About 30 years ago, my dad purchased a Wilesco toy steam roller — which is a real, miniature steam-powered steam roller. It’s incredibly authentic for a model, and it resembles a high-priced antique far more than a toy. It’s been sitting on my fireplace mantel for the past four years, and my four-year-old son and my dad prompted me to fire it up for the first time a few days ago.
It’s wholesome and gratifying to get your hands greasy and burt, while igniting fuel cells and heating up a mini-boiler to extreme pressure and temperature. All this to watch a little steam roller go in circles on your backyard deck! It reminded me of my grandfather, who was a gadget and engineering mind, as well as a steam-engine fanatic. It’s so retro, and so reminded me of the kinds of experiences that today’s technologies and cheap plastics don’t deliver.
If you’re interested in purchasing a Wilesco steam toy, or want to learn more about how they’re made, visit the Great Toy Steam Company, Wilesco’s U.S. distributor. I plan to soon purchase the radio-control adapter set (seriously, they really do make one for this steam roller).