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Vending Machine

by yo go re

Ever since we discovered the miWorld sets, I've occasionally trawled the girls' aisle when I go to the store, just to see what I could get to go with my Dairy Queen. Well, in addition to branded shops, figure packs, and bagged accessories, it turns out they're also selling some standalone scene-fillers, including a photo booth (which is actually smartphone-compatible) and this vending machine.

The vending machine was invented in the first century by Heron of Alexandria - an inventor so technically minded that they called him "Mechanikos" ("the Machine Man" [but not this one]). In his machine, you dropped a drachma coin in the slot, and out came a fixed portion of holy water; it's not hard for us to imagine how such a thing would work - the weight of the coin would raise a lever that opened a valve, then the coin would slide off and the valve would shut again - but two millenia ago, it would look like a divine miracle. And yet it wasn't until the 1880s that the idea really took off. During WWII, vending machines were put in factories so workers could skip having a full meal break and be more productive. According to the Japan Vending Machine Manufacturers Association, the country has one vending machine for every 23 people!

This vending machine is bright purple, because that's more toyetic than a realistic color. Think about it: most machines either have logos of their major contents (Pepsi, Coke, etc.) or are plain black. But a big black obelisk wouldn't make for a very flashy toy, so purple this one becomes. It measures 5⅞" tall, 3" wide, and about 1⅝ deep - so it's scaled more for 5" figures than for 6", but it's big enough that you could still have Captain America chiding Hawkeye for trying to steal snacks off the bottom row, or Plastic Man squeezing an arm inside. Whatever you want.

The right side of the front panel has the control panel and a payment slot. Apparently vending machines take credit cards now, because this set includes a little purple card as an accessory - it fits in the slot, and the slot is spring-loaded so it doesn't get stuck inside. The left side is clear plastic, so we can see all the goodies inside - three bags of chips, three candy bars, and three drink bottles.

There are decals to spruce up the set. For instance, why just have a plain purple chunk of plastic as the credit card, when you could put a sticker on top to give it a logo and numbers? The yellow, pink and red bags of chips can become corn chips, onion flavored, or spicy hot pepper. The pink, yellow and red candy bars can be cherry, chocolate or strawberry. The bottles are cast in semi-translucent blue, green and orange, but clever use of labels can make them grape, apple or, well, orange. The labels add a lot of value to the accessories (the inclusion of bar codes is a nice touch), but they really don't stick to the surfaces very well; I may end up having to glue them down.

A large button sticks out ⅜" from the back of the machine. Press it, and one of the soda bottles drops down into the drawer at the bottom of the machine, which hinges open so you can retrieve it; let the button go, and the remaining bottles all fall down a level, ready to be the next purchased. That's a fun feature! Seriously, I'd have been happy if you had to open the front door to get everything out, so including a semi-functional vending machine feature is just cake. (And yes, when you want to refill it, the entire front panel does open, the same way a real vending machine does.)

The miWorld vending machine retails for approximately $10, which isn't too bad - especially with the real vending action. It's a unique bit of scenery for your action figures, giving them something to do besides standing around looking for a fight.

-- 05/30/15

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