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Author Topic: The Monark Top  (Read 16544 times)

Watts' Tops

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The Monark Top
« on: October 31, 2009, 09:26:54 PM »

Don has marketed the Monark Top in the past.  I would like to write a bit about the beginning of that top.
One day in the early 70's, Dwight Paulson and I were discussing tops and camps.  He said, and I agreed that good tops were hard to come by and kids wanted tops.  They saw us spin and wanted one too.  We did  not have any.  I suggested we make our own mold and make our tops.  He had a good laugh and that was the end.  A couple of months later, he wrote asking if I was still interested in the top mold.  As it turned out, we each put in $200 along with his brother and dad and, I think, Don Winters.  We had $1000.  The mold was made in Seattle for about $600.  A one shot with point made of the same material as the top.  Dwight experimented with different plastics.  Some made good tops but lousy points and vice verses.  Some were brittle or to light.  I have some made before the M was put on top made of different materials. 
As it turned out, we settled on a plastic and started making tops.  We had to glue them together and package our own.  If I remember correctly, we sold them to camp kids for about 30 cents. 
This went on for several years with top spinning contests in camp.  I had Monark tops in my classroom when I taught school. Kids loved them.  We had lots of tape to fix them when they came apart. 
Then the mold sat for about 20 years. Dwight had it then I had it for a while and tried getting some tops made.  The fastening parts together was the hurdle.
Don Olney heard about the mold and bought half of it.  We were now able to get Monark tops again only not quite for 30 cents.  Don improved the tip making it out of separate plastic and did a good job marketing it.
For all the tops I glued together, I never thought of wrapping tape around it before selling it.  I learned this now from this web site.  What a great idea.  We just kept re-gluing the tops when kids brought them to us.
I am sure Don can add information about the Monark as can Dwight Paulson.
Walt Watts
Watts' Tops
Prov. 3:5-6
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Watts' Tops
Prov. 3:5-6

Ketzaltlipoka

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2009, 09:57:33 PM »

It would be good have a photo.
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silvertop

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2009, 10:28:36 PM »

I'll try to get a photo taken to post.  I still have quite a few Monarchs around (I notice Walter spelled it differently?)-  I got the left-overs when The Toycrafter went out of business, plus I saved some from each batch we made over the years.  There are even a few from the original ones that I think I got from Dwight.  The Monarch was a definite improvement over the Duncan plastic tops of that era - 1960's, and until more recent times (when Dale, Duncan, and others realized there was a small market again, and designed some tops with further improvements, including the bearing tips) the Monarch was the best plastic top ever.  My  wooden top was modeled as closely as I could to the Monarch shape.  You should see the "ice cream cone" shaped wooden tops I made before the redesign.  The shape was not good, and the tips on my original peg tops were made from arrow parts - I believe they were the part that the feathers are glued to when you are making your own arrows.  Again I'll try to post some pictures.  They were basically terrible tops!   I just found one of the originals here at home - pictures below.  That is mason's line that I sold with them - I enclosed a small wooden wheel for a button.  I've already admitted that they were terrible tops, so please spare me the guffaws!  :) ;) :( ::)
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Don Olney
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topman@rochester.rr.com

Pulp

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2009, 07:27:11 AM »

The monarch top I know is that:




With a crown in the "crown" of the top.




Have a little defective inyection point in the same side of the two parts...




... so that, I wrap electrical tape around it (colours of the spanis flag is deliberate :-D )

The tip is tunned by myself.




And the Toycrafters paper:




In my oppinion, the top with the perfection of the Greek phylosophers.

Spin perfectly balanced, and is the top that burn my hand (pointest tip).
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ta0

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2009, 09:13:21 AM »

Ha! The instructions on that little piece of paper were my initiation to the art of top spinning!
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Pulp

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2009, 09:24:16 AM »

Ha! The instructions on that little piece of paper were my initiation to the art of top spinning!

Sure ยก  Does the drawings made by your hand ?
« Last Edit: February 07, 2010, 03:32:58 PM by Pulp »
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RunBMC

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2009, 09:40:51 AM »

with th plastic one pulp showed us, cn we do normal tricks like the boomarang? if so, were can i get one?
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mtntop

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2009, 09:50:22 AM »

Thanks for sharing the history of the monarch it is a great top i still look for them when I'm out shopping the web. I was just throwing mine yesterday as well as it's solid wood counterpart. I taped mine straight away so I haven't had to glue it yet, is the seam flush or nested? also were there any issues with balancing and cap orientation? Just curious.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2009, 09:52:26 AM by mtntop »
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Spinning In Mind

RunBMC

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2009, 10:08:14 AM »

is the monarch the same one on yoyoguy?
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mtntop

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2009, 10:22:45 AM »

It is but I think they have been sold out for a while
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poptop

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2009, 02:25:08 PM »

Thanks for the terrific bits of history!  I don't think too many folks here knew the whole story of the Monarch top.  I think we knew that Don bought the mold for the Monarch, but from whom?  Now we know!  Thanks.

Personally, I find the Monarch to be an improvement to the Duncan Imperial and Sir Duncan of the 60's.  These were both lighter and the Imperial suffers for poor balance.  The Sir Duncan is well balanced, but so light.  The Monarch is nearly 10g heavier than those old Sir Dunc's.  I do like the Duncan tip though.  I think I recall Walter saying previously, that while solving the problem of the caps coming unglued, the "snap cap" ruined plastic tops for play.

Here are the measurements I've taken:

Model            Mass (g)   Height (mm)   Width (mm)
Monarch          43.5          72.5         52
Sir Duncan       33.5          73.0         52

Again, these differences are slight and prolly within my margin of error. These two tops are quite similier; their crowns are about the same too.

Walter, do you still have the other half of the mold?
Don, do you have your half?
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Erratic Wobbler

silvertop

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2009, 09:22:15 PM »

I'll try to comment on some of the comments - starting at the end.  The mold for the Monarch tops is sort of in my possession.  First, I purchased half interest in the mold, not half of the mold.  The mold was in the possession of my plastics molding provider when they went out of business.  The owner kindly took many of his molds with him when he went to work for a different plastics company as their sales person, so the mold is theoretically still available.  I remember some discussion with Cliff about whether the separate mold for the tips was also still around, along with a mold I had made for some lovely little plastic finger tops that I used in our "Spinning Top Mazes".  The mold remained mine ( 1/2 mine ) even with the sale of The Toycrafter, and subsequent bankruptcy of the new owner.

The little gate flaws were always a problem.  We trimmed them a bit, but did not put any special effort into trying to make them perfect, so the issues of part orientation, etc did not come up.  (The tape idea is a wonderful innovation)  There is an inner lip that aligns the crown part and the base part quite nicely!  In our defense, probably less than 1 in a thousand of them were sold to anyone who even knew how to spin them, and certainly not to anyone who weighed, balanced, or taped them!  The button was originally die cut from plastic sheeting, and subsequently we laser cut them from 3mm Baltic Birch, and also supplied the wood buttons to Brad Countryman for his various generations of tops.  In fact, we used lathe turned white plastic tips from Brad as the tips for our wood tops for a while, until we realized we could mold them cheaper, and then we sold tips to Brad.

I'm don't remember the kind of plastic we used, but I do remember that some of the odd colors for different batches were based on Cliff having odd small batches of the right plastic that I could get cheaper than insisting on a particular color!  I remember particularly liking the Yellow & Black version!  The blue and red ones were a similar serendipity of small batches of colors available.  The few pieces with mixed colors during the switchover in the colors, were particularly cool, and would be particularly collectible I presume.

The comment on the sharp points is right on target.  The original tips from the mold were quite rounded, but the new ones (made with some combination of fiber glass and plastic) came out quite sharp, and the cost of reshaping the mold - essentially adding material back in - was very expensive.  I always threw the first throw on the floor to blunt the tip!  The artwork on the instructions was done by an old girlfriend.  I wrote the written material with a lot of agonizing over how to convey the complexity of top spinning in words!  In the old days, pretty much everybody learned from the previous generation - you just absorbed the skill from watching the big kids!

The Monarch, and the Wooden Peg Top were always big money losers for us.  Given that we sold up to a million tops and other toys a year, the 2 or 3 thousand peg tops we sold per year were a tiny drop in the bucket, and cost us a lot more than we were ever able to sell them for.  I just felt I had to keep them around.  I was always amused that many toy ads and ads for the NY Toy Show, would feature the old fashioned throwing top as an iconic toy, even though pretty much nobody knew how to play with them!
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Watts' Tops

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2009, 09:26:59 PM »

I did spell it wrong.  Sorry about that.  Should be Monarch.
  We sold half interest.  Another correction.  If I dig around in my tops stuff I will find parts for the originals. 
  Just a side note.  I did develop a spin weld system for my lathe.  Each half was placed in a molded block.  One on the stationary side and the other spinning.  I put acidtone on the two matching edges, turned on the lathe to a high speed, pushed the tail stock to the parts came together and turned off the power.  When the lathe stopped, the top was one piece.  Only about 1 in ten came out perfectly balanced.  Not really good but the kids didn't mind.  I remember one boy asking me to test his top.  It was the most smoothly balanced top I had ever used.  I told him that had I known that, I would not have sold it.  That was an exception.
  Don is right, the Monarch was a tremendous improvement over what Duncan was putting out.
 :D
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Watts' Tops

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2009, 09:33:06 PM »

The original points were round.  Dwight was a bit afraid of kids getting hurt with a sharp point and over my wishes, had them rounded.  Don really improved on that one. :D
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Darren Kim

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2009, 11:22:30 PM »

I got a monarch from a friend, and I have to say, It is like a really balanced imperial, but way better. It regens really smooth.
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