Machine Design

Backtalk 11/05/2009

Mickey’s virtual train tour
Mickey Mouse recently visited Kansas City, Walt Disney’s hometown, to unveil a traveling art exhibit that pays homage to Disney’s lifelong love of trains. Also unveiled was the newest Mickey-Mouse-inspired toy train set, Mickey’s Magic Choo Choo, just in time for Christmas.

The exhibit captures Walt and Mickey’s love of trains with a nod to railroad life in the early 20th century. Visitors will see rare animation sketches and cells, historic photography, and some of Walt’s personal train-related artifacts. Photographs include Walt riding the “Lilly Belle” and Mickey rushing to catch a train in an animation sketch from “Mr. Mouse Takes A Trip.”

Mickey’s travels are tracked online at, which also debuted “Mickey’s Evolution,” a retrospective on why Mickey Mouse is a bona-fide global icon. Fans can also follow the train tour on, and on Facebook, searchword Disney Living.

Mickey’s Magic Choo Choo toy train set lays its own tracks as it moves and comes with a Mickey figure, features Mickey’s voice, plays music, and makes trainlike sound effects ($49.99). Inspiration for the toy was Disney’s 1929 animated short, “Mickey’s Choo Choo.”

King of the road to make a comeback?
SUVs have ruled the road for more than a decade, but their popularity and sales are been on the decline. Factors such as roller-coaster gas prices, going green, and customer preferences have all contributed.

Some industry experts say the SUV is here to stay, as consumers like the safety, command of the road, and roominess they offer. Fuel efficiency is the stumbling block. To overcome this, truck manufacturers like GMC are developing smaller versions with more powerful engines. GMC has just introduced the 2010 Terrain, which offers the same interior and ride height of traditional SUVs with increased fuel capacity of 32 mpg.

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