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Toy Instruments: Design, Nostalgia, Music [Hardcover]

Eric Schneider

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Book Description

15 Feb 2010
Toy Instruments comprises an eye-popping collection of musical toys made between the 1950s and today. In theory, all of these toys are meant to excite children about learning how to play an instrument. What becomes clear, however, is that these products could be as much fun for adults as children, especially for adults with their own musical interests. From the late 70s to the early 80s, the heyday of these bleeping, chirping, thrumming and keening devices, while children were busy driving their parents crazy with these batterypowered sounds, adults were incorporating the unique tones into the earliest samples of electronic music and techno. Divided into chapters like Sing Along, Rhythm Machines, Voice Changers and Musical Animals, which provide details and commentary about the individual toys, Toy Instruments represents the crossroads of educational and weird. Just as dazzling as the cacophony of sounds produced by these toys are the designs of the toys, as well as their packaging. Made all over the world, the predominately gender-neutral design applied to the products and packaging is at times more fascinating than the toys.Culled from the authors personal collection, Toy Instruments is the first book to explore this niche of the toy industry, doing so with an informative and humorous approach, demonstrating how even in todays world of Guitar Hero and Wii, these musical toys from a bygone era are irreplaceable.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Mark Batty Publisher; 1 edition (15 Feb 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982075480
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982075487
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,054,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cool pictures, and that's about it 24 April 2013
By PlanetExpressShip - Published on
If you treat it like a picture book, this will suit you fine.

Unfortunately there is very little actual information about the toys pictured in the book, and every time you naively glance at a given toy's "description" you will be punished by one of the author's corny one-liners instead of anything interesting. Which is sad, because the author has such a cool collection and I'm sure he's very knowledgable about most of it. To me it seems as though a totally unknowledgeable third party came in and typed in 90% of the captions.

All that said, it's still on my coffee table because the pictures are pretty and I enjoy toy books. Just don't expect to learn anything.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Weak Picture-Book 9 July 2013
By Daniel Kian Mc Kiernan - Published on
The back-of-the-book blurb claims that the toys were "made between the 1950s and the 1990s", but the earliest toy actually dated is said to be from 1960. (One could as well claim that the toys were made between the 1840s and the 2150s!) Very few toys (no more than three) are not electronic. (There were a lot of interesting musical toys made in the '60s and earlier that were fundamentally mechanical. And, before that, virtually all musical toys were mechanical.) Setting aside the dedication-and-acknowldegments, a brief forward, and a very short guest-introduction, the only text in this book are captions, which often say nothing about the toy, or nothing that is not obvious. So this is essentially just a picture-book. Photos are often cropped (in keeping with some deplorable notion of artistry) such that the whole toy is not shown, making it a weak picture-book. About 90 toys are shown (or partially shown).
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Collection of Mini Piano Toys 17 Feb 2014
By Mate332 - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is fantastic. If you are interested in small, mini pianos, check out this book. It has a wide variety and collection of books categorized by type of musical instrument. My personal favorites in here are the Sharp mini calculator and the Casio VL-Tone. They allow you to play songs by just pressing a button. How cool is that? The Bugs Bunny Jelly Roll piano was also unique in the sense that it allows you to sort of program a song by putting pegs in a wheel, and then rotating that, and the piano starts to play. I love mini pianos and organs because they allow you to be musically creative virtually anywhere. I highly recommend this book, and I will treasure it for years to come.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, funky little package marred by obnoxious editorial captions 13 July 2010
By Hotrodimus - Published on
This is a fun, funky little book. It's chunky, square, and has a great design sensibility. The main drawback is that, in spite of the book's loving and enthusiastic approach, the author has crafted snide, derisive captions for each item like some sort of insecure schoolyard bully. Does this guy really need to prove that he's cooler than the Bee Gees rhythm machine or refer to another item as being "made by retards?"
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia and a Book of Fine Design 31 May 2010
By Grady Harp - Published on
TOY INSTRUMENTS is subtitled 'Design Nostalgia Music' for a very good reason: despite its small size (6 1/2 X 6 1/2 X 1 inches) this is a treasure trove of more musical toys than probably any one of us has encountered. The collection is courtesy for Eric Schneider who has been collecting toy instruments since 1979 and here shares his compulsion with us. 'Electronic musical toys are the expression of our deepest dreams. They activate you personal creativity (even if you don't think you possess it.) The sound is often horrible but always impressive....They are pure fun, even when it is just for a minute. They have beautiful boxes with great art. etc'.

And with that introduction we open this little toy book to discover more ideas and bits of history that imaginable. There are keyboards, drums, karaoke sets, weird machines that make mood noises, voice synthesizers and much much more. The pages are filled with excellent photographs of the toys, details from the packaging, and advertisements that draw the yearning buyer into the scheme of 'making your own kind of music.' It is a pleasure to share Schneider's collection and provide some moments of reflection to the good old days that are very fulfilling. Grady Harp, May 10
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