Crank Toys: Put Your Muscles At Work!

If you have liked the idea of having a cam toy, I am quite sure that you will find the crank toys even more interesting. Both categories are rather similar, but the toys powered by cranks can generally be more complicated and do more exciting things. Cam toys are usually powered by crank as well, so they can be considered as a part of the crank toys. Confusing? Who cares, we love toys, not the dry theory. Let's learn more about the toys.

Cranks are often used not just in toys, but also in serious machines that do serious work. You might have even seen those very old cars whose engine could be fired up by crank.

The Construction of a Crank Toy

The complexity of the crank toys depends on the mechanism that uses the power which comes from the crank/handle. One very simple toy is the crank tumbler in which the toy is directly connected to the handle and each circle that the crank makes is a full circle for the tumbler too - there is no complex power transmission between different parts.

Some crank toys however can be

a lot more complicated and impressive

than this. See for example the boxing ring on the image. Through a bunch of cam-gears the crank powers an entire performance of complex movements. The crank is used only for powering the toy, so the rest of it can do just about everything.

In this sense the crank toys can remind you about the wind-up toys. Indeed, the only construction difference is that the wind-ups can accumulate the energy, while in the crank toys it's tranferred instantly. Should you stop revolving the handle, the toy stop moving. That's like a toy that works only when plugged into the wall-plug and a toy powered by batteries.

Collecting and Making Crank Toys Yourself

Crank toys are a bit hard to collect. What?! Yes, I am serious. You just can't find many crank toys nowadays. Besides that, all the mechanical toys hardly find their place is the stores, the crank based ones seem to be even less offered. Why is that so? I guess the traders believe today's kids are too lazy and won't touch such a thing, so if they offer mechanical toys at all, they are mostly wind-up ones.

I know your kids are not lazy though and I am sure your hands also feel like rolling a cool crank toy right now. For this reason we'll be working on a e-shop and a bunch of resources where you can buy crank toys soon.

Till then what - waiting?

Boxing ring crank toy
These boxers can't beat you. They obbey to your crank. Photo by robinpresta

Well, I have a better idea. Make a crank toy yourself! I don't expect you to build something like that boxing ring (or can you?), but making even a typical crank tumbler is a lot of fun and nice thing to do. Assuming you would make it wooden, here's what you will need:

  • A little plank and two vertical laths for the stand
  • A small glider - you can use metal here - if by any chance you have an old bicycle spoke, that would be perfect. Cut 15cm/6" piece from it. No spoke? Use a pencil - that might even be better because you'll attach easier the tumbler hands to it.
  • A simple crank attached directly to the glider
  • A tumbler or a clown :) You can make it yourself from five little boards of wood - two for legs, two for feet, one for body and head. Attach the limbs to the body with nails and make them roll freely. Attach the hands to the glider in a way that they will roll together with it. This way you'll get the tumbler make all kind of interesting gymnastics.

Don't worry, we'll have a visual guide on this and other crank toys if you are really keen on making some of them yourself.

The crank toys are lovely gifts not only for kids - an elegant handle toy will simply rock on someone's desk in the office. Just make sure they won't spend the entire day playing with the toy instead of working. I know these retro toys are simple but it's really addictive to play with them.

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