The Way Toys Work

The Way Toys Work
The Way Toys Work

The Way Toys Work

The Science Behind the Magic 8 Ball, Etch A Sketch, Boomerang, and More
By Ed Sobey, By Woody Sobey


160 Pages, 7 x 10

Formats: Trade Paper, PDF, EPUB, Mobipocket

Trade Paper, $14.95 (CA $16.95) (US $14.95)

ISBN 9781556527456

Rights: WOR

Chicago Review Press (May 2008)


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The first book to explain the technology of playthings, from wind-up racers to Nintendo controllers

A Selection of the Scientific American Book Club

Profiling 50 of the world’s most popular playthings—including their history, trivia, and the technology involved—this guide uncovers the hidden science of toys. Discover how an Etch A Sketch writes on its gray screen, why a boomerang returns after it is thrown, and how an RC car responds to a remote control device. Leaving no detail unrevealed, the guide includes original patent-application blueprints and photos of the “guts” of several devices. Inventors and museum curators also offer their observations of favorite gizmos while dispelling (or confirming) several toy legends. Complete with explanations of do-it-yourself experiments and tips on reverse engineering old toys to observe their interior mechanics, this entertaining and informative reference even provides pointers on how budding toy makers can build their own toys using only recycled materials and a little ingenuity.


"Written for novices and illustrated . . . throughout, this book is sure to provide hours of entertainment and enlightenment."  —School Library Journal

"Perfect for collectors, for anyone daring enough to build homemade versions of these classic toys and even for casual browsers."  —Booklist

"Really fun . . . can keep little and big brains occupied for hours."  —

Author Biography

Ed Sobey founded the National Toy Hall of Fame and was founding director of the National Inventors Hall of Fame. He also cofounded Kids Invent Toys at California State University–Fresno and Camp Invention. He has written 20 books, including A Field Guide to Office Technology, and directed five museums from Florida to Oregon. He lives in Redmond, Washington. Woody Sobey is the state coordinator for Invent Idaho, a state-wide invention competition for grade school students, and the director of education for the Discovery Center of Idaho. He lives in Boise, Idaho.