“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    

Vintage Tin Yonezawa Jet Airplane Plane Base Japan Super Sabre Space Toy RadarOriginal Vintage Dino-robot Sh Horikawa Made In Japan, Battery Operated With Box"attacking Martian Robot" 1950's Horikawa Japan Tin Battery Operated ToyVintage Japan Battery Operated Tomiyama Flying Circus Tin Toy With Circus BearToy Wood Boat Cabin Cruiser Fleet Line Ito K&o Toy Outboard Motor Battery Op.Best On Ebay !! Mint In Box Japan Alps Battery Operated Robot Moon Explorer Mint1950's Japan San Co. Shooting Bear Remote Control Battery Toy #3664 W/box"attacking Martian Robot" With Original Box 1950's Horikawa Japan Tin ToyPopeye Juggling Monkey In Chair - Vintage Novelty Toy1960's Japan Y Co/franconia Happy The Clown Puppet Show Battery Toy W/box1956 Scott-atwater Working Bail-a-matic 33hp Outboard Model Motor Nice ConditionRare! Early 1960`s Fleetline B/op "batboat" Plastic Boat Has Big 60`s Style FinsVintage Nomura Tn Battery Operated Tin Litho Shutter Bug Tin Toy Japan WorkingVintage Popeye Lantern By Linemar - Near Mint 1950's Tin Toy Japan WorkingJungle Trio *linemar Company Japan* *** Lqqk ***M-t Co.1950’s Japan Mischievous Monkey Battery Operated Toy #3422 W/boxSix Police Cars From The 60ies, Different Makes, JapanVintage Tin Battery Operated Fire Dept Mystery Car WorksMr. Fox The Magician ( With Rabbit ) "y" Co. Japan *** Lqqk ***Boxed Mickey The Magician * Linemar Japan ****lqqk*** 1950's Linemar Japan Sleeping Baby Bear Battery Opeated Toy, With Original BoxJohnny Seven O.m.a. One Man Army Topper Toys , Originalvintage Toy Original BoxVintage Toy Evinrude Outboard Motor 1950's Big Twin CollectableVintage 007 James Bond Aston Martin B/o Gilbert Metal CarMib 1950s Japan "mt" Battery Operated Highway Patrol Police Motorcyce With BoxToy Wood Boat Dumas Sterling Kit Models Vintage Wooden Battery Operated Ito Rare Vintage Tin Blue Indy Race Car #21 Electro Special Toy Yonezawa JapanVintage 1968 Marx Colonel Hap Hazard Tin Spaceman Robot Nasa Battery JapanVintage Tin Toy Space X 75 Battery Target Tank A1 Asakusa Japan 60's Military 1950's Marusan Japan "smoking Grandpa" Battery Operated 7 1/2" High No ReserveBeauty Parlor Bear * S&e Co.japan * *** Lqqk ***Vintage Nomura Tn Battery Operated Tin Litho Shutter Bug Tin Toy Japan WorkingVintage 1950 Y Co Professor Owl, The Friendly Teacher Battery Electro Toy #10457General Motors Firebird Iii Concept Car 1959 By Alps, JapanVinyage, Old The Parts For Toy Boat, K&o, Ito, Lang Craft, Vintage Japan Modern Toys Mt Nasa Control Center Battery Operated Toy,#3831 W/bo1950s Battery Operated Vintage Toy The Busy Housekeeper Made By Alps In Japan!!!Fleetline Inboard Wood Boat Speed Boat Nice Paint 1950s Battery OperatedVintage Japan Noel Decorations Santa On Rotating Globe Battery Toy #3979 W/boxVintage 1950s K&o Evinrude Big Twin Electric Starting Toy Outboard Motor - WorksVintage Tin Letho Japanese Cadilac Collectors Estate Find 62 Cm LongVintage Popeye Lantern By Linemar - Near Mint 1950's Tin Toy Japan WorkingRare Vintage Tinplate Super Patrol-man Battery Operated Toy, M-t, Japan. ExibRare! Vintage, Many Flags For Toy Boat. K&o, Ito, Rangcraft Vintage Japan Tin Modern Toys Convertible Car Battery Operated Parts Or RepairVintage Tin Letho Japanese Edesel- 34 -cm Long Collectors Estate FindJunior Japan Tin / Plastic Bat/op Lotus 49 F-1 Race Car 16" Excellent With BoxVintage Tin Litho Marx Battery Operated Car For Parts 19" X 8.25" X 4.75"Space Robot Tractor, Nomura Showa Japan, Runs, 1957Vintage Charley Weaver Bartender Antique Battery Operated Toy Japanese 1960s Battery Operated Lotus Ford F-1 Formula Racing CarVintage Tin Usaf Battery Operated Lockheed C-141 Starlifter Transport Jet PlaneVintage K&o Johnson Sea Horse 30 Hp Toy Outboard Motor + Stand & Model Boat!Vtg 1960s Mattel V-rroom Motor - Motor Bike RoarToy Wood Boat Cabin Cruiser Wooden Vintage Ito K&o Battery OperatedFord 4000 Industrial Tractor & Backhoe Vintage Large Country Horse Cart Red China Me-641 B/o Wild West Coach + BoxVintage Jolly Pianist Battery Operated Toy Made In Japan Works Original BoxVintage Tin Battery Yonezawa Japan Globe Master Usaf Bomber Airplane Plane Toy1950's Alps Japan Bubble Blowing Monkey"ln"/box! Battery Op 10" High No Reserve