Nine-year-old Caine Monroy spent his summer at his dad’s used auto parts store exercising his imagination and performing a little green construction by creating his own business. But Caine wasn’t interested in selling Country Time lemonade. Instead, the boy built an elaborate DIY arcade from recycled materials.
Using cardboard, paper scraps, toys and Magic Markers, Caine constructed a fully-functional DIY arcade in his dad’s East L.A. auto parts garage. Machines include a basketball hoops challenge, a claw game and a foosball-type tabletop game, but Caine also built himself an office and designed a security system. $1 gets you four plays, but the real deal is the $2 Fun Pass — good for a month and worth 500 plays.
And everything is recycled. Caine used random extra parts and excess waste packaging material from around his dad’s shop and dismantled old toys for extra parts. The claw game is built out of an S-hook and yarn. Every game is mounted on cardboard boxes. Caine’s security system is based on disused calculators. And all of the prizes you can win are Caine’s old toys — mostly Hot Wheels cars. The only new thing in the shop is Caine’s self-designed company T-shirt, which proudly displays the name “Caine’s Arcade” on the back.
Filmmaker Nirvan Mullick, director of The 1 Second Film, happened across the auto shop and Caine’s Arcade. Enchanted by the boy’s project, Mullick shot a short documentary about the arcade and then devised a plan to get more customers for the business. The L.A.-wide open invitation went viral, hitting the front page of Reddit, and led to a flashmob descending on Caine’s Arcade one Sunday afternoon. The finished film of Caine’s Arcade hit Boing Boing and other websites, garnering celebrity fans like Lee Unkrich, director of Pixar’s Finding Nemo and Toy Story 3, who Tweeted:
If you liked that film, follow @cainesarcade. What an awesome kid. If he ever wants to visit Pixar, open invitation.
— Lee Unkrich (@leeunkrich) April 10, 2012
You can watch the film below and visit the Caine’s Arcade homepage for photos of the little DIYer’s project. If you want to visit the arcade itself, hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays, or Sundays by appointment.