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.