Toy mechanic

Fun & Games
Toy mechanic


All parents should be trained as toy mechanics before they accept the gig. For, no matter how many high-quality, wooden, German toys you give your young ones, at some point they’re going to fall in love with a fragile, mass-produced hunk of plastic. Knowing how to fix it will save money and forestall its trip to the landfill.

This is my son’s Buzz Lightyear action figure. (I’ll admit mine’s in the original box in the garage.) The wires that connect the upper arm “laser” button to the LED in his forearm are routed through his elbow joint in a less-than-perfectly engineered fashion. They’ve been severed four times. The first three times, I soldered them back together and kept them running through the elbow joint. The fourth time, I decided I’d had enough of that, drilled some holes, and routed the wires outside the elbow entirely. With a bit of braided wire tubing it looks pretty cool. Doesn’t Robosapien look sort of like this?

About a year ago these figures became hard to find in toy stores. When they returned they had a poor substitute for Tim Allen doing the voiceover. It’s pretty unholy sounding. That’s another reason why I’m willing to repair this guy as many times as necessary.

10 thoughts on “Toy mechanic

  1. says:

    The braided wire tube looks pretty cool. My son’s Buzz has become self-aware. The voice chip will go off randomly, especially in the middle of the night, unless we take out the batteries. I’ve checked all of the switches and can’t find the short. It must be somewhere on the IC.

  2. John Park says:

    Oooh, that’s freaky. Dennis Leary had a great bit about his kids’ talking Darth Vader toy scaring the heck out of him late at night as he creaped down the stairs.

  3. ralph says:

    i was a bit surprised at the mentioning of german wood toys. are they so famous?

  4. Myrcurial says:

    Yes, but how do you deal with the repeated “reattachment of the wrist” bug in the design of Buzz?

    Next time, I’m putting a pin in – and I agree, old Buzz is better.

  5. John Park says:

    We’ve found that once you start seeking out independent toy stores you start coveting German wooden toys, Ralph. They are often beautifully designed and of the type of quality you’ll want to pass on for generations. Shameless plug: my wife blogs about those kind of things here:

    Myrcurial, I forgot all about that. I used a screw for that, which is pretty cool, because if you remove his hand now he has a pretty devastating screw-fist!

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John Edgar Park likes to make things and tell people about it. He builds project for Adafruit Industries. You can find him at and twitter/IG @johnedgarpark

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