1928 Marx, No. 700 Dare Devil Flyer in Original Box

1928 Marx, No. 700 Dare Devil Flyer in Original Box

"Tower flyer" toys are defined as two air vehicles suspended from a balanced beam held aloft by a centrally located tower. They were manufactured in the U.S., Germany, and Japan from the mid 1920's through the late 1940's. 

Perhaps the most unique of these toys was the tin litho Marx No.700 Dare Devil Flyer. Consisting of five different components it's also one of the most difficult tower toys to find complete and in working condition. Included in this auction is a complete Dare Devil Flyer toy, with its original box plus its original instruction sheet. It's in magnificent excellent+ to near mint condition and works beautifully. This is only the second example complete with original box that I've seen.

The toy consists of 1) a tomato and green colored high wing monoplane, 2) a gray and maroon zeppelin, 3) a 4-story three dimensional city skyscraper, 4) a threaded balance beam, and 5) a metal rod counterbalance. 

The toy is powered using a clockwork motor set into the monoplane. The motor has two functions. It turns the propeller, but also engages a separate mechanism located on the right side of the fuselage. This causes the plane to revolve around the skyscraper, while simultaneously somersaulting head-over-tail in mid-air. The orange balance beam is angled and notched on one end to accommodate the somersaulting fuselage axle. I'm not aware of any other toy that has this capability. 

Tower toys typically have one vehicle which is heavier than the other. They usually revolve lopsided with one end higher than the other. Of course, this means that the heavier end will always touch the ground. The Dare Devil Flyer is a unique counter-balanced toy designed to revolve with both vehicles suspended in the air. 

The orange beam supports (the part that holds the monoplane and zeppelin) has seven holes drilled consecutive through one "arm". These are on the same side as the zeppelin. The monoplane is slightly heavier than the zeppelin, however their weight becomes evenly distributed with the aid of a metal hanging rod which is set into the balance beam. The question mark shaped rod can be hung through one of the seven holes. The beam will shift up and down faster or slower, or remain horizontal depending on which hole the weight is screwed into. This also varies the rotation speed of the beam and the number of somersaults that the monoplane completes. 

The number of times I've seen this toy it's never set up correctly using the counter-balance rod. In fact, without having the original instructions the function of those seven little holes is lost to history.If the hanging rod is omitted, which it always is, the beam will never balance and the toy will never work properly. The monoplane will always be on the low side. This is always how the toy is shown in references and auction catalogs.In addition, without the counter-balance rod the monoplane wing facing the skyscraper will always hit against the side of the building. This may explain the unusually high grade of the toy. 

The monoplane has a lever located on the left side of the fuselage to stop and start the motor. Unlike most tower toy controllers which bind internal gears, this mechanism uses a simples wire loop which protrudes through the engine manifold to physically stop the propeller from turning.

Most likely the difficulty and cost of manufacturing such a complex toy with five different parts resulted in its quick demise. It appears only in the 1928 Montgomery Ward Fall/Winter catalog where it sold for 98¢.

The original box is just as fabulous as the toy. Every panel has a repeated color illustration of five monoplanes spinning in different directions around a centrally located skyscraper. A single zeppelin is shown with a pilot parachuting to the ground below it. The rolling countryside is spread out over the entire box panel. Several other city skyscrapers are shown off to the right. The box has a hinged top lid with an interlocking base. 

The separate instruction sheet explains how the looping, somersaulting, and balance functions are performed and include several schematics. 

Size: Skyscraper with balance beam inserted 13" tall, Balance beam 22", Monoplane wingspan 7" fuselage 6½", Zeppelin 4½".

Sold: Sep. 2009

Price Sold: $ 819


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Subject: 1928 Marx, No. 700 Dare Devil Flyer in Original Box

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