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!

Hidden Mickeys Can be Found Everywhere!

They are everywhere in the parks. And you can find them in everyday life too. But assembled here are a few of my favorite manufactured Hidden Mickeys:

This famous Hidden Mickey is just outside of Walt Disney World and can be seen from the I-4. Maybe not the most practical shape for a power line pole, but it does look good!

Mickey Paint Cans

This do-it-yourself Hidden Mickey is quite ingenious! It shows that you and I can make our own cool Hidden Mickeys anywhere, anytime, out of anything!

Mickey Light Bulb

Now that’s a good idea! A light bulb in the shape of a Hidden Mickey. I’d buy them!

Last but not least is this image:

Disney Nouns Logo (2)

I took this at Walt Disney World while riding in one of the boats. It was being worn by a girl sitting across from me. I thought it looked cool against the water and shoreline, especially with the tilted angle of her head. With a little computer manipulation, I had an awesome shot of a not-so Hidden Mickey!

So what is your favorite Hidden Mickey?

Sinclair Oil Corporation Inspired Pixar’s Dinoco

The Sinclair Oil Corporation is an American petroleum corporation, founded by Harry F. Sinclair on May 1, 1916, by combining the assets of 11 small petroleum companies. Originally a New York corporation, Sinclair Oil reincorporated in Wyoming in 1976. The corporation’s logo features the silhouette of a large green dinosaur. And there is where the Disney/Pixar tie-in begins!

Dinoco is an oil company/gas station that has been seen in Toy Story and Cars. In Toy Story, the logo is an Apatosaurus. In Cars, the logo is a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Dinoco may have been based on the Sinclair Oil Corporation, because it also uses an Apatosaurus as its logo (above).

I recently came across a vintage promotional film for Sinclair service station owners entitled Sinclair: You Are a Retailer. It likely dates from the early 1960’s if the vehicles in it are any indication.

This was an extremely well done film for an in-house effort! And it yielded many interesting images…

    Sinclair Sales Video 006

Directly above, you can see what a typical Sinclair service station looked like back in the days of full-service and friendly attendants. Below is what a Dinoco service station looked like in Toy Story:

Dinoco Station Toy Story

Let’s compare all three dinosaur logos side by side. First will be Sinclair, then Dinoco from Toy Story, and last Dinoco from Cars:

    Dinoco Toy Story         Dinoco Cars

The first two dinosaur logos are very close, but it appears the Dinoco of the Cars franchise decided to power up their Dino!

It was a real treat to find this vintage promotional film from Sinclair! And it is good to see that Disney/Pixar is paying homage to companies that have helped to shape the landscape we pass through on a daily basis.

Ding Ding! Fill’er up please!