“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    

1950s Nomura Mechanized Robby The Robot Tin Battery Operated Tn Japan Toy W/boxVintage 1950s Japan Tin B.o. Northwest Orient Douglas Dc-7c Yonezawa AirplaneToy Outboard Motor 1950s Mercury K&o Toy Wood Boat Vintage Battery Operated, RedVintage Ito Wood Bo Pond Boat 18" 1940's Nice!K & O Model Johnson 25 Hp Seahorse Toy Outboard Boat Motors 1950's JapanVintage Large Japaneze Tin Bandai Cadillac Remote Battery Powered W/ Belt PackVintage Japan Aristo-craft Mercury Toy Outboard MotorTomy "combat G.i." Battery Op. Vtg Tin/plastic Japan,nomura,alps,yonezawa,bandaiAccordion Player Hobo With Musical Chimp Battery Toy Original Box Alps JapanJohnson 30 Hp Outboard Toy Model Electric Boat Motor W/ StandWorking 1950s Battery Operated Burger Chef Tin Litho Toy Japan Piggy Cook BbqLang Craft Battery Operated Motor Boat W/ Box Outboard Motor L-008 Japan WoodenIchida Ford Gyron Concept Car Battery Op. Vtg Tin Japan,yonezawa,masudaya,nomura1950's Vintage Linemar Battery Operated Spanking Bear With Original BoxMasudaya "apollo" Space Capsule Battery Op. Vtg Tin Japan,horikawa,yonezawa,alps Battery Operated Tin Toy Outboard Motor Hydroplane Ito BoatAlps "twirly Whirly" Rocket Ride Battery Op. Vtg Tin Japan,horikawa,masudaya,1960s Joe 90 Battery Operated Car Century 21 Toys Genuine Outer Box Sleeve Tv21Vintage Masudaya Modern Toys Japanese Tin 301 Toy Red Race Car Battery OperatedWorking 1950's Battery Operated Pinky The Clown Tin Litho Circus Carnival Toy1960 Yonezawa Japan-sikorsky S-61 Helicopter With Space Capsule-nmib-ships WorldVintage 1956 Evinrude Toy Outboard Motor1950`s Battery-op Tin Litho Jeep End Loader Farm Dump Truck & Driver Japan 11"Vintage Rare Battery Operated Toy Red Skipper BoatVintage Battery Operated Toy Wood Wooden Cabin Cruiser BoatRare Vintage Linemar/marx Tin Battery Operated Hot Rod CarJohnson Super Sea Horse 50-hp Battery Operated Toy Boat Motor 1960's , Working .Vintage Tinplate + Plastic Battery Op Electric Car, Marx Toys, Gt Britain. VgibMint 1950s Battery Operated Rock 'n' Roll Monkey Tin Litho Toy Gibson Guitar Mib1950s Golden Sonic Space Car Toy Battery Operated Nice No Battery Door Robot TinK&o Toy Model Electric Boat Motor '57 Evinrude 35 H.p. Vintage AntiqueLinemar Japan B/o Tin Litho & Fabric "sneezing Bear" Action Toy V Rare 50's MibTaiyo Battery Operated Empi Love Bug Volkswagen ToyJolly Daddy Walking Smoking Elephant With Box Battery Operated Japan 1960s Japan Tn Nasa Apollo Space Ship Space Toy Battery Operated Tin ToyT.n Nomura "mobile Artillery Unit" Battery Op. Vtg Tin Japan,yonezawa,masudayaT.n Nomura "hot Rod" Battery Op. Vtg Tin Japan,alps,masudaya,yonezawa,bandaiVintage Scott Mcculloch 25-hp Battery Operated Die-cast Boat Motor , For Restor Vtg Super Rare Yonezawa Japan Battery Op Piggy Cook Tin Toy Works In Orig BoxVintage Yonezawa Dc-7 Tin Lithograph American Airlines Airliner Battery Power Ideal Zeroid "zerak Robot" Battery Op. Vtg Plastic Hong Kong,horikawa,masudayaJohn Deere Battery Operated Snowmobile. Vintage New In Box.excellent!!!Vintage 1960's Tin Litho Battery Operated Tps Super Flying Police Helicopter Vintage Rare Tn Nomura Japan Battery Op Blue Bulldozer 112 Tractor Tin Toy WorksVintage 1960's Marx Big Boss Battery Operated Car Carrier With Original Box1950's Vintage Alps Battery Operated Picnic Bunny With Original Box And InsertsMib 1960s Battery Operated Gino The Neapolitan Balloon Blower Tin Litho Toy MintMint 1960's Battery Operated Blushing Willy Bartender Tin Litho Bar Toy Pours!Vintage Barber Bear Linemar Japan Tin Toy Battery OperatedT.n Nomura "jupiter Rocket Launching Pad" Battery Op. Vtg Tin Japan,masudaya1960s Japan Tn Apollo X Space Ship Space Toy Battery Operated Tin ToyJolly Chimp Monkey W/ Cymbals In Box!Scott-atwater 40-hp Battery Operated Toy Boat Motor 1950's , Working Condition .Vintage 24” Japan Yonezawa Aa N4070a Tin Battery Op. Dc7c Airplane Parts/restoreVintage 60s Sunray Dx Getaway Chase Game W/ Original Box CompleteVintage Johnny Express Topper Truck Trailer Driver + Box 1965 Remote Control 34"Bandai Buick Riviera Highway Patrol Battery Op. Vtg Tin Japan,ichiko,nomura,alpsVintage Tin Drinking Dog In Orig Box For Restoration Quality Toys JapanRemote Control Car Battery Toy Original Box Daito JapanRare 1950's Battery Operated Vanilla Ice Cream Baby Bear Tin Litho Toy Japan