The Magic of Automata and Mechanical Toys

Mechanical toys impress with simple yet ellegant gears

Have you forgotten the toys from your childhood? You could get a drummer, wind the spring with a little tin key and it would start beating the drum with almost perfect movements. Then when it stops drumming you could get the key, wind for a minute and start again. No batteries involved, no charging time required.

Is this only memory from the past? Not at all. Mechanical toys are alive and kicking today.

Mechanical Train Toy
This one is a museum exponate, but some mechanical train toys are just like it
Photo by PMM

Why Mechanical Toys

Like I said in the page about retro toys, the good old-fashioned toys have "souls" and style that can't be seen in the modern plastic and electronical toys or PC games. One well done mechanical toy looks much better than a quickly manufactured plastic toy with an electric engine which is going to stop working after an year.

Mechanical toys are eco-friendly - they don't use electric power and don't need storage batteries (in case you don't know, batteries are within the major nature soilers).

The simple mechanisms of the

mechanical toys can often be fixed by yourself

or even by the kids. And looking into such gears helps children learn more about mechanics and urges them into learning more and create. Could you compare this with playing with a plastic Barbie?

And finally, you can build mechanical toys yourself. And it's a wonderful hobby indeed.

Types Of Mechanical Toys

Most, but not all mechanical toys are wind up powered. There are few other interesting types that worth exploring.

Let's see the more important ones:

  • Wind up toys. These mechanical toys are powered by using a key and a metal spring. The spring slowly untwists and passes its energy to the toy gears. Like I said, this is probably the largest category.
  • Gravity toys. They use the gravity to provide motion. For example these are cars powered by initial hand charging
  • Rubber band toys. They are similar to the spring toys, but usually simpler. Stretching the rubber provides the power. Usually the rubber can provide more powerful but shorter movement. Such mechanism is used for example in some rubber band powered aircraft.
  • The cam toys are very simple and rely on a simple cam follower and a slide which shows and hides the toy.
  • Crank toys are powered by hand and don't accumulate energy. This doesn't make them less attractive however.

You will find all the types of mechanical toys and articles about them on this site, so stay with us.

Making Mechanical Toys Yourself

Since mechanical toys are relatively simple, you can make some of them yourself. The spring toys are probably the most complex but it's easy to make

crank and cam toys

yourself. You need to find instructions and be precise when making the separate parts. We will include some visual guides on making mechanical toys here.

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