Saturday, April 24, 2010

El Toro - motorized bullfighter and bull tin toy

El Toro - motorized bullfighter tin toy automaton
Here's an unusual -- and perhaps a somewhat grim -- vintage tin toy depicting a matador and bull. I'm not entirely sure in what ways the figures move, but it seems like it has some interesting possibilities.

From the eBay item description:
This El Toro snorting bull and matador is in totally unused condition and has its original box. No paint damage at all on this and no corrosion within the battery compartment. This toy was working perfectly when I put it in store with rest of the collection some 25-30 years ago. I put a battery in it but it’s not responding. I guess this is an easy fix but I don’t want to force anything. The box is a little stained – please see pictures – and the base has some damage but, apart from a little creasing, the lid is fine with great graphics. Assembled, the toy is around 6 inches high.

Here's the eBay listing with additional photographs of the El Toro - motorized bullfighter tin toy automaton


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Thursday, April 15, 2010

A mechanically clever, but downright creepy toy

The folks over at The Weirdo Toys Blog, discovered this unusual mechanical toy. The toy makes use of those odd rubber finger puppet faces. The interchangeable faces are mounted on motorized "fingers" located on the figure's head. The range of expression created by this arrangement is truly disturbing. Add a raised axe in one hand and the tune "When the Saints go Marching in" and you have yourself one very hard-to-explain toy.

Here's a comprehensive write-up with additional videos on the Magic Monster on the The Weirdo Toys Blog.

[ Thanks Bob! ]


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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New encased motorized automata by Tom Haney

Tom Haney's Wanderlust automaton
Here is one of two new pieces available from Tom Haney.

The one shown here, entitled "Wanderlust", depicts a figure standing next to a globe. As the globe turns the man's pointer moves across the surface in search of his next destination. The globe stops at random spots every 5 seconds and the figure's head follows the pointer up and down the globe.

See more pictures and video of Tom Haney's Wanderlust automaton on his web site.


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Monday, April 05, 2010

Wood and ball bearing version of classic karakuri

Check out Osamu Kanda's modern update to the classic tumbling karakuri figure. He has made the figure out of wood and loaded it with ball bearings to serve as the shifting internal weight.


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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Video of Leonardo's full-sized knight automaton

In this installment of the series Ancient Discoveries we see a recreation of a full-sized armored knight thought to be designed by Leonardo da Vinci. The internal gears and system of cables allowed the knight some limited forms of motion.

Learn more about Leaonardo's fascination with automata in Mark Rosheim's beautifully illustrated book Leonardo's Lost Robots.


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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Timberkits: Drummer wood automaton kit

Here's a little video of the drummer automaton kit made by Timberkits.

Here's one place you can get the Timberkit drummer automaton.


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Friday, March 12, 2010

The Waiting Hand by Nick Rayburn

Nick Rayburn is an artist who works with an assortment of materials including wood, marble and brass to silver, coral and shimmering beetles. He has started to make automata in a Victorian/steampunk style. Shown here is his latest creation, The Waiting Hand, which is a limited edition of 20.

If you would like more information or would like to discuss acquiring a piece you can send an email to: nickrayburn at asky dot com.


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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sand-driven dancer automaton by Ron Fuller

Here is a nice example of gravity-powered automaton. Sand in the back of the piece, powers the dancing figure who performs some very expressive moves for such a simple mechanism.


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Friday, January 29, 2010

Push-powered wooden musical automaton

I don't exactly have the words for this incredible creation since I've never seen anything quite like it. It's a wooden cart that -- when pushed -- plays a tune, a drum, and animates a human figure on the front. Another wonder from the mind of Osamu Kanda!


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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Automata Orchestra in Malmo Sweden

Automata Orchestra in Malmo Sweden
Reader Jerry Johansson wrote to ask about this amazing automata orchestra that is currently on display at the Technical and Maritime Museum in Malmo, Sweden.

Jerry writes:
Little is known about the orchestra but it's said to be constructed in England sometime during the 1920s. A well known Swedish toy expert came to the conclusion that the orchestra must have been serial made, but due to the size (it is life size) of the orchestra, and the rather complicated machinery, I don't find that statement plausible. I was wondering if you might have any information regarding robotic orchestras, or indeed any robotics manufactured in England during this time period?

For so little to be known about such a large and complicated system does seem a strange mystery. If you happen to know anything about this or similar automata bands, leave a comment at the end of this post.

Here's a link to a video featuring the Automata Orchestra.


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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Full-scale moving mannequin shop display

Check out this full-sized animated mannequin who is drinking water and looking very fashionable. From a few feet away, it is disarmingly real.

See more videos of this moving mannequin at the Moving Displays web site.


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