Posts Tagged ‘pseudo-pedaling robot’

1950 – Toy Unicycle Pedaling Clown – Wilfredo Perez (American)

A gyroscopic toy, that imparts a walking motion via a reciprocating crank, driven via a worm off the flywheel shaft. The bottom part is interchangeable so that the pedaling unicycle can be replaced by walking stilts, or a leg arrangement for tight-rope walking.

Patent number: 2588040 – see full patent details here.
Filing date: Apr 11, 1950
Issue date: Mar 4, 1952


To date, I've seen no evidence that this toy was actually made.

It would be great to see a Meccano model of this gyroscopic unicyclist!


Tags: , , , , , ,

1936 – The Gyro-Cycle – Hubert Charles Henry Townend (British)

The Gyro-Cycle – A pseudo-pedalling machine.


Source: "Mechanical Toys" by Athelstan & Kathleen Spilhaus, 1990

First Meccano Magazine advertisement was in April 1938.

A very ingenious scientific toy. Toy was invented by a famous airplane designer in England. Action depends on the well known gyroscopic principle. The front wheel is the gyroscope and drives the unit through a set of precision gears. When the front wheel is spun, at high speed, the stored energy will drive the cycle for a considerable distance in an upright position. The boy on the bike peddles in a very realistic effect by the turning of the rear wheel. The wheels are lithographed tin, the frame is pressed steel and cyclist is celluloid with cloth arms. The cyclist is driven by a rubber band from the rear wheel. Rubber band is still intact but dry from age. Manufacture is Tri-Ang Works of London, England in the 1950s. Size is 8¼” long by 7½” tall and 2½” wide. Toy is in mint condition, never played with. Included are the instruction sheet, bottle of lubricating Shell oil and the instruction sheet of how to maintain the toy. Original pull string is also in the box.

A new, never used  example.


Tri-Ang Lines Bros. Gyro-tricycle – interesting conversion from the Gyro-cycle comprising green celluloid figure, red pressed steel cycle frame with 3 x tinprinted balloon wheels.


Hubert Charles Henry Townend  was an inventor in the aerospace industry. His known patents were in relation to cooling of air-cooled 4-stroke aircraft engines, mainly rotary aircraft engines. His inventions are: 

1. Improvements in or relating to means for the balancing and controlling of toy bicycles. Hubert Charles Henry Townend Jan, 31 1938: GB479430 . Application date was 29 July, 1936. Note: First Meccano Magazine advertisement wasn't until April 1938, soon after the patent was officially accepted.
2. Improvements in and relating to air cooled aero engines with a view to securing an improved cooling effect. Hubert Charles Henry Townend Nov, 13 1936: GB456819
3. Improvements in or relating to aircraft. Hubert Charles Henry Townend Oct, 10 1929: GB320131


Meccano version of Gyro-cycle

(add credits here when known)


1988 – “Wendell” the Unicycle Rider – Garner Holt (American)

Wendell the Unicyclist premiered in 1988, and is the world’s only unicycle riding animatronic figure. He performs without any visible means of support.

Source: The Illusion of Life: Lifelike Robotics, Gene W. Poor, 1991 

"… But the most impressive component Garner brings to the animation marketplace is an extraordinarily creative mind with superb  problem-solving and operationalizing abilities.
The evidence of those qualities can be seen in his animated character "Wendell the Unicycle Rider." I saw this animated piece when I visited Garner's facility. It is spectacular! Like Kuebler's sculptings, a picture does not do Garner's work justice. If you are serious about three-dimensional animation, I encourage you to take a pilgrimage to San Bernardino to experience Garner's "Wendell" robot. If that's not possible–be patient. In the future, you're going to see a lot of Garner Holt!"

Wendell's clay head during the sculpting process.

The completed Wendell head prior to assembly on the robot body.

Garner Holt with "Wendell".


Tags: , , , , , , ,