Published: December 28, 2021
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Milestone Auctions
WILLOUGHBY, OHIO – More than 900 lots of space toys and robots sprung to life at Milestone Auctions on December 18. Many of the robots came from a single collector who had been amassing them for about 30 years, auctioneer Miles King said. The sale also included pop culture toys featuring characters from movies, comics and TV shows, as well as Hot Wheels cars and other action figures.
King said the auction offered a wide variety of material at modest prices. Nothing was super rare, he said, but it was all nice stuff.
Taking the sale’s top lot was a Flying Spaceman by Japanese maker Bandai, a tin friction motorcycle with a green rubber “Superman” figure wearing a white acrylic cape. It sold for $22,230, bolstered by its original packaging that the firm called “the nicest box we have seen.” King said the market on the Flying Spaceman may be on a decline, with many top collectors having already added top examples to their collections. The toy dates from the 1950s and represents the first decade of the still-operational company’s production following World War II.
Also with a Superman theme was a Superman Supertime wristwatch that sold for $3,840. The 1950s watch from Ingraham & Co appeared still strapped to its original box and did well over double the high estimate. The Bristol, Conn.-based E. Ingraham & Co business was founded in 1860 by clockmaker Elias Ingraham. Over the next 100 years, the company adapted to the changing times, which included the advent of the wristwatch and electric clocks. Between the 1930s and 1960s, the company produced more than 15 million wristwatches.
From Masudaya’s Gang of Five came the Non-Stop Robot, also called the Lavender Robot, and the Giant Sonic Robot, also called the Train Robot. The Lavender Robot, in good condition with its original box, sold for $7,500. Behind at $2,165 was the Train Robot with a repainted body and reproduction box. The Gang of Five is highly coveted by toy robot collectors and its members consistently rank among the highest grossing robots at auction.
The Interplanetary Explorer produced by Naito Shoten was the rarest example in the sale, King said. The toy came with a partial box though the robot itself was all original and in good condition. Had the box been better, the $7,020 price would have likely doubled. Produced in the 1950s, Naito Shoten used the same pressing to produce other robot toys, including the Inter Planet Space Captain and the South Pole Explorer. Appearing without its box, the Space Captain sold for $2,340.
A Cragstan Astronaut by Daiya depicts the explorer/soldier in a space suit carrying a blaster. The figure is battery operated and originally came in three colors: green, red and blue. This example in red is of medium rarity-green is the rarest. At 15 inches high with original box, the example sold for $2,574. Behind at $907 was the blue version, which was distributed by Rosko as the Space Conqueror.
Still on the subject of blasters, there were others to choose from. A Buck Rogers Atomic Pistol Holster Set came with the blaster, leather holster, original playbook and box and sold for $1,229. The firm said it looked like it was never played with. At the same price was a windup Rex Mars Planet Patrol Sparkling Pistol by Marx. Both of these pistols would spark when the trigger was pulled.
In transportation was a tin windup Robot Torpedo with box by Marusan that sold for $1,872. A tin windup Jumping Rocket by Yoneya came with its original box and sold for $1,697. An Atomic Racer, maker unknown, in a space ship race car, went out at $1,560.
Two Robby Robot Space Patrol cars illustrated the icon-status that this toy has attained. First created in 1957 by Nomura, the toy is understood to have taken its inspiration from the 1956 MGM film Forbidden Planet, in which the character Robby the Robot earns a supporting role – a role that was a first-of-its-kind, as prior robot depictions lacked human personalities. Legend says that MGM issued a cease and desist to Nomura, which halted the production, but others contest that poor sales resulted in its termination. Low original production numbers have created two outcomes: a coveted collector’s market and a reproduction market. The sale offered both. An original Nomura example sans box sold for $1,320. In the 1990s, Mikes Train House (MTH) created a run of 500 reproductions, which have gained a following of their own due to their quality. An example from MTH with box sold for $1,345.
The sale featured some comic books as well, led at $1,989 by a run of ungraded issues 1 through 10 of Swamp Thing. An ungraded The Amazing Spider-Man #20, featuring the first key issue appearance of Scorpion, sold for $1,980.
Thirty-two lots of marbles went 100 percent sold as a lot of six onionskin examples blew through the $400 high estimate to take $4,680. The largest was 1½ inches. Another lot of marbles numbering to around 20 similarly left its $200 high estimate behind as it brought $1,200. The lot included Clambroth, China, swirls and more.
Milestone Auctions’ next toy sale is on January 29. For more information, 440-527-8060 or www.milestoneauctions.com.
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