LONDONDERRY — Don’t be surprised if Aviation Museum of New Hampshire staff and volunteers stop what they’re doing and start playing with toys at about 6:30 p.m. most days.
The museum’s “Festival of Toy Planes” exhibit, which runs through Jan. 12, is designed to bring out the kid in everyone. So for five nights a week — Wednesdays through Sundays at the museum on Navigator Way, visitors are likely to find museum reps throwing down in a game of “Barn Buzzin’ Goofy,” a vintage Disney game of skill.
The demo also includes toy planes for young children that whir, beep and prowl the floor like ancestors of today’s robot vacuums. Superheroes represented include Wonder Woman, piloting her translucent aircraft while crying out warnings to evil-doers when tapped on her head.
Still, the audience favorite so far seems to be a metal mechanical wind-up toy, “Duck on Bike,” still in its original cardboard box. Wound up by a metal key, the duck pedals in a wide circle while three feathers spin rapidly above the duck’s head.
“Maybe it’s the simplicity, but something about ‘Duck on Bike’ captures people’s imaginations,” said Jeff Rapsis, executive director of the museum.
The program includes working toy coin banks promoting Lindbergh’s 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic, a plastic two-player Disney airplane game with Goofy as pilot, and magnetic and friction-powered UFO toys.
The exhibit uses toys and model aircraft to trace aviation history from the beginning of powered flight through to the present day. The exhibit features aviation-themed toys, models, puzzles and promotional items from throughout the 20th century, from the Wright Brothers to Buzz Lightyear. Also on display are vintage aircraft piloted by celebrities including Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Elmo, and Barbie.
“For a century now, children have been finding toy planes and model aircraft among their holiday gifts,” Rapsis said. “No matter what decade you grew up in, our ‘Festival of Planes’ exhibit will help you rediscover the toys that first acquainted you with the magic of flight.”
Admission is $5 to $10, or free for children under 5.
For more information, visit www.aviationmuseumofnh.org or call 669-4820.