“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 Atwood Toy Outboard Motor 051 Model Gas Powered Boat R/c Engine Nr Yqz1950s Cragstan Japanese Mr. Fox The Magician Battery Operated Tin ToyJohnson "sea Horse 35" Battery Operated Outboard Motor. Working. No Reserve1966 Remco Lost In Space Motorized RobotVintage 1956 Scott- Atwater Miniature Toy K&o Outboard Boat Motor Vintage Japanese Tinplate Masudaya Tm Lighted Space Vehicle Battery Operated Vintage Pair Langcraft Mercury Toy Outboard Motors New/boxVintage 1956 Mercury Mark 55 40 Hp. Red And Cream Color K&o OutboardsPopcorn Vendor Tin Battery Operated Toy Nomura JapanVintage 1958 Gale Buccaneer 25 K&o Toy Electric Outboard Boat Motor Working NiceVintage 1950s-60s Water Sprite Battery Operated Outboard Motor W/ Box & More1950s Fleetside The Marlin Battery Op Boat W Japan Evinrude Motor In Box WowVery Rare! '56 Oldsmobile Mt Modern Toys Masudaya B/o Radicon Toy Car NibRare Tn Nomura 1950's Battery Op "dolly Dressmaker" Sewing Machine Tin Toy1950s Cragstan Two Gun Sheriff Battery Operated Cowboy Western Tin ToyVintage Japan Toy Jet Airplane Tn Toys Nomura Bomber Tin Lithograph Battery Nr ! Working 1950's Hoopy The Fishing Duck Battery Operated Tin Toy Alps JapanNice 1950's Battery Operated Magic Man Smoking Clown Tin Litho Circus Toy JapanVintage Linemar Battery Operated Coca Cola Dispenser Bank Metal Coke Tin Rare 1990 Casio Western Bar Cg-300 Lcd Handheld Japan Working Rare 1950's Battery Operated Wee Little Baby Bear Tin Litho Children's Toy JapanVintage Remco Whirlybird Motorized Rescue Helicopter Play Set W/toy Soldiers VgcWorking 1950's Battery Operated Fishing Panda Bear Tin Litho Toy Alps Japan Vintage Yonezawa Tin Dc-7c American Airlines Flagship Californa N4070a !Rare Battery Operated Barber Bear, 1950's Japan, Working Great!1950’s Mt Co’s Battery Operated Dentist BearVintage Toy Outboard Motor With BoxRemco Barracuda SubmarineVintage Schuco 5311 Battery Operated Car CompleteVintage 1962 Charley Weaver Bartender Tn Japan W Box WorkingFred Flintstones On Dino Battery Operated Toy By Marx 1961 Mint 1950's Battery Operated Bubble Blowing Boy Tin Litho Toy Y Co. Japan1958 Japan Linemar Tin Battery Op.sleeping Baby Bear In Box. A+ .works. Nreserve1958 Japan Modern Toys (mt) Tin Battery Op. Roaring Gorilla W/ Gun & Box. A+.nrRare Vintage Bandai Japan Tin Battery Op Gear Shift Cadillac Mib K734Vintage Large Piggy Cook B/o Tin Toy Yonezawa Japan Working With Box1950s Cragstan 7” Battery Op Flying Saucer W Smoking Jet Exhaust! Boxed! Works!Vintage 1970 Hasbro Amaze-a-matics Mustang Funnycar Customized Body Japan Battery Operated Tin Lincoln Continental Car Toy Headlights 1950s 60s1950’s Cragstan Modern Toys Knight In Armor Target Game RobotAristo Craft Toy Outboard Boat MotorVintage 1950s S.h. Horikawa Tin Litho Battery Op Old Timer Car Toy With BoxEpoch Grandstand Firefox F-7 1983 Led Handheld Working Rare 80's Video Game1960’s Marx Kong Battery Operated ToyVintage 1950's Motor Operated Wood Ferry Boat Wooden Pond Model Christopher GVintage Ideal Odd Ogg Battery Operated Toy 1962 With Box.Rare, Tin, Vintage, Walt Disney Nautilus Submarine Mint In Box "no Reserve"Whirlybird Rescue Corps Battery Toy Helicopter Remco 1950sMint 1969 Battery Operated Go-go Girl Risque Bar Toy Bartender Casino Toy MibVintage 1970 Hasbro Amaze-a-matics Stingray Special Corvette Body 1965 A.c. Gilbert James Bond Aston-martin Battery Operated Tin Car W/ Box Remco Flintstones B/o Motorized Sports Car & Trailer Toy Kit 60's Super Rare MibVintage Haji Tin Litho Battery Operated 14" Pan Am Airliner Jet Airplane -japanRadioshack Waco 21 Blackjack Electric Card Game Handheld 1972Working 1950's Battery Operated Rock 'n' Roll Monkey Tin Litho Toy Alps JapanVtg 1950's **rare** Battery Op Modern Toys Japan Mother Bear Knitting & Box.mintVintage Fleetline Toy BoatNeat Old Original In Box Battery Run "shaking Antique Car" By Cragstan 1960'sMarx Toys "mr. Chimp" Working Battery Operated Toy In Original Box Ca 1960'sVintage Red China Me 759 Somersaulting Tank With Box - Working!