It’s amazing what you can get free with Japanese magazines nowadays. 

Nothing screams “Japan” quite like a Japanese vending machine. Located all over Japan, these little humming boxes of light contain all sorts of drinks, food and even mysterious stories, and if we could own one at home, we definitely would.

So when we heard that Japanese children’s magazine Youchien would be including a free vending machine with their September issue, we rushed out to our nearest bookstore to buy one on release day before they all sold out.

▼ Sure, the magazine is aimed at four-to-six-year-olds, but let’s face it — vending machines appeal to people of all ages.

The machine included with the magazine, which retails for 1,200 yen (US$11.37), is based on the real-world Seventeen Ice machines operated by Osaka-based food company Glico. While they’re not as ubiquitous as drink-dispensing machines, these ice cream versions can be found all over Japan once you know where to look, and are a godsend during summer.

Just looking at an ice cream machine can help to cool the sweat on your brow during Japan’s most humid months, so we were eager to welcome this cardboard version into the home.

We started by punching out the shapes and connecting them together by matching them with their corresponding numbers. No scissors or cutters were needed, which made us confident about getting the job done with minimal fuss.

You don’t even need to use any type of adhesive, as the pieces have been designed to easily connect into pre-made slots.

It took just a few minutes to create the front half of the machine, and we were seriously impressed with the moving parts, which allow products to drop down at the push of a button.

The assembly work was a lot easier than expected, taking less than an hour for an adult to complete. The cardboard was also sturdy, ensuring it could withstand repeated use.

With the main body of the machine set up, it was time to move on to creating the little ice creams.

These were easy to put together, and they were absolutely gorgeous, representing the shape and packaging of real Seventeen Ice ice creams on a miniature scale.

▼ We were tempted to add dollops of ice cream inside but that would’ve ruined these beauties forever.

After completing the ice creams, it was time to turn our attention to the front of the machine again, where we added the little display panels.

You can place the display panels anywhere you like, but to copy the real-world machines we placed the ice creams most popular with children at their eye-level on the lower row.

The machine has eight workable sections but many more display panels so you can switch the options around throughout summer. The panels that aren’t being used can be stored in a handy holder inside the machine.

Once the panels are complete, the vending machine is ready to be used! Although the end result looks considerably smaller than the image that appears on the cover of the magazine, it’s not too small either, making it perfect for tabletop use.

We were keen to test the dispensing mechanisms so we opened up the front panel, just like a real vending machine, and popped each of the ice creams behind their corresponding display panel.

▼ Then we closed the door, made our selection, pressed one of the buttons…

▼ …And out it popped!

We didn’t expect to feel so thrilled at the sight of a little cardboard ice cream cone at the bottom of a cardboard vending machine, but we were unashamedly delighted. We were now also craving a real Seventeen Ice ice cream, so this clever marketing ploy was a solid success for Glico.

The make-it-yourself ice cream vending machine is an upgraded version of a previous release included with the magazine in 2019, which had only four workable sections instead of eight. Next month the magazine will be reviving another favourite from last year, the Seven Bank ATM from 7-Eleven, so watch this space for another homemade creation shortly!

Related: Shogakukan
Photos © SoraNews24
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