I’ve always been drawn to toys that combine fun and scientific principles – like the Ornithopter Mark I from Kenner. Released in 1969, the toy with the tongue-twister name drew its design inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci’s 15th-century drawings of imaginary flying machines.
Like da Vinci’s imaginings, Kenner’s Ornithopter achieved flight by flapping its wings, thanks to an engine powered by a simple rubber band (referred to as a “power band” on the packaging). The toy came pre-assembled, offering immediate airborne gratification. All the user had to do was wind up the rubber band drive and let it go. On a calm day, the Ornithopter could remain airborne for 30-45 seconds before needing a human recharge.
After Kenner’s three-year run with the Ornithopter ended in 1971, the flying bird concept continued to appear in pop culture from time to time. A sci-fi version of an Ornithopter can be seen in the 1984 movie Dune from David Lynch. Fans of the trading card game, Magic: The Gathering also have access to a creature called an Ornithopter during game play. And a more modern take on Kenner’s version can be found in the remote control FlyTech Dragonfly, released by WowWee in 1997.
Explore classic toys and games that captured our attention and never let go.