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X-ray your toys day

6 September 2007 by Sam

Our conservators are highly trained intelligent people who do serious scientific work. Most of time anyway – the other week they spent the day playing with toys. David Crombie explains that it was all in the name of science:


x-ray of a doll's head

Baby Annabel as you’ve never seen her before!

“On Friday 24 August, staff from the National Conservation Centre hosted an ‘x-ray your toys day’ as a fun way of showing children how science can be used to examine things and look inside them.

Children turned up with a variety of toys, and we saw Minnie Mouse, Wilma the teddy, and a little lion from the World Museum Liverpool shop amongst others. Some children who hadn’t known about the day had their toys with them anyway, and joined in the fun.

Apart from finding the squashy stuffing inside the lion, (“I think he’s full of beans!” said his owner…) we found that the inside of the head of a Baby Annabel doll was a complicated mixture of wires, mechanics and such like that gave the x-ray image a very surreal ‘android’ look that wouldn’t have been out of place in an episode of Doctor Who!

Inside a little musical bear, meant to hang on a baby’s cot and play a little tune, we could see the tiny clockwork music-box about 6cm long, with its pegged cylinder ready to turn against the tuned metal prongs.  We could even see the word ‘JAPAN’ in tiny letters on the case.

You can see a Flickr slideshow of x-rayed toys from the event here.

We used the new Konica Minolta Regius 190 digital x-ray reader to look at the items, and the digital plate technology means that the process is quick and easy, with no wet chemical processing of x-ray plates needed. This kind of equipment is more usually seen in hospitals, and has been a very valuable asset to the new Reveal laboratory at the centre.

Everybody had a lot of fun looking at the toys, and we hope to run another one in the future, so look out for the National Conservation Centre What’s On listings.”

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