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Saturday, 13 January 2018

Exciting Science at the Toy Museum

In February we Brighton Toy and Model Museum will be inviting all young scientists and engineers to take part in our little bit of the Brighton Science Festival

Design and Build High Speed Racers

We’ve done this kind of thing before, and we know it’s been a roaring success in the past. It was great fun for all involved and that’s why we were keen to get making fun science again. On Monday the twelfth of February we will be opening on a Monday especially to have our Balloon Car day. To be frank, it knocks spots off of Formula One in terms of creativity and competition. First you need to design and build your balloon car out of parts that have been taken from the most reliable sources of balloon car engineering: the recycling bin. Then, once your magnificent machine has been engineered and finely tuned, it’s time to race! 

Who’s got the biggest puff? Is it enough when your opponent’s car is lighter and nippier? Will it make the course, or will it veer off wildly and never make it to the finishing line? Will you go home carried shoulder high and lauded by all of Brighton? Or will you face a walk of shame? There’s only one way to find out…

Do You Want to be in the Movies?

Following the taught excitement of the balloon car races we’ll be taking the adrenalin down a notch with lessons in creating the moving image. 

You may think that movies started with the Lumiere brothers or maybe the magic lantern, but in reality there have been many different mechanical methods of making pictures appear to move.  Starting with simple thaumatropes, discs with a picture on each side that, when spun on a string, appeared to merge together. A more advanced method of creating movement was the phenakistoscope, a slotted disc which would spin on an axis, which would create the illusion of movement when viewed against a mirror. This in turn was superseded by the zoetrope, a device which can be viewed by several people at the same time. 

During this session, held on Friday, the sixteenth of February, we will be making all three of these examples. You’ll need to draw the frames that make up the action, create the right device for the job and then set the whole lot going. We’ll give you the resources and expertise needed to make these toys using our experience from having had fun making these things in the past. 

Admission to the museum will be at the usual price; Adult £6.50, child £4.00, concessions £5.50, family £14 (up to 2 adults and 3 children). Booking for these events is required as we will be using materials that we don’t usually keep in the museum and we need to know how many to expect to supply accordingly. You can book by calling in advance on 01273 749494 

For all booking information, our location etc. just go to our facebook events page for the Balloon Car Race or the Thaumatropes, Phenakistoscopes and Zoetropes. Or why not come to both? Fun and excitement is a cert.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Our Huge Bequest of Trucks, Trains and Collectible Cars

Every now and then something truly extraordinary happens at the museum. This week we were asked by City Council staff members to help out with a house clearance as the resident had been a keen toy collector and they wanted to ensure that the collections went to the right place.

LLedo, Bburago vintage collectible cars
Godfrey Barnes, a Brighton and Hove resident passed away in September and had built up a large collection of Corgi trucks and Hornby trainsets over the years in hopes that the resale value would cover the expenses of his funeral. Unfortunately, Mr Barnes died before those sales could be realised, leaving his housemate and fellow collector Mr Sewell, with a vast collection of toys which needed to be taken care of.

So Many Cars And Trucks!

What do you do when you have a trove of toys that is piled from floor to ceiling in several rooms in a house? Well, Amanda Harvey, Tenancy Sustainment Officer at Brighton and Hove City Council approached us at Brighton Toy and Model Museum to help out by removing, appraising, selling and re-using this amazing collection, a task we were glad to do!

Dickies Newray Kentoys Anson trucks toys
Amanda Harvey and Mr Sewell discussed the problem of the toys and their redistribution and decided that it would be best to get in touch with us. They agreed that the toys would be put to their best advantage if they were cleaned, appraised and then either sold on to collectors to raise money for the museum. Some of those which are especially interesting or important will be kept within the museum, and those which can neither be resold nor exhibited will be used in the museum for educational purposes as they show the way gears, pulleys, clockwork and springs work when applied to tasks.

Corgi Cars trucks Eddie Stobart, Carters circus, Bannerman, Pickfords, Volvo, Westfield haulage collectible lorries

Next Comes The Sorting, Appraising and Cleaning.

The next step now though is for museum staff to sort through all the cars, trucks and trains to find the best items which can be sold on as genuine collectors’ pieces, exhibition quality items, and toybox treasures. This is no small task as you can see from the photos, we have been given many good quality boxed items, but we also have items that, while still in their boxes have suffered, then other toys which are unboxed, gathered together loose in storage boxes.

loose collectible toy trucks lorries cars
Once the collection has been separated it will be cleaned up and displayed, put up for sale, or used in the museum for educational visits and Playdays when our local kids can use them for the purpose for which they were made, having fun!

rare collectible vintage hornby train sets

Hornby Trains and Corgi Trucks

The collection includes the afore mentioned Hornby train sets, it also includes an arch full of boxed Corgi trucks, many of which have the liveries of well-known hauliers (these include familiar names such as Eddie Stobart, Carter’s Fairs, Bannerman, Westfield, Volvo, Pickfords and Boddingtons) . Other toys still in their boxes come from such names as Dickie and NewRay, there are even some Lledo and Bburago models of classic sports cars and vintage tourers.

Once we’ve had a chance to go through all the toys that we were lucky enough to get from Mr Barnes we’ll be updating you to let you know what we plan to sell.

collectible vintage toy trucks

Collectible toy cars and trucks

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Our October Running Day, In Pictures

Last week Brighton Toy and Model Museum proudly hosted another of our famous Running Days. These days are a rare treat, and one that you won’t see in most museums, for it is on running days that we take down the Perspex screens that come between our visitors and our exhibits and actually set the toys and models in motion, just as they were made to be.

A lot of museums, quite naturally, don’t do this kind of thing. After all, every moment’s use adds a little more to the wear of the trains that we have on display, and eventually that wear mounts up. So we only run our model trains for a few hours per year, and to let our visitors view them in their glory, the screens have to come down.

You wouldn’t think that the Perspex would make so much difference! While it never impedes the view of the model trains, buildings and bridges we have on display, it does reflect light and get in the way of leaning right up close to the trains. So, as long as you don’t touch, we don’t mind if you lean in to get a better look, or even take photos (without flash of course).

However, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, so please enjoy our photoblog of Markiln, Hornby, Minic, Bing, Bassett-Lowke trains, buildings and bridges, some of which, such as the Marklin railway bridge, we believe to be the only surviving examples.

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang, Bridges, Toys, Trains, Models,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang, Town, Buildings, Trains, Toys, Models

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang, Unique, Hotel, Cars, Ramp

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang, Hotel, Model, Toy

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang, Train Station, Toys, Models

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang, Unique, Toys, Cars, Hotel,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang, Cars, Hotel, Traffic, Model, Toys

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang, Buses, Hotel, Traffic, Trains

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang, Buses, Hotel

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin Bridge, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Unique Marklin Bridge, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Ray Harryhauseun, The Man Who Brought Gods to Life

Many kids my age, 44 next month, will remember sitting and watching with awe the monsters, gods and titans created by Ray Harryhausen. The sixties, seventies and eighties were a golden age of stop motion animation, and most of that was driven by the films that Harryhausen worked on.

And you’ll be astonished by the range of movies that feature his work. Of course there are the Greek epics that everyone will be familiar with, Clash of the Titans, Jason and the Argonauts, and the Sinbad movies. These features brought a whole new dimension to the Swords and Sandals genre. No more would you have Roger Moore galloping around scrubby bits of Italy, France and Yugoslavia clumsily yet successfully flirting with the Sabine Women. Now the Heroes would do battle with unimaginable beasts, skeletons that have grown from dragons teeth and great bronze statues brought magically to life.

Harryhausen started working on blending animation and live action in the 1940s with the Mighty Joe Young, the story of love, deceit, and a giant gorilla. Later he would work on classics such as The Valley of Gwangi, where cowboys meet dinosaurs for the first time and try to put them into a Mexican circus, then the sequel to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; The Mysterious Island in which escaped prisoners of the American Civil War find themselves on the eponymous island fighting against internal divisions, prejudice, and fearsome freaks of nature, including a giant bees, crabs and a chicken.

Not only did Harryhausen create these fabulous puppets, he also painted many of the mattes and backdrops which make the films that he worked on so convincing. The techniques he used seem obvious today, but when you look at many of the films which feature early CGI, they are as clunky and unconvincing as any wire and foam model, if not more so (Star Wars Episode IV Special Edition, with the scenes tacked on in the 90s, I’m looking at you…) .

If you were one of those kids who used to get so excited about each new release of a Harryhausen film, you probably wouldn’t have even known his name, but you’d know the movies when you saw them. The films he worked on were so much more than simply vehicles for his outstanding, ground-breaking special effects. They were story led, and the creatures featured added to the story, they were genuine characters without being gratuitously inserted or showboating.

These films have become classics and are still enjoyed by whole families, and the techniques Harryhausen developed are being used again as CGI, although it is better than it was, still doesn’t quite match up to using models and maquettes, especially where budgets are a major consideration. These films are also being recognised as art today. Not just within the genre of film art either;  Harryhausen is enjoying an exhibition at the Tate Museum of Modern Art, where his puppets and paintings of backgrounds and mattes are being displayed until the 19th of November. Not only does it feature the props that were used in our favourite films, it also features some of his creative art. It should come as no real surprise that Harryhausen also worked in bronze, creating beautiful masterpieces in metal, as well as their on film analogues. You’ll also see the relationship from the genuine architecture of ancient cities, its representation in classical art, and how that informed his dioramas as well as the mythical menagerie which heroes, immortals and fair maidens would very frequently get squashed or eaten by.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

More news on the entertainments lined up for the Brighton Toy and Model Museum Steampunk Soiree.

As you’re no doubt aware, we’ve had Adriano Fettuccini booked for our steam punk event for a few weeks and we’re looking forward to that very much, but we’re also able to announce more attractions for your edification and delight.

Music and Poetry

First of all, we can now confirm that we have Rohan K on the bill, adding to the musical component. Rohan is a writer, composer, poet and violinist.

Further to the entertainments, we also have a stall which will be supplied and manned by Belle Epic. Belle Epic are a vintage costumer, collector and restorer of vintage and antique apparel. Their finest wares will be on display and for sale, fitting with the Steampunk theme.

Costume and Competition

And did we mention hats? Love hats. I was thinking of becoming a milliner when I was at college. So it’s with a great deal of anticipation that we’re also able to introduce the good people of The Yellow Book who will be bringing a range of hats and headgear for you to try on. Because you’re not properly dressed without a hat. It’s probably a moot point, but being a steampunk soiree, most attendees will want to come in full, appropriate dress. However, this isn’t absolutely necessary. It’s not just for those who live a steampunk life, it’s also for those who love the ethic, the aesthetic and those who love people who live steampunk.

And I know how shy and retiring Steampunk devotees are, so it’s necessary to warn you that a photographer will be in attendance making images of the finest dressed.

Now, onto the most important aspects of the evening; the much vaunted and highly charged excitement that is surrounding the tea duelling. Tiffin Masters and Mistresses from all over the country have been approached. However, as the saying goes, many are called, yet few are chosen. So we plumped for whoever was available. The tea duel will be open to all, unless you a) don’t like tea, b) you don’t like Malted Milk, or c) you think such things are silly. We anticipate the calibre of the combatants will be very high, with duellists having gone away to dojos to refine and hone their duelling skills. I for one went and had a cuppa and a biccy with my nan, because she knows many of the most ancient arts. She’s 89 after all.

Book your tickets to the Steampunk Soiree online through our Facebook Events page, on Eventbrite or call in at the museum. We’re on Trafalgar Street, directly under Brighton Train Station.

Doors open at 7pm, 28th October 2017. Admission is £5.00 Call 01273 749494 for more details.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

The Brighton Toy and Model Museum Heritage Open Day

As part of Heritage Open Days, Brighton Toy and Model Museum threw open its doors to visitors and provided free after hours tours of the museum, its exhibits and architecture last week.

We welcomed several groups of people who were led on tours by Eric and
Jan, who pointed out the rarities and unique artefacts that we are lucky enough to be custodians of. Not only did we learn that The Princess Elizabeth model train was top of the range for Hornby but we also learned that it was so expensive to buy that HP agreements were available to customers to buy it. We also learned that the buildings used to be the stable and cellar for the Bass Brewery, the holders of the first ever trade mark. They trade marked their symbol, the red triangle so that everybody, whether literate or not, was able to identify genuine Bass beer.
The photos in this article show the guests that our new Deputy Manager, Jan showed around. Jan has only been with us here at Brighton Toy and Model Museum for 4 months and this was her first event guiding visitors through the museum and telling us about its history. 

A Human Touch

Many of the items on display have a local or human connection. If you’re familiar with local Sussex landmarks you’ll recognise many of the features on the OO model layout, from the Wilmington Long Man to the Clayton railway tunnel entrance, designed to look like a mediaeval castle. We even have a working model of the East Hill Cliff funicular railway in Hastings.

Exhibits which don’t conform to the local aspect generally fall into the category of ‘human connection’. Most of the exhibits were collected by donors and contributors as a part of their own drive to build up a collection of their own which is not only so good, but so big that they no longer have space to display it themselves, and rather than packing it away, they choose to share it through the auspices of the museum. That human touch isn’t limited to the way the toys and models were collected. If you’ve been to the museum, you’ll probably have noticed that we don’t have a huge collection of modern toys, despite their being incredibly collectible and popular. The reason for this is
mass production. Rather than have toys that were produced in huge volumes which are still available in collectors markets and vintage shops in any town throughout the land, we concentrate on toys that were built by toymakers and craftspeople who would have taken the time and patience to hone their skills building miniature engines, sewing miniature clothes or painting miniature figures.

But what else did we learn from our Heritage Open Day?

  • Frank Hornby sent his sons to school, one in France, one in Germany, so they would be familiar with the markets when the Hornby and Meccano brands expanded into Europe.
  • Dolls were deliberately made with emotionless, blank expressions because infant mortality was so high that it would seem inappropriate to have a laughing doll, just in case.
  • Tri Ang was established by three brothers whose surname was Lines. 
  • Spot On were made by Tri Ang, produced to be in perfect scale to one another (1:42) where previous cars, trucks and vans had all been approximately the same size. 
  • Hilary Page at Kiddicraft invented the interlocking brick, a design which was later ‘adopted’ by Kirk Kristiansen in a toy which became universally known as Lego.
  • The Marklin model bridge in the centre of the O gauge display is the only known surviving example of this Eiesenbahnbrucke. 
  • The model of the Kamov co-axial helicopter was built on the original designs supplied by Kamov themselves, despite the fact that the Cold War was ongoing at the time. 
  • The Kamov 'Hormone' as it was known by NATO, and all the other large scale model aircraft you can see hanging from the museum ceiling are fully functional and have flown.

The Toy Museum will be playing host to many more events and using our space as a venue for installations and performances in future. We do our best to keep everyone informed about what we do, but to be sure to get all the latest news, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to get all the news first.