In the final entry in this series, Simon Johnson examines another mechanical device in the Te Manawa collection: the spud gun. Where it arose, how it was marketed, and some of the controversy that swirls around toys of this nature.

As empires rise, so they too must fall. Simon Johnson follows up on his Mechanics Made Easy post by tracing the history of Meccano from post-war to the present day. One item in the heritage collection at Te Manawa is a landmark for the brand’s struggle to survive in an increasingly crowded market.

The heritage collection at Te Manawa contains many curiosities. Inspired by an example of “Mechanics Made Easy”, local historian Simon Johnson charts the rise of Meccano and the toy empire of engineering entrepreneur Frank Hornby.

Every year Te Manawa adds dozens of items to its collections. Artworks to the art collection; artifacts of our society, past and present, to the heritage collection. Long before anyone had heard of Covid-19, collecting was to be paused during the first six months of 2020. When a community is as generous with its donations as this one, says collections manager Jeff Fox, sometimes you need to stop to get your breath back...