9-year-old Caine Monroy stands in front of his cardboard arcade at his dad's auto shop in East L.A.
Last summer, 9-year-old Caine Monroy built an elaborate arcade filled with games made out of cut-up cardboard boxes and plastic toys. The arcade is housed in an auto parts store owned by Caine’s dad.
One day, L.A. filmmaker Nirvan Mullick happened upon the shop. He was so impressed by Caine’s handiwork that he put the word out and got hundreds of folks to show up and play the games.
Mullick also made a documentary about Caine’s story, which has gone viral — a combined 6 million views on Vimeo and YouTube and counting. Now his arcade has become famous.
“I just wanted to have my own arcade,” Caine proudly said as he explained what inspired him to build his cardboard arcade. Round 1 arcade in Puente Hills Mall is his favorite because “they have so much games there.”
“The Claw” is the most popular game at Caine's arcade at the moment. It’s filled with tons of teddy bears.
“We’ve been shopping for toys downtown and buying tickets,” Caine’s dad George Monroy said about keeping up with the prizes given to winners at the arcade attraction. It’s become a full-time job, he added. “Instead of auto parts, we’re selling T-shirts, hats and sunglasses.”
Filmmaker Mullick set up a scholarship fund for Caine. The goal is to raise $250,000, which the Goldhirsh Foundation has agreed to match for every dollar people donate. So far over $200,000 has been raised.
“Some of the money is going to go to Caine’s tutoring now,” said Caine's father, “and then the foundation is going to find other children who have the same imagination that Caine has and they’re going to send them to college also.”
Caine’s advice to people who want to build things and pursue other fun projects like he has: "Just believe in yourself." But if you get stuck and can’t figure out the next step to building something like "The Claw," “just skip the part... then just go [on to the] next.”
Caine’s arcade is hitting the road this weekend at the Unique L.A. crafts festival in downtown Los Angeles. There are also plans of taking it to Texas this summer.