Mr. Machine Robot Wind-up Toy: Vintage Toys & Games for Christmas

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Mr. Machine is a once popular children’s mechanical toy originally manufactured by the Ideal Toy Company in 1960. Mr. Machine was a robot-like mechanical man wearing a top hat. The body had a giant windup key at the back. When the toy was wound up it would “walk”, swinging its arms and repeatedly ringing a bell mounted on its front; and after every few steps emit a mechanical “Ah!”, as if it were speaking. The toy stood about 18 inches tall (roughly 46 cm).

The gimmick of Mr. Machine was that one could not only see all of his mechanical “innards” through his clear plastic body, but one could also take the toy apart and put it back together, over and over, like a Lego toy or a jigsaw puzzle.

Mr. Machine was one of Ideal’s most popular toys. The company reissued it in 1978, but with some alterations: it could no longer be taken apart (owing to the tendency of very young children to put small pieces in their mouths which could be accidentally swallowed or present a choking hazard), and instead of ringing a bell and making the “Ah” sound, it now whistled “This Old Man”. This later version of Mr. Machine was brought back once more in the 1980s. In 2004, the Poof-Slinky Company remanufactured the original 1960 version (using the actual Ideal molds whenever possible), which made the original sounds and could be disassembled, and with the intention of being marketed to nostalgic adults as a collectible.

Ideal Toy Company was founded as Ideal Novelty and Toy Company in New York in 1907 by Morris and Rose Michtom after they had invented the Teddy bear in 1903. The company changed its name to Ideal Toy Company in 1938. In 1982, the company was sold to CBS Toy Company, which in turn sold Ideal to Viewmaster International in 1987, which renamed itself to View-Master Ideal in the process. View-Master Ideal was later bought by Tyco Toys, Inc. of Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, upon its purchase of View-Master Ideal. The Ideal line remained part of Tyco until Tyco’s merger with Mattel, Inc., in 1997. Certain brands and toys that originated with Ideal continued to be manufactured by Mattel, most notably the Magic 8-ball and Rubik’s Cube. Ideal began making dolls in 1907. Their first doll was “Yellow Kid” from the “The Yellow Kid” comic strip by Richard Felton Outcault. After that they began making a line of baby and character dolls such as Naughty Marietta from the Victor Herbert operetta and Admiral Dot. Ideal advertised their dolls as unbreakable since they were made of composition, a material made of sawdust and glue. Ideal produced over 200 variations of dolls throughout the composition era. During the Baby Boom era, Ideal became the largest doll making company in the United States and began selling dolls under license in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Their most popular dolls included Betsy Wetsy, Toni, Saucy Walker, Shirley Temple, Miss Revlon, Patti Playpal, Tammy, Thumbelina, and Crissy.

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