Mr. Rembrandt from Ideal (1970)

Company: Ideal | Release date: 1970 | Where to purchase: eBay

“The world’s most unusual artist.”

Artistry met robotics in Mr. Rembrandt from Ideal. Released in 1970, the battery-operated toy named after the Dutch Golden Age painter drew geometric patterns on paper. The toy was brightly coloured in a mishmash of red, blue, and yellow — the company’s classic colour palette.

Mr. Rembrandt paraded and pirouetted over paper based on the design of one of six different palette discs. Each disc had a different number of holes and was installed for use in the toy’s base beneath the left arm. Once locked in place, the disc acted as a cam, causing the toy to move in varied elliptical patterns on the page.

Children could place up to four brush pens in any of six different locations on Mr. Rembrandt. The combination of palette disc choice and pen placement led to the possibility of hundreds of different designs. Ideal shipped a roll of drawing paper with the toy and sold refill rolls separately.

Mr. Rembrandt whirled his way along store shelves for several years before disappearing from the scene in the mid-1970s.

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