Vintage Vending #17: Halloween Horrors!

The Vintage Vending series returns with an incredibly seasonal addition. From 1994, get a load of the HALLOWEEN HORRORS collection!


We’ve seen better prizes in the past, but on card art alone, this may be my favorite entry yet. I’ve seen plenty of vending assortments with “horror” flavors, but it’s exceedingly rare to find one that’s so undeniably tied to the Halloween season.

The design is complete perfection, looking more like signage from some ancient cheesy dark ride than something you’d find near a supermarket’s exit. Art like this can stop traffic, which is hilarious, because just imagine all of the stupid people crashing shopping carts into total strangers’ asses.

“Halloween Horrors” is a great title, yes, but please take note of the fine print:

“Plus Other Fine Toys.”

Translation: This was stuffed with the junky leftovers from a hundred other vending machines. Hell, once you get past the obvious chasers, even the shown sample prizes are utter garbage.

But what would’ve been an annoying experience in 1994 is easier to appreciate in 2013. What better topper for a “Halloween” vending machine than the knowledge that most players ended up with tiny plastic magnifying glasses? Since I can’t play, I take vindictive solace in knowing that Halloween Horrors caused so much disappointment. Yeah, I’m that guy.


The biggest chaser was this skeleton, and though you’d assume he was made of hard plastic, he’s actually made of super-stretchy rubber. The kind that attracts cat hair and filth, but gets away with it, because there are so few 7” skeletons that can be rolled into 2” balls. You feel me?

You’re gonna need to squint to catch this, but that is no normal human skull. The pig nose and eye shape betray something more under the umbrella of “demon,” and if there’s one way to make a 7” stretchy rubber skeleton better, that is motherfucking IT.


The other chaser was this wristwatch, and boy, it’s a doozy. The one-eyed purple monster wears the time like a nose, and between him and the orange bezel, this is as Halloweeny as a watch can get.

(I’m also getting a Madballs vibe from that guy. He looks like a more vertical Hornhead.)

I don’t know if it’s a still-current trend, but back then, wristwatches were the go-to chaser to make lamer vending machine assortments seem okay. So many “variety machines” included one on the teaser card, and of course, once you saw it, you became convinced that you’d be the jackpot winner.

…but then you’d end up with a 2” plastic hairbrush. And then you’d punch the machine. And then you’d get yelled at by security. Basically, you’d pay fifty cents to get emasculated by a mall cop. Going home with a tiny plastic hairbrush iced that cake like a tube full of donkey shit.


The rest of the sample prizes are almost daringly awful. The Folz Vending Company must’ve been really confident about their chasers, because WOW. I’ve already mentioned the tiny hairbrush and magnifying glass, which are only a little worse than the pair of cheap stencils – the ones that afforded you the chance to trace misshapen stars and the number “6” onto notebook paper.

Holy. Toledo.

Worst of all was a tiny, bottle-shaped chunk of plastic with a “BEAUTY” sticker on it. What the hell is that about? What does that even mean? A bottle of beauty? Why? More importantly, why now? A bottle of beauty in a Halloween assortment? You know it’s a bad prize when it makes the stuff in a casino arcade’s five-point section seem like Faberge eggs.

And don’t get me started on that white thing. I believe it’s LITERALLY A PEN CAP.



The flaws with the collection only add to its charm, and besides, it’s hard to be negative about something called “Halloween Horrors,” no matter what it consisted of. Only rarely did a vending machine’s success hinge on name value, but this was definitely one of those times.

Then or now, if you could walk past a Halloween Horrors vending machine and not dig through every pocket until you’ve found two quarters, you’re reading the wrong website.

  • Modok

    The “beauty” bottle is perfume. The “pen cap” is obviously a vibrator. There, mystery solved!

  • Church

    Is that a Halloween hairbrush below the watch? I’ve wasted so much money on these twisty machines…kinda still wish some of those little junky prizes were still floating around in some of my old stuff.

    On an unrelated note, I was downstairs going through some Halloween trying to get a few things for my son and the Halloween pile was formed into a “mood table”…check it out.

    By the way, the Countdown has been great this year, Matt! We’ve still got lots more to go!

  • its Joby

    Perhaps the beauty bottle and pube brush could be intended for the skeleton? It’s not inconceivable to see this particular assembly as enhancement tools for an upcoming hot date

  • darkling

    Man those prizes suck!I would have definitely been one of those kids who wanted badly that cute skeleton and winded up with that stupid cork or beauty-bottle.

  • Doc Prop

    Oh man. I need that watch. I don’t even care if it works; which it most likely doesn’t. It’s just too beautiful. It reminds me of my Swatch from 6th grade, but with an awesome purple monster.

  • Traveling Pics

    I like that wristwatch :)
    I still wearing a wristwatch like that (but mine is green and the strap is recycled from another wristwatch, because the original got broken).

  • jason

    i always had tons of those little skeleton key chain things.

  • jason

    the little plastic kind i mean.

  • Trey

    I like to imagine the magnifying glass is a cheap knockoff of the “amulet” from Evil Dead 1 & 2. I know that’s completely unlikely, but it’s the sort of rationalization I would come up with after not getting that awesome demon skeleton.

  • Ryane

    When I first saw the pen cap thing, I thought it was a fake fingernail, but looking at it closer, I don’t think there’s any way those would’ve stayed on any fingertips. It’s kind of driving me insane as to what it is, though. :(

  • Pluto_Child

    I love the monster watch, love it! The white pen cap thing reminds me of one of those bubble wands that people wore as necklaces in the mid-90′s but I know it’s not one but it so reminds me of one. What a conundrum.