Category Archives: Atomic Toys and Games

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:

Gilbert Problem Puzzles: Atomic Bomb

2019 Atomic Advent Calendar Gift Ideas Day 23

The A.C. Gilbert Company was known for creating the Erector Set and American Flyer trains, but quickly jumped on the atomic bandwagon with such classics as the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory and an entry in their classic Gilbert Problem Puzzles called “Atomic Bomb.”

Created in 1945, this dexterity puzzle game is one of the earliest toys and games with an atomic theme. The boxed problem puzzle set includes printed litho cards with such games as Ring a Tail, Radio Tube Trick, Hungry Pup, Trap a Sap, Topsy Turvy Rivets, and Atomic Bomb.

A later version licensed under the Fred-Alan Novelty Company explains the game:

The puzzle game made its debut shortly after the use of the atomic bombs after World War II. It’s hard to imagine a toy such as this being produced today and is an interesting snapshot of history.

Fun for the Road: Uranium Strike!

2019 Atomic Advent Calendar Gift Ideas Day 21

Traveling in 1956 was tons of fun as long as you didn’t do anything to make your dad turn the car around! What better way to prevent disappointed dads than staying occupied with 15 different games for kids from six to sixty. Among the games included Town and Country Bingo, Rainbow Bingo, and Guided Missiles.

Who wouldn’t have fun creating boxes with your sister and making “strike” claims for uranium? You can have up to 4 games on a graphically-rich sheet of paper complete with a geiger counter, headphones, and a shovel.

Keep it in the glove box so that it’s handy for the kids. Take it on the train. Ask your neighbor on the bus to play a game or two.

Really just a game of Dots and Boxes, the ’50s had Uranium Fever.