Candy to Toys – The Big Switch Part2

To start with capsules, I’d advise you to go slow. Toy racks are profitable setups, but I’d recommend starting with a double head setup with standard vending heads. These can be easily obtained on Craigslist, eBay, etc. In order to vend capsules, you will need a capsule wheel for each machine you intend to try capsules in. Most name brand machines have compatible capsule wheels that can be purchased from the manufacturer rather inexpensively. The biggest difference between the wheels is that the Oak/Eagle style has three larger holes, like an over-sized gumball wheel, whereas Northwestern has a wheel with “jellybean” shaped holes, which allow the capsules to vend laying down. Both mechanisms are reliable; the choice is merely one of preference and machine type. You may need an agitator and a baffle depending on the size of the machine and the products being used- ask the manufacturer if you’re uncertain.

The next big question is “what sort of capsules to get?” and this again is a matter of personal preference, location, and machine. However, time and again vendors have relied on rings and jewelry for the girls, and sticky things for the boys. Other tried-and-true products include mustaches, glowing things, figurines, and “squishy” things. Products vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so shop around for the products that work best for you.

Large capsule machines are more difficult to work with. Larger 2″ capsule machines are designed to work on a vending platform like a rack, and if you are comfortable with toys, some inexpensive racks may be in order. While there are other ways to set them up, the machines were designed to be used on Racks, and will perform best when used as a “piece” of a vending unit, rather than a standalone unit.  Noteworthy machines include the Northern Beaver, the Northwestern Model 80, and the “Big” Oak capsule Machine. These are all “cabinet” style machines, with high visibility and capacity. They are all noted for decades of reliable service.

Like all vending products, 2″ capsule products are your choice, and there are lots to choose from. Some top sellers for me include A&A’s Yo-Yo balls, and Flatline’s Duck figurine mix. I sell both for a $1.00 vends, and they sell very well.

There is very little beyond 2″ capsule machines. There are some specialty capsule vendors, such as the Tomy Gacha, a 4-head 2″ capsule machine, the aforementioned ParSal “All American Chicken” machine, and the very rare TOMY BEAR 4″ capsule machine. It is unlikely you will encounter these, as they are pretty rare.

What NOT to do:

There are a lot of pitfalls in vending- here are a few things to avoid in capsule vending.

1. Victor Machines. In early 2012, A&A Global ceased to manufacture and sell Victor Vending components. As of this writing, many vendors still employ these machines, most notably the Victor 77, but I implore you to pass these machines up. These machines are all but locked into a 50-cent vend, which leaves only the bottom tier of  2″ capsules. You are better off investing in more modern equipment that can be upgraded as time goes on and products evolve. These dinosaurs have served the industry well, but it is time to let them retire out into collectors’ hands.

2. Old Northwestern Machines. Before Northwestern created the popular model 80 machine, on which many 2″ machines are based, they had an older machine nicknamed the “box” machine. This machine shares a lot of hallmarks with the model 60 machine, and has a similar mechanical structure to the Victor 77. Many of these machines can be found under the old “Folz” vending company label, and many operators still use them. Again, these machines have reached their technical limitations at 50 cents, and using them will hold your product selections, and your potential back. Pass these machines as well.

3. Guns. Tiny toy guns in schools keep popping up in the news. Tiny toy guns continue to spark controversy across the nation, and these fiascos never end well. Avoid toy guns in all their incarnations; they aren’t worth the risk to your business.

4. Sticky things can melt! There is very little more horrible than a bag full of sticky product that melts. It is simply horrible in every way from the financial hit, to the smell it leaves that will stain wherever they melted forever. I learned to store sticky things in a cool place the hard way, so don’t repeat it! Put your sticky caps in a basement or other cool place for storage, and you will be fine.

Hopefully this will give you a little direction if you choose to pursue toy vending. I chose to take the plunge, and my business has benefited tremendously from it over the last few months. Your business may benefit too. This of course is only a rough guide, based on my experiences and opinions, so apply anything you have learned carefully. I wish you the best on your vending endeavor! Good luck!

Alex Macomber, Performa Vending


  1. Rhonda says:

    Good article. Very informative for anyone starting out. Well written, Alex.

  2. Excellent content here!!!

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