Part two – Les Joujoux

This is part two of a series of five, a free translation of a part of the book LES JOUJOUX written by Mr. Pierre Calmettes in 1924.

If you haven’t read part one yet, click this link:

These workers are also responsible for preparing the feet, lead feet, on which are attached the iron wires, which in the automata replace the femur, tibia and fibula.

These feet are heavy enough to keep the loopers in balance.

A wire of the same diameter is used to make the arms, skeletal arms, at the end of which the hands are welded.

The two halves of the torso, chest, abdomen and shoulders are joined together by small tongues and discs.

This forms the rib cage in which the engine will be embedded.

The engine is the soul of the machine.

Whether it’s a city cop, a clown, a lady with a broom or a firefighter, they’re all the same cogs.

These gears consist of ground iron and red copper gears, fused yellow copper pinions and steel pivots.

It is a steel spring sometimes 30 centimeters long and till 10 millimeters wide, which transmits the movement to the gears.

These act on the pinions, which turn other gears, and these make the machines spin or jump. It is understandable that expert employees are responsible for assembling the motors.

These engines must be flawless.

Shouldn’t the key that locks the spring go into the most ruthless of all hands, those of children?

And it was necessary to foresee, for the creation of an automaton mechanism, that it will be handled with incompetence, bent crookedly and thrown to the ground.

In fact, it needs to be fixed with special care so that it can function more than twice between the clumsy fingers of their little owners.

But the way they are designed, they are very strong, even the most complicated ones, the ones with eight or ten gears.

With a few details, it’s the same springs, the same gears and the same pinions that drive all models, made by the factory and running, tapping, pulling, driving, pushing, playing, rolling, mowing, sweeping, pumping, sawing, etc.

Once adjusted, tested, checked, accepted by the supervisors, the engines are prepared for assembly.

Mechanics connect the heads, hands, legs, arms, feet and all the parts that make up the figure.

Before dressing

The fitters are equipped with a small anvil, a hammer, a punch and pliers.

With dexterity they insert the legs into the indentations, fold these legs backwards and thus connect firmly and quickly with the skeleton, the half torso and the head to the neck.

After all their pieces come together, the automata present themselves to you so strangely lanky that they present you to the aliens of HG Wells (This is a reference to the science fiction novel: “The war of the worlds” by HG Wells) remind.

Their legs and their arms of wire, attached to a torso resembling an armor, their heads and their hands, blackened by stamping, form an ugly and incomprehensible whole, whose resemblance to the monstrous machines of the English writer is complete, when the engine starts and we see the feet go up alternately, carried by gaunt legs, pushing them forward, by stiff and jerky movements, a black box surmounted by a head that turns right and left, without one’s face from the skull, beneath the layer of dirt that covers it.

Children who love to play with this toy would never appreciate seeing it during assembly.

In fact, it is likely that they would categorically refuse to take such a strange object in their hands.

In the painting and dressing room, the transformation from an ugly mechanism into a beautiful toy takes place.

The women, who only populate the painting studio, share the work.

In the past, each of them treated only one color and one part of the figure.

And this little figure traveled from one to the other.

After dressing and painting

The first had pink on the head and on the hands; a second painted the mouth with carmine, another created the visual part with blue and black, another applied black varnish to the feet, to put the old man on a nice pair of pumps.

Today the work is simplified; all uniform colors are applied to the figures with an airbrush and only the details of the heads or the costumes are still colored by hand.

The wig is made simply with a layer of glue on the skull and felt scraps as hairs on the glue.

As it stands, the mechanical toy has taken on color and hair, but his body is still a skeleton.

He must be dressed, an operation that will take place once the shades of pink, black, blue, brown, white or red it is covered with will be dried.

The costumes with which we dress the vending machines have only a very distant relationship with clothes that adorn the ordinary dolls or the luxury dolls.

Even the simplest ordinary dolls have a more beautiful toilet, we cannot compare them with those of the mechanical toys from Martin’s factory.

The making of these dresses are done by ladies or girls. If you have spent a moment in the workshop area of ​​the factory dedicated to the clothing, you will understand why the dresses of the expensive luxury dolls are better cut and put together than those of the vending machines figurines

As an economic factor, here only the speed count. the workers have to work very fast.

Without realizing it, they applied the theories of the Taylor method. (Frederick Taylor was an American mechanical engineer who contributed to the theory of workshop organization (Taylorism)

The seams are then often replaced by a brush stroke with glue.

All useless gestures are suppressed, all superfluous things left out, such as sometimes sewing with thread and needle.

It’s faster and it’s much sturdier.


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