Here's a vintage sand-powered automaton toy currently on ebay -- ALFRED THE ACROBATIC BAFFLEMENT THE FLYING MARVEL.
From the toy description:
When the box is rotated counter-clockwise 4 or 5 times and then rotated once clockwise the paper acrobat twirls and spins actively. The sand in the back of the sealed box turns a wheel (axle) and the trapeze artist does his acrobatic wonders and extremely dangerous feats of daring and thrills, and he doesn't use a net.
Here's where you can see additional pictures get a lot of details about Alfred the circus trapeze acrobat automaton toy.