Remco Movieland – a surprisingly good toy?

Front view of the Remco Movieland toy drive-in theaterA few years ago, I wrote about the Remco Movieland, a 1959 drive-in toy that didn’t look that much like the opening sequence of its TV advertisement. What I didn’t notice then was that Scott Santoro at the Retro Rockets blog had one of them to show off. According to the Santoro, the Movieland is not so bad. “I loved it anyway,” he wrote. “To me, it wasn’t just a toy, it was an experience.”

Santoro included a reference from my youth, the Give-A-Show Projector (profiled at Retroland), which had cardboard strips of six slides per story. He didn’t say how many images were in each Movieland feature, but “there were enough panels to convey the bare essentials of a story including a beginning, a middle and an end.” There’s a lot more information about exactly how the Movieland worked, with many helpful photos, so you really should go read it!

Screen shot from Remco Movieland TV ad

Looking at that ad again, I took a screen shot from the beginning and noticed more than I had when it flashed by in less than four seconds. For example, it really is the Remco toy at the top of the hill, and there’s a diagonal ramp up to the entrance and exit. But what’s that in front at the bottom of the hill, where the cars are parked? Is it a small strip mall with really shallow stores? Is it a farmer’s market with colorful posters? But I digress.

It turns out that there were enough Movieland toys sold that there’s usually one available on eBay. At this writing, pristine editions can run several hundred dollars, but the beat-up, pieces-missing result of a normal childhood is typically under a hundred, depending on condition. So if you really want one of your own, now you know where to buy it.