The Toy Shop was a wonderful computer program from the ’80s which allowed you to decorate and print twenty different paper models which actually move! It included all the dowels, wires, balloons, and so on which were required to create the models. I’ve enjoyed using this program on my Commodore 64 for many years, and now I am able to share these models with the paper modeling community so you can download and build your very own Toy Shop creations with any PC or Mac! For more paper modeling with computers of yore, see my Paper Models – The Christmas Kit page!
(Skip the chatter! Take me to the models!)
Paper Modeling, Card Modeling, Paper Craft, Paper Automata: Creating three-dimensional objects from a flat piece of paper is a favorite hobby of mine. It can be challenging, educational, relaxing, and highly rewarding. Through the internet I have found that there’s a huge and growing network of people who share their modeling experiences, and I wanted to contribute a little something myself.
For several years I have been fascinated with a program I used on my Commodore 64 called “The Toy Shop.” It was my introduction to the world of paper modeling, and was released in the eighties for Apple II, Commodore, IBM PC, and Apple Macintosh computers. It included twenty customizable mechanical models on disk, as well as the supplies necessary to complete each project. The models were created by Jim Calhoun, Kyle Wickware, and Michelle McBride.
I thoroughly enjoyed the models, but I became disenchanted with the quality and hassle of my Commodore printer. I kept thinking, wouldn’t it be nice to capture the actual image data so I could print them on any computer in pristine inkjet or laser quality? I decided to figure out a way to capture the images. After many failed attempts to decipher the files or transfer them to my PC, I actually connected two Commodore computers together and programmed one to pretend it was a printer, capturing the data and saving it to disk. It worked, but it took an entire day just to capture a single page. Finally I stumbled across a copy of the program on the internet meant for use with a Commodore emulator (it can be downloaded below.) Within a couple days I had all files in pristine bitmap format.
I am now presenting these files here for your enjoyment! “The Toy Shop” offered several types of customization, including decal options, fill patterns, and personalized text. The files preserved here are the default printouts created by the program. (All the decal options are represented.) They are saved as bitmaps, and can easily be altered, even colorized, in many image editing applications! The model parts are bitmaps rather than jpegs because I didn’t want to lose any detail; if this is an issue, please let me know.
Want to Share Your Toy Shop Experiences?
If you’ve made some of these models and want to share your handiwork, please email me a photo and I’ll post it here! If you have problems or suggestions about this site or the models, leave a comment (click here and scroll to the bottom of this page) or email me! My email is gmontag451athotmaildotcom! (Obviously, change athotmaildotcom to @hotmail.com)
Downloading Model Parts and Instructions:
To download the model parts and instruction pages for a model, click on the Model Parts or Assembly Instructions links under the photo of the model. A new MediaFire download window will open. Click the words “Click here to start download,” it may take a few seconds to appear. Save the file to your hard drive. Since MediaFire is a free service, it relies on advertising, so a new window will open with an advertisement in it; simply close the ad window. If any pages do not work, please click here, scroll to the bottom, and leave a comment letting me know where the problem is. The files are compressed as Zip files. Windows users can right-click the file and click “Extract all” to unzip the file, Mac users typically need only double-click it.
You may wish to download the general Assembly Techniques portion of the Toy Shop manual, which is geared towards card modeling newbies. It is located here: (Assembly Techniques)
Considerations for Using Regular Cardstock:
The original Toy Shop cardstock was twice as thick and stiffer than regular cardstock, and I have found that certain models need tweaking and reinforcement when made with regular cardstock. I am creating a text document of my own experiences as well as suggestions from others, which I will update from time to time. The document is located here: (Suggested Improvements) - Last updated 1/23/08 (sorry, I’ve been very busy!)
Coloring the Images:
Crayons, colored pencils, and paint are the way these models were intended to be decorated, but now you can use your computer too! To color these images with your computer, you’ll need an image editing application like PhotoShop. You may need to change the image from Bitmap to Grayscale to CMYK Color. Then you can just use the paint bucket to pour color into areas. (For checkered areas, use a bounding marquee box to highlight only the area you want to fill. Use alt and shift to take away from and add to the bounding rectangle. Deselect “Contiguous” and then use the paint bucket.) Some areas may “spill out” into the background, simply Undo, and use a bounding box to contain your paint bucket. When you’re finished painting, save the image in your preferred file format. (It sounds complicated, but it’s really simple.) If anyone wants to submit their painted versions, I’d be happy to host them! Here’s an example I made for the Zoetrope: zoetrope-painted.jpg
Printing Model Parts:
Note: For certain models, Toy Shop had three “decal” options to choose from. I’ve preserved them all, so there are three versions of a single page. You don’t need to print all three versions, it just gives you a little variety to choose from.
Originally, the pages were intended to be printed on plain paper, and that paper would then be adhered to thick adhesive card stock. I have never been able to find adhesive cardstock similar to the sheets that came with The Toy Shop. Printing on regular card stock should work fine for these models, however some pages may need to be glued to another layer for reinforcement, or to thicker card stock. (See link above for “Suggested Improvements.”) Some pages are marked “Do not adhere to cardstock,” just print them on regular paper. There is at least one page where half of it is adhered and half is not. You’ll have to print these pages twice; once on cardstock, once on paper. (Another option is to print the model at 50% size, which would make the cardstock more or less the proper thickness for the scale.)
Using The Toy Shop Software in a Commodore Emulator:
For anyone who wishes to try out The Toy Shop program in a Commodore emulator to personalize your models, the software files and my bitmap conversion program are here. I’ve only tested this using WinVice. (Note: These emulator files sometimes create small glitches in the model parts which are not present on real disks. The model parts shared below have been corrected and are faithful to the original files.)
1/21/11 – The broken links should be working now, sorry for the delay. Having a newborn takes up a LOT of time! Thanks everyone for your patience!
Antique Truck – Popular!
“Circa 1910, this truck with movable wheels can be built in an open cargo bed or closed van version.”
“Sleek jet fighter plane perched on the point of a pin. Tilts and turns yet always returns to straight and level flight.”
Carousel – Most popular!
“This ornate antique carousel has four spirited horses which prance up and down as the wheel turns.”
Carousel video submitted by Maria Irene:
“Portable sundial has two faces and never needs winding. Accurate anywhere between 25 and 50 degrees latitude.”
Equatorial Sundial Model Parts Link fixed! 2/12/10
“This glider flies like a dream and makes perfect landings. Ideal for experiments in aerodynamics.”
“Wonderfully simple flying machine. Spin the dowel between your palms, let go and watch it soar.”
“Powered by a rubber band, this distinctive autogyro climbs to a height of 15 feet or more.”
“Balloon-powered racing car. Uses jet propulsion to zoom across your floor or table top.”
“A real collector’s item, this bank is operated by a precisely designed clockwork mechanism. A classy way to save your cash.”
“Replica of a deadly medieval war machine. Uses a rubber band mechanism to hurl missiles such as jelly beans or wadded paper.”
“A car collector’s dream, this 1911 Mercer features steerable front wheels operated by a rod mechanism similar to that used in many early automobiles.”
“Having trouble making decisions? Just use this pop-up Oracle to get the answers you need.”
“Handy desktop scale weighs objects up to one and a half ounces, and has its roots in balancing scales first developed around 3000 B.C.”
Spirit of St. Louis
“Scale model of the plane flown by Charles Lindbergh in 1927 in the first solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic. Propeller spins and wheels turn.”
Spirit of St. Louis Assembly Instructions Link fixed! 2/12/10
“The ultimate paper airplane. Strange to look at, it flies beautifully and is super easy to build.”
Starship Model Parts Link fixed! 2/12/10
“Working model of a real steam engine. Balloon power moves the piston and flywheel. Can be used to operate several other Toy Shop models.”
Steam Oil Pump
“An oil pump run by a steam engine? Well, why not? This sturdy model will pump up and down as long as the power holds out.”
Steam Table Saw
“Watch the blade spin as this saw responds to the power of the mighty Toy Shop steam engine.”
“Works just like the real thing. The boom of this crane can be raised and lowered and the bucket opened and closed due to an ingenious system of sewing thread cables.”
“Early motion picture machine. Still pictures viewed through slits in the drum seem to move as the Zoetrope spins.”
And just for sake of completeness (and obsessive fun!):
The Toy Shop had two test pages. The first would print the Toy Shop logo (see above) to test if your printer was compatible with the software setup. The second was simply a dotted line, a tool for pin-feed printers to ensure that the paper was set at the correct spot, so that pages would not spill off the bottom of the paper. Neither are necessary to build these models, but I’ve decided to preserve them out of compulsive need!
Click for the -> Test Printouts
Bonus Snooper Troops Model!
Here I created a classic-computer related model of the SnoopMobile from the great Snooper Troops games! I used actual screen captures from the Commodore version for the sides. Nothing exciting but I had fun. Enjoy!
Click here for the -> SnoopMobile!
Trivia: Three of the parts pages (Carousel 1a of 5, Flying Propeller 1 of 1, and Mercer Raceabout 5 of 5) were created using actual Commodore computers. I used a Commodore 128 to print them, but instead of a printer, it was connected to a Commodore Vic-20 which was programmed to act like a printer, and it simply saved the incoming data to disk. It took a whole day to capture the data for a single page. The captured data was then converted by the 128 into a bitmap image, which took almost 48 hours per page. The resulting file was imported to a PC, and (like every page here) they were reoriented and scaled to correct proportions in PhotoShop. All told, it took almost nine days to make these three pages, and that’s why I only did three!
A note about copyright: To the best of my knowledge, the images I am sharing here are no longer protected. As the software is no longer being made, the computers have been discontinued, and no modern equivalent software exists as far as I know, I hope any concerned parties will see this effort as I do: This page is dedicated to preserving and showcasing a wonderful project that should not be lost and forgotten!
Here’s a video of Maria Irene’s Toy Shop Carousel:
Here are some pictures from jackdaw of his revamped Antique Truck. A few of his changes include: “…adding a false floor to the cab as well as a bench seat, steering wheel, gear lever, inside handles, and door panels and glazing the windows. The wipers are stuck on the outside, and the motors on the inside of the upper pane of the front window. The windows were salvaged from a couple of blister packs. Also much of the decoration such as the handbrake and door furniture etc. were copied and laminated onto separate parts and added to to the body. I also added a front bumper, starting handle, and a radiator cap temperature gauge to the ensemble, and a rim and planking to the inside of the load box…”
Jos Leppens from Belgium created a 3D Antique Truck from the model parts in Sketchup and put it on Google 3D! Click the photos to go to the Google 3D Warehouse and see the interactive model!
Click the images below to watch the Mechanical Bank at Google Video! (Videos by SCEtoAUX)
Antique Truck by KCStephens/HeavyKevie:
Mini Medieval Catapult by me (Michael Bean):
Medieval Catapult by cgutzmer:
Mini Steam Powered Engine by Triop:
Visit Michael and Lacey’s other sites!
- Paper Models – The Christmas Kit – more paper modeling with old computers! A Dickens Christmas Village, A Holiday Locomotive, creative ornaments and gift packaging!
- Commodore 64 Logo, Computereyes, Odell Woods, and more – Some random stuff, including Commodore 64 Terrapin Logo programming software, Odell Lake and Odell Woods, Star Wars stuff, and more.
- Halloween 2007 – The Headless Horseman comes to visit!
- Halloween 2008 – The Monster Motel opens for business!