Encyclopedia of Toy Trains

Fontaine Fox's Toonerville Trolley

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Fontaine Fox's Toonerville Trolley

   This neat little wind up trolley was made in the mid 1920s in Germany. It is made of Lithographed tin. The Toonerville Trolley was a character in Fontaine Fox's comic strip.

   Fontaine Fox's Toonerville cartoon was originally drawn in 1908. Called "The Toonerville Folks," but run as the "Toonerville Trolley" in other papers, the strip was drawn continuously from 1908 until February of 1955. The comic strip appeared in over 300 newspapers at its peak in the mid 1930s.

   In the early 1920s, a series of short films were made staring Mickey Rooney and featuring the famous troublesome trolley. These were silent films. In 1936, three short animated cartoons were produced.

   During the run of the comic strip there were numerous toys and dolls of the characters produced. This tin trolley is the most famous. Other notable items were a cardboard town given away by the Coca Cola company in the 1930s and dolls of the characters made by different companies.

   The action of the toy simulates the action of the temperamental cartoon trolley. When the spring is wound the trolley moves forward about four feet. The wheels are offset on the axles so the whole trolley rocks back and forth as it moves along. After it moves forward four feet the trolley stops and Dan the Skipper moves his control stick around while the trolley makes noise. After a few seconds of pulling on the control rod, the Skipper gives it a good yank and the trolley moves forward again.

Here's a view of the windup motor and the transmission.

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