Atomic Reactor Steam Plant

2019 Atomic Advent Calendar Gift Ideas Day 24

In the 1950s, Louis Marx and Company produced the Linemar Atomic Reactor through its Linemar line of tin toys manufactured in Japan. This operating steam engine is complete with water tank and boiler (the reactor dome with safety valve), fuel to heat the water (Esbit tablets), and battery (for the lighted cooling tower). The cylinder oscillates with an oiler on the steam chest. To keep things safe, a guard rail surrounds the engine.

Selling for approximately $19.95 in the mid 1950s (about $193 in 2019 dollars), this was an investment for lots of continuing fun. You can find this in collector’s markets today from between $300 to $700. Or you can just have as much fun watching modern collectors display their wares online:

In the 1960s, Wilesco (Wilhelm Schröder GmbH & Co KG), from Germany, manufactured the Wilesco R200 Nuclear Power Plant Steam Engine which added the convenience of using an electric heater for the reactor dome rather than Esbit tablets. This version changed the look to a more modern cooling tower along with a more reliable engine.

Unfortunately, the R200 Nuclear Power Plant was not their biggest seller among their several lines of steam engines because most people were wary of the safety of anything labeled “atomic” or “nuclear” — even in a small toy. (Remember all the warnings of “completely safe” with all the other atomic toys?) The R200 had a 16mm stroke, 9mm diameter, and 70mm flywheel. Because of the quality of the German design and the limited number of production, the collector’s market price for the Wilesco R200 is around $1200.

Watch the Wilesco R200 in operation: