Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mold-A-Ramas at the Brookfield Zoo

For Mold-A-Rama collectors (which we have decided we are) there are three, big jackpot places to get Mold-A-Ramas: The Milwaukee County and Brookfield Zoos (each with thirteen machines) and the Henry Ford Museum (which has ten).

I don't think if our own local zoo here in Milwaukee had so many I would have paid much attention.  But being able to start our collection with that many Mold-A-Ramas so easily kind of got us hooked.  Getting all ten figures at the Henry Ford Museum when we were visiting Detroit was a great deal of fun.  Getting only two at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago was less exciting, but satisfying in a different way.  This weekend we finally hit the last of the big bonanza locations for Mold-A-Rama collectors: The Brookfield Zoo in Chicago.  (Which my GPS had never heard of, but since we had my husband along it didn't matter because he can find anything.)
We had the rare, free Sunday to do with whatever we liked, and seeing as the weather was cool and beautiful and we even got to turn the clocks back an hour to give us extra time, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to splurge on a trip down to Chicago for a Mold-A-Rama hunt at their zoo.
The Mold-A-Rama machines in the Brookfield Zoo are in beautiful shape.  Most of them are pristine.  (So far the ones we have at the Milwaukee County Zoo appear to be the shabbiest around, probably because so many of them suffer outside in all the Wisconsin weather.)  But the best part about the machines at the Brookfield Zoo is not only are there thirteen of them, but they have additional molds to go with them.  For Halloween they switched out six of their regular figures for "limited edition" Mold-A-Ramas, including a skull, a devil head, a Frakenstein's monster head, and a few dinosaurs.  Someday when they switch those six machines back to their regular molds we may visit again and collect those as well.

In the meantime we made quite a haul!  All the machines were working, and we managed to collect all thirteen over the course of our four hour visit.  (Supposedly our zoo has additional molds as well, but, aside from a few dinosaurs that were used during the traveling Dinosaurs Alive exhibit a few years back, we don't know what they are or on what occasions they get used.  But we're keeping an eye out!)

Most of the Mold-A-Ramas were new for us.  We now have doubles of the alligator and kangaroo, and our we're up to three waving gorillas in our collection, but the eagle is new, as are the grizzly, penguin, dolphin, stegosaurus, T-rex, apatosaurus, and the three Halloween heads.
New additions to the family collection.  (We're up to 38!)
Mona picked up an apatosaurus for her personal collection
Quinn couldn't resist getting an eagle
The zoo itself is quite nice.  It's not as big as we were expecting so it wasn't hard to get around.  It's a bit dated, and there are way too many gift shops to try to navigate with kids in tow.  They have a cassowary but it wasn't out, which deeply disappointed Aden so I promised her we could go back again one day and maybe catch it then.  We did see wombats, though.  And the bat display had you in the same room as the live bats which added an element of "danger" that was interesting (Mona hoped one would somehow land on her finger).

The highlights were the primate exhibit and the dolphins. The primate house was the best I've ever seen.  Very large rooms with tall, artificial trees and no glass or mesh between the visitors or the different groups of animals.  It's all cleverly spaced so it looks as if, for instance, the tamarins and the gibbons are in the same environment, but then you realize the gaps between their areas are too large for them to traverse.  (Though how one keeps a gibbon out of anywhere is beyond me.)  There were three such enormous rooms, the final one with gorillas where you could walk up and around their whole space to observe them.  There was an underwater viewing area for watching the dolphins be dolphins.  Mona was thrilled, saying she'd never seen a live dolphin before.  I keep thinking that can't be right, and yet, it's probably true.

In any case, the Mold-A-Rama hunts will continue, but the thrill will now come in procuring the obscure rather than the windfall.  Once we have exhausted the possibilities in nearby Chicago we will start planning treks a bit farther afield.  Can't wait!


  1. The eagle is so cool. I can't believe I've never heard of the mold a rama thing...if they had them at the smithsonian museums or the historical sights around here my kids would be addicts. They are big collectors and need to have ALL of the pieces in a set...hence the fact that we have EVERY single rescue hero dude down in the basement.

    1. My kids are pretty obsessive collectors, too, which will be a problem when we run out of machines in the Midwest. But maybe a whirlwind adventure to all the Mold-A-Ramas in Florida would be fun! Not a place I ever planned to go, but why not? I think the closest one to you would be Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee.

  2. Actually, because Dinosaurs Alive! was there, they had six dinosaurs all summer, but took three out to put in the 3 Halloween molds. The dinosaurs they took are were the Trachodon, Corythosaurus, and Triceratops.

    1. I meant to write "The dinosaurs they took out were the Trachodon, Corythosaurus, and Triceratops." There are also 4 dinosaur molds at the Field Museum (T-Rex, Stegasaurus, Triceratops, and Apatasaurus), 4 at the Museum of Science and Industry (Tractor, Train, Space Shuttle, and U-Boat), and 2 at the Sears Tower (Standing Abraham Lincoln and Sears Tower).

    2. I have some extra Hippo's and others from the Toledo Zoo and Imagination Station in Toledo. I am always interested in trades.

    3. Ooh, I hope we have a chance to make some of those other dinosaurs! That would make my kids so happy.

      We're actually headed to the Willis Tower (still the Sears Tower to me) for Quinn's birthday in a couple of weeks! At some point we'll make it to the Museum of Science and Industry, and my brother is starting a research position at the Field Museum soon, so we hope to go there when he can give us the behind the scenes tour.

      Toledo we plan to hit someday when we're making the trip from Columbus to Detroit. My other brother is moving to Seattle, so we figure at some point when we visit him we can get the ones out there. All those Southern states are going to be hard, but the fun is in getting them ourselves so we can be patient! A couple of well-planned road trips could be a blast. See the country, pick up some cheap molded plastic. Sounds good to me!

  3. There's a Mold-A-Rama at the Knoxville zoo and I MISSED it?!?!? Never have I been more disappointed! I've been all over that zoo many times and somehow...ARGH!

    I do so love your Mold-A-Rama adventures! :o)

    1. The Knoxville Zoo supposedly has EIGHT!

      Yesterday the kids and I totaled up all the figures between here and Miami and realized there are sixty. I've decided it's worth planning a trip! It gets so gloomy here in February. I'm thinking it might be good to plan it out well and escape for a week.

    2. Eight? Eight?!?!? ARGH!!! I missed out and had no idea that I *was* missing out!! Spoot. I guess we'll have to drag Grapes to the zoo next year on our trip to TN. ;o)

      Miami in winter would be perfect. You all can escape the gloom and not melt into piles of goo from too much heat. I like the sound of that plan. :o)

    3. Actually, I have one list that says nine, and it includes an otter!

      I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that business picks up enough and Ian isn't let go from his Army position so we can really afford to make the trip. The more the kids and I talk about the possibilities the more excited we all get. It's the kind of strange, fun trip I think they'd remember forever so now I really want to make it happen!