Collectors wound up over vintage robots

February 1, 2009 at 2:37 am (Retro Favorites)

Tin Toy Robots

Tin toy robots were generally built with squarish parts. They normally come with a square tin head with some robotic feature or another. The robot bodies were also square or rectangular. I guess this is because mass producing square shaped tin parts were simpler and helped keep the cost down. As production methods improved, tin toy robots of various shapes and sizes started to hit the shelves. Rounded shapes started to become common and more complex functions for a tin toy became the norm.

The simplest tin toy robots were basically a tin cube with movable appendages bolted on. The attraction came from the painted features of the tin toy. Wound up springs and some simple gearing gave other tin toy robots limited mobility. You just needed to wind up the toy and set it on the ground. The tin robot would walk in a straight line most of the time. It did not matter that most robots tend to veer a little to one side because suddenly, you are the master of a little tin Frankenstein monster!

Manufacturers became more and more creative over time. As a result, more nifty features were added onto tin toy robots. There were robots that would walk after being wound up and then pause for a short while to emit sparks from their mouths. Some tin toy robots had multi-colored gears mounted on the front panel of their tin bodies that would rotate while the tin robot was in motion.

Tin toy robots could also take a fair amount of abuse. Rough play will result in scratches and dents but the tin bodies offer a decent enough protection for the tin robots to keep on functioning. Nowadays, tin toy robots are a collector’s item and can fetch a good price on the tin to collector’s market. Excerpt from About Tin Toy Robots by Arturo Ronzon


Vintage Toys Tin and windup robots

Vintage Toys: Robots and Space Toys (v. 1)

Toys have reached unprecedented levels of popularity among collectors and this book captures the beauty and the appeal of these timeless collectibles in a way never before seen. Packed with beautiful, large color photographs and encyclopedic-style details, this volume a must-have resource for collectors and nostalgia buffs focuses on tin toys manufactured from World War I through the 1970s. This book tells a fascinating story of toymaking impacted by forces as divergent as changes in technology and the outbreak of war. American, British, French, German and Spanish robots and space toys are featured, but special coverage is given to the creative Japanese tin toys that flourished after World War II. More than 300 different items are illustrated and profiled. For each, a description of features, variations, manufacturer and place in history is provided, along with up-to-date collector values.


Blast Off! Rockets, Robots, Ray Guns, and Rarities from the Golden Age of Space Toys

Who could have believed that a toy robot made in Japan from scrap tin would one day fetch nearly $70,000 at a Sotheby`s auction? Blast Off! chronicles the golden era of space toys, an age of imagination unbound by the more mundane realities of space travel ushered in by Sputnik and the Space Age. Containing hundreds of striking color photos of some of the most beautiful and ofttimes bizarre toys ever created — many never before seen in print — Blast Off! unearths the nearly lost histories of these space treasures and the companies that created them. Not limited to the presentation of these unique and fascinating playthings of the past, Blast Off! includes one-of-a-kind prototypes, original packaging and instructions, glimpses into ultra-rare Japanese robot catalogs, long-lost advertisements, vintage comic-strip and pulp-magazine art, and items of every description from every corner of the globe. Blast Off! covers extensively some of the most profound toy and space phenomena of the era, from Buck Rogers to Flash Gordon to the Space Opera programs of the infancy of television to a blow-by-blow account of the greatest Tin Robot auction in history. Blast Off! is an essential resource not only for the collector, but for anyone with an appreciation of pop culture — or just plain fun! * Introduction by award-wining author, futurist, and cultural commentator Harlan Ellison. 

Toy robots have certainly come a long way from Jacques de Vaucanson’s mechanical duck over two centuries ago. They are a more common sight nowadays, and it is without a doubt that we will continue to see more of toy robots in the years to come.


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