c.1949 Philipp Niedermeier Nocturno Express In Original Box

c.1949 Philipp Niedermeier Nocturno Express In Original Box

This clockwork tin litho "over-under" toy was based on the classic spook house amusement park ride. It features an array of demons, ghouls, devils, mad scientists, and skeletons. Manufactured by Philipp Niedermeier, Germany, it comes complete with its original double sided good evil vehicle and its awesome full color original box.

The word Nocturno taken from nocturnal literally means "night-loving". Niedermeier cleverly hyphenated it with "Express" to create an imaginative toy name with very imaginative graphics. It consists of a grassy lithoed base with two buildings. The larger of the two is open ended with see-saw tracks on the roof and both sides. The smaller building is a "surprise".

The sides of the large building depicts the actual ride. The key-wind side represents the entrance with carnival patrons milling about in front of the barker. It shows the two-man cars with their occupants entering the ride and several large beasties painted above them.

Like the actual ride, the scene shown on the other side of the building shows it exiting briefly to the outside and then reentering without stopping. A vampire, snakes, bats and other creatures were painted above the riders. This is pretty much what you'd expect to see for an amusement ride of this type. However there's a second smaller building which balances the third track. This is the "real" entrance. The goblin and demon pulling the little girl into an oven aren't flat overhead drawings, but were drawn as real boogie men. On the other side it shows an illuminated owl and a cat with siren. A boy running scared in front of them knows that they aren't part of the ride. Slightly risque graphics for a nearly 60 year old toy. It's also interesting to note that the classic Halloween Train toy had graphics drawn by the same artist.

The double-ended car which passes through the large building was lithoed with the face of "good" on one side and "evil" on the other. Kids with their heads out the windows are in-between. It runs on four metal disk wheels. The key is separate and appears to be original. The toy is marked only with "Made in Western Germany".

The toy works beautifully. The first track raises up until it releases the vehicle. Gravity pulls it onto the second track which then passes over the roof of the large building. As it nears the end of the second track it tilts downwards releasing it onto the third track. With the weight now gone the second track tilts upwards allowing the car to pass back through the building and to the starting point where the cycle is repeated. It's neat just to sit and watch.

The box features two sets of imaginative full color images. One panel is set against a dark background. It shows the Express vehicles with adult riders passing by monsters and demons of all sorts. The drawings resemble the style found in period magazines like New Yorker and Look. The other panel is set against a bright background. It shows a crowd standing in front of the ride entrance. Everyone wants to go in, even the dachshund. The only one who doesn't is the kid. He probably has already been on the ride. The only markings on the box are "Made in Western Germany" and the PN catalog number.

Size: 18" x 3" x 3"

Date Sold: Apr. 2008

Price Sold: $ 460


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Subject: c.1949 Philipp Niedermeier Nocturno Express In Original Box

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