Video Library - Reviews

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These videos are part of the CTCS library collection and have been reviewed by G. Ron Blair. CTCS members who wish to borrow any of the videos may do so by contacting the librarian at any monthly meeting or by phone at
(905) 272-5597.

The Marvelous Toys of Athelstan Spelhaus
duration 80 min
This is a 'great' video, well worth viewing and strongly recommended. The video is a showcase of Mr. Spelhaus's wonderful collection of "mechanical toys of intriquing engineering". Mr. Spelhaus himself enhances the video with personal descriptions of the clockwork toys which grace this video.

The video covers a considerable number of topics including human musicians, clowns, bizzare animals, dancing toys, phonograph toys and musical toys. This collection must be fantastic to see in person because the video is spectacular to say the least.

I am sure that many CTCS members will enjoy the 80 minute visit to a collection of toys ranging from the 1850's and 60's to those of the early 1950's. About a hundred toys are shown in the video and I am sure that many collectors would feel fortunate to own just one or two of them.

Recommended for collectors of all ages and collecting interests.

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19th Century Automata
duration 60 min
This is an absolutely fascinating video illustrating the full range of the ingenuity of 19th century mechanical toy or automata manufacturers.

What is automata? Well it is defined as an apparatus (in this case a mechanical toy) with a concealed mechanism that allows it to move by itself. I am sure that everyone has seen such items, whether at the Disney theme parks or in large department store windows at Christmas time.

In this excellent video, some of the 'toys' are so real and their movements so lifelike that you would swear that real people were performing actions such as playing a flute, beating drums, charming snakes or actually playing a harp. This is such an interesting video that I truly marvelled at the skill and inventiveness of the artisans who created them. The video is so well made that evenscenes from long ago illustrating the mechanical principles used in some of the automata are clearly visible. The wonderful toys shown in the video were never mass produced and it is amazing that so many excellent examples have survuved over the last 100 years and more.

Very highly recommended. Sixy minutes of fascination and enjoyment for collector and non collector alike.

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The Magic of the Tin Toy
duration 60 min
Oh to have lots of money, time and the knowledge to search for the toys included in this video. The tin toys shown here are superb, rare or unique. This collection was started in the 1960's after it's owner became disillusioned with collecting Dinky Toys. His ambition was to gather together a representative collection of early tin toys which had been manufactured before World War 1. The collection goes back to the early 1900's when tin models were made in Southern Germany and in Connecticut. Bing, Marklin and Camette cars, trucks and ships are shown one after the other ... all in wonderful condition.

Model after model clearly illustrates his success.

Some of the models are indeed 'crude' while others are quite sophisticated, detailed and excellently decorated. Trains, boats, planes, cars, and novelty items are all included. Just view the action in this video from mechanical cars, horsedrawn carriages, trains and trotting horses to working snooker players. Even simple penny toys are included to illustrate the genius of the early tin toy manufacturers.

Excellent in all respects, of very high quality and highly recommended.

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The Colemans on Doll Collecting
duration 72 min
This video is classified as an introduction and an aid in identifying some rare and beautiful dolls.. The Colemans (mother and two daughters) really contribute to this superb video.

What is a doll? it is "a child's plaything in human form" and the form of the dolls introduced in this video, as well as their clothes, accessories, etc, make for very interesting viewing.

The Colemans' collection goes back to the mid 1970's when dolls were made of wood, rolled paper and leather. By the mid 1800's, composition and paper mache dolls were found. In the victorian era (1840 and onward) china doll heads made their way onto the doll scene. Mothers bought these heads and had to make the bodies themselves. Of interest is the fact tha a 'cabbage-patch' like doll was manufactured in the 1920's. The video shows excellent examples of all these developments and many more.

This is a well produced video, with excellent color, detailed shots, excellent descriptive text and truely enthusiastic reviews of old dolls. It provides a wonderful introduction to doll manufacture, doll identification and the beauty of doll collecting.

Recommended for all doll collectors and those interested in knowing more about dolls, their history and their collectability.

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Robot Tour Video
duration 93 min
I like robots and if I could afford some of the earlier ones, I would start a small collection. This video did NOT encourage me. What an amateurish effort with many out of focus shots, and just the type of rock music that grates on ones nerves.

The video attempts to show many robots in action while placed in front of backdrops consisting of shots of planets, solar eclipses, etc. The idea is good but the execution is not. The robots themselves are attractive and display many interesting action movements. It was also interesting to see the many different robot types, shapes, lights, movements etc.

Not recommended except for diehard robot collectors. Either view this video with the mute button on or get yourself a pair of earplugs.

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Penny Banks
duration 10 min
This short video beautifully illustrates mechanical toy banks from the turn of the century. Most of these banks are rare and very colourful with great action movement. This is particularly true of the animal banks.

I am not too sure what the underlying premise for this video is but it is very interesting to see how many ways pennies can dissappear into a bank. The video has a delightful music soundtrack accompanying the action shots.

Recommended as a quick view video, without much actual documantation on its subject other than that supplied visually.
** (video tape viewing requires manual vertical tracking adjustment so not suitable for many auto tracking video players)

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