Toys ‘R Us – New York, NY

In the heart of Times Square is one of the biggest toy stores I have ever been in.  I remember as a kid the town I grew up in didn’t have one of these mega toy stores so the only time I got to visit one was when we went on vacation.  Now they seem to be everywhere and even though I’m no longer a kid I still could spend hours in this store.

Toys R Us 01

This Toys ‘R Us is really amazing.  As soon as you walk in off of Broadway you are greeted by a huge ferris wheel.  Yes the ferris wheel is inside the building.

Toys R Us 02

There are multiple floors that have every toy you could think of.  I found an entire area just dedicated to the biggest Lego collection I have ever come across.  I started at the bottom and worked my way up.  Down near the area where you can get on the ferris wheel I found the first penny machine in the store.

Toys R Us Machine 01

The machine was kind of located in the middle of the pathway so I caused a bit of a traffic jam while I used the machine.

Toys R Us 01 Pennies

This first set of designs were sports related which seemed kind of strange for a toy story.  They included the Toys ‘R Us Logo, NY Sports Fan, New York Yankees, and the New York Mets.  I quickly moved out of the way to let the crowd behind me pass by.  Then I began my tour of each floor checking out each floor.  After picking out a few items for my daughter I went through the checkout and then towards the side exit.  This is where I finally found the second machine.

Toys R Us Machine 02

After waiting a few minutes for a couple of people to finish using the machine I moved in to press my set.  The machine worked nicely, but a couple of the coins came out a little misshapen.

Toys R Us 02 Pennies

These designs also didn’t have any toy related designs, but were still New York themed which was a nice addition to my collection.  The images were the Toys ‘R Us Logo with the New York Skyline, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square New York, and New York’s Bravest.

With my pennies and gifts in hand I headed outside and was greeted by the Naked Cowboy who was singing and playing his guitar right in Times Square.  He’s not technically naked but does wear a tiny little bathing suite type bottom.  You can feel free to google him if you are really interested.  He has been located here for years and has become quite the attraction for tourists to take pictures with.  I waved at him and walked on by as I had one last place to go before meeting up with my cousin for the Hockey game.

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream – New York, NY

Even though it was November and with a slight chill in the air I still had the urge for some ice cream.  After finishing my lunch I walked around the corner and hit up the next place on my list to complete to tasks at once.

Ben & Jerry's 01

Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream was founded in 1978 in Burlington Vermont by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.  Their ice cream is known for being very chunky and having very unique combinations.  I don’t have their ice cream all the time as I find it’s pretty rich with all the things mixed in but every so often it just hits the spot.

Ben & Jerry's 02

As soon as I walked in there was a display cooler filled with Ice Cream cakes, and the smell of fresh waffle cones was intoxicating.

 Ben & Jerry's 03

This location did also offer some fresh-baked goodies like chocolate chip cookies, brownies and chocolate covered pretzel rods.  But I was here for one thing, the biggest Cherry Garcia I could get my hands on.  It’s their edible tribute to guitarist Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead.  It’s cherry ice cream with cherries and fudge flakes coursing throughout.  With my waffle cone in hand I sat by the window and indulged.  After cleaning myself up I headed towards the door where there was a penny machine.

Ben & Jerry's Machine 01

A few years ago my wife and I took a trip up to Vermont for a weekend and visited the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory.  They also had a penny machine with similar designs but as you can see below these did have a nice New York touch to them.

Ben & Jerry's NYC Pennies

The pennies included images of the New York Skyline, Peace Love and Ice Cream NYC, Rockefeller Center NYC, and the Statue of Liberty holding an ice cream cone.  With my craving satisfied I headed back out into the busy New York street and headed towards my next destination would help work off the ice cream and let me be a kid in a huge toy store.

Conservation Station – Animal Kingdom WDW

In the Animal Kingdom located near the African section of the park there is a Train Station for the Wildlife Express.  Before having kids I used to refer to this as the train to nowhere.  It was a nice little train ride which lasted maybe 5 minutes or so, then you would get off and walk what seemed like half a mile to a building.  We usually just made a pit stop in the bathroom, grabbed a frozen Mickey ice cream and headed back to the train for a return to trip.  There really wasn’t much to do at what was known as Rafiki’s Planet Watch and now the Conservation Station.

But on our last family trip we made the train ride up and our kids loved it there.  The favorite was the petting zoo which we had to drag them out of after about an hour or so.  Now when we visit while the kids interact with the petting zoo animals I can take a quick stroll over to the Conservation Station and use the new 3 design electric penny machine that was just put on stage.

AK - Conservation Station Pennies

These designs each say Worldwide Conservation Fund on them and include designs of Donald looking at a map, Goofy standing by a giraffe, and our favorite Lion King gang Timon, Pumbaa and Simba.

Years ago there were a few machines located here which is really why I made the trip to nowhere, but a couple of years ago they were removed.  It’s kind of out of the way to get here, but now that the kids enjoy visiting their barnyard friends it’s a trip worth taking.

Tower of Terror Courtyard – Hollywood Studios WDW

The Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios literally does strike terror into my core every time I see it.  My brother-in-law went for a drop on our family trip last April and has a great picture and magical moment video of his ride.  But I really can’t imagine every going on it.  Although I’m sure as my daughters get older I may be dragged on at some point which will keep me up and night.  In the mean time I’m okay just getting close enough to use the machine in the lobby that presses quarters.

However there is now another reason for me to get a little too close to this ride.  A new 4 design hand crank machine has been placed in the courtyard right out front of the Tower of Terror.

HS - Tower of Terror Courtyard Pennies

I’m really impressed with these four designs, and really like this set.  The images include Mickey in front of the elevator, scared Minnie Mouse, Bellhop Chip and Dale, and Bellhop Goofy in front of room 1313.

I always like the clicking noise the hand crank machines make as your turn the handle to press the coins.  But unfortunately it’s not loud enough to drown out the screams of people riding the Tower of Terror, and in a few short years it may be my screams you hear while using the machine.

Bubba Gump Shrimp – New York, NY

Times Square New York what an amazing place.  Anything you can think of is most likely available here, from restaurants, shopping, art, and fake Rolex watches who needs a mall when Times Square is the true one stop shop.

Time Square

My stomach was starting to gurgle which meant it was time to stop and grab some food.  I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a sucker for a fun themed restaurant and this is one I stop at pretty often.

Bubba Gump NYC 01

Located right on Broadway is Bubba Gump Shrimp.  For anyone that is a fan of the Forest Gump movie this is a really fun place to visit.  The entire place is filled with memorabilia from the movie, the wait staff will also ask you trivia about the movie, and there are signs on the table that say “Run Forest Run” or “Stop Forest Stop” which you can use to let your server know you need them to stop by for something.

Bubba Gump NYC 02

After successfully passing my trivia test I had my lunch of what else…a Shrimp boil, I headed back downstairs and visited the gift shop.  Located near the stairs that take you up to the restaurant was a penny machine.  Unfortunately my picture of the machine didn’t come out due to the poor lighting inside but the machine pressed the designs without any issue.

Bubba Gump Pennies

These coins were obviously Forest Gump inspired and included designs of the Bubba Gump logo, Life is like a box of Chocolates, My momma says I’m special, and Run Forest Run.  I felt better and a little energized from my lunch but can always go for some desert.  Thankfully my next stop specializes in sweet treats oh and of course they have a penny machine.  What a fantastic coincidence.

The Elongated Collectors (TEC) Turns 50

I’ve written about The Elongated Collectors (TEC) club numerous times in the past, but this is a special anniversary.  TEC was founded back in 1966 which makes 2016 the 50th anniversary, and I must say is quite an achievement.

TEC 50TH Member Coin

I’ve been a member for 6 years or so and really wish I had found this club sooner.  The members are a wealth of knowledge about elongated coins, and every aspect of the hobby.

The above pictured pressed coin is our 2016 membership coin which I always look forward to getting.  1966 pennies were pressed as an added detailed representing the year the club was formed.  These coins were donated by various TEC members who are always up for a challenge when it comes to the club.  The design was created by Cindy Calhoun who I had the pleasure to meet a few years ago at the ANA Convention that was held in Philadelphia.

These membership coins are only one of many that you get as part of your membership to TEC.  There is a quarterly newsletter available in either a digital format or hard copy if you prefer.  The membership fee is very affordable, and I feel well worth all the benefits of the club.  Please make sure you take some time to visit TECNews.org to get more information about the club, and you can also sign up (or renew) your membership.  Feel free to use my TEC # 4237 as a reference so they know who shared this great collecting tip.  I really feel that my passion for the hobby has only grown stronger now that I know how many other people are just as obsessed.

What are you waiting for go sign up now!!

Madame Tussauds – New York, NY

When wandering around New York City you never know when you may run into a celebrity or walk by a movie set.  My dad used to work on Madison avenue and said there were numerous mornings he would be walking into the office building and there would be clean up crews getting Madison Ave back to working order from a night of shooting a movie.  However if you are only in town for one day or even just an afternoon there is a guaranteed way to have your picture taken with some celebs, although they are technically made of wax but you’re family and friends don’t need to know.

Madame Tussauds 01

Madame Tussauds is a famous wax museum chain that has locations all over the world. Last year when my family took a quick trip to Washington DC I wrote about visiting it and you can read about it here.  This location right off Times Square is huge.  As you enter the museum Alicia Keys, Al Roker and Matt Lauer are there to greet you as you wait in line for tickets.

Madame Tussauds 02

However before getting in line I headed over by the elevators and used the first penny machine that is located in the lobby.

Madame Tussauds Machine 01

No admission is needed to use this machine, however the second machine is found further inside and you do need a ticket to access that machine.

Madame Tussauds 01 Pennies

This first machine was also used to be located at the Empire State Building which I had visited years ago and picked up coins.  Recently it had been relocated but the designs available are still the same: Skyride, NYC Checkered Cab, Central Park NY, and an NYC Sightseeing Bus.  After using the machine I jumped in line to get my ticket and was then off to meet some celebrities.  First up Angelina Jolie.

Madame Tussauds 04

Unfortunately I’m not very good at selfies so the pictures I took me with arms around her didn’t come out very well which is probably for the best and will keep me out of trouble.  The museum is set up in different sections to try to organize the figures.

Madame Tussauds 06   Madame Tussauds 05

In the golden age of cinema I met James Dean and Marilyn Monroe.  Each section has up to 10 or 12 people and you are able to stand right up next to them for your celebrity photo-op.

Madame Tussauds 12   Madame Tussauds 08

For sports fans these mostly consisted of New York team players like Eli Manning of the New York Giants, but they just couldn’t leave out the great Joe Montana from the San Francisco 49ers.

Madame Tussauds 10   Madame Tussauds 11

There was even a Marvel Superheroes section that had all The Avengers available to match up with.  This area was packed with kids so I just snapped a couple of pictures and headed towards the next area which consisted of historic figures and U.S. Presidents past and present.  At the end of the tour you are sent into the gift shop and eventually to a set of elevators that take you back to street level.  While I waited for the elevator I noticed off to the side was the second penny machine.

Madame Tussauds Machine 02

Fortunately I was the first at the elevators so the area was empty while I used the machine.  But only after few minutes the place started to fill up with people anxious to leave.

Madame Tussauds 02 Pennies

The machine rolled the designs nicely and worked without any issue.  The penny designs all said “Madame Tussauds New York” and included images of the New Year’s Ball Drop, the New York Yankees, 9/11 We Will Never Forget, and Times Square Station.  I put the pennies away and stepped back over to hope on the elevator that arrived shortly after.

I was in need of something to each which was going to work our perfectly since my next stop was going to offer just that.  It was only a short walk away but being so close to Times Square the crowds make getting anywhere more difficult than it should be.