Attractions: Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum

One thing I love to do on this site is cover places that I visit. There are so many attractions in and around my area that spotlight many unique forms of creativity that it would be a shame if anyone missed them. So if you are ever in Michigan be sure to visit Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum.

If you’re not planning to be in this State anytime soon, then this post is for you!

31005 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills, MI

What can one say about this place? It’s weird. Weird but wonderful at the same time! And as the first exhibit (pictured below) will show, it draws its inspiration from some pretty solid places:

Fine Inspiration Indeed!

Marvin Yagoda, the museum’s founder, had been collecting the items that populate the 5,500-square foot building for some 50 years. He was a recognized expert in the field of mechanical and electrical game apparatus and was involved in the appraisal of such items for the television series American Pickers. We lost Marvin on January 8, 2017 at the age of 78.

But the eclectic showroom he started so long ago still operates and is open to the public seven days a week.

Let’s have a look at just some of the oddities you can expect to find:

Instant Physical Exam for just 75 cents

You will find a huge collection of coin-operated animatronic dummies, mechanical games and other oddities here. The doctor above is just one of dozens of examples on display. If you plan on investing your money on this doctor’s diagnosis, prepare to be insulted!

Where to look first?

Walking in for the first time can be overwhelming! There isn’t a bare piece of wall or ceiling in the place.

“Vibratory Doctor”? Is that even legal?

Many of these vintage machines would have been on boardwalks or in sideshows, at a circus or freak show. I wonder why?

Beautiful Neon

There are several examples of neon signage as well, with my favorite example being displayed above.

Advertising Signage

Marvin was an equal opportunity collector and so also added vintage advertising to his collection.

Disturbing!

This museum is definitely a Home of the Weird as the above image shows. A 3-breasted Gypsy, anyone?

The Lighter Side

The museum also has many pieces to make you smile too. Such as the two Sailor Puppets above.

Hungry or Thirsty?

We are about half way through our tour, so if you’re getting a bit peckish, why not stop at the food stand and ask Humpty Dumpty for something to eat or drink?

Your Weird Hosts for This Post

What would a fun place be without a warped mirror?

On the Road

I need to get me a truck like this when I go searching for things to add to my weird and wonderful collection!

Now all good things come with a price:

Electric Donations

There is no charge to visit this museum but, as you can see above, donations to cover the cost of electricity are gratefully received! Also, almost all of the displays are fully operational and can be enjoyed for between 25 and 75 cents a play. This includes vintage arcade games (like Asteroids and Pac-Man), carnival games, pinball machines, and ‘Peep Shows’ (clean, of course!).

So please be sure to leave some of your hard-earned money behind!

COOL FACTOR: 5/5

I was thrilled to find such a unique and strange place among the attractions of Michigan! It won’t be for everyone, especially if you’re easily creeped out. But if you’re a student of history and a fan of early examples of coin-operated art and like to walk on the wild side at times… make your way to Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum!

Top 5 Tips for Displaying your Disney Collectibles

OK. You’ve just got back from that visit to The Happiest Place on Earth or perhaps The Vacation Kingdom. And although you promised yourself that you wouldn’t buy everything you saw, you’ve come home with an extra suitcase full of Disney collectibles!

Now what? Well, once you convince your significant other not to leave you, it’s time to find a place for all that new stuff. And it ain’t gonna be easy!

Fortunately for you, I’ve been in this predicament on more than one occasion, so here are my Top 5 tips for displaying your new treasures:

Number 5

Rotation. Let’s be realistic. Do you really have enough room to display every Disney collectible you own? Likely not. So display only a few treasures at a time. Between switches, carefully pack the rest of your collection away. But here’s a tip: Group each type of item or character in a separate box and mark the box clearly. So when it’s time to make the switch, you’ll know exactly where to look!

Come on, I know you’re that anal!

Number 4

Maintenance. Find a dust-free zone! Seriously. Find a dust-free zone! At one time I had over 200 collectibles displayed in a one-bedroom apartment, and the most familiar phrase I heard for two years was ‘When are you going to dust?’

This is where tip number five can help, but more likely you will want to opt for an enclosed display cabinet. This won’t eliminate all dust particles from your treasures, but it may help to extend the periods between dustings. And it allows for some cool lighting options too!

Number 3

Grouping. Eclectic is a nice word, but it doesn’t always make for the best look. It means to select or employ individual elements from a variety of sources, systems, or styles. In other words, you just throw whatever ya got on the shelf without any rhyme or reason! OK. I’ve done this and it doesn’t look that bad. However, if you have a nice room, it might be better to group similar types of items together. Figurines shouldn’t be mixed with Plush, for instance.

The only time this can work is if you’re doing a character theme, such as all Tinkerbell. This approach is usually best in bedrooms or offices, but can be done tastefully elsewhere. But beware: Tacky lurks just around the corner!

Number 2

Moderation. This is closely related to Rotation, but with a twist. Not only do you not want to try to display every collectible you own, but also don’t try to fill every space in every room. This is especially important if not everyone in your household is a Disney Addict! For them, it’s nice to create a Disney-free Zone where they can hide from your well-meaning fanaticism.

And don’t forget the visitors. Now, I know you’re not crazy, but they may be looking for evidence to the contrary. So don’t make it too easy for them to prove their theories about your sanity! Having them open the stove only to find a Disney figurine you didn’t have room for in the fridge won’t help your cause.

Remember: Moderation will make you appear reasonable even when you’re not!

Number 1

Location. Want to break your heart? Here’s what you do: Place your most prized and fragile figurine at precisely the eye-level of a two year old. Then sit back, and in approximately 7.4 seconds, you will own a broken figurine! Want to avoid this? Then follow this simple placement chart:

  • Figurines and other breakables up high
  • Collectibles with small pieces and display dolls at medium height
  • Plush, PVC, and heavy durable items at the bottom

Of course, it goes without saying that any treasure that holds a special place in your heart should either be up high or in a closed display cabinet.

I hope these five tips will help you to enjoy your treasures for years to come!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some dusting to catch up on.