Published: October 3, 2000
F.H. Griffith’s Rare Robots Hit the Block in December
If you look up the word “robot” in the dictionary, you’ll find it is a derivative of the Czech word, robota, which means “forced labor.” Searching further, the definition goes on to say, ‘any manlike mechanical being built to do routine work for human beings’ (read: George W. Bush).
We know what they look like – rudimentary metal boxes with crude features, unfazed orbs for eyes, and a stilted way of moving about that’s often quite comical in its execution (read: Al Gore) – all of the attributes that make you love them and want them madly. Perhaps so much so that you are willing to post some major bucks for them on the auction boards.
on December 9. Griffith, one of the earliest robot enthusiasts, had in his assemblage a boxed Diamond Planet Robot (est.$30/40,000), a complete “Gang of Five” set (including “Machine Man”, est. $40/60,000), and a battery-operated “Mego Man” thought to be the only one in existence (est. $50/70,000).
The first tin toy robot, “Lilliput,” was made in Japan in the early 1940s. Mass production began in earnest in the 1950s and 1960s, shortly after its popularity was recognized,
It’s the rarity of these examples that has driven the price of tin toy robots to the extreme. It’s also the reason why these vintage toys don’t change hands all that often either, making it difficult to gauge with any certainty what the going rate will be for the heavy hitter pieces mentioned above. At Sotheby’s last toy robot auction in 1996, prices reached astronomical heights, and the catalog has since become one of the hobby’s most oft-quoted reference works.
Since this is a novel collectible, it’s not surprising the price a robot may fetch at auction may fluctuate wildly, as there are few reliable price guides. This should be an exciting auction to keep an eye on – if not for the wild escalator ride into the world of obscenely priced toys, then for the rare showing of .
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