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Decades before the dawn of 3-D printing and resulting wonders like self-portrait gummy bears, Mold-a-Rama vending machines were pressing hot wax into tiny figurines delivered in seconds. These vintage contraptions still exist at zoos and other attractions, where miniature keepsakes cost only a couple of dollars and smell like melted crayons.
At the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, machines magically make models of Rosa Park's bus and wee wax Weinermobiles before your eyes:
Zoos are hotspots for Mold-a-Rama machines. At Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo, several generations of visitors have taken home 3-inch-tall wax gorillas. The city's Brookfield Zoo has 13 machines, currently spitting out dinosaurs.
According to the fan site moldamania.com, other zoos proffer macaws, dolphins, manatees, panthers and killer whales. The bust of Frankenstein and tiny space capsules can be found if you're lucky. Hundreds of molds existed back in the technology's heyday (the original was invented in the 1960s and spawned several imitators). Back then, Disneyland delighted park-goers with figurines of favorite characters, ready in 30 seconds.
Cheap? Check. Packable? Check. Better than a gummy bear in your likeness? You decide. Here's a list of Mold-a-Rama locations.
Do you have Mold-a-Rama memories from childhood?
[Photo credits: Craft*ology and Sarabeephoto via Flickr; video credit: Mark Frauenfelder via YouTube]
Spring Breakers, did you know that anyone boarding a plane is covered by a "passenger bill of rights?" Or that in Mexico you're guilty until you can prove yourself innocent?
Lawyers.com's editor in chief, Larry Bodine, has some legal insights that Spring Breakers should digest well before their first Jello shot – particularly the 120,000 students heading to Mexico this year.
What can I do right this instant to be safer on Spring Break?
Sign up for the U.S. government's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. It's free, and in the feds' own words, "It allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency and keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements."
What's another thing?
Look up the U.S. consulate or consular agency closest to where you're staying. At travel.state.gov, check under Country Specific Information for a list of agencies in your destination. Print copies for you and your travel mates and enter the information in your cellphone.
Is there an app for that?
Yes! There's a Smart Traveler Program app for iPhone and Android.
American laws apply to me everywhere, right?
Wrong. Bodine says many college students think American citizenship grants them immunity from laws in other countries. This isn't true. If you're in Mexico or Jamaica or the Dominican Republic or anywhere, you are subject to that country's laws and punishments. "There are a lot of semi-innocent things we do the U.S. that are crimes in Mexico," Bodine says. "Walking on the street with an open alcohol container is a crime. Getting off the bus without paying. Taking off your clothes on the beach."
In another country you can't count on something like Panama City's Spring Break Court to minimize the repercussions. "The laws in Mexico are very different," Bodine says. "If you're charged with a crime, you are presumed to be guilty, and you have to prove you are innocent. If you are arrested, you'll be held for 48 hours before you get to make a statement. If they want to charge you, you can be held for a year without bail."
Check the most recent edition of a reputable guidebook for laws.
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