Show and Tell > Vending Machine Sci-Fi Toys

You’ll recall a few weeks ago I asked for help identifying a few toys. The success of that got me thinking about other toys I remembered as a kid that I couldn’t identify. The one that jumped to mind was a tiny, cheap plastic UFO toy I owned.

My memory was so vague that I could scarcely recall what it looked like–I couldn’t even have drawn a picture. Nonetheless, I went looking for it on eBay anyway. Three days of constant eBay searching for every combination of “ufo” and “flying saucer” proved fruitless, until I finally did a search for “vending ufo.” To my utter shock, I actually found the damned thing.

It’s the green saucer in the front, part of a 1980s series of gumball machine toys–what seems to have become known as “capsule toys.” What struck me about them was how similar they look to a lot of the indie toys being produced today for $10-$15 a set.

I can’t believe I actually found this. Crazy. Anyway, I’m going to be giving away most of these over the next few weeks, as will be explained in a post later today.


Pic of the Day > Tyrantisaurus Lomography by geekyvixen


Identify the Toy Contest #1


  1. SpeedBreaker

    I remember these. They were cereal box toys here in Australia, found in Rice Bubbles, Fruit Loops etc. The crane one was called Crater Crawler. They even had little cardboard bases that you could cut out from the back of the cereal box.

    • Mr Thankful

      I agree SpeedBreaker, these toys were found in Australian cereal boxes in the 80's, I remember taking a collection of these to primary school in 1984 to show my teacher. They are too similar to be something else, especially that five pronged spaceship/station and the flying saucer.

      I wish I knew more about their origins and how they made their way into our breakfast foods (across the vast emptiness of space perhaps!). I also really wish I could find my old set but I think they are lost forever. Thanks for posting this page, I've been looking for some pictures of these things from almost 30 years ago and this made my night!

  2. Good news. I had these. Every one of them. I think I may still have the spring one around here somewhere.

    I used to love vending machine toys at the pizza parlor. Looking back, I think I got some cheap rubber SD Gundams in them… Which I knew nothing of at the time. Only that it was a cool robot.

    I also got a rubber Megalon once, which was probably my favorite get.

  3. Barbecue17

    Those look really similar to some little plastic space ships my orthodontist gave out when I was a kid, but none of the models are the same as the ones I had. I don't know if I still have mine or if I can find them, but if I do I'll try to take a picture.

  4. Fengschwing

    These remind me of the sort of toys you used to get in Kinder Eggs over here, do they have them in the states?
    That was before they were declared a choking hazard and everything became solid, resin lumps instead of miniature robots or star fighters with tiny moving parts…

    • Ben

      We had something like Kinder Eggs called "Wonderballs" back in the late 1990s, but because American kids are poorly raised and American parents like to sue, they were quickly banned when the toys were deemed a choking hazard. Consider yourself very lucky!

    • Fengschwing

      Golden days, here are some of the things we used to avoid choking on in the UK back in the 80's…

      And you would never forget the freakish advert for the damn things either…

    • Barbecue17

      Those are really cool! I work with a lady whose family was stationed in Germany for a few years and she always talks about them.

      I like the little MOTU looking guys!

    • nerdbot

      I love those! We can find occasionally find imported Kinder Eggs is specialty markets. When I see them, I always have to get one or two. My favorite toy from them is a cute little wooden hedgehog puzzle thing, with the component pieces held together on string.

    • nerdbot

      "Is"? I meant "in." "in specialty markets."

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