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Caine's Arcade: Cardboard magnate now a collected artist

April 20, 2012|By Deborah Netburn
  • Caine Monroy fiddles with the claw machine in the cardboard arcade he built at his dad's Boyle Heights auto parts store. The whole arcade has been shipped to the Exploratorium in San Francisco.
Caine Monroy fiddles with the claw machine in the cardboard arcade he built… (Christina House / For The…)

The saga of Caine's Arcade -- the cardboard game palace built by 9-year-old Caine Monroy in his dad's Boyle Heights auto parts store -- is not over yet.

Filmmaker Nirvan Mallick, who shot the 11-minute viral video that made Caine a star, would argue that it is just beginning, in fact.

On Thursday, Caine and his dad and Mallick sent the entirety of Caine's cardboard arcade in a big rig up to the Exploratorium, a hands-on children's science museum in San Francisco.

It arrived at the museum early Friday morning, and on Saturday, Caine himself will arrive to set up and run his games.

The museum invited Caine to operate the arcade at an event called Open MAKE: Trash, which invites people in the San Francisco area to come and build something out of materials that were headed to the dump.

And the best part for entrepreneurial Caine? The museum has offered to pay him $100 to build his not-patented, impossible to master, cardboard claw machine, with a string and an S-hook serving as "the claw."

Stacy Martin, a spokeswoman for the museum, said the idea to "buy" one of Caine's arcade games began as a joking conversation between Mallick and Karen Wilkinson, one of the directors of the Tinkering Studio that operates inside the museum.

Mallick wondered if the science museum wouldn't want to commission an artwork by Caine for the museum's collection.

Wilkinson jokingly said, "Sure," and Mallick suggested a price of $100.

The two decided that the claw machine would be the ideal game for Caine to make because in the film Caine asks his dad if he can buy one, and his dad tells him he should figure out how to make one instead.

"That's truly in the spirit of the Exploratorium," said Martin.

This will not be the first claw machine that Caine has sold. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Mallick said Caine had already sold five of them.

"I got in early when it was just $80," said Mallick. "He raised his price to meet demand."

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