Thursday, April 08, 2010

Wind-up Meccano bird sculpture by Aaron Ristau

Check out this automata sculpture by Aaron Ristau made from Meccano toy parts! The bird bodies are parts from antique hair curlers and the wings made of Mylar. A crank allows you to wind-up the device which will run for about a minute.

See more great sculptures by Aaron Ristau at

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 to Tinplate Toys: From Schuco, Bing, & Other Companies

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, February 11, 2010

More cute wind-up robots that do unlikely things

wind-up robot salt and pepper shakers
Recently, we featured a little wind-up robot that serves as a pencil sharpener. A trend is emerging. Here are more wind-up robots with a utilitarian purpose: they dispense salt and pepper. So, if someone asks for the salt at dinner -- and they are very patient -- you can wind the appropriate robot up and send it walking over to them. I suppose it would be fun to do to an unsuspecting guest.

Here's a link to the wind-up robot salt and pepper shakers

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The cutest little impaled robot pencil sharpener

For the record, I am pro-robot. As such, I am not sure how I feel about the fact that to use this pencil sharpener you need to drive the pencil straight into the chest of this cute little robot. I guess it's OK because the act of turning the pencil winds the robot up so that it can then walk a little. I suppose it's more like 'adding fuel' than 'impaling'. I can live with that, though, it still doesn't seem quite right.

Here's a link to the walking robot pencil sharpener.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mechanical cigarette dispenser music box

Take a look at this charming mechanical cigarette dispenser music box...

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Le Pinch stainless steel wind up inch worm toy

Le Pinch stainless steel wind up inch worm toy made by Kikkerland. It's nice to see wind-up toys taking some new evolutionary steps (no pun intended).

Here's a link to the Le Pinch Wind Up.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mxykikker mechanical wind-up crawling critter

Mxykikker mechanical wind-up crawling critter
A clever new spring-powered stainless-steel beastie that can even climb over small obstacles.

From the Amazon description
Mxykikker is a tongue-twisting, multi-legged, multi-purpose commemorative wind-up celebrating the 15th year of Kikkerland Design's founding. Mxykikker loves to climb over objects and it sometimes enjoys galloping upside down, with its eighteen fidgety feet. At 6.5" long and 3" tall, this is one buggie that is sure to impress. An occasional bit of spray lubricant is recommended to help keep Mxykikker fit and trim. Designed by Chico Bicalho. Assorted colors, randomly selected.

Here's the link to Mxykikker Mechanical Wind-up Critter.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

'Lauren and Jordan' - automaton by Tom Haney

Another enchanting automaton by artist Tom Haney. This one is powered by the wind-up motor from an old 16mm camera. Great idea! The video shows the finished piece in action and a number of nice "in progress" still photographs of the automaton.

See more of Tom Haney's work on his web site:

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wall-mounted automaton of acrobatic cats

Wall-mounted automaton of acrobatic catsHere is a wall-mounted wind-up automaton selling on eBay today. The scene depicts performing acrobat cats. The cat figures are printed paper applied to wood. As an integrated music box plays, a few of the cats perform flips on the high wire, while others below dance.

The listing has additional photographs, including a few of the back of the piece in which you can see the mechanism.

Here's the full eBay listing for the wall-mounted automaton of acrobatic cats.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, February 16, 2009

'Batteries Not Included!' mechanical toy exhibit

Batteries Not Included! mechanical toy exhibit
To celebrate the history of moving toys, the Fairfield Museum and History Center has a new exhibit called 'Batteries Not Included!'

The exhibit features mechanical toys dating from the late 1800s to the mid-20th century. No plastics here: the toys are made of painted tin, tinplated steel, and cast iron. Show above is a mechanical tin beetle made by E. P. Lehmann of Germany, patent in 1895.

The exhibit opens to the public on Friday, February 2oth, 2009.

Here is where you can get more information on the Batteries Not Included! toy exhibit.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, February 12, 2009

7 new Mechanical Confections by Gina Kamentsky

Gina Kamentsky has announced that there are seven new Mechanical Confections on her site.

From her announcement:In the wind-ups section we have hip hoppity windup, "The Boom Bip", a handcranked piece featuring a mysterious Canary surveying her world " Bird Watching", "100 Turns is Heavy" featuring a cool double ratchet mechanism, obscure lab device " The Inside Joke" and "Hack" which required quite a bit of hacking to create. Moving on the wall work there are two new pieces; ode to spring (please get here soon! ), "Cherry Blossom Time" and "Masters of the Obvious" which was featured on the blog last month.

Each work has a great video showing everything in action.

Here is the link for the Wind up Mechanical Confections and here is the link for the Wall Work Mechanical Confections.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sumo wrestler robot with wind-up generator

Sumo Wrestler Robot with Wind Up Generator
An attached wind-up generator allows you to create electricity to power this Sumo wrestler robot. No batteries needed, just some cranking.

Forward and reverse walking actions are controlled by which direction the generator's handle is turned. The faster you crank, the faster it moves.

While its a neat kit on its own, the real fun comes from testing your Sumo-bot against another. A flurry of cranking robot action!

Sumo Wrestler Robot Match
Here's a link for the Sumo Wrestler Robot with Wind Up Generator by Tamiya

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, January 06, 2009

Steel Builder set with included wind up motor

Steel Builder set with included wind up motor
OK, the retro packaging is enough for me really, but there are other things to like about this construction toy. Not only does it have instructions to build a few different vehicles and structures, but it also includes a wind-up motor to make them move. That I like a lot.

Here's Amazon's product page for the Steel Builder Set.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Cute antique wind-up pig automaton from 1890s

Here is a video of an automaton walking pig by Roullet and Decamps from around 1890. The sound is great!

The video is courtesy of our friends over at AutomatomaniA.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Wind-up clockwork smoking automaton

Wind-up clockwork smoking automaton
This is an interesting piece on eBay. I don't think I've seen such a small smoking automaton. Pretty cool.

Here is the eBay listing with a short description and several additional photographs of this small clockwork smoking automaton.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, November 14, 2008

Griesbaum whistler - singing bird box automaton

Griesbaum Whistler bird box automaton
I love these little spring-driven singing bird boxes. It's simply amazing that they were able to pack all of the mechanics for pieces like this into such a small box (its longest side is a only 4 1/4 inches). This one is by German maker Karl Griesbaum and dates to the middle part of the last century.

From the eBay listing:
When activated, the hatch on top opens, bird appearing, and there is bird song. The bird turns from side to side as it sings. The beak/tailfeathers/wings move to some degree while the bird is singing. The bird darts inside when it has finished singing and the hatch closes automatically.

Here is the full ebay listing with many more pictures of Griesbaum Whistler singing bird box automaton.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vaporizer / Condenser Unit Winds a Spring Clock

Clock with a Vaporizer / Condenser Unit that winds the clock's spring
I'd like to say "What will they think of next?" but this novel method for winding a mechanical clock has been around since the 1930s. Shown here is the back of a Jauch and Schmid clock with a vaporizer/condenser winding mechanism.

The winding key axle of a fairly conventional clock is fitted with a set of connected glass tubes and vials filled with alcohol. A heating element below the lower-most vial causes the liquid to vaporize and move up to the opposing upper vial. Now separated from the heat source, the alcohol cools again to form a liquid. The orientation of the heavy liquid filled vials on top causes the winding axle to rotate. Perhaps a bit of a fire hazard -- heat, glass, alcohol, bare wires and 220 volts...Yikes! Not exactly "set it and forget it" to my way of thinking, but ingenious nonetheless.

From The Watchismo Times and found via

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sterling Silver Automaton Bird Music Box

Sterling Silver Automaton Bird Music Box
Made around 1950 in Germany, here is a gorgeous singing bird box with a tobacco compartment hidden in the back.

When you activate the start knob the lid opens and a little bird pops up. The bird then turns left and right opens its beak, flapping its wings, and sings a song. At the end of the song, the bird returns to the box and the lid automatically snaps closed. These things are truly marvelous.

Check out 10 detailed photographs of the silver singing bird automaton music box on the eBay listing.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, September 12, 2008

Gina Kamentsky Films and Mechanical Art Demo

Coke Buddha by Gina Kamentsky
This Sunday, September 14th at 2:00PM, artist Gina Kamentsky will be at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, MA (USA) presenting a line up of her animated film work, followed by a live and kicking demonstration of Mechanical Confections sculptures in the gallery. Shown here is her wind up sculpture titled Coke Buddha.

Among the films she will be presenting is Einstein's Riddle which recently won Best Narrative Short at Animation Block Party in New York. Congrats!

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: , , , , ,

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wind Up Bird That Flys by Flapping its Wings

I haven't seen one of these in years. I had one of these as a kid and forgotten about this toy. (Mine was mostly yellow.) This wind up bird really does fly by flapping it's wings. I'm not sure scientists have figured out how to do this, but a $10 toy can!Tim the Flying Bird ToyMade in France, Tim is about 8 inches long and has a wingspan of 16 inches. Once you have snapped the wings in place, you wind up the rubber band drive, and toss it into the air. It flies up to fifty yards with a satisfying fluttering sound. It comes with a spare rubber band drive.

Here is the link to Tim Bird.

On a related note, this Ornithopter Kit looks really cool, but the reviews were mixed. Has anyone tried one? Drop me a note and let me know.

Labels: , ,