The more things change, the more they stay the same. This axiom is nowhere more true than at your local arcade's ticket redemption counter. Having made my first trip to the arcade at least as early as 5 years old, I've got over 20 years of arcade experience. And the crazy thing is that for the most part the things you can buy with your tickets that you've won playing Skee-ball and Whack-a-mole, and push the quarters over the edge doesn't seem to have changed much in that time. I thought I'd put together a little gallery of the typical prizes you can get for your tickets.
The spider ring -- always a classic. Not sure why anyone would want a ring that looks like a spider, but I've had my share.
The Chinese fingertrap -- the first time I got one of these, I couldn't even get it off my fingers without help from someone else. Not sure what American fingertraps look like, or why the Chinese invented these.
The candy necklace -- Those are some pretty high quality candy circles there. I nearly busted a tooth or two on these.
or if you feel necklaces aren't manly enough... the candy watch -- similar to the necklace but with that gigantic tooth-busting watch in the middle.
The sliding number puzzle -- worst case you can always pry the tiles out and rearrange them correctly.
The bouncy ball -- still fun even at my age.
The popper -- great fun for all ages. Like a time-delayed bouncy ball.
The stencil ruler -- Honestly, who has ever actually used one of these. You can barely fit a pen through those holes and the actual shapes ends up being tiny even in comparison to the tiny shape on the ruler.
The monster finger puppet -- These were always great fun for no particular reason. Its just cool to have a monster on your finger.
The levitating snake -- I am still fascinated by these.
The friendship bracelet -- with neon colors straight from the 80s. Don't let those knots come untied, because nobody knows how to put those back together.
The parachuting army man -- if only there was some place high enough to throw these from. Usually you just end up wadding up the parachute and throwing the guy into the air and hoping the 'chute opened up enough for him to get some good glide time.
The Styrofoam airplane - I think we used to get one of these almost every time we went to the planetarium. They actually fly pretty good, and you can make them do loops if you mess with the rear stabilizer wing.
and its counterpart, the Styrofoam bird -- Personally, I prefer the plane with its plastic propeller nose to this guy, but this one is still fun and if you are more of a nature buff, there's usually at least two different birds to choose from.
and then in the back behind the counter up on the shelf for **5000 TICKETS**....
the ghetto blaster -- OK, so this one probably isn't still up there on the back shelf, but only because its not even worth 10 tickets nowadays what with everyone owning an ipod. Its not like anyone ever got one of those in real life. Well maybe they did, but it wasn't someone like me who only got to an arcade once or twice a year.
I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane as much as I did. I found a couple websites that sell most of these things (and many more) in bulk. I'm sure I left off somethings that you might remember, especially the girly stuff that I always just skipped right past. I'm sure there were some butterfly erasers or something that were popular for the little girls. Feel free to let me know what I've missed in the comments.