A life-sized E.T. stands like a sentinel next to the staircase within Fawcett's Art, Antiques and Toy Museum. The sprawling collection features toys spanning nearly a century from the 1920s to today. (Photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)
A glass case houses dozens of pre WWII-era Bisque figurines of Mickey and Minnie Mouse within Fawcett's Art, Antiques and Toy Museum. (Photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)
A non-working replica of Wyatt Earp's revolver sits under glass alongside an advertisement for a scale model of Frontier Town from the Lone Ranger radio program from the late 1940s. The model itself is housed in the same glass case at Fawcett's Art, Antiques and Toy Museum. (Photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)
A life-sized Yoda stands serenely on the upper level of Fawcett's Art, Antiques and Toy Museum. Museum owner John Fawcett -- an avid Star Wars fan -- said Yoda is his favorite character from the saga. This Yoda is one of many interspersed throughout the building, including a wooden cutout of the Jedi master hanging from an exterior wall. (Photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)
Toy soldiers stand at the ready within a glass case at Fawcett's Art, Antiques and Toy Museum. The plaster figures, circa 1950, are "extremely rare" because so many of the fragile soldiers were broken during play, owner John Fawcett said. (Photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)
John Fawcett is nearly indistinguishable from the many items at his namesake toy museum. Fawcett's sprawling collection features toys spanning nearly a century from the 1920s to today. (Photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)
A 1939 French carousel figure modeled after Donald Duck at Fawcett's Art, Antiques and Toy Museum is one of only two in the United States, according to museum owner John Fawcett. (Photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)
A bed adorned with Return of the Jedi sheets is the centerpiece of the Star Wars Room within Fawcett's Art, Antiques and Toy Museum. The museum's walls and ceilings are chockablock with toys, comic books, cardboard standups, cereal boxes and more. (Photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)
A plaster figure of comic strip character Jiggs from "Bringing up Father" was used to advertise cigarettes in the early 1900s. (Photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)
A collection of string puppets dangle from the ceiling at Fawcett's Art, Antiques and Toy Museum. (Photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)
People who say history can’t be fun have never gone to Fawcett’s Art, Antiques and Toy Museum in Waldoboro.
It would be nearly impossible for anyone to browse the 1930s and 40s toy trains, stuffed Mickey Mouses or the Snow White aluminum kitchen set and not smile. The images on the toys of Donald Duck, Little Orphan Annie, the Lone Ranger or Superman are at once nostalgic, whimsical and aesthetically fascinating.
Housed in a former tavern building, the museum is in four large rooms, each crammed with toys collected over the last 50 years by John Fawcett, an artist who taught graphic design at the University of Connecticut for 32 years. He and his wife, Jacqueline, opened the museum to in 1997. In the same building as the museum is an art gallery and a shop selling antique toys.
Since Fawcett is an artist, what draws him to collect the toys he does is the way they look. Not what was popular or what sells now, but what has some visual style and pop to it.
“It’s really about the aesthetics,” said Jacqueline Fawcett of the collection. “It’s more of a museum for grown-ups. Children don’t relate” because the toys are before their time.
That may be so, but a toy is a toy in any era. Think of all the toys that were popular 50 years ago – Lincoln Logs and Lionel trains, for instance – and think of all the similar toys that are still around today.
But certainly a lot of the toys in the museum are based on characters that kids today might not know, like The Lone Ranger, the masked hero of the Old West and the basis of a radio show in the 1930s and 40s and a TV show in the 1950s. There are several items in the museum from the collection of Brace Beemer, who played The Lone Ranger on radio, including his boots, his mask and his hat.
Another highlight is the large amount of Disney-related products, going back to a 1930s stuffed Mickey Mouse made by Steiff, a company known for teddy bears. But there are more contemporary toys too, including “Star Wars” pieces, some dating to the first three movies in the 1970s and 80s, and some newer. There is also a collection of Beatle-related toys and merchandise from the 1960s, including figures, pictures and lunch boxes.
Fans of the 1983 holiday classic film “A Christmas Story” will want to check out the museum’s Red Ryder collection, including comics, art, books and guns. In “A Christmas Story,” set in the late 1930s, young Ralphie is obsessed with getting a Red Ryder BB gun, made by Daisy, for Christmas. Red Ryder was the hero of a Western-themed comic strip, and the museum has a large collection, including more than 40 pieces of art drawn for the strip.
The museum closes “promptly at 4 p.m.” according to the web site, so the Fawcetts recommend that people arrive before 3 p.m. While there is a $6.50 admission for the museum, the adjacent art gallery and an area with toys and collectibles for sale can be browsed for free.
The museum is about three miles north of Moody’s Diner, so a museum trip can easily be combined with a late breakfast before the museum opens, or an early dinner after the museum closes.
Moody’s, established in 1927, is a Maine landmark steeped in history, which makes it a perfect companion to a museum full of antique toys.
You can satiate your appetite for childhood nostalgia and whimsy, then top it all off with a slice of custard pie.
WHERE: 3506 Atlantic Highway (Route 1), Waldoboro
WHEN: Noon to 4 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 20. The museum will re-open Memorial Day Weekend, 2016.
HOW MUCH: $6.50 admission to the museum, $7 on a card; Free to browse the art gallery and antique toys and other items for sale.