Toys of today are often loaded with a bevy of technological bells and whistles, but that’s not the only thing that makes them fun. Since the late 15th century, wind-up toys have entertained children and adults alike. Designer Emily Fischer of Haptic Lab is carrying on this rich tradition with her version of an ornithopter—a flying machine that makes a flapping wing motion and takes flight. Fisher crafted her toy bird in memory of Martha, the last known living passenger pigeon who died in 1914.
Calling the device the Flying Martha Ornithopter, it’s simple to operate. There is a small gear that you wind, and once tightened, release like you would like a paper airplane. The flapping motion—powered by a rubber band—pushes air downward and lifts Martha into the air. Fischer’s eye-pleasing design also encourages you to tweak the toy's flight patterns. “Turn the bird's adjustable tail left or right,” she offers, “throw it with wings up or down, twist the rubber band clockwise or counterclockwise.”
Made out of a bamboo frame with wings of mulberry paper, Martha joins the ranks of Fischer’s other birds in her Flying Animals collection. The designer is currently raising funds for production via a Kickstarter campaign. See the wind-up toy in action, below.