Elan Lee (previously) is part of the team that brought us the amazing card game Exploding Kittens (previously); writing in MAKE: Magazine, Lee explains how they built an awesome Exploding Kittens vending machine for Comic-Con, to go beyond the boring, traditional ideas of what a con booth was.
The vending machine sold all the company's games, but it also had a $1 "random item" button that dropped, well, random items: "whole watermelons, toilet plungers, custom drawn artwork, brooms, a bag of rocks, sombreros, or asparagus."
The random item button turned out to be the hit of the show.
The Exploding Kittens vending machine was actually a vending machine costume built for our team. In addition to all the products and merchandise, the machine contained thousands of different random items, and a team of six to 12 people working non-stop to turn these items into a seemingly infinite number of possibilities. Audiences could watch this machine for hours and never see the same item twice.
After the first day of running the machine we had underestimated demand for random items so drastically that we had to make an emergency run to the local dollar store and buy every item we could fit in our cars. We had expected to deliver 250 random items during the convention. We ended up delivering 1,400. That's 40 items per hour for 35 hours over the course of the weekend.
Fans lined up for hours spilling over into walkways, hallways, and other people's booths. The lines got so long that we attracted the attention of the fire marshal, which it turns out is a great way to almost get kicked out of conventions. We had to hire line monitors, and whenever the wait exceeded three hours, just had to turn people away.
It would be difficult to overstate the results our machine produced. Every moment was a spectacle. The machine took selfies with Storm Troopers, it dressed kids up in fairy wings and unicorn horns, and even performed magic tricks.
Random Item Generator — A Story About Joy and Exploding Kittens