“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    

1960's Horikawa Japan Tin Fighting Robot Swivel Light Up Mechanical Martian Toy60s Rare Version Masudaya Tin Bat/op Space Rocket Us Apollo Project Modern ToysVintage Mini 1950s Johnson 35 Outboard Boat Motor K&o Battery Op Toy Mib1950's Johnson Sea Horse 25 Toy Boat Motor Battery-op Great Shape Lot#by35Fun Vintage Tomy Toy Space Turbo In Original Box Untested - 315 H29Vintage 1950's Japan " Wooden Model Boat " W Box Outboard Motor Super Cond Nr!!Vintage Remco Whirlybird Motorized Helicopter Iob Px59Old Linemar Super Susie Battery Operated Toy Grocery Bear Box Bat Op Bo1950's Japan Imp Special Type Toy Boat Motor Battery-op Nmib Lot#by36Gama Germany Vintage 1960's Tinplate Mercedes Benz 190 Sl Police Ultra Rare VgVintage/retro Toys Comet Racer X Battery Operated Racer Cragstan/clifford SeriesMarine Inc Fleet Line Mercury Running Electric Outboard Motor #45 Orignal BoxVintage1950 Linemar Bubbling Bull Battery Operated Tin Toy Original Box WorksMasudaya Modern Toys Tinplate High Way Patrol Police Motorcycle & Rider Boxed1950's Japan Bromo Line Toy Boat Plastic & Wood Nmib Lot#by37Vintage 1950s Japan Dolly Dressmaker Battery Operated Tin Toy Sewing MachineVintage Police Patrol Tin Motorcycle Battery Operated Toy Made In Japan #3Vtg Old Allyn Sea Fury Toy Outboard Motor 1950's Engine Clean Look !!Vintage Battery Operated Ky "super Rocket" Tin Toy - Made In JapanVintage 1967 Marx Electro Shot Target Range Shooting Gallery Arcade Game Works1962 B/o Looping Space Tank T/l Daiya Japan1962 Deluxe Reading Topper Playmobile Dashboard With Box Toy Mercury Outboard Motor, Selling Lot. Three Outboards.Vintage Super Tri-screen Monkey Kingdom Lcd Handheld Game & Clock/watch TronicaToy Electric Outboard MotorVintage Chris Craft Style Japan Battey Power Lake Speed Boat Toy 1950's 1960's1950's Battery Operated Toy Wooden Boat Cabin W Metal Railings & Antenna /japanVintage Yonezawa Japan Cragstan Crapshooter Battery Operate Nmib Px27Old Tin Battery Operated Car W/headlights *vintage Japan ToyTkk Tin Toy Japan~ Big Battery Operated~wwii Willys Jeep~soldiers~ Rare &qualityVintage Tin Litho Battery Op Highway Patrol Car Buick Riviera Bandai JapanVintage Wood Battery Operated BoatVintage Yonezawa Battery Operated Happy Sad Face Clown Nmib Px28Vintage Musical Jolly Chimp # 7061 W/ Box & Hang Tag Daishin Monkey Japan, NiceImp Japan Die Cast Special Type Toy Outboard Motor Boat Engine Silver In BoxMib 1950's Battery Operated Hungry Baby Bear Tin Litho Toy W/box Mint JapanVintage Alps Battery Operated Bubble Blowing Monkey Nmib Px29Fleet Line Vintage Model Boat & Lang Craft Outboard Motor 1960'sVintage 1950s Yonezawa Teddy The Artist 10458 Battery Operated Tin W/ Box Zz140Vintage Cragstan Trade Mark Battery Operated Tin Shaking Car W/ Box Works Hy141960's Bandai Kingsize Volkswagon Vw Beetle Bump & Go Tin Toy Battery OperatedVery Rare 1954 Japan New Streamlined Battery Operated Toy Motorboat No. 6201 Vintage Schuco Elektro-ingenico 5380 With Trailer And Frame Of 5311 Toy CarVintage Battery Operated Clown And Lion Toy - Made In JapanOld Vintage 1967 Ideal Motorific Boaterific Toy Harbor Tug Boat Excelllent W BoxVintage 1950's Japan Tin Battery Op.coca-cola Speed Jack Hot Rod Snake Ii CarVintage Jolly Chimp Mechanical Toy Monkey With CymbalsCragstan Playboy Tin ToyVintage Cragstan Battery Operated Shuttling Freight Train Px30Nomura Mystery Police Car Driver's Head Only,tin Toy Battery Operated Japan Jolly Chimp Cymbal Monkey Toy Vintage Made In Japan DaishinRare Vintage Howdy Doodys Electric Carnival Circus Clown Board Game Wiry Dan ToyVintage Bobby Hull 1963 Canadian Ice Hockey Game W/ Box Munro2 Vintage Wooden Mount Battery Operated Toy Boat Motors...nos...very Rare1960's Vintage~"alps Toys"~japan~"picnic Monkey"~battery Powered~tin Litho =l@@kCragston, Daisy - Jolly Drumming Duck - Battery Operated W Box - For Parts!Vintage Tin Toy Battery Operated Forklift W/ Driver Modern Toys Japan Ideal Motorific Battery Operated Slot Car 2 Gmc Trucks For Parts OnlyIdeal Motorific Battery Operated Slot Car M Construction Highway MaintenanceTopper Johnny Express Tractor Trailer Cab For Parts Or Restoration