I first discovered the amazing 1976 BBC documentary Princely Toys—about the incredible antique automaton collection of a man named Jack Donovan—on an art film tracker with the description “creepy toy documentary.”
That seemed too good to pass up and I’m glad I didn’t. Princely Toys is an unexpected pleasure and, yes, it’s a little creepy (check out the animated smoking monkey doll dressed as Napoleon in the beginning or the doll hacking a woman’s bloody torso with a butcher knife) but mainly it’s just… really neat. The soundtrack is probably from a music library, but it’s a suitably weird synth-based Muzak-y sort of affair that fits perfectly with the dimly-lit footage of Donovan’s superb 19th century animated doll collection.
There’s next to no information about this doc online. After his death, much of Jack Donovan’s unique collection was apparently acquired by the York Automata Museum, and after that closed down, sold to a Japanese collector.