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In 1997, the idea for an amazing Meccano character for the cast of Key to Imagination¬© was born. The Head of Research And Development would live on Starshine’s home planet, Etheria. After numerous sketches of the idea, RAD was born into the laboratory of Logandy, musical scientist, and things would never be the same. We had long ago learned to appreciate Jeff Duntemann’s love of Meccano and knew whatever he had in mind for RAD would be spectacular, and we haven’t been disappointed.

Jeff, well-known author and Editor in Chief of Visual Developer Magazine, donated countless hours on RAD’s design and assembly. He sent frequent emails on his progress, explaining in great detail which parts he’d ordered for RAD’s neck assembly, face, and the inner mechanics. When Jeff mentioned the 142j’s or the 23ap’s, I wrote them into the script. When RAD complained about some “stiffiness” in his neck, he mentioned those parts as the culprits. RAD has a wonderful sense of humor and speaks with a British accent, trading quips with his friend TC, a Hero Jr. Robot. He currently appears in the video adaptation of Key To Imagination¬© that will be distributed throughout Arizona school districts, beginning in the early spring of 2000. The show stresses the importance of reading and the video will also be utilized as a demo tape for a local children’s television show.

The Nuts & Bolts (Jeff, this is definitely the place for your Meccano talk) RAD’s base is mounted on a circular track in the middle of a table. Acting as a Meccano puppeteer, Jeff sits in a special chair under an elevated card table, with RAD’s controls near his face. He watches RAD’s movements on a video monitor at his feet, fed by a video camera. Jeff’s creativity, enthusiasm and support during the long hours of live performances, rehearsals, and filming have been incredible. He’s part of the magic that brings Etheria to life and I’m delighted to have him as a friend on both Earth and Etheria. To our knowledge, RAD is the only Meccano actor on the planet and he enjoys that celebrity billing. Key to Imagination¬© ends with a music video of local celebrities, including the Honorable Jane Hull – Governor of Arizona, David Levy – well-known astronomer, members of the Arizona Cardinals football team, and a host of others that share our belief in the magic of reading.

E. Sue Thurman

Note: Rad is further described in the March 2000 edition of “Canadian MeccaNotes”. All RAD photos were taken by Matthew A. Thurman.

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