If you're wondering about the machinery inside the Christmas Box, here's the main part of it. This electric motor came from an old Erector set. You can see how it drives the revolving children/Santa platform through bevel gears. Actually, it isn't a direct connection...the motor turns a cam that intermittently contacts the lower edge of the revolving platform. The result is that the platform remains stationary most of the time, but every so often it quickly revolves 180°.
On the other side of the motor is a pulley that drives the Santa-and-reindeer disc that revolves outside the window. You can see it better in this rear view of the whole box. The disc is clear Plexiglas with an amazingly detailed Santa and sleigh (drawn by the traditional reindeer) painted on paper and painstakingly cut out and pasted to the disk.
I'd like to replace the disc, as it's somewhat yellowed with age, but recreating the reindeer cutout is way beyond my skills. I'm a better carpenter and electrician than Grandy was, but nowhere near his equal as an artist. Here's a closeup--the whole thing is less than five inches long!
I love all the details in the Christmas Box. For example, take a close look at this closeup of the table. Notice the watercolor set? There's a paintbrush in a glass of water, and you can see that the children have been painting pictures of reindeer and Santa Claus. (That empty aquarium on the table just begs for some fish and maybe a miniature castle, doesn't it? Well, one of these years...) And on the shelf behind, you can see books, a ball, a red toy automobile...and of course there's my silvery radiator in the corner. Every inch of the Christmas Box is crammed with this kind of detail, from the electric candle sconces on the walls to the alphabet blocks that spell out Grandy's initials, "G M P B."
Here's a closeup of some toys from the other side of the room. I love the giraffe poking his neck out of Noah's ark! The ark, by the way, is only an inch and a half long, which gives you an idea of how detailed these toys are.
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All photos by Andy Baird (using Nikon 950 digital camera).