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Monday, 16 April 2018

Say No To Plastic, Better By Design

Today we’re welcoming design students from the Brighton MET College as they install their No To Plastic exhibition.

A few weeks ago we invited students from the design department along to Brighton Toy and Model Museum to look at old fashioned design and manufacturing. It was noticed that in the ‘Make Do and Mend’ era toys weren’t made of plastic, but metal, wood, fabric, even paper. Children would be encouraged buy toys such as Meccano to make their own toys, half the fun being the construction of the object itself.

MET, design, display, sustainability, reuse, recycling,
So while we’re increasingly conscious of the need to reduce the amount of plastic we use, especially single use plastic, we are also realising the need to use sustainable and re-usable materials for the things we manufacture. It’s often observed that many things made in times gone by were built to last while today we often talk about ‘built-in obsolescence’, a process by which consumer durables are made with materials which will wear out or fail after a certain period, creating a need to replace the product which, if made of durable materials, would last far longer.

Better Design Improves the Environment

When they do fail, many of these goods end up in landfill or in the environment.  Today there is a plaque of plastic two to three times the size of France floating in the Pacific and it’s estimated that in a few years there will actually be more plastic than fish in the sea. Obviously the solution is to reduce the amount of plastic we throw away, and to make that easier, we need to reduce the amount of plastic we use in the first place. This exhibition looks at the way products used to be produced and looks at ways of making that model viable again in a throw-away consumer driven economy.

Steve Follen, design lecturer at the Brighton MET College said “We wanted to give the students the experience of working for a real client, with strict deadlines and an evolving brief. They had to work in teams and communicate with one another, which is a key skill in any design process. We gave them a short amount of time to complete their design, which really challenged them.”

And it’s interesting to see what the students have produced. Some have taken the brief to ‘re-use’ quite literally, incorporating well known iconic elements such as branding and logos into the finished product, while others have created unique objects which show no trace of their origins, giving the impression of being brand new while in reality their heritage is anything but.

Outstanding Design is Inconspicuous

The exhibition has been so created that it fits in with all the exhibits that were already on display in the museum. Display cases have been built which look very similar to the ones we use all the time, making the exhibition flow and become one with the family favourites that we have on display every day.

MET, design, display, sustainability, reuse, recycling,
If you’re interested in seeing the exhibition it’s open all the time the museum is, until the end of May. MET College students and their guests get an extra 10% discount on admission for the duration, so if you’re a MET student with ID you get an extra 10% off your student discount and any friends and family you bring will also receive a 10% discount on their admission too!

A Blog by Dan Cash, opinions and experience are the author's own.

MET, Design, textiles, wood, reuse, recycle, toys, manufacturing,

MET, Design, textiles, wood, reuse, recycle, toys, manufacturing,

MET, Design, textiles, wood, reuse, recycle, toys, manufacturing,

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Brighton Toy And Model Museum is Well MET

Brighton Toy and Model Museum isn’t just a repository for old toys. The idea that museums are just a place for old stuff to collect dust should be consigned to the museum! Today museums all around the world are thinking of new ways in which to connect with the communities which they represent. Museums aren’t just a collection of other people’s antiques, they contain objects of our history; relics that are part of the culture to which we all belong.

I always loved museums, that’s why I work in one now. But there are other people who felt that going to a museum was almost a form of punishment when they were at school and consequently they wouldn’t willingly set foot inside one now. And that’s an attitude which is up to all of us as museum workers to try and change. A trip to the museum should be not only educational, but fun, entertaining and informative; a treat that everyone can look forward to. Museums used to be like libraries, you had to hush, look hard at exhibits which were often poorly displayed in badly lit cabinets, and NO TOUCHING!

Brighton Toy and Model Museum has always striven to dispel this image of reliquary. Toys are made to be fun, and while we can’t let everybody play with all the models we have, we do have interactive toys and machines, and during school visits children can play with some of the toys we keep as resources. We use that play to teach about several key stage subjects, such as the science and technology involved in construction, motion and propulsion. We don’t just exhibit old toys to conjure up memories. We also get involved in educational programmes such as Brighton Science Fest, where all kinds of learning is cleverly disguised as play! During SciFest kids thought they were playing making balloon powered race cars out of recyclable odds and ends and moving images from zoetropes. In fact they were learning about planning, strategy, construction, friction and drag, stored energy, optics and the persistence of vision.

It’s not just the young learners who we want to get more out of our museum. We want older children and young adults to think of the Toy Museum as something that they can get involved with too. This year we’re taking on work experience staff members so they can get a feel of the way a tourist attraction is run as a business, and exhibiting work by Brighton MET College art students. We are looking forward to providing space for artists from Brighton MET to exhibit their work as we feel this is a brilliant opportunity for artists to display their work in front of an audience made up not only of their peers, but of the general public who might not usually make it to exhibitions held on the college premises.

And we’re very excited about the Community Rail Partnership we’ve signed with Govia Thameslink as it will enable us to promote the exhibitions, such as those we’re working on with Brighton MET, to commuters, visitors, and all those who pass through Brighton Station. The Community Rail Partnership will mean that we can put up posters promoting the events which we are hosting, on the station concourse. We will also be able to provide two display cabinets in the booking office so people will have the chance to have a taste of our locally themed exhibits while they wait to buy their train tickets.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Brighton Toy and Model Museum In Ground-breaking New Community Rail Partnership With Brighton Railway Station

At midday 21st March 2018 Brighton Toy and Model Museum founder, Chris Littledale signed up to the Community Rail Partnership agreement, along with Anthony Dowsett, Govia Thameslink Railway Station Manager, and Catherine Simmons, Sussex Community Rail Partnership. Brighton Toy and Model Museum is the first organisation that this programme has taken on board and the staff at the toy museum are all very excited about what the project will mean for the museum and the wider Brighton and Hove community in general.

What It Means For Us

As part of the agreement Brighton Toy and Model Museum will gain access to advertising and promotional space all over Brighton Station, including 'Swan Neck' poster displays on the main concourse and banners on the station railings, visible as you leave the station and head down to the beach. We will also be displaying pieces from our collection in cabinets in the ticket office so travellers will have something interesting to look at and spark their enthusiasm as they wait to book their tickets. This is a great opportunity for Brighton Toy and Model Museum as it allows us to reach local people and visitors to Brighton alike. So many people say “I go past the museum every day, but I've never been in,” and now we can reach out to them, giving them a little bit of the museum while they do something else.

What It Means For The Railway Station

Because we're located directly underneath Brighton Railway Station, it's always been an ambition of ours to form a friendly relationship with the station owners. The station isn't just a place you pass through on your way somewhere else, it's a place to meet, to part, and to spend time together with friends and family as you see one another off, or have a coffee while you make plans for your visit to our beautiful city. Our commitment to Brighton Train Station will mean that we supply an exhibition which is entertaining and interesting, which reflects the role played by rail in the development and popularity of Brighton and Hove, and where that relationship between trains and the people they serve is headed in the future.

What It Means For You

Brighton Toy and Model Museum is working hard to become the best quirky, unique venue for arts and entertainment in the city. As well as corporate events and special days geared to model rail enthusiasts, we are now a venue for Brighton Festival Fringe. This year we are playing host to a plethora of performers from comedy to theatre including local talent from Hubble Bubble Productions, Adriano Fettucini and the well-loved children’s author Jane Hissey. As well as being a performance space, we will also be hosting an exhibition of work created by students at Brighton MET College. This will give the young designers the perfect opportunity to design, create and curate an exhibition of their work to the general public during the Fringe Festival.

Having this agreement with Brighton Railway Station means that we will be able to promote, market and display all these activities to the community as they pass through the train station, and as we're so conveniently located, we hope that they will all come down and support us and the work that we do to preserve childhood memories and local railway heritage.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Brighton Science Festival Was Incredibly Moving!

This week was Brighton Science Festival, an event intended to get children and young people interested in all fields of the sciences. There were different things going on throughout Brighton and Hove and beyond where kids could get involved in making a range of different toys and devices using scientific principles, and maybe developing new skills and areas of personal interest too.

There were events not only in museums and libraries, but in theatres, bars, arches and meeting spaces all over town. There were workshops making Rube Goldberg machines, studying astronomy, STEM masterclasses, coding, and robotics to name but a tiny few. We at Brighton Toy and Model Museum decided to make and race balloon cars made of odds and ends that would otherwise be destined for the recycling bin on Monday and to make moving pictures on Friday.

The Race Is On!

The balloon cars were made to demonstrate the storage of energy; blowing up the balloons turns chemical energy made in the body from our food, into potential energy stored in the rubber of the balloon which, when released, produces forward motion thanks to Newton’s Third law.

Our engineers tried several different designs. They tried different chassis alignments, one, two, even three balloons attached to the same car, different sizes of balloons and raced against one another in several heats to determine which was the best. As you can see from the pictures, we had quite a full house and many races had to be run. In fact, we had so many enquiries we could have had three times as many competitors if we’d only had the room, so next year we plan on running events in the morning AND afternoon so that everyone gets to have a go.

Who Wants To Be In The Movies?

Every bit as much fun was the moving pictures project. We made a variety of different devices which created the optical illusion of motion. Firstly, and most simply we made thaumatropes. These are disks of card with picture on either side. Spin the disk and the two images appear as one. Once we’d cracked that, it was on to making phenakistascopes. Several pictures are drawn in sequence on a circle of card, and when you look at the spinning disk through pre-cut slots in a mirror the pictures appear to be moving.

Taking this a step further, and again using the persistence of vision we made zoetropes. These are cylinders with slits cut in the outside which spin. Looking through the slits at a sequence of pictures which have been mounted inside makes a moving image which can be viewed by several people at once.

The first of each of these we made using templates and pre-drawn designs, but once we’d all got the idea behind how they worked we all got on with drawing our own movies! We based them on the things we see around us, some were inspired by the trains we have running around the museum, others were sparked by the weather and my favourite was typically Brighton, a burger being stolen by some seagulls!

We’ll be holding similar events at the museum all through the year. We’re a venue for Brighton Festival Fringe, we invite people along after dark during Museums at Night and have guest entertainers on a regular basis. If you’re interested in any of these kinds of diversions or you’re looking for things to do in Brighton then just like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter where you can get all the latest news straight from the bear’s mouth.

Click "Read More" to see further photos of the Balloon Car Race and Moving Pictures:

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Exciting Science at the Toy Museum

In February we Brighton Toy and Model Museum will be inviting all young scientists and engineers to take part in our little bit of the Brighton Science Festival

Design and Build High Speed Racers

We’ve done this kind of thing before, and we know it’s been a roaring success in the past. It was great fun for all involved and that’s why we were keen to get making fun science again. On Monday the twelfth of February we will be opening on a Monday especially to have our Balloon Car day. To be frank, it knocks spots off of Formula One in terms of creativity and competition. First you need to design and build your balloon car out of parts that have been taken from the most reliable sources of balloon car engineering: the recycling bin. Then, once your magnificent machine has been engineered and finely tuned, it’s time to race! 

Who’s got the biggest puff? Is it enough when your opponent’s car is lighter and nippier? Will it make the course, or will it veer off wildly and never make it to the finishing line? Will you go home carried shoulder high and lauded by all of Brighton? Or will you face a walk of shame? There’s only one way to find out…

Do You Want to be in the Movies?

Following the taught excitement of the balloon car races we’ll be taking the adrenalin down a notch with lessons in creating the moving image. 

You may think that movies started with the Lumiere brothers or maybe the magic lantern, but in reality there have been many different mechanical methods of making pictures appear to move.  Starting with simple thaumatropes, discs with a picture on each side that, when spun on a string, appeared to merge together. A more advanced method of creating movement was the phenakistoscope, a slotted disc which would spin on an axis, which would create the illusion of movement when viewed against a mirror. This in turn was superseded by the zoetrope, a device which can be viewed by several people at the same time. 

During this session, held on Friday, the sixteenth of February, we will be making all three of these examples. You’ll need to draw the frames that make up the action, create the right device for the job and then set the whole lot going. We’ll give you the resources and expertise needed to make these toys using our experience from having had fun making these things in the past. 

Admission to the museum will be at the usual price; Adult £6.50, child £4.00, concessions £5.50, family £14 (up to 2 adults and 3 children). Booking for these events is required as we will be using materials that we don’t usually keep in the museum and we need to know how many to expect to supply accordingly. You can book by calling in advance on 01273 749494 

For all booking information, our location etc. just go to our facebook events page for the Balloon Car Race or the Thaumatropes, Phenakistoscopes and Zoetropes. Or why not come to both? Fun and excitement is a cert.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Our Huge Bequest of Trucks, Trains and Collectible Cars

Every now and then something truly extraordinary happens at the museum. This week we were asked by City Council staff members to help out with a house clearance as the resident had been a keen toy collector and they wanted to ensure that the collections went to the right place.

LLedo, Bburago vintage collectible cars
Godfrey Barnes, a Brighton and Hove resident passed away in September and had built up a large collection of Corgi trucks and Hornby trainsets over the years in hopes that the resale value would cover the expenses of his funeral. Unfortunately, Mr Barnes died before those sales could be realised, leaving his housemate and fellow collector Mr Sewell, with a vast collection of toys which needed to be taken care of.

So Many Cars And Trucks!

What do you do when you have a trove of toys that is piled from floor to ceiling in several rooms in a house? Well, Amanda Harvey, Tenancy Sustainment Officer at Brighton and Hove City Council approached us at Brighton Toy and Model Museum to help out by removing, appraising, selling and re-using this amazing collection, a task we were glad to do!

Dickies Newray Kentoys Anson trucks toys
Amanda Harvey and Mr Sewell discussed the problem of the toys and their redistribution and decided that it would be best to get in touch with us. They agreed that the toys would be put to their best advantage if they were cleaned, appraised and then either sold on to collectors to raise money for the museum. Some of those which are especially interesting or important will be kept within the museum, and those which can neither be resold nor exhibited will be used in the museum for educational purposes as they show the way gears, pulleys, clockwork and springs work when applied to tasks.

Corgi Cars trucks Eddie Stobart, Carters circus, Bannerman, Pickfords, Volvo, Westfield haulage collectible lorries

Next Comes The Sorting, Appraising and Cleaning.

The next step now though is for museum staff to sort through all the cars, trucks and trains to find the best items which can be sold on as genuine collectors’ pieces, exhibition quality items, and toybox treasures. This is no small task as you can see from the photos, we have been given many good quality boxed items, but we also have items that, while still in their boxes have suffered, then other toys which are unboxed, gathered together loose in storage boxes.

loose collectible toy trucks lorries cars
Once the collection has been separated it will be cleaned up and displayed, put up for sale, or used in the museum for educational visits and Playdays when our local kids can use them for the purpose for which they were made, having fun!

rare collectible vintage hornby train sets

Hornby Trains and Corgi Trucks

The collection includes the afore mentioned Hornby train sets, it also includes an arch full of boxed Corgi trucks, many of which have the liveries of well-known hauliers (these include familiar names such as Eddie Stobart, Carter’s Fairs, Bannerman, Westfield, Volvo, Pickfords and Boddingtons) . Other toys still in their boxes come from such names as Dickie and NewRay, there are even some Lledo and Bburago models of classic sports cars and vintage tourers.

Once we’ve had a chance to go through all the toys that we were lucky enough to get from Mr Barnes we’ll be updating you to let you know what we plan to sell.

collectible vintage toy trucks

Collectible toy cars and trucks

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Our October Running Day, In Pictures

Last week Brighton Toy and Model Museum proudly hosted another of our famous Running Days. These days are a rare treat, and one that you won’t see in most museums, for it is on running days that we take down the Perspex screens that come between our visitors and our exhibits and actually set the toys and models in motion, just as they were made to be.

A lot of museums, quite naturally, don’t do this kind of thing. After all, every moment’s use adds a little more to the wear of the trains that we have on display, and eventually that wear mounts up. So we only run our model trains for a few hours per year, and to let our visitors view them in their glory, the screens have to come down.

You wouldn’t think that the Perspex would make so much difference! While it never impedes the view of the model trains, buildings and bridges we have on display, it does reflect light and get in the way of leaning right up close to the trains. So, as long as you don’t touch, we don’t mind if you lean in to get a better look, or even take photos (without flash of course).

However, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, so please enjoy our photoblog of Markiln, Hornby, Minic, Bing, Bassett-Lowke trains, buildings and bridges, some of which, such as the Marklin railway bridge, we believe to be the only surviving examples.

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang, Bridges, Toys, Trains, Models,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang, Town, Buildings, Trains, Toys, Models

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang, Unique, Hotel, Cars, Ramp

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang, Hotel, Model, Toy

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang, Train Station, Toys, Models

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang, Unique, Toys, Cars, Hotel,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang, Cars, Hotel, Traffic, Model, Toys

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang, Buses, Hotel, Traffic, Trains

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang, Buses, Hotel

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin Bridge, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Unique Marklin Bridge, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,

Brighton Toy and Model Museum Running Day, Hornby, Marklin, Bassett-Lowke, Minic, Tri-Ang,