“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    

1958 Pontiac Firebird Concept Car General Motors Tin Toy By Cragstan Alps JapanYonezawa/cragstan Ford 500 Skyliner Battery Op. Vtg Tin Japan,bandai,nomura,Toy Outboard Motor 1950s Mercury Wood Boat Vintage Electric Original-box NrVintage Masudaya Modern Toys Japanese Tin 301 Toy Red Race Car Battery OperatedVtg Rosko Scotsman Mcgregor Cigar Smoking Battery Operated Tin Toy W/ Box Nr YqzVintage 1957 Gale Buccaneer 25 H.p. Battery Operated K+o Toy Outboard Motor Rare Japan Battery Ford Thunderbird Tin Car 11" Hood Trunk Opens Yonezawa BandaiCoca Cola Dispenser Bank Tin Battery Toy Original Box LinemarAutomatic Gun Space, Japan (tada) Large Vintage Battery Tin Toy Box 1950s RareTin Japan Battery Operated Car 1950s ? Ford Thunderbird 11" Yonezawa Bandai ?Vintage 1988 Nintendo Game And Watch Super Mario Bros BoxedVintage 1961 Hubley Offical Mr. Magoo Tin Battery Operated Car W/box No ReserveIndy Racer Car Speed Challenger By Alps Japan With BoxRare Large Air Port Airways Helicopter Moving Stewardress Tin Yonezawa Japan ToyVintage Toy Boat And Outboard Motor Made In Japan From 50s1950s Battery-op Tin Space Robot 11 1/2 In Tall Working Condition Made In JapanBomber Pilot F-50 Usaf Fighter, Japan (ko) 1960s Vintage Tin Toy Exc Works1962 Frankkonia Fred Flintstone Bedrock Drummer Band Battery Op Toy1960s Ideal Robot Commando Battery Operated Large Robot With Rocket And BallsT.n Nomura Mercedes-benz 190sl Battery Vtg Tin Japan,yonezawa,masudaya,marusanHarbor Patrol Boat Tin Battery Toy Original Box Bandai JapanVintage Fleetline K&o " 3 Motors" Gale Buccaneer/sovereign Toy Motor CollectionShowboat Tin Battery Toy Original Box Masudaya Japan% 1950's Battery Operated Tin Litho Cragstan Space Satellite Vehicle 8" WideHard To Find Battery Operated Beauty Parlor Bear Works Made In Japan 1960’sVintage 1950's Marx Linemar Super Susie Japan Battery Tin Toy Working With BoxVintage 1950's Battery Operated 17" Wooden Motor Boat / Yacht Toy Made In JapanVintage Toy Boat MotorVintage Mercury Hurricane Toy Boat Outboard Motor, Battery Operated Doesn't WorkToy Outboard MotorRosko Rajah Rey Indian Prince Battery Operated Bartender Very RareBandai Triumph Tr4 Battery Op. Vtg Tin Japan,nomura,masudaya,yonezawa,linemarVintage Japan 1960s Battery Op Hubley Mr Magoo Tin Toy Car For Parts / RestoreVintage Johnson Miniature Toy Sea-horse 25 Outboard Motor - Parts Or RestorationUnited Airlines Jet Plane By Marusyo Made In Japan With Box - Superb !Vintage 1961 Hubley Mr. Magoo Tin Battery Operated Car Japan No ReserveNr Japan Battery Ford Thunderbird Tin Car 11" Retractable Roof Yonezawa Bandai ?Vintage Shoe Shine Joe Tin Toy T.n Made In Japan Battery Operated Vintage Nomura (tn) Japan Tin Litho Battery Operated Lite-o-wheel Go Kart ToyRare Batt Op Ball Playing Bear - Japan - Nmib - Pls Scrowl To View All 27 PhotosJohnson Sea Horse 75 Hp. 1960 K & O Model Engine Battery PoweredNintendo Game & Watch - Chef - 1981 Works RareScarce Vtg 60's Daiya Japan Battery Op 13" Yellow School Bus System Tin Toy CarVintage Toy Mercury Outboard Motor Plastic DisplayVintage Knitting Grandma Tin Toy T.n Made In Japan Battery Operated 1958 Large 20" Japan Rosco Tin Battery Op. A A Viscount Airplane With Box. WorksVintage 1963 Mcculloch 75hp Toy Outboard Motor With Box, Custom Stand & Label 1961 Hubley Mr. Magoo Japan Tin Litho Battery Operated Toy Car Very Nice LookT.n Nomura "marvellous Car" T-bird Battery Op Vtg Tin Japan,yonezawa,masudayaToy Battery Operated Fishing Boat Vg 1950s-60s Era50s Vintage Toy Boat Motor Battery Operated Drinking Captain With Box!!Nos Mint Cien Ge Taiwan Batmobile Red W/original Box Battery Operated. Works1968 T.n/nomura Japan Tin Battery Op. Apollo-z Moon Traveler In Box. A+. Toy Game & Watch - Snoopy Tennis - Works In Box (rare) 1982 Nintendo Game & Watch - Super Mario Bros - 1988 Works RareIchiko Buick Wildcat "polizia Stradale" Battery Op.vtg Tin Japan,nomura,yonezawaVintage T.n. Made In Japan Tinplate Fire Dept. Battery Operated CarNos 1950’s Japan Snake Chamber Battery Operated In Original Box & Insert. Works!Marx Tin Litho Windup Doughboy Ww1 Tank