Vintage Vending #18: Rotting Vermin!

Okay, this has gotta be the weirdest edition of Vintage Vending yet. LOOK AT THIS THING!


No formal title for the collection was provided, I guess because “Bugs & Fish Guts” would’ve been more polarizing than fetching.

Everything about it is off. I’ll describe the individual prizes in a minute, but each is stapled – literally stapled – to the card, and in entirely erratic positions. The card itself is impossibly flimsy, and for reasons I can’t even guess at, smothered with purposeless holes.

It’s another treasure from the Folz company, who also produced the Halloween Horrors collection. While this would’ve worked as “Halloween Horrors II,” the card forwent any title in favor of the word “FOLZ,” presented in multiple neon colors in a font more suited to football team logos.

The set’s enigmatic qualities only add to its appeal. In my view, throwing a bunch of rotting fish over a hot pink background reads less as “lazy” and more as “art.” Whoever assembled this was clearly trying to make a statement. I bet he wore a painter’s cap and teensy tiny glasses. I believe that with all of my heart.


If you can get past the oddity of the prizes, they’re quite good! First is an assortment of huge rubber insects, all with detachable plastic wings. (And it’s good that they’re detachable. I’m no entomologist, but some of these guys probably shouldn’t have wings.)

Compared to most vending machine prizes, these bugs are enormous. (Especially for a quarter machine!) I have to believe that the actual capsules were stuffed mostly with smaller prizes, because there’s no way a quarter guaranteed you prizes of this size. The stuff shown on the card had to be the rarer chaser items. The ones that kept you playing. Thus born was the now-common phrase, “I can’t stop until I get the giant ant with the removable wings.”


My favorite prizes are these dead fish, picked to the bone and looking like props from so many Heathcliff comics. Maybe most kids would’ve balked at the idea of dead fish, but I would’ve been all over them. Regular rubber fish is one thing, but DEAD rubber fish didn’t come around often. We’re always drawn to the exclusive and uncommon, even when it’s fake dead fish.


Finally, this guy. Arguably the best of the prizes, my first guess was going to be “seahorse,” but given the cracked eggshell, that must be a baby bird, right? A baby bird that was apparently brutalized by spilt oil, which, now that I think about it, may have been the sick, twisted and totally unmentioned theme of this whole collection. A peculiar nod to the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989?

Folz is freaky.


And now I own a plastic sheet with the fossil-like imprints of giant flies, dead fish and a tragic bird.

This is one of my favorite sets yet. There’s nothing on the teaser card that I would’ve been unhappy with. Every prize had potential far beyond its surface definition:

The dead fish? Reanimated zombies that fly instead of swim.

The insects? Enormous scouts of Satan himself, sent to case possible locations for his arrival.

The oil-slicked egg and bird? One of those bastards from Farm Heroes Saga. It’s really hard to line up three of them.