“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    

Kiekaefer Mercury 80-hp Toy K&o Outboard Boat Motor Engine-thunderbolt Four Schuco 5700 11" Tin Electro Synchromatic Packard Hawk West Germany Toy Car Auto1960's Ngs Cragstan Japan-smoking Friendship Space Capsule-nmib-rare-ships WorldMasudaya Space Tank M-41 Battery Operated, Japan 1960s MibMickey The Magician W Box - 1960's Linemar Japan Tin Litho Battery Operated Toy1950's Nomura Japan-smokey Bear Jeep-near Mint In Original Box-ships WorldwideAmerican Airlines Boeing 707 Automatic Take Off & Landing Jet By Nomura Of JapanLarge 1954 Yonezawa Tin Battery Op American Airlines Airplane . A+. Works. NresVintage Tin Litho Busy Secretary Typist Linemar Battery Operated Toy ObRare 60's Bandai Japan Red Corvair Bertone Tin Battery/op Toy Car No Reserve Toy Wood Boat Fleetline Marlin Cabin Cruiser Outboard MotorVintage K&o Evinrude Toy Outboard W/ Stands & Gas TankVintage 1950's Toy Outboard Motor Boat With Metal Stream Line Outboard MotorVintage Tin Toy Model Car Battery Operated "racing Car" Made In JapanPocher Fiat 127 Battery Operated Vintage 1950's Japan Miss Friday The Typist Battery Operated Tin Toy NrOld 1964 Bandai/sears Tin Battery Op Shift Mustang Conv. Car W/box. A+ .works.nrGilbert James Bond 007 Aston Martin Battery Operated Car Box Only (empty)Rare Gm Chevrolet Camaro 1967 Tn Nomura Toys Japan Battery Operated Box OriginalPocher Fiat 126Piggy Cook With Box - 1950's Yonezawa Japan Tin Litho Battery Operated Toy1960s S.h. Japan 9.5” Super Apollo Space Capsule Tin Battery Op Toy Boxed!Vtg 1950s Distler Electromatic 7500 Porsche Chef Cook Original 1960's Yonezawa Japan Tin Battery Operated Toy Cooking Marx Linemar Bengal Tiger Remote Control Toy Bengali 1960s Battery Operated YqzRare! Vintage Tin Litho Feeding Bird Watcher Linemar Battery Operated Toy ObSchuco 5700 Tin Electro Synchromatic Packard Hawk West GermanyVintage 50's Toy Wood Boat With Motor Battery OperatedRare Nos 1954 Marx Electric Lighted Pontiac De Luxe Silver Finish FrictionLtd Toy Stamp & 1955 K&o Evinrude Aquasonic 25 Hp Toy Outboard Boat Motor WorksPocher Fiat 130 N/r 50's Nomura Ford Thunderbird Battery Operated With Lights+original Box. WorkRemco Barracuda Submarine With Ammo, Crew, Raft, + InstructionsYonezawa 1963 Corvette Tin Battery Operated Vintage Japanese Toy CarTn Japan Tin Battery Operated Jolly Pianist 60s Boxed Non Working Exc AppearanceNo.1: Vintage Klm Lockheed Electra Propeller Airplane B/o Toy By Nomura Japan1950's Japanese Tin Battery Operated Mercedes Racer Marked Marusan Kosuge1950's Bell Xv-3 Tiltrotor Helicopter 7 1/2" Wingspan Made In JapanVintage 50's/60's Battery Operated Sleeping Baby Bear Marx Linemar Tin Litho ToyRare 60's Bandai Volkswagen Sedan #970 Clear Motor Hood Tin Litho Batt/op In Box1950s Battery Operated Barber Bear Originalbox Cragstan Litho Toy Linemar J4591Rico Japan Vtg 1950's Wooden Toy Boat Battery Operated Original BoxVintage 1960s Bandai Japan Oldsmobile Toronado Battery Operated Tin Toy CarVintage Battery Operated Accordian Playing Bear With Tin Microphone Stand JapanDonkey Kong Ii Game And Watch K N O Electric Outboard MotorVintage Burger Chef Toy Battery Operated Dog Made In JapanVintage Rare Mr. Zerox Tin & Plastic Robot Battery Operated Japan HorikawaVintage Marx Dick Tracy-wind Up-litho-tin Car In Original Condition No ReserveStrutting Sam Battery Operated Dancing Jigger ~ Japan W/box High Grade! N/mint 50's Nomura Tn Tin Battery Op Pinkee The Farmer On Truck (working)Old 1960 Bandai Giant Tin Battery Op Volkswagen Car. 100% Original. A+ .works.nrVintage Bandai Japanese Tin Jaguar Xke Toy Car Battery Operated- Works- Video!!!Rare Vintage Alps Japan Tin Litho Battery Operated Old Timer Taxi W/ Box1950 S Model Wood Boat, Battery PoweredVintage Battery Operated Vw Convertable Toy CarVintage Ideal Toy Robert The Robot 1950"s .....lookVintage Aroura Electric Mercury Toy Outboard MotorVintage Rare 1967 Amf Wen Mac Motorized Toy Ford Mustang Fastback Testors Vintage 1960s Battery Op Ford Thunderbird Convertible Japan Tin Cragstan Toy Car