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…

The Self Pouring Teapot!

From Grand Illusions. This Victorian invention allows you to pour out cups of tea without needing to lift the teapot! Certainly a full teapot can be quite heavy, and an advert at the time said it ‘does away entirely with the drudgery of lifting the Tea-Pot!’ The self pouring teapot was invented by John Royle,…

Amazing Phase Change in Supercritical Xenon Gas

From Grand Illusions. Some amazing physics going on here! Xenon is a heavy and very unreactive gas, over four times heavier than air. Atomic number 54, Atomic Mass 131, it is in group 18 of the Periodic Table, and is a so-called ‘Noble Gas’. It normally boils at minus 108 degrees Centigrade, and is present…

Christmas Cards and Optical Illusions

From Grand Illusions. Tim sends out about 180 Christmas cards every year to his many friends all over the world. And naturally enough he gets a lot of cards in return. However, given that Tim always finds a very intriguing and interesting card every year, and he encloses a few pages of interesting things he…

Tim’s Lithophanes

From Grand Illusions. Lithophanes are normally made from plastic or porcelain, and have been etched or moulded so that they contain an image which is defined by the varying thickness of the material. There is not a lot to see when they are front lit, the image only appears properly when they are lit from…