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


Labels: , , , , ,



Sunday, March 21, 2010

Book: Tinplate Toys from Schuco, Bing, & Others

Tinplate Toys from Schuco, Bing, & Other Companies
Here is what looks to be a very nice book on tinplate toys from Germany -- Nuremberg, in particular -- during the mid 1900s.

From the book description:
The chapters include 300 color photographs, information about the manufacturers (especially Schuco and Bing) and their markings, and essays on the past, present and future of this special toy industry. The mechanical figures, automobiles, trucks, trains, machines and associated buildings that are presented will remind many of the best toys of their youth.

Here is a link on Amazon.co to Tinplate Toys: From Schuco, Bing, & Other Companies


Labels: , , , , , ,



Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Zilotone musical automaton wind-up toy

Zilotone musical automaton wind-up toy
Here's a tin-toy musician capable of playing three differrent songs. The actions required for the figure to play each song are "recorded" on interchangeable cams (seen behind the figure's feet). Very cool!

From the eBay description:
Even non-collectors find this an enchanting piece. The Zilotone, made by the Wolverine Supply & Manufacturing Co of Pennsylvania, circa 1930, features a little man playing a xylophone. A metal song disc is inserted in the toy, and the clockwork is wound up. When switched on, the musician moves back and forth, hitting the keys with a mallet. Comes with 3 different discs: Yankee Doodle, My Old Kentucky Home, and The Farmer in the Dell. Measures approximately 10" x 8 "x 7", sturdy pressed-steel construction.

Here's the eBay listing for Wolverine Zilotone musical automaton wind-up toy


Labels: , , , , , ,



Saturday, July 25, 2009

Video of Vielmetter drawing clown tin toy

The other day, I wrote about a drawing tin-toy automaton that was on eBay. Here is some video of the toy showing how the cams are installed in the base and how the clown draws with a pencil on paper.

From the YouTube description:
A very rare and clever toy produced in Germany approximately 1885 until about 1905. The little hand-cranked tin artist draws with a graphite stick onto paper via 'programmed' double-cams (x and y axis).

Some texts say it was an expensive wealthy person's toy, and other texts mention it as a give-away to favorite clients of the firm Phillip Vielmetter Mechanische Werkstatten of Berlin, Germany. This ultra-rare original box was repaired by Randy's Toy Shop.

I suspect the 5 cams are from various production dates. They are labeled (in German): HAHN, KAKADU, GLADSTONE, HARLEKIN, AFFE. There are several more cams that I do not have, such as Napolean, Balzaax, Queen Victoria, and still others.

I had only seen photographs of this amazing toy in the books Mechanical Toys (Spilhaus and Spilhaus)and Automata and Mechanical Toys (Hiller). It's great to finally see the actual toy in operation! Now...to get a peek inside...

[ Thanks Els! ]


Labels: , , , , , , ,



Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Antique automata and toy auction, July 25th 2009

Upcoming antique autoamta and toy auction
An upcoming auction on July 25th, 2009 in Indianapolis will feature twelve vintage automata including a French 19th century monkey violinist automaton, a Tete Jumeau Russian tea server, a Prussian dancing couple, a French flower girl, a magician, and a cat in milk pail.

There will also be a large number of vintage toys including a large collection of tin wind-ups and battery operated toys, cast iron mechanical toys, pull toys, a balancing musician, a doll on horseback, and an acrobatic clown.

Here is a link with more photographs and information on the upcoming automata and vintage toy auction.

[ Thanks Genevieve! ]


Labels: , , , , ,



Friday, July 17, 2009

Tin clown artist - picture drawing automaton

Tin clown artist - picture drawing automaton
I've only had the pleasure of seeing this toy/automaton in books. This tin toy clown is able to draw a variety of pictures with a pencil on paper. You insert different cams into the base of the toy to change the picture that the clown will draw. Very, very clever.

From the eBay description
Turn the crank and it makes little drawings! This clever Phillip Vielmetter Tin Clown Artist toy was manufactured around 1885-1905, and is in excellent working and great cosmetic condition. It comes with 5 different cams and the original box.

Here's the full eBay listing with some great photographs of this mechanical drawing clown automaton.


Labels: , , , , ,



Thursday, January 08, 2009

Elephant tin toy with somewhat mysterious game

Elephant tin toy with ball game
I'm not entirely sure how the game part of this nifty tin toy works, but I sure love all the stuff going on here.

From the product description:
This busy elephant sits atop a colorful panorama of circus animals. The propeller on his nose spins. Tin balls are lifted by an elevator to the top where they roll down a chute that drops them through a spinning drum that the elephant holds between his hands. This is a very colorful tin toy with great action.

Here is a link to the tin elephant with ball game.


Labels: , , , ,



Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Is there a site that focuses on documenting toys?

A reader of The Automata / Automaton Blog recently wrote to me about a neat little motorized toy he has. He also posed a question.

Reader John Grabowski writes:
Last Christmas, my mom gave me a wind-up tin toy Santa that they got a couple of years before I was born (circa early '60s). I have always loved this wind-up Santa, so I searched the web to try and find out more about him or see similar pieces. I didn't find any like him anywhere though. This year, I got him working really smoothly again, so I filmed a video of him doing his thing. That way, I figured anyone into this sort of stuff would get a chance to see him. Do you know of any site that focuses on displaying and documenting toys (rather than simply selling them)?

I don't have an answer myself. How about the rest of you out there? Do you know of a site like the the one John asks about? If so, post a comment here. Thanks! -Dug North


Labels: , , , , ,



Thursday, July 31, 2008

Another Amazing Tin Toy Online Store

I posted a while back about The Wound & Wound Toy Company that sells wind-up and tin toys. A kindly reader shared another store with me that has an even bigger selection: Aaron's TinTinArcade

They specialize in tin toys, vintage gifts, and old fashioned wind up toys. They have carousels, circus toys, wind up animals, classic tin toy collectibles, robots, rockets, and retro Japanese reproductions.

Shown here is "Mr. D-Cell". The robot walks forward, then his upper body rotates around three times, and his chest panels open up to reveal guns that then start shooting!

Visit Aaron's TinTinArcade.

[ Thanks Shel! ]


Labels: , , ,



Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tin toys, Wind-up Toys, and Music Boxes Store

The Wound & Wound Toy Company has tons of great wind-up toys, tin toys, and music boxes. They have a very extensive product line, including the classic the string-climbing monkey for about $16 USD.

On the more exotic side, they even have a wind-up lithographed tin Boba Fett. Made in Japan and standing at about 9.5 inches tall, this one will set you back around $250 USD. This item is a bit of an exception; most of their products are very affordable.

Boba Fett Wind Up Tin Toy
A note about their site navigation: once you click on a given section (say "Tin Collectibles"), you need to go to the bottom of the page to find the link for the next set of items in that category. Look for the circles with numbers in them.

Check out all the wind-up toys, tin toys, and music boxes at The Wound & Wound Toy Company.


Labels: , , , ,



Saturday, June 07, 2008

Mechanical Walking Space Man Robot Toy

Here is a vintage Mechanical Walking Space Man by Linemar being sold with its original box.

There is something about the graphics on the old toys that I love. I like this photo too; it's nicely composed.

If you happen to collect old wind-up tin toys, I should warn you...this one will set you back quite a bit!

Here is the eBay listing for the Mechanical Walking Space Man Robot Toy.

Labels: , , , , ,



Thursday, May 08, 2008

Mechanical Toys: How Toys & Automata Work

Mechanical Toys: How Old Toys Work Here's a good book for you: Mechanical Toys: How Old Toys Work, by Athelstan and Kathleen Spilhaus (New York: Crown Publishers Inc., 1989).

The line between automata and toys has never been clear, but the principles of engineering that animate them have always been the same. This book explores how mechanical toys work.

The chapters survey the history of toys, material types, methods of construction, sound producing devices, and energy delivery systems. While not overly detailed in its technical descriptions, the reader gets a chance to see many black-and-white and color photographs of exposed toy and automata mechanisms.

Keep an eye out for this one. You may be able to get Mechanical Toys: How Old Toys Work second-hand at a book sale or at Amazon.

Labels: , , , ,



Sunday, October 28, 2007

Robot Factory - Steampunk Windup Sculptures

Fascinated with machines since he was a boy, artist Serge Jupin creates metal automata from found objects.

At www.robot-factory.fr you can purchase his amazing retro-future works.

The robot shown here is known as Wattson. I love this stuff. These are tin-toys for the Steampunk generation.

Robot Factory automata are original handmade limited editions, numbered, and signed. Each robot comes with a certificate of authenticity.

Visit ROBOT FACTORY to see his full line of automata.

Labels: , , , ,



Monday, January 15, 2007

Tin Automata by Andy Hazel

Automata maker, Andy Hazell works with recycled tin to create automata that are often inspired by the actions of daily living.

Working with sheet metal must employ some of the same techniques as working with paper, though I cannot speak from personal experience. The figures seem to take a similar form in both media.

I like how you can often see the mechanisms above the platforms on which the characters stand.

Here is a link to the craft2eu Gallery in Germany that shows and sells his work.

Labels: , , ,