast of air to make the plastic conform to the shape of the mold and then opens up the mold to drop the figure into a bin where you can retrieve it. It’s like MAGIC and we’re huge fans of Mold-a-Rama and the resulting figures, usually referred to by collectors as MARs.

Not quite being content at tracking down MARs in colors and shapes we didn’t already have, we’ve gone and done the most exciting thing we can possibly think of for a MAR collector….we’ve gone and purchased our own machine. Sure, it’s a fixer upper, but it works (see the kangaroo?) and we’re going to fix it up. But we won’t stop there, no. We’ll be making NEW molds for that bad boy, asking some of our artist friends from the “designer toy” world to contribute. We’ve dubbed the project “Roto-a-Matic.”

Stay tuned for more information as we get this project off the ground!

* Mold-a-Rama is a registered trademark of the William A. Jones Co. Please visit their official site here.