That’s Amazing, Tim!

From Grand Illusions. Tim has been exploring some of the mazes in his collection. Tim starts by showing a 3D maze that looks a bit like a rolling pin. You have to navigate the ball bearing from one end to the other. Tim then shows an old flat maze from about 40 years ago, that…

Grand Illusions Christmas Pack 2022/2023

From Grand Illusions. Every year we create a brand new ‘Grand Illusions Christmas Pack’ containing a number of items that Tim has come across during the year. Tim loves putting together the goodies in the Christmas Pack, and he also enjoys setting himself the challenge of finding new items every year! Here are the contents…

Time Traveller Tim!

From Grand Illusions. Tim’s toy collection fills most of his flat, stored in around 200 suitcases, arranged in date order. Today he takes down a case labelled 2005, to explore the delights inside… A mystery object, or a ‘Whatsit’ – anyone know what this is? Then a glass prism with a secret – breathe on…

Shape Shifting Toys

From Grand Illusions. Tim was recently showing the SwitchPen (Holographic) to a friend in the toy world, and she suggested that Tim should look at other toys that have shape shifting properties. A plastic rectangle that Tim bought in Japan, with little red lozenges on the side. Switch it to the other position, and a…

Tim Finds The Magic Money Tree!

From Grand Illusions. Politicians sometimes tell us that there is no ‘magic money tree’. Clearly they need to come and talk to Tim, because he has got one! Bought in 1991 from a shop in Los Angeles, you do have to add your own money though… Tim is still on the tree theme. Cutting a…

Tim Talks To The Trees

From Grand Illusions. Trees as toys? Well, Tim has quite a few tree-themed toys in his collection. First up, a magical illustration of an alternative Noah’s Ark, where it is the trees that are being rescued. Tim bought this in Germany in about 1991, and it has been hanging on his wall ever since. An…

Bismuth Is Strange…

From Grand Illusions. Tim recently received a box of toys and gadgets from an inventor in Iowa USA called Chuck Hilliard. Trivial Pursuit cards are fitted together in different ways to make spinners. And then rolls of paper tickets converts into three dimensional shapes. 3D printing has been used to make some intriguing shapes. Then…

What Is It For?

From Grand Illusions. Tim sometimes refers to WIFs, a WIF being an object where you ask ‘What’s It For?’ And he has quite an impressive gadget here which seems to have lost the instruction sheet along the way. So – what is it for? All will be revealed… A wall mounted decorative wooden item that…

I ♡ U Says Tim

From Grand Illusions. Tim demonstrates a neat trick with a piece of nitinol wire. Pop it into hot water, and the wire snaps into the shape that spells ‘I ♡ U’. Tim has an alphabetical theme today. ‘Background Inversion’ appears in the next item. A wooden frame contains the letters ‘FILM’ in black letters on…

Take Off For Tim!

From Grand Illusions. Helicopter Duck, a wind up tin toy that Tim picked up at the Nuremberg Toy Fair back in 1981. Although however hard the duck pedals away, that elusive take off never happens! This video explores toys with propellers. Puddle Jumpers date from the 1960s – a stick with a propeller at the…

Simple as A B C ?

From Grand Illusions. Tim explores the alphabet… An animated alphabet book, using paper engineering. Then a book of moiré patterns, from about 40 years ago. And then another amazing example of paper engineering, where each letter is animated to reveal an animal. Then a number of paper based novelties, all based on letters of the…

Tim’s Tribute To The Late Queen

From Grand Illusions. Tim recently reached the grand old age of 80 years old. So he remembers the news being announced of the death of King George VI – he was ten years old at the time. And the following year, he recalls watching the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on a small black and…

Tim Goes Round And Round

From Grand Illusions. Sign up for the free Grand Illusions newsletter, at http://conta.cc/3dplns1 _______________________________________________________________________ At the annual Wimbledon Tennis Championships held every year, there are around 250 ball boys and ball girls who retrieve the tennis balls at the end of each rally. But here is a tennis ball that retrieves itself! And also a…

Nearly Got Away!

From Grand Illusions. Tim explains that while he often shows toys in themes, although his collection is catalogued in date order, across over 200 suitcases. So Tim quite often comes across a toy that would have fitted well into a previous themed video. So here are a few of those ‘toys that nearly got away’…

Tim ‘Taught Us’ All We Know…

From Grand Illusions. Tortoises (and turtles) are the theme today… A rabbit/tortoise transformer plush toy. A turtle tippe top, bought at the New York toy fair about 30 years ago. Spin it as a top, and it turns over. Then the turtle rattleback. We used to have these for sale on our web site, but…

Digit Transformers

From Grand Illusions. Sign up for the free Grand Illusions newsletter, at http://conta.cc/3dplns1 _______________________________________________________________________ Tim showed this set of transformers in a previous video. They start as the numbers 1 to 5, and each one transforms into some kind of plane or helicopter or robot. Tim only demonstrated number 4 transforming, and a number of…

You Can Count On Tim

From Grand Illusions. Sign up for the free Grand Illusions newsletter, at http://conta.cc/3dplns1 _______________________________________________________________________ Tim is counting… or at least he is demonstrating toys that are based on numbers and counting. A pop-up book with animated numbers… ‘Roman Candles’ which allow you to spell out numbers in Roman numerals Just Bubble, a company in the…

The Jolly Jug#SHORTS

From Grand Illusions. The Jolly Jug is a trick jug which has a siphon built into the handle. Whatever liquid you have in the jug, you can either pour from the spout in the usual way, or you can pour from a hole in the bottom of the jug. It always gets a laugh –…

Keep ’em Rollin’, Tim!

From Grand Illusions. While you can throw, bounce or catch a ball, Tim has many ball toys in his collection that do all sorts of unusual things… The Snail Ball rolls down a slope incredibly slowly… A ball that – when you turn it around – has a Father Christmas face on the other side.…

The Heliograph (4K)

From Grand Illusions. The Heliograph is basically a mirror that uses the light from the sun to flash a message across a distance, often using Morse code. They were widely used in the 19th and early 20th centuries for military and also for surveying purposes. Advanced models came with a tripod. Signals could routinely be…

Tim’s Kaleido-Fantasy!

From Grand Illusions. Tim explores the delights of yet more of his amazing kaleidoscopes. A kaleidoscope built inside a baseball! A tiny portable version, a tapered kaleidoscope called a ‘Kaleido-Fantasy’… A Pentakis Kaleidoscope which allows you to place thin objects – Tim demonstrates with coloured straws – and you get a 60-fold reflections… The Kaleidosphere…

Tim’s Tightrope Walking Gyrobot

From Grand Illusions. So what do you get for the man who has (nearly) everything? Our amazing toy collector Tim Rowett reached the grand old age of 80 the other week, and Grand Illusions wanted to get him something to mark the occasion. Luckily we knew that he had seen the Tightrope Walking Gyrobot at…

Tim Bounces Back!

From Grand Illusions. The humble elastic band can take on new properties if you have enough of them – Tim demonstrates a bouncing ball consisting of just elastic bands! Tim then shows a photo of an enormous ball made from elastic bands. It was created about 20 years ago, and Tim thinks that it held…

Cracking Stuff, Tim!

From Grand Illusions. Something is hatching in Tim’s amazing toy collection…! A tiny chick is inside the first egg. You can hear the chick cheeping. Something is going to happen surely? After 30 seconds or so, the egg pops open (hatches?) and out pops the chick, who hops around for a bit. Powered by two…

Greetings From Tim!

From Grand Illusions. Tim is always on the lookout for greeting cards that have a certain something, a ‘wow’ factor if you like. A very large envelope contains … a large, pop-up bunch of flowers! Very impressive. Tim found this at a greeting card trade fair recently. At the same fair, he found another pop-up…

Folded Page Books

From Grand Illusions. Folded Page Books are an unusual art form, and Tim’s friend Gerard Darby returns to the Grand Illusions studio to show some extraordinary examples. In some cases, every page in the book is folded in exactly the same way – normally there are several folds. This will mean that instead of the…

Rock, Paper, Scissors – The Hi Tech Version!

From Grand Illusions. Pretty much everyone is familiar with the old ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ game. However Tim has a new toy in his collection which is a hi tech spin on that old game! Called Battling Cubes. When you open up one of the cubes, there is a little lever which allows you to set…

Strike A Pose, Tim!

From Grand Illusions. Tim shows a selection of toys that you can arrange, or ‘pose’. ‘The Doll’s House’ is a modern (1979) reproduction of a 19th Century pop-up book by Lothar Meggendorfer. He was a very talented illustrator, based in Munich. His near-caricature drawings of faces reflect the nineteenth-century interest in physiognomy and its insight…

Most Unusual Dice…

From Grand Illusions. One of Tim’s followers on Grand Illusions is a GOENGINEER in the USA called Shaun Bentley. Earlier this year, he sent us these very unusual dice. They are a kind of tetrahedron, albeit with curved edges and faces, and since they are this shape, they only have the numbers 1 to 4,…

The Amazing SwitchPen!

From Grand Illusions. Tim is very fond of unusual pens, and he reckons he has over 150 different ones in his collection. However this new design of pen is currently his absolute favourite! Slide the little lever at the top in order to reveal the nib, and the whole pen morphs – from a smooth…

Takara Pocket Critters

From Grand Illusions. These Pocket Critters were produced by the Japanese toy company Takara. They are designed to attach to a key ring. When you open one of the critters, it animates, driven by a spring that is compressed when you close the critter, ready for the next time you open it. Each critter has…

Tim’s Natty Novelties

From Grand Illusions. Sign up for the free Grand Illusions newsletter, at http://conta.cc/3dplns1 ___________________________________________________ Here are some toys that Tim found in his ‘spares’ bags… A cardboard ocarina (?)… A tie pin that is also a spirit level, to see if you are still standing upright. If not, maybe you have had a drink too…

Escher 3D Greeting Cards

From Grand Illusions. These greeting cards fold flat so they can be sent through the post. But when you gently squeeze the top and the bottom together, the card opens up, and becomes a stereoscopic viewer. There are two lenses, and when you look through them you are viewing a stereo pair of images, and…

Tim Says Wham-O!

From Grand Illusions. Tim has long been a fan of the American Wham-O Toy Company, which has been going since 1948. He has a collection of their toy catalogues, the earliest one is 1957. They were behind many iconic toys, from the Frisbee to the Hula Hoop. In the 1970s, Tim started corresponding with them.…

Tim’s Amazing Retro Flying Machines…

From Grand Illusions. Sign up for the free Grand Illusions newsletter, at http://conta.cc/3dplns1 ___________________________________________________ Tim was at a toy fair here in the UK recently, when he ran into an acquaintance who runs a toy wholesale company who mentioned that they had a consignment of vintage, retro, steampunk flying machines in their warehouse, and was…

Tim’s ‘Go Faster’ Stripes

From Grand Illusions. Sign up for the Grand Illusions newsletter, at http://conta.cc/3dplns1 ______________________________________________________ Tim explores toys with a zebra theme. Back in the 1970s, Tim acquired a wind up zebra that still works just as well as ever! Then a felt and fabric covered slinky which is also a zebra. Then we have ‘a zebra…

Tim’s Mechanical Marvels

From Grand Illusions. A spinning top with a built in LED show… a ‘push toy’ with a nice mechanism, a ‘pull back’ mechanism and an intriguing airplane yo yo; A novelty toilet roll with optical illusions (or iloosions if you prefer!) And finally, one of Tim’s favourite inflatables… a giant sunflower. And not only that,…

Tim’s Eggs For Easter

From Grand Illusions. Tim starts with noisy eggs, or at least eggs that make a noise! Maracas in the shape of eggs that light up when you shake them. How egg-citing! Chicken Shake is just an egg shaped object. It is also maracas, but without the handle. A silver egg that chimes gently when you…

Tim’s Amazing Kaleidoscopes

From Grand Illusions. Tim is very fond of kaleidoscopes. At the last count, he reckons he has around 30! Here is a selection of 10 of them, most of which you look into, although the last one is a projecting kaleidoscope, that produces images on an external screen. Whether they have feathers inside, blobs of…

Amazing Book Art

From Grand Illusions. Gerard Darby is back in the Grand Illusions studio, with more of his amazing books! In this video, we look at a few amazing books that he calls ‘Book Art’, since they take the traditional book to new and sometimes surprising levels… ‘Tilt’ is a book about the Leaning Tower of Pisa.…

That’s The Way The Money Goes…

From Grand Illusions. Tim shows some of his amazing money boxes or coin banks if you prefer. The first launches coins in a spiral, until the coin vanishes down the hole in the middle. Then from Takara of Japan a group of teddy bears animate when you pop a coin in. Then a performing dog!…

Tim’s Strange Safari

From Grand Illusions. How on earth does this safari vehicle work? It is about 40 years old, and there is no electronics of any sort. Yet somehow it can follow a line that has simply been drawn by a wax crayon….

One Ring To Rule Them All…

From Grand Illusions. I BET YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN BOOKS LIKE THIS BEFORE!! Tim welcomes a friend of his to the Grand Illusions studio – Gerard Darby – who has an amazing collection of unusual books, books that have been ‘altered’ in one way or another, and who has brought along some wonderful examples. A…

Strange Attractions?

From Grand Illusions. Tim is once again finding that the packaging can be more fun than the contents! Then… a Japanese coin bank that contains a powerful illusion. It seems that when you look through the window, you are seeing the whole inside of the box. But when you put a coin in at the…

Four Colours Plus!

From Grand Illusions. Tim starts with a couple of metal mechanical toys – a metal bird that seems to balance impossibly on its base, and moves gently in any slight breeze, and a metal rattleback that works really well. The four colour map theorem, states that no more than four colours are required to colour…

Tim Goes Glug Glug!

From Grand Illusions. Something fishy here… A fortune telling fish that Tim got from a cracker about 60 years ago – and it still works! It tells Tim that he is passionate – about toys. But, well, we already knew that, didn’t we! A zip purse, made from fish skin. Then a couple of Glug…