“Batteries Not Included.” These are the three words most dreaded by parents as they anxiously watch their child open a gift. But once this technical hurdle is surmounted, battery-powered toys are truly awesome, as remote-control, or RC, cars chase the family cat under the dining-room table, helicopters and airplanes dive bomb little brothers and sisters, and toy robots march down long hallways, incinerating everything in their terrible paths.

Some of the most prized early battery-powered toys are the tin robots produced in postwar Japan. Flashy Jim from the 1950s featured a remote-control unit that held the toy’s batteries, while the Radicon Robot from the same decade was actually the first wireless remote-control toy. More traditional was Nomura’s Robotank-Z from the 1960s, which rolled on wheels that were hidden by lithographed tank treads, lit up, made noise, and moved red arms that ended in a claw. Bandai’s Moon Explorer, also from the 1960s, walked on blocky legs, shined a red beam of light from a third eye in the middle of its forehead, and featured an analog clock in its chest.

Model cars, of course, were perfect vehicles for hidden power sources. In 1965, A.C. Gilbert, the maker of Erector sets, produced a battery-powered Aston Martin, just like the one driven by James Bond. About a decade later, in 1976, Mego made a Ford Gran Torino just like the one on “Starsky and Hutch.” The red muscle car, with its trademark white stripe running down the sides and across the back of the car’s top, had a siren, lights, and changed direction when it ran into things like table legs or a wall.

Things that fly and float also lent themselves to battery power. Remote-control airplanes could be sent on surveillance missions to peak over the fence and into the neighbor’s backyard, while RC boats could be used to terrorize unsuspecting swimmers in the family pool. Batteries were also needed for anything that made noise, from “Donny & Marie” microphones that played through AM radios to “Partridge Family” basses and guitars.

Other battery-powered toys were ostensibly more benign. Fisher-Price and Playskool used the juice of D-cells and double-As to produce endless repetitions of sounds for toddlers. Although these educational toys were designed to stimulate growing young minds, they almost certainly destroyed those of many a parent.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood

Embrace your inner child on this website from the Victoria and Albert Museum, filled with high-quality images and i… [read review or visit site]

The Wheelmen

The Wheelmen

This elegant tribute to turn-of-the-century bicycling includes memorabilia, photographs, and an index of 3140 bicyc… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Windup Marx Pathe News Car 1936 Working Complete All Original UnrestoredVintage Battery Operated 1955 Lincoln Futura Concept Car Alps Working CompleteVintage Linemar Battery Operated Television Truck Mint In Box - All Tin. WorkingWind Up Tin Toy Cko Motorcycle 353 Socious Us Zone Germany 1945 First IssueVintage Battery Operated Nomura Mobile Space Tv Unit. Mint + Box. Working1960s Nomura Vw Volkswagen Space Patrol Battery Op Car Japan Nr Mint In BoxVintage Battery Operated Space Station Sh Horikawa Working CompleteVintage Battery Operated Motorcycle Nomura Daredevil Stunt Motorcycle 1955 + BoxVintage Cragstan Yonezawa Robot Toy Tin Litho Working 1960s Japan All OriginalVintage Rare 60's Futuristic Japan Car Bandai Concept Vehicle Tin Toy Litho VhtfVintage Rare Tin Toy Car Buick Riviera 1965 Japan Taiyo Muscle 60's Asc AoshinVintage K & O Scott Atwater Bait-a-matic Model Electric Outboard Motor ToyVintage Battery Operated Yonezawa Mobile Satellite Tracking Station Mint ToyVintage Cragstan Toy Speed Racer Bump Go Battery Operated Future Space Car WorksVintage Wind Up Tin Toy Bull Dog Blomer And Schuler 1945 Us Zone Germany + KeyVintage Wind Up Marx Tin Toy Mickey Mouse Race Car Marx Working Complete 1936Antique Battery Operated "atom" Tin Motorcycle Modern Toy Non-working JapanVintage Rare Camaro 1965 Ss Tin Toy Car Japan Bandai Muscle Litho 60's Jumbo SzVintage Battery Operated Cragstan Creepy Crawling Hand 1960 Working Original BoxVintage 1960s Asc Japan Working Battery Black Batmobile ToyVintage Tin Wind Up Marx Crawling Soldier 1945 Made In Usa Working PerfectlyVintage Rare Vw Bug Volkswagen 1965 Tin Toy Car Japan Bandai Litho 60's JumboVintage Windup - Friction Batman 12" Batmobile Asc Aoshin 1965 Age 52 Dc LicenseVintage Tinplate Battery Operated Traffic Policeman Toy, A-i Co. Japan. 1950'sVintage Rare Sport Car Schuco Texi 5735 Convertible W Germany Alfa Romeo 1900Vintage Wind Up Marx Hot Rod 777 - Friction Toy With Lighted EngineVintage Rare Vw Bug Volkswagen Vocho Tin Toy Car Japan Taiyo Litho 60's Box 1966Vintage Rare Tin Toy Car Thunderbird 1962 Japan 60s Bandai Green 12" Scale LithoRare 1950's Battery Operated Beauty Parlor Bear Horikawa Japan *works Great* Vintage Rare Marusan San Police Car Patrol Pd Japan 50's Polizia Tin Toy Litho Vintage Wind Up Gesha Express Boy Porter Us Zone Germany 1945 Original Bx WorksNice 1960's Battery Operated Chef Cook Tin Litho Toy Burger & Piggy Cook's BuddyBattery-operated Cragstan Daiya Space Conqueror Astronaut Robot Tin Toy S-5 NrVintage Toy Electric Outboard Motor-50 Starflite-Vintage Rare 60's Modern Toys Masudaya Speed Boat Ship Tin Toy Sea Baywatch VhtfVintage Rare Mustang 1967 Fastback Tin Toy Car Japan Taiyo Muscle Litho 60's WowSchuco Real 5500 Mercedes 230 Sl White ! With Missing Tires ! RareTin Toy Car Vehicle Japan 50's Vintage Antique Transport Ks Nomura Anglia Alfa Vintage Battery Operated U-turn 58 Cadillac Working Complete All Original + BoxEvinrude Big Twin Outboard Toy Boat Motor (vintage)Antique 40's Metal Car Usa Cadillac Wind Up 12" Coupe Tri Ang Tootsie Rare Tin Vintage Rare Tin Toy Car Oldsmobile Toronado 1966 Japan Taiyo Muscle 60's W Box Vintage Musical Jolly Chimp - New Old StockVintage Japan Tin Battery Op Mr Zerox Robot Horikawa (sh) . A+ & Works. No ReserRare Line Mar Tin Toy 1954 Atomic Reactor Steam Battery Operated Linemar JapanBig 1958 Yonezawa Tin Battery Op. Aa Airplane With Multiaction & Box . A+ WorksVintage Wind Up Tin Toy Tps Strong Man. All Original. Working + Reproduction BoxLarge Battery Operated Toy Wooden Speed Boat With Working Mercury Outboard MotorVintage Evinrude Toy Outboard Motor- Excellent ConditionMarx The Skyscraper Building Tin Litho Playset Vintage 1950sVintage Sleeping Baby Bear Tin Litho Battery Operated Linemar In Org. Box JapanEvinrude Toy Outboard MotorVtg Tin B/o Hobo Clown Playing Accordion W/dancing Chimp W/cymbals Alps Japan ExVintage American Airlines Airliner Electra Ii Prop Engine Tin Toy Airplane JapanAntique Rare Vtg 1950 Ito Japan Battery Operated Wooden Model Toy Boat 21" Long Showa Japan Tin Battery Op 1954 Lited Piston Action Tractor W/box. A+. Works !1950s Vintage Tin Litho Usaf Fa-982 Lockheed Starfire Airplane CoolToy Wood Boat Cabin Cruiser Ito Vintage Wooden Speed Boat German Battery Op.Vintage Ito Japan Wooden Model Speed Boat, Battery Operated, Rare, 1950s W Box1960's Peugeot Convertible With Driver Joustra France