Sunday, May 31, 2009

Marx Electric Robot and Son

The Marx Company made this fantastic robot in the 1950s. Called the Electric Robot and Son, he stands over a foot tall, and has some really cool features, like a pull-out tool box in his tummy (the red rectangle just above his "belt"), a metal radar antenna on his head, and light-up eyes. If you're wondering what the "Son" in his name refers to, well, originally he came with an adorable little robot who dangled from his pincer hand. Sadly, my robot's son has gone missing. We all hope he'll turn up someday...

Ideal Robert the Robot

This is one of my favorite robots: Ideal's Robert the Robot from the 1950s. He's big: over a foot tall, and comes attached to a cabled, ray gun styled control box that makes him move backwards and forwards. (For some reason, mine will only go backwards now. I just consider it an interesting personality quirk.) He also has a tiny record inside which is played by turning a crank on his back. When he feels like working properly, the message he plays is: "I am Robert the Robot, the Mechanical Man. Drive me, steer me wherever you can." (As long as it's in a backwards direction, that is...)

1800s Tin Kitchen

This tin kitchen playset dates from the mid to late 1800s. It was made in America, and represents a much simpler version of the fabulous German Nuremberg kitchens of the time. The kitchen measures about 12 inches wide by 8 inches tall, and most of the accessories are original to the set. One of its most interesting features is the water pump on the right side. It could actually be filled with water and then pumped into the sink fixed to the wall. These kitchens were not meant to be true to scale; rather, the idea was for little girls to learn cooking by playing with them, and for that they needed larger utensils. These tin kitchens were used for "cold cooking" (pretend), but there were also woodburning and alcohol stoves made for "hot cooking" (real). I'll list some of these 19th century versions of the Easy Bake Oven soon!

Gardening Gnome

It's spring, which means it's time for the gardening gnome to get busy. This wooden cutout gnome was used in holiday window displays at the downtown Detroit Hudson's store in the 1930s. He's about a yard tall, and likes to hang out next to the mushroom dollhouse.

Vintage Dexterity Puzzle Games

I'm somewhat obsessed with collecting old dexterity games. They're like fascinating little worlds behind their glass or plastic windows, they often feature beautiful lithography, and they're just fun to play, too. Here's a small portion of my collection.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mr. Potato Head Picnic Pals

From the 1960s, the Mr. Potato Head Picnic Pals! Mr. Potato Head has led a very sociable lifestyle. Besides the Mrs. and the tots, he's had a lot of friends. These are some of the hardest to find. They were typically sold in sets of 3 consisting of Mr. Potato Head, a "main character" Picnic Pal, and a condiment or side. From left to right: Frankie Frank, Mr. Mustard Head, Mrs. Ketchup Head, Frenchy Fry, and Mr. Soda Pop Head. Sadly, I am still looking for the final Picnic Pal: Willy Burger.

To learn more about Mr. Potato Head's history, click here:

Mego Batmobile

I grew up in the 1970s, which means I grew up with Mego toys. I had Spiderman (who went everywhere with me and had to have his arms reattached on a weekly basis), the Planet of the Apes guys, Captain America, and a few Star Trek figures. But I never had this beauty: the Mego Batmobile with Batman and Robin. 30 years later: oh, what a happy day it was when I brought this home and installed it in a place of honor on my dining room table. (Visible in the background is a Mars Attacks theater banner and an original Ideal Robert the Robot from the 1950s.)

A great Mego information site can be found here:

Tiny Toy Assortment

, This antique printer's tray full of small old toys sits on my coffee table. Everyone who visits tends to gravitate toward it: its pull is seemingly irresistable. The tiny compartments are filled with vintage Cracker Jack and gumball machine prizes, antique china dolls, miniature figures, toy trains and playsets, miniscule books, and lots more.