Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wind Up Tin Toys

The Marklin Carousel at The Children's Museum 
of Indianapolis
      Wind-up toys typically are powered by a metal spring that is tightened by turning it. Then gear wheels and pulleys can transfer the power and control the toy motion.
      Wind-up toys date far back into history, into the 15th century. Karel Grod, a German inventor, created some of the first wind-up toys, including a metal fly and a mechanical eagle. Also, in 1509, Leonardo da Vinci created a wind-up lion as a greeting for Louis XII in Italy. Wind-up toys were at first for only royalty, and were much more elaborate, with a very complex system of gears and springs. René Descartes also created a life-sized wind-up human girl to prove a theory that all animals were very complex machines. However, as legend goes, the mechanical girl was thrown overboard after a man was frightened by it.
      After the much larger, elaborate wind-up machine art declined in interest, wind-up toys were created very cheaply and in very large numbers by the 1800s. Wind-up machines then became known as wind-up toys, and were designed in all different forms to move around.
      European toy makers created and mass produced the first tin windup toys during the late 1880s. Over the next 60 to 70 years, more manufacturers created ever more intricate designs. The trend stopped with the introduction of the small and inexpensive Alkaline battery in the 1960s which allowed motors to run without a wind up mechanism. Over the next 20 years, wind up toys lost popularity.
      Plastic Wind-ups started in 1977 when the Japanese company Tomy made the classic walking Robot (Rascal Robot). Tomy's ability to build small precision plastic gears and parts allowed them to greatly reduce the size of the gear box (housing the spring drive).

Noel Barrett presents the Seidman Collection

Kenneth Holmes Tin Litho Toy Fair at the Historical Museum

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