Why I did this today, I don't know, but I started saving these photos of old gumball machine prizes. Most are from the 50s and 60s and they hark back to a more innocent time (check out the movie monsters and gun collection). I can kind of see where our culture was coming from with the gumball prizes back then. We collected miniatures of everything from our world: babies, hotdogs, collies, cars, wishniks, cigarettes, Beatles records.
Jackson's been trying to start a gumball prize collection the past year but every time we cough up the $$$ (they've gone up in price), he gets some hideous monster from a bad movie. Like something from the "Incredible Hulk" only it's a hulk-like villain, not even the Hulk. Or he'll get the actual Hulk and it looks like a villain. He's just not into villains. He likes funny creatures who fall down a lot and get hit with ping pong balls. I'm just not seeing a lot of that in gumball machines lately.
I started collecting the very popular "Homies" from the Goodwill in Oakland a few years ago. I was instantly attracted to them because they reminded me of the kids I saw hanging out in the Mission District in San Francisco when I was growing up. But after I gathered a few of these at 50 cents each, I realized they were a little disturbing. I keep them in a drawer. I can't seem to get rid of them, yet I can't display them either. Here's one of the sets. There's hundreds of these and some are at a different scale, like with big heads and bodies, so when you try to gather your collection from a gumball machine, you end up with a miss-match of styles. From a collector's standpoint, it's annoying because your perfectionist streak kicks in: oh, now I gotta start collecting the big-head series to match my other big-heads--thanks a lot, Homies. I just gave up at that point--probably a healthy decision. Kind of cute and artistic, but pretty disturbing. These caricatures, had they been created by a white guy (or guys), would be considered completely outrageous by the Latino community (I'm guessing), but because they're done by a Latino guy--they're considered cool. It's one of those fine-line situations. Disclosure: I'm mixed Latino and I have mixed feelings.
Anyway, back to gumball prizes. Here a few that caught my obsessive eye. If you feel the compulsion to own any of these, head over to Time Passages Nostalgia Company and put in a bid, but be aware that many of these collections are already marked "sold" because of all the people who are anxious to own tiny plastic telephones, chickens, radishes, and (for many an unlucky child in the past), feet.