It’s been over two months since my last post, because stuff happens, and we must sometimes accept that life is a big ball of shit aimed directly at our heads.
But I didn’t want to let Memorial Day — my 16th favorite holiday — slide by without some Dino Drac action. So here’s something patriotic. Old rubber fish!
In this edition of Vintage Vending, we’re exploring Sea World, an ancient collection of fish toys with a vague “marine park” theme. I couldn’t tell you exactly when these were made, but judging by the orange background with the yellow stripes, I’m pretty sure they came from Poland’s Szamotuly County.
Innocuous at first glance, a deeper study reveals a dark world filled with mutants and torture. It amazes me that we could come so close to the edge of humanity for only a quarter.
First we have these fish, virtually identical in all but color. You’ll note that if the Sea World collection is to scale, these “everyday” fish are nearly three times the size of dolphins. Mutants!
I’m guessing the green one is the rarer freshwater mutant fish. Or maybe he’s spearmint.
And here’s where things go berserk. Like, much more berserk than freakishly enormous spearmint fish.
Oh, these poor dolphins!
On the bottom is a dolphin in a hat, which doesn’t seem like much until you consider the marathon of repetitions required to make dolphins wear hats. There’s a certain, uh, Theon Greyjoy-ness to this dolphin’s eyes, no?
Plus, you can tell that this dolphin’s been forced to wear the hat for months on end, because its skin has actually wrapped around the bottom of it, much in the same way your finger will envelope a splinter if you don’t take care of things quickly enough.
The dolphin on top is even worse off. In the apparent aftermath of an aquarium trick gone awry, this dolphin has a large red ball lodged in its throat. There’s no way you can merely count that as “a dolphin with a ball in its mouth.” It’s in there in a “somebody call 911” sort of way.
I know, I know. You think I’m just taking a bunch of poorly fabricated rubber fish and concocting wildly exaggerated fantasies. Surely the sculptors didn’t mean to create dolphins in torment, right?
Yeah, so the last of the dolphins is LITERALLY DEAD. It has no eyes, and its whole dementedly curved body is wrapped in seaweed. The ocean’s coffin. This is flat out bizarre.
Of course, these are the sorts of things you only notice when you’re forced to stretch a description of vending machine toys to 500 words. I would’ve been all over these as a kid. If you believe in the teachings of Lord Ganesha, a big rubber fish has a more lasting appeal than a twenty-five cent gumball.
Even if the fish has no eyes and is dead.