Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mold-A-Ramas at Maker Faire Detroit and the Toledo Zoo

After my week home alone while Ian took our kids and niece off to the cottage, we've switched places and now he's manning home and business while I'm on vacation.  I had a few lovely days up in the woods, and then we headed for Detroit to spend some fun time with my parents.

My brother, Arno, suggested we visit the Maker Faire event going on at the Henry Ford Museum.  It's a wacky sort of happening.  There was a cupcake zipping around that kept getting shot at by an air cannon full of stuffed animals.  There were all kinds of wheels to try.  Aden got a knitting lesson.  All my kids got to carve rubber stamps.  There were tons of 3D printers in action (one using Nutella instead of plastic).  
Following Uncle Arno anywhere....

This guy.
Quinn in a super big wheel

Motorized cupcake on the run!
Aden with 3D printed skull
Even though Mold-A-Ramas were not an official part of Maker Faire, the Henry Ford Museum has ten of them, including a new one we didn't get last year, so we were excited to pick it up.  And the really funny thing was that many people manning the high tech 3D printer booths wanted to ask us about the Mold-A-Ramas we were carrying around and thought they were incredibly cool.

A truck replaced Kennedy's head

Then today we went on an official Mold-A-Rama collecting quest.  Our first trip to the Toledo Zoo!

It's a very nice zoo.  In some recent ranking it came out number one in the U.S., which we're feeling a little baffled by, because it was nice, but I don't know if I'd rank it that high.

Owl finches!
It's a comfortable size, the displays are very nice.  We got a good look at some cassowaries which thrilled my kids.  We learned about dingoes.  The aviary was particularly charming and introduced us to the adorable "owl finch."

They had a budgie room with seed sticks, and that never ceases to please.

Budgie on a seed stick

But there's nothing unusual like the nocturnal exhibit at the Bronx Zoo, or as broad in scope as the primate building at the Brookfield Zoo, or as architecturally interesting as the Lincoln Park Zoo.  I like the cat house better in Milwaukee, the polar bear area better in Detroit, and the bird show better at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa.  Not that there's anything wrong with the zoo in Toledo.  It really is a great zoo.  But number one?  I'm not convinced.  There is too much room for "different" without it meaning "better" when it comes to zoos and life in general.  Maybe some things (most things?) are better off not being ranked.

There are ten Mold-A-Rama machines in the Toledo Zoo.  The machines were all Mold-A-Matics and only took bills, not coins.  Seven of them were working, and one of them was not where it was supposed to be.  (Or, at least not where it was listed as being.  We were told there was a tiger machine at the great ape house, but it was actually next to, appropriately enough, the tiger.)  Two of the missing three figures we were able to get at the service desk (the elephant and the train), but the flamingos have apparently been out of order long enough that they didn't even have a stock of them behind the counter anymore.

But we got a giraffe, a tiger, a lion, a polar bear, a rhino, and then new for us were a pterosaur and a hippo.  (I don't know why other places don't do a hippo, because how cute is a little hippo?)

We had a great day collecting.  Spent about six hours and were there until closing, and admission was half off with our reciprocal zoo membership.  The weather was perfect, and my mom came with us which was a real treat.

With a little luck the kids and I will hit the other Mold-A-Rama location in Toledo on our way to visit friends and family in Ohio later this week, and then the only Mold-A-Rama stop left in the Midwest will be the Como Park Zoo in St Paul.  (After that we just need to figure out how to get to to the ones in Texas....)

Can you believe we recently hit the one year anniversary of the beginning of our Mold-A-Rama collection?  No one can ever accuse us of not jumping into something with both feet.  (And you're not going to believe the next step in the quest.  Stay tuned!)


  1. How I have missed the mold a rama posts! the pictures with the birds are also adorable :)

    1. Oh, such exciting Mold-A-Rama news coming! Can't wait to share soon.

  2. Just curious if you'll end the year with an update on that marble system the kids were using for screen time. My husband and I both want to know how that turned out!

    1. Happy to write an update at the end of the summer! We're on marble hiatus now because we're out of town, but we plan to return to it when we eventually get back home.

  3. Wheeeeeee! I think following Uncle Arno anywhere would be a blast! :o)

    And, the hippo? How delightfully adorable is that hippo? I can't believe it's the first you've gotten. And, I can't believe the collection is really only a year old. You all really DO jump in with both feet! :o)

    As always, I loved reading about your MAR adventures! :o)

    1. Except you could literally follow Arno off a cliff if not careful.... (He once dangled from a rope at the cliffs by the Ajanta cave temples to help dislodge boulders over howler monkeys. They still talk of it there, apparently.)

      Love the hippo!

  4. Did you get to Imagination Station in Toledo? They have two Mold-A-Matic machines and one of them is a sailing ship, U.S.S. Constellation.

  5. You just sold me on absolutely everything above. Mostly 3-D printers with Nutella, but the other stuff too.

    1. The funniest part about the guy trying to print with Nutella was that to load it into the machine he needed to first get the Nutella into a large syringe, and he was trying unsuccessfully to do that with a spoon. I told him what he needed was a piping bag. He lit up saying that would be good, but he didn't have one, so I said he could just use a ziplock bag with a corner cut out in the meantime. He got so excited! Found a bag, and the next time I passed him there he was piping his Nutella and he was saying to me "This is genius!" So who knew emergency cake decorating skills could come in handy in geeky printer land?

  6. I love the pictures with birds!! I've been wanting to do something like that... although I think it would freak my kids out just yet. Someday :)
    Hooray Mold A Ramas! And Nutella sculptures!

    1. The budgie rooms are so insanely popular I'd be surprised if they weren't a regular thing in most zoos in the next few years. First one we ever saw was in Knoxville, but they even had one at Gatorland! (Could not figure out any connection to gators, but no one cared! Budgies!!!)