The Toy Shop – 20 Marvelous Mechanical Models that Really Work!

Toy Shop Box Cover

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 creations with any PC or Mac! For more paper modeling with computers of yore, see my Paper Models – The Christmas Kit page!

My deepest thanks to Jim Calhoun, who discovered this blog in 2020, and has kindly given permission for this page to exist. This site is dedicated to preserving and showcasing a wonderful project that should not be lost and forgotten!

(Skip the chatter! Take me to the models!)

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Introduction
Model List & Download Links
How to Download and Unzip Files
Printing & Building Suggestions
Coloring the Images

Photos & Videos of Toy Shop Models
Comment, Share or Report a Broken Link
Using the Software in a Commodore Emulator
Other Projects We’ve Done

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 discovered 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 wanted to be able to print them in the quality offered by modern inkjet and laser printers. I embarked on a quest to figure out a way to capture the images. Being unable to to decipher the data files, I tried capturing the data directly from the printer port. It worked, but it took an entire day just to capture a single page, and two more days to convert it to a PC-ready format. Finally I found a copy of the program on the internet which was 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 designs created by the program. (Each decal options is represented.) They’re saved as bitmaps so you can easily alter and even color them in your favorite image editing app! (I plan to create PDF versions with both colorized and original black and white versions…one of these days)

I found an interesting Chicago Tribune interview with Kyle Wickware in which he talks about his Paper Steam Engine book, with a mention of The Toy Shop. Also discussed is James Smith Rudolph’s Paper Clock book: Click for article

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How to Download and Unzip the Files:

To download the model parts and instruction pages for a model, click the links under the model’s description. A new download window from MediaFire will open. Click the words “Click here to start download” to save the file to your computer. Since MediaFire is a free service it relies on advertising, so a new page will open with an ad in it; simply close the ad window. If any downloads do not work, please click here to leave a comment letting me know. The files are compressed as Zip files. Windows users can right-click the file and click “Extract all” to unzip the file, Mac users should only need to double-click it.

Printing & Building Suggestions:

You may wish to download the general Assembly Techniques portion of the Toy Shop manual, which is geared to those who are new to card modeling. It is located here: General Assembly Techniques

Considerations for Using Regular Cardstock:  Originally, the pages were intended to be printed on plain paper, and then adhered to thick adhesive card stock which was twice as thick and stiffer than regular cardstock. If you’re using regular cardstock, certain models may need tweaking or may need to be glued to another layer for reinforcement. Another option is to print the model at 50% size, which would make the cardstock more or less the proper thickness for the scale.

For certain models, Toy Shop had three “decal” options to choose from. I’ve preserved them all, but you don’t need to print all three versions, it just gives you a little variety to choose from.

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 need to print these pages twice; once on cardstock, once on paper.

I’m creating a list of my own experiences as well as suggestions from others, which I’ll update from time to time. The tips are located here: (Suggested Improvements) – Last updated 1/23/08

Coloring the Images:

Crayons, colored pencils, markers 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 or Photopea. You may need to change the image from Bitmap to Grayscale then to CMYK Color. Then you can 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

Want to Share Your Toy Shop Experiences?
Need help or want to report a broken link?

If you’ve made some of these models and want to share photos or video of your handiwork, leave your email in the comments below and I’ll contact you… your email won’t be shown because I moderate all comments. If you just want to leave a comment or suggestion, request help, or report a broken link, click below!
Click here to leave a comment
Click here to see other people’s Toy Shop creations!

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 can be found here: Click to download. I’ve only tested this using WinVice.


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The Models:

**IF YOU ENCOUNTER A BROKEN LINK**
please click here and leave a comment 🙂

General Assembly Techniques for all models
Antique Truck – Popular!
Balancing Jet
Carousel – Most popular!
Equatorial Sundial
Experimental Glider
Flying Propeller
Helicraft
Jet Dragster
Mechanical Cat Bank
Medieval Catapult
Mercer Raceabout
The Oracle
Pennypower Scale
Spirit of St. Louis
Starship

Steam Engine – Balloon-powered!
Steam Oil Pump – Use it with the Steam Engine!
Steam Table Saw – Use it with the Steam Engine!
Tractor Crane
Zoetrope
Test Prints (not needed) and Trivia


antique-truck.jpg

antique-truck.jpg

Antique Truck – Popular!

“Circa 1910, this truck with movable wheels can be built in an open cargo bed or closed van version.”
✀ Difficulty level: Medium

Antique Truck Model Parts and Instructions

Return to Model List

balancing-jet.jpg

balancing-jet.jpg

Balancing Jet

“Sleek jet fighter plane perched on the point of a pin. Tilts and turns yet always returns to straight and level flight.”
✀ Difficulty level: Easy

⭳ Balancing Jet Model Parts and Instructions

Return to Model List


carousel.jpg

carousel.jpg

Carousel – Most popular!

“This ornate antique carousel has four spirited horses which prance up and down as the wheel turns.”
✀ Difficulty level: Challenging

⭳ Carousel Model Parts and Instructions

Return to Model List


equatorial-sundial.jpg

equatorial-sundial.jpg

Equatorial Sundial

“Portable sundial has two faces and never needs winding. Accurate anywhere between 25 and 50 degrees latitude.”
✀ Difficulty level: Easy

⭳ Equatorial Sundial Model Parts and Instructions

Return to Model List


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Experimental Glider

“This glider flies like a dream and makes perfect landings. Ideal for experiments in aerodynamics.”
✀ Difficulty level: Medium

Experimental Glider Model Parts

Experimental Glider Assembly Instructions

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flying-propeller.jpg

flying-propeller.jpg

Flying Propeller

“Wonderfully simple flying machine. Spin the dowel between your palms, let go and watch it soar.”
✀ Difficulty level: Easy

Flying Propeller Model Parts

Flying Propeller Assembly Instructions

Return to Model List


helicraft.jpg

helicraft.jpg

Helicraft

“Powered by a rubber band, this distinctive autogyro climbs to a height of 15 feet or more.”
✀ Difficulty level: Challenging

Helicraft Model Parts

Helicraft Assembly Instructions

Return to Model List


jet-dragster.jpg

jet-dragster.jpg

Jet Dragster

“Balloon-powered racing car. Uses jet propulsion to zoom across your floor or table top.”
✀ Difficulty level: Medium

Jet Dragster Model Parts

Jet Dragster Assembly Instructions

Return to Model List


mechanical-bank.jpg

mechanical-bank.jpg

Mechanical Bank

“A real collector’s item, this bank is operated by a precisely designed clockwork mechanism. A classy way to save your cash.”
✀ Difficulty level: Challenging

Mechanical Bank Model Parts

Mechanical Bank Assembly Instructions

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medieval-catapult.jpg

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Medieval Catapult

“Replica of a deadly medieval war machine. Uses a rubber band mechanism to hurl missiles such as jelly beans or wadded paper.”
✀ Difficulty level: Challenging

Medieval Catapult Model Parts

Medieval Catapult Assembly Instructions

Return to Model List


mercer-raceabout.jpg

mercer-raceabout.jpg

Mercer Raceabout

“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.”
✀ Difficulty level: Challenging

Mercer Raceabout Model Parts

Mercer Raceabout Assembly Instructions

Return to Model List


oracle-the.jpg

oracle-the.jpg

The Oracle

“Having trouble making decisions? Just use this pop-up Oracle to get the answers you need.”
✀ Difficulty level: Easy

The Oracle Model Parts

The Oracle Assembly Instructions

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pennypower-scale.jpg

pennypower-scale.jpg

Pennypower Scale

“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.”
✀ Difficulty level: Medium

Pennypower Scale Model Parts

Pennypower Scale Assembly Instructions

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spirit-of-st-louis.jpg

spirit-of-st-louis.jpg

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.”
✀ Difficulty level: Medium

Spirit of St. Louis Model Parts

Spirit of St. Louis Assembly Instructions

Return to Model List


starship.jpg

starship.jpg

Starship

“The ultimate paper airplane. Strange to look at, it flies beautifully and is super easy to build.”
✀ Difficulty level: Easy

Starship Model Parts

Starship Assembly Instructions

Return to Model List


steam-engine.jpg

steam-engine.jpg

Steam Engine

“Working model of a real steam engine. Balloon power moves the piston and flywheel. Can be used to operate several other Toy Shop models.”
✀ Difficulty level: Challenging

Steam Engine Model Parts

Steam Engine Assembly Instructions

Return to Model List


steam-oil-pump.jpg

steam-oil-pump.jpg

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.”
✀ Difficulty level: Medium

Steam Oil Pump Model Parts

Steam Oil Pump Assembly Instructions

Return to Model List


steam-table-saw.jpg

steam-table-saw.jpg

Steam Table Saw

“Watch the blade spin as this saw responds to the power of the mighty Toy Shop steam engine.”
✀ Difficulty level: Medium

Steam Table Saw Model Parts

Steam Table Saw Assembly Instructions

Return to Model List


tractor-crane.jpg

tractor-crane.jpg

Tractor Crane

“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.”
✀ Difficulty level: Challenging

⭳ Tractor Crane Model Parts and Instructions

Return to Model List


zoetrope.jpg

zoetrope.jpg
 Zoetrope

“Early motion picture machine. Still pictures viewed through slits in the drum seem to move as the Zoetrope spins.”
✀ Difficulty level: Medium

Zoetrope Model Parts

Zoetrope Assembly Instructions

Return to Model List

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And just for sake of completeness (and obsessive fun!):

The Toy Shop had two test pages. The first would print the Toy Shop logo, the second was simply a dotted line to use with pin-feed printers as an alignment tool. Neither are necessary to build these models, but I’ve preserved them anyways. Click for the -> Test Printouts

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. A Commodore 128 was running the software, but instead of a printer, it was connected to a 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 files were imported to a PC, where PhotoShop was used to reoriented and scale them to correct proportions. It took almost nine days to make these three pages, and that’s why I only did three using this method!

Return to Model List

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Submitted and Found photos of Toy Shop Models:

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…”

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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!

Jos Leppens Sketchup model of Toy Shop Antique Truck

Jos Leppens Sketchup model of Toy Shop Antique Truck

Mechanical Cat Bank built by SCEtoAUX:

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Antique Truck by KCStephens:scorpion-tank-027scorpion-tank-028

Mini Medieval Catapult (50% size) built by me (Michael Bean):

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Full-size Medieval Catapult by cgutzmer:

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Mini Steam Powered Engine by Triop:cimg4334

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Bonus Snooper Troops Model!

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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!

Visit Michael and Lacey’s other pages!

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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!