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Saturday, 8 July 2017

Brighton Toy and Model Museum is playing with science!


Over August we'll be hosting a number of Wednesday afternoon events where we will be looking at the science behind many of our toys and seeing how we can apply those principals to finding solutions to other challenges.

If you're interested in construction, physics, maths, energy conversion or engineering, then why not come along to see what we're playing at?

On August 2nd we'll be building spaghetti towers, researching the engineering principals behind construction.

On August 16th we'll be making kinetic carousels, exploring how chemical energy can be turned into potential energy that can be turned into kinetic energy when needed.

And finally on August 30th we'll be making balloon racing cars recycling and repurposing common household objects into zippy machines that we will eventually race against one another.

Each event comes at no additional cost other than regular admission, but booking is required. To book a place, just pop in to the foyer next time you're passing or give us a ring on 01273 749494

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Zip Down to Brighton For Thrills and Excitement!

The latest tourist attraction is taking flight in Brighton!
Design courtesy of @BrightonZip

Leaping!
Now, we thought that a zip wire along the seafront was a gag, rumour like the waterslides we read about and the fast lanes on Oxford Street, a fun idea that would never happen. But we were wrong! Walking past the bottom of The Stein your intrepid correspondent saw the tower through the mist and murk of a June afternoon.

The tower appears to be completed, and it must have gone up in a matter of only a few days at the most as I had been in the area the previous week and seen nothing but the workmen clearing up the last of the Brighton Wheel, which has trundled on to pastures new. But now there is a tower, and soon to be a landing pad adjacent to the Steve Ovett statue some 300 metres along the seafront.

It’s great seeing so many new and exciting adventures opening up in Brighton. I must admit, I had become used to the Wheel and was rather disappointed to see it go. The i360 has garnered a lot of attention and different points of view. Some love it while others prefer to scoff. The revamped Volks Railway will be re-opening soon too, with its new visitor centre, refreshed rolling stock and conservation workshop at Peter Pan Playground. It does seem funny, walking down to the Marina in summer and not having the trains trundling by, making their incongruent ghost-train like wails!

Brighton Zip, it is said, will be open from 10am until 11pm all year round. While we can see a ride
Landing!
being fun and exciting on a summer’s afternoon, we’re a little more dubious about how we feel about going down in a gale in the depths of a winter’s night!

The spiral staircase leading to a zip wire isn’t an altogether new idea. We found pictures of a similar amusement that was installed in Gorki Park in the 1930s. And we were shocked at how much fun, and ridiculously dangerous it looked! Russian thrill seekers didn’t so much ‘zip’ down the line though, they leapt from the top of the tower in a semi-functioning parachute which was directed to the landing point, and prevented from blowing away, by a line. The tower also had a helter-skelter to slide back down on for people who got to the observation deck and decided that they didn’t quite fancy leaping from the top of a spiraling column, notwithstanding the parachute they were equipped with.

I’m looking forward to the opening of the Brighton Zip very much and can’t wait to go on it!

Paddington Author Michael Bond Dies

This week saw the passing of another children’s favourite, author Michael Bond. 

Anyone under the age of 50 will remember the opening theme tune of Paddington and the tones of Michael Hordern narrating the bear’s latest adventures on TV. And while Paddington was his most famous creation, Bond was also responsible for other characters beloved of children and adults including Olga da Polga and Monsieur Pamplemousse, the detective cum restaurant critic with his long suffering bloodhound, Pommes Frites.

At the time of his death, Mr Bond was 91, and had been writing children’s books right up until the end, his last Paddington book, Paddington’s Finest Hour, being published in April 2017.

He was born in Berkshire in 1926, and, like many of us here at Brighton Toy and Model Museum, he had a love of trains which developed from a young age. Once he was an adult, having served in the RAF and in the army in Cairo, where he discovered his love of writing, he never moved far away from Paddington station, and it continued to inspire many of the bear’s adventures.

While Paddington Bear is undoubtedly his most successful creation, appearing in at least 27 Bond authored books, several animated television series and movies, there were other strings to Bond’s bow. Olga da Polga was a guinea pig who lived in something of a fantasy land like that of Walter Mitty. She had no time for the mundane or banal, so everyday events would be elaborated into exciting adventures which would unfortunately be contradicted by Olga’s owners, the Sawdust family.

Monsieur Pamplemousse also featured in many books and stands alone as being both a main character who is human, and is principally aimed at an adult audience. He is largely unknown today as he diverges so far from Bond’s usual work, but he is an entertaining, put-upon character ably supported by Pommes Frites, his trusty bloodhound who offers dogs’ eye view sardonic asides when called for.

But it’s Paddington Bear for whom Michael Bond will be best and most fondly remembered. Alone and lost when he arrives in Paddington train station, having left his Great Aunt Lucy behind in Darkest Peru, he’s taken in by the Browns. They look after him, treat him to marmalade sandwiches and come to the rescue in many of his adventures.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Bring Your Dad to the Museum to Win a Free Family Ticket

Bring your father to Brighton Toy and Model Museum on Saturday 17th June, enter our prize draw, and you could win a free family ticket.

People of all ages love Brighton Toy and Model Museum, it’s a hit with kids, seniors and everybody in between. And so, for Father’s Day we’re offering you the chance to win a family day ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children).

That’s it. Just turn up and buy your tickets next Saturday, fill in a couple of details and, as long as you’ve got your dad with you, you could win a ticket entitling the whole family to come along for free next time.

If you have any questions, ask one of our team members, call or email for more. 01273 749494 info@brightontoymuseum.co.uk

Saturday, 27 May 2017

In Memory Of Roger Moore

This week we had the bad news about Roger Moore, who passed away at the age of 89. While he played many roles, including Ivanhoe on TV and Romulus in Romulus and the Sabines, Simon Templar in The Saint and Brett Sinclair in The Persuaders (all the while maintaining his authentic quoif and perfect British purr!) he will of course be remembered for his role as James Bond more predominantly than anything else he did.

He wasn’t everyone’s favourite Bond. To many, his acting style seemed limited to cocking an eyebrow, making a bad pun about the demise of a villain and always ending up in bed with anyone who passed in front of the camera sporting an XX chromosome.
However, for all his faults he was wildly popular in the James Bond role in the 70s and 80, something of a Golden Era for the franchise. Connery made the part a debonair cold killer, Moore played the part as a slightly comic, Boys Own adventure. He revelled in having gadgets, fast cars, even space shuttles to get the job done, and while Dalton and Brosnan tried to bring back the tough, gritty edge to bond, it wouldn’t be until Daniel Craig took on the role that James Bond would become the brutal spy who would do anything required, no matter how unpalatable, in the service of his country.

The great thing about the gadgets that Q was able to supply to Bond was that they were also perfect for making into popular toys for little boys all over the Western World. Every release would mean at least one new toy car, (Connery had the Aston Martin DB9, but who could forget Moore’s white subaquatic Lotus?) helicopter, plane or boat. And remember how only the cool kids at school got the James Bond digital watch which played the James Bond signature tune in an inimitable dissonant beep?

But why is it we associate characters so strongly with their cars in the first place? Bond has a couple of cars, as mentioned above, which are immediately synonymous with him. Starsky and Hutch would be nothing without a funky theme tune and the iconic ‘Striped Tomato,’ a Ford Gran Torino in red with a white chevron running down the side and over the roof. The Green Hornet had a Chrysler Imperial Crown which he dubbed ‘Black Beauty’ and The Saint had a beautifully reliable Volvo p1800 which he later traded in for an almost indistinguishable Jaguar in later series.

Today, when Disney release a new movie, McDonalds will invariably produce a range of characters and themed meals to go along with it. When spies ruled the silver screen on Saturday afternoons it was all about the cars. Anybody involved in the production of die cast or plastic model kits would jump on the bandwagon and try to cram in as many of the features that were shown on celluloid into the scale cars and other scale toys they produce.

The chase has always been key to driving the action in cinema since its inception. From foot chases and slapstick of the silent era to horse chases in the early westerns, now we have car chases, planes, boats and space ships all desperately trying to overtake one another or shoot it out. Of all of these the most relatable is bound to be the car, after all, we see millions of them on our roads every day, and dream of what would happen if, just once, we could put it in fifth, and slowly push our right foot as firmly into the floor as it will possibly go!

But until we can do that, we have to make do with pushing our corgis around the carpet, wondering, if it came down to it, who would win in a game of Chicken: You, or James Bond?

Happy National Volunteer’s Week!



Brighton Toy and Model Museum really does depend on its volunteers to keep it open and it’s nice to let our team of helpers know how much we appreciate them.

Its National Volunteer’s Week from the first to the seventh of June, a week where organisations who rely on people giving their time to operate recognise the contribution that these helpers make to keeping them running. The week is organised by the NCVO and it aims to show appreciation to all the volunteers who give up their time all over the country in order to help charities keep running, and without whom we’d all be the poorer.

Why We Need Volunteers


Brighton Toy and Model Museum opened 25 years ago as a way of preserving large collections of toys while also benefiting the local community. Today we still have those collections however, we don’t just benefit the local community. Each year we welcome volunteers not only from Brighton and Hove, but from France, Germany, Italy and Spain. These volunteers come to us as part of their learning programmes in areas such as hospitality, travel and tourism to see how an attraction in a tourist resort operates, and to perfect their English while they are also able to help our overseas visitors in their mother tongues. Along with students, we also provide work experience to people via the Job Centre. People who aren’t currently in paid employment are encouraged to come to the museum where they can get essential work experience and also add new strings to their bows. Working with the museum also means that you can get a current employer reference to add to your CV.

What Does Volunteering Give You?


We don’t just expect our volunteers to work and only receive a ‘thanks very much’ in return. Our work experience gives you the opportunity to learn real-life museum front of house and back office skills. Having these skills, which are of huge importance to the smooth running of a museum and are exactly the kind of practical experience that museums, galleries and heritage sites are looking for when you want to progress in the industry. Skills such as inventory, cataloguing, description, retail, marketing and hospitality are all attributes which any museum desperately needs. We need people who possess them too. We can teach them to eager staff who want to be prepared for a role in museums or archives, or indeed to people who simply have spare time and want to do something interesting in a warm, friendly environment surrounded by toys and games!

Brighton Toy and Model Museum is always looking for more volunteers to help. If you have time and you’re looking for a chance to improve your skills and experience, or you have expert knowledge of what it takes to be an indispensable member of a museum’s team then please get in touch! We’d love to hear from people equally willing to learn or share their own knowledge, so send us a CV with a brief note outlining what you would like to do and what you would like to get out of volunteering and we’ll get back to you.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Researching the museum: The Spedden’s, RMS Titanic and The History of Toys


During my time at the museum, I’ve found specific items in the collection that I’ve begun to research and have investigated where they are from and who might have owned them. I’ve also had the feeling you sometimes get in museums –  of the many items on display, there are some from the 1950’s that evoke a sense of a preserved time capsule. In particular, a children’s play size melamine set of dishes and a miniature stove.  Other items include the red Grand piano in the doll’s house and a silver ornate baby’s whistle, which I am informed, is the oldest item in the collection. 

I’ve also been looking through the reference library, one book in particular which stood out was Antonia Fraser’s A History of Toys. It detailed the historical record of artefacts and antiques from ancient civilisations to present day. I also read the museum copy of Polar the Titanic bear, which tells the story of the Spedden family’s international travels through the eyes of their son’s Steiff polar bear, named Polar. There are few of these bears in the world and one is in the collection here. The story was written by Daisy Spedden, in light of the unexpected end that their journey had and to help her son manage the trauma of the events that ensued.
Douglas Spedden playing with a spinning top on board RMS Titanic
In April 1912, the Spedden family arrived in the French port of Cherbourg, having travelled widely, from France to Egypt with their young son and having seen some of the wonders of the world. They boarded RMS Titanic, who had left England days before, on her maiden voyage. The family were returning to their home in New York. We are all familiar with the tragedy that ensued. In a few days’ time, on 14 April, it will be the 105th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Of the thousands aboard relatively few made it onto the limited number of lifeboats; the Spedden family was one of the only families that all survived. Douglas, their son, also clung to Polar in the bitter Atlantic air, under the pitch of a star-filled sky. I’ve been developing a story based on what the experience might have been like and will be continuing to draw on the collection pieces as inspiration over the coming weeks.

Biography
Louise Clement is a MA Creative writing student at University of Brighton. She is a poet and writer. She has run events in the Brighton Fringe, had her work displayed in a local gallery and published in avant-garde magazine Rag n Rock.