Add a Comment to this Note (list members only)
Dead medium: The MiniCine toy projector
From: (Stephen Herbert)

I'm a small publisher (part-time): The Projection Box,

publishing monographs (original research and facsimiles)

on pre-cinema, early film, and optical entertainments. If

I mention my own publications in my messages forgive me =

it isn't a commercial plug = our booklets don't make a


The MiniCine Toy Projector.

Arguably 'The Best Toy Projector Ever Made' (my

description!). The MiniCine was sold in Britain by Martin

Lucas Ltd., from addresses in Balham, South London, and

Hollingwood, Lancashire. It was introduced around 1949/50,

and seems to have disappeared about 1958.

It was advertised in various publications, from the

Film User handbook to Eagle comic. There were two basic

models in metal, one for use with a transformer, and one

that was larger and took batteries in the base.

The magic of the MiniCine was that it could give a

five minute movie show with just one foot of 35mm film. It

achieved this with an ingenious mechanism that moved the

filmstrip up and down intermittently, stopping it in four

positions. There were four rows of pictures on the strip

(animated cartoon drawings), and the sequence was designed

to give a repeat cyclic motion.
(drawings 1,2,3,4,3,2,1,2,3,4,3,2,1 etc).

At the same time that the strip was moving up and

down, it was also moved gradually along, so new parts of

the strip came into view (a sort of motion picture

panorama). All strip drawings, even those based on Disney

licensed characters, were specially drawn for the system.

The result was (and is = I've got four of them, and sixty

strips) rather wonderful.

A particularly effective sequence is Bambi's escape

from the forest fire. Not all strips were 'movie,' some

were sequences of still pictures (including educational


There was also a MiniCine (Disney model) projector

sold in the USA. I have a photograph of one but no further

details. It had a plastic body.

Not really an entirely dead medium, as I used one to

give a show at a friend's wedding party last month. I do

not know of any published information on the MiniCine,

apart from a technical paper that I wrote and distributed

about 10 years ago.

Stephen Herbert (