“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]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Japanese 1957 Yonezawa Tin Toy Space Directional Robot Working + Near Mint Look!Adam West Tin 15" Batmobile Box Only (1960's) Asc Aoshin Japan Battery OperatedVintage Large Tin Battery Operated Police Motorcycle -- Modern Toys - JapanK&o Models Mercury Mark 55-e No. 35 Outboard Motor W/original Box Nmib!Distler Electromatic 7500 Porsche 356 RoadsterMint Condition 1950’s Japan Linemar Popeye Bubble Blowing Battery Operated. WorkBandai Tin Battery Operated 1965 Buick Riviera Police Car 10.5" For PartsVintage Battery-operated "ito Model" Double Inboard Motor "harbor Patrol" Boat1950's Line Mar Toys * Super Susie * Battery Operated Toy * Original Box1950's Fuji Seahorse 15 Gasoline Engine Toy Outboard Boat Motor Mint In Box RareVintage Remco Navy Frogman Scuba Diver Battery Operated Commando Vintage '68 Modern Toys "tn" Jaguar Stunt Car Battery Operated In Box No ReserveVintage Diecast Johnson Outboard Boat Motor Toy Partial K&o Seahorse?Bandai Tin Battery Op 1965 Cadillac Convertible 10.5" For Parts With BoxNear Mint Japan Battery Operated K.o. Johnson Sea Horse "30" Outboard Motor ToyNew In Box Vintage Halloween Flashlight Battery Operated Lantern - Japan MadeUs Navy Jet Fighter Tin/plastic Bo Yonezawa 17" Long, Folding Wings Vg/ex WorksVintage 1955 Toy Outboard Motor K&o Mercury Thunderbolt Mark 55 Price ReducedhWorking 1950's Battery Operated Hungry Baby Bear Tin Litho Toy W/box Japan MintVintage Cragstan Twa Boeing 707 Tin Toy Bo Jet Airplane Susie The Cashier Bear Old Battery Operated Japan ToyVintage Marx Battery Operated Machine Gun W/ Tri Pod-nmibVintage 1958 Ford Tin Retractable Hard Top Battery Operated Car As IsVintage Battery Operated Remote Control Gorilla With Box -- JapanWorking 1950's Battery Operated Magic Snow Man Christmas Toy *ball Floats* Mechanical Battery Operated Jolly Chimp Monkey,good Condition, Ck, JapanVintage Late 1940's "piggy Cook" Tin Mechanical Toy,battery Operated,10.5" High Rare 1950s The Playing Monkey Chimp Battery Operated Tin Toy S&e Japan Mint MibBattery Operated Barber Bear 1950s W/box Japan Modern Toys 1960's Tin Litho Space Patrol X-17 Flying Saucer Toy Vintage Baggage Handler Tin Battery Op. Truck * Modern Toys JapanWorking Ideal King Zor 1962 Dinosaur Battery Operated Target Toy1950's Fire Chief Mystery Action Car By "tn". Excellent In Original BoxWorking 1950s Battery Operated Smoking Grandpa Tin Litho Toy Japan Smokes Great!Vintage Daishin Ck Musical Jolly Chimp With Box In Excellent ConditionVintage 1950's Battery Operated Cragstan Crapshooter Tin Litho Toy Casino1950's Battery Operated Clown The Magician Tin Litho Circus Clown Toy Alps JapanVintage Toy Pinocchio W/ Glowing Face W/box ~ Works But Needs Works! Rosko 1950's Marusan San Made In Japan Battery Operated Tin Tugboat WorksBandai Tin Battery Operated 1964 Volkswagen Beetle 9.5"1959 Tn Japan Tin Dolly Seamstress Batt-op &box Excellent Working Toy DressmakerVintage China Tin Toys Helicopter Space Ship - Mf 960Vintage Marx-a-haul Battery Operated Dump Truck Power Dump Mint Unopened Box! 1970's The Genie Bottle Fortune Teller Toy Like Dream Of JennieVintage Minstrel Dancing Toy Battery Operated Tin Martini Racing Team - Porsche - Made In Japan - Battery Op1950's Battery Operated Burger Chef Tin Litho Toy Japan Piggy Cook's Partner Vintage Tin Battery Operated Highway Patrol Police Car With BoxVintage Scarce 1950's Wood Model Boat Famus Motor Electric Metal Outboard Antique 1950s Japanese Battery Operated Toy Train In Box + 4 O-gauge AccessoriesGroup Of 2 Reproduction Space Robot Toys Battery Operated And Wind-up1963 Tin Buick Estate Wagon Air Port Limousine Bandai 8" Bo Luggage Rack Ex1950s Vintage Wooden Battery Operated Boat Ship Japan ExcRare Vintage 1950's Battery Operated Amphibian Car/boat Plastic Hong Kong-great!Ltd Toy Stamp & 1950's Japan Fairy Land Bus Battery-op Tin Litho NmibNomura Jupiter Rocket Launcher Battery Tin Toy Made In Japan, C.1950’s-60’s T.nVintage Piggy Cook Toy Very Rare Tin Toy Bubble Blowing Musician Boxed! Japan Battery OpVintage China Tin Toys Somersaulting Tank Me 759Vintage Japan S&e Battery Operated Dentist Bear Tin Toy