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Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Way Things Go

I recently returned from my Summer holiday travels to find all quiet on the slot machine front. Nothing much seems to be happening, even eBay sales seem to have dried up. There was some consolation in a few exciting packages that had arrived while I was away. John Peterson sent me some allwin spares and composite balls suitable for very early catchers etc. Great find, John! These are rare as hen's teeth and often missing. We may put some on the Spares page.

Issue 5 of Mechanical Memories Magazine featured an article by Clive Baker on his Southport Pier vintage amusements arcade, an informative piece on pre-decimal British pennies plus other articles and slot machine adverts.

MMM issue 5

Also awaiting my return was a DVD I've been trying to track down for ages called The Way Things Go (Der Lauf Der Dinge) made by Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss in 1987. I'm sure this wonderful thirty minute tour de force of kinetic, chemical and pyrotechnic cause and effect would appeal to many of my fellow cog-heads. It's available from and although formatted for US TV it played fine on my home DVD player. Compare this short sample (requires Quicktime player) with the Honda advert that cleverly and shamelessly plagiarized it.

While in Falaise, Normandy (birthplace of William the Conqueror) I visited a museum of "window actors" (as the brochure quaintly described them) at Automates Avenue. From the 1920s to the 1950s, these automata captured the imagination of Parisian Christmas shoppers, luring them into the department stores. Given that they were manufactured over the same period as the British working models, it is perhaps not surprising that they bear many resemblances in theme and style, albeit on a larger scale. There are some more images in the Arena