Saturday, May 3, 2014

Toonerville Trolley Toy

I'd like to introduce you to my friend Mel Birnkrant, who has one of the most amazing toy collections in the world, concentrating on comic characters from the 1920s and '30s. (Direct link to video).

When I visited him a few days ago, he showed me a favorite, the Toonerville Trolley. Wind it up and it wobbles along, then stops and shudders, until the skipper winds the crank and gets it going again.

I think Mel is like a cross between Gepetto and Santa Claus (he is also a toy inventor himself) and he has rekindled an old fascination of mine: animation of the Golden Age.

If you like these "Mel's Toy Minute" features, let me know in the comments, and we can make a few more of them next time I pay Mel a visit.
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13 comments:

jjbks said...

I loved it! I notice he has a collection of Bib the Michelin Man. Whee, I can still sing the song from the TV commercial.

You could do a little video of Bib, right James? Right?

Danielle Pershouse said...

I loved this as well! Please do a few more!

What an amazing toy.

P said...

More please. Old mechanical toys can reach a certain spot of bliss and joy in me.

P said...

By the way, have you seen this great little film by Charles and Ray Eames "Toccata for Toy Trains"?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KMZ_M00ISg

Pierre Fontaine said...

Yes, more please!
I had heard of Toonerville before but never heard of its creator Fontaine Fox. Very interesting history and a wonderful jumping off point to the history of early comics and toy licensing.
Thanks!
Pierre

Novice Naturalist said...

Yes! More, please. Loved the whole look of the toys, the colors and sounds of the video--Please do more.

Simone said...

Very cool! Thanks!

wisata karimunjawa said...

extraordinary, crafting a very unique, very elegant for today's modern times

Nick Jainschigg said...

...another vote for MOAR.

Nasir Ahmmad said...

So wonderful toys. This is an awesome post. Thank you very very much for this post. Waiting for the upcoming toys.
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MrCachet said...

James, I don't often comment, but I follow faithfully. Does Mel have an email address? Putting my art on old paper has sent me on many happy voyages, including a recent attempt to track down a 'mechanical balloon', which I discovered as a line item on a billhead for the John D. Zernitz Company of Chicago. Although the billhead is dated 1902, I'm wondering if perhaps if Mel has an example of such a toy. Could you reply with either his email address, or pass mine to him? PLEASE! Mine is ddcachets@gmail.com

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Mr. Cachet, I'll pass it on to him.

danyal nadal said...

That was unbelievable! I loved the collection especially the Toonerville Trolley and the way the trolley moved. I would like to see each piece closely as am a big fan of action figures toys