Major collection of rare robots, space toys and superheroes leads Milestone’s May 27 Premier Toy Auction
Exotic Japanese productions, many with original boxes, join American cast-iron, tin and pressed-steel classics in a big 881-lot sale
WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – Today, many nations and private companies are engaged in the Space Race, but there’s no contest as to who the winner is when it comes to space toys. Japan has been the clear and unchallenged leader in the manufacture of robots and space toys since the end of World War II. The imaginative designs of Masudaya, Yonezawa, Nomura and scores of other Japanese firms of the 1950s-1970s are revered by collectors who love the toys’ fanciful looks and quirky actions, not to mention the wild artwork on their boxes. Milestone Auctions, the home of great toy collections, will offer a treasure trove of sought-after robots, space toys and dozens of other types of vintage playthings at their big May 27th Spring Premier Toy Sale.
The 881-lot auction is led by an out-of-this-world collection of postwar Japanese rarities, including Tetsujin, Astroboy, Space Ace and everyone’s favorite: a Nomura Walking Batman, with its original box. “There’s already a lot of buzz about these toys because, to our knowledge, no one up until now has auctioned a high-quality Japanese robot, superhero and character collection of this size,” said Miles King, co-owner of Milestone Auctions.
The parade of highlights is led by an excellent battery-operated Target Robot from Masudaya’s “Gang of Five” robot series. It’s unusual to encounter an example as clean, original and complete as the one offered by Milestone. Standing an impressive 15 inches tall and finished in glossy purple, red and yellow with a red circular target on its chest, it comes with its correct dart pistol and two darts. Even better, it retains its colorful original box, making it a top prize for any collection. Target Robot is ready for action and has a pre-sale estimate of $20,000-$25,000.
Marching right behind Target Robot is his Gang of Five brother, Masudaya’s Radicon Robot. The big, boxy battery-op with a gray industrial-metal finish is also 100% original and comes complete with its correct remote-control box and antenna. Radicon is historically significant, as it is considered by pop-culture scholars to be the first radio remote-control-operated toy. It retains its original pictorial box depicting a boy in a spacesuit directing Radicon with his remote control. It will be offered with an auction estimate of $15,000-$20,000.
The androidal parade continues with a rare Yonezawa 13-inch-tall 8 Man Walking Robot. This coveted toy is all original and finished in bright primary colors. Even better, it is in working order and comes with its fantastic-looking original Japanese-language box with visuals of 8 Man running in space as a rocket zooms past him. Estimate: $6,000-$8,000
8 Man is also the subject of a Yone/Yonezawa 12-inch battery-operated remote-control Thunderbird car. In complete, all-original condition, it has a retractable roof and steerable remote control. Its unbeatable graphics include flames along the car’s outer edges, Japanese writing, and images of 8 Man on both the hood (8 Man’s face) and trunk (8 Man against a checkered flag). Even the original box is a work of art, repeating the sensational graphics and colors seen on the car. This toy is a hot ticket and should easily command $3,000-$5,000.
Another rarely seen toy is Tada’s 13-inch tin wind-up Big X thin-leg walker. All original and complete, including its purple cloth cape and winged helmet boldly emblazoned with an “X,” the toy is in working order and comes with its original pictorial box. Hard to find in any condition, this striking example will cross the auction block with a $4,000-$6,000 estimate.
Bidding is expected to take off the moment Nomura’s battery-operated Walking Batman takes the spotlight. “Every robot and superhero collector wants one for their collection, but on the rare occasion that one becomes available, there’s always very strong competition, and not just from American bidders,” Miles King noted. The Walking Batman in the May 27 sale is all original, complete, and looks as though it has never been played with. When tested, it worked perfectly. Together with its beautiful original box with images of Batman, Robin and the Batmobile, this postwar classic is on target to reach $6,000-$8,000.
Those who like their toys rare and exotic will be in the bidding fray for a Bandai (Japan) battery-operated Flying Space Ace. All original and complete with a colorfully decorated remote control and wire track for toy to fly on, it is accompanied by its original Japanese-language box with killer graphics. Very rare and in spruce condition, it carries a $3,000-$5,000 estimate.
Sometimes collectors of prewar Japanese toys have to exercise patience because the early productions they seek are so hard to find, particularly in nice condition. Milestone has something very special to offer those collectors: a 9-inch pre-WWII wind-up “Race Car ‘Glory’” with a full-body driver figure. The racer boasts distinctive colors of the Art Deco period, and its original pictorial box exudes charm with its depiction of three children smiling with delight as they admire their toy car. Estimate: $2,000-$3,000
Cast-iron toys are always at home in Milestone’s toy sales. Among the highlights to be auctioned on May 27 are a rare 13-inch-long Kyser & Rex cast-iron Santa in Sleigh toy pulled by two reindeer in all-original condition, estimate $6,000-$8,000; and an ultra-desirable Hubley cast-iron Harley-Davidson Hill Climber motorcycle. The 8½-inch-long bike is all original, finished in a scarce orange color with a driver “dressed” in black from head to toe. A sturdy survivor with no breaks or repairs, it will roll across the auction block with a $5,000-$8,000 estimate.
Collectors of pressed-steel toys will also be met with a trove of outstanding options to bid on. A very scarce 25-inch-long Kingsbury motor-driven pressed-steel stake-bed truck displays excellent paint and retains its original white rubber tires and J.C. Penney “Little Jim” decals. Its pre-sale estimate is $2,500-$3,500. Also, a 23-inch-long Buddy ‘L’ Junior Oil Tank Truck, all original including its paint, could roll out the door for a winning bid of $1,000-$1,500.
Milestone’s May 27, 2023 Spring Premier Toy Sale will be held at the company’s gallery at 38198 Willoughby Parkway, Willoughby (suburban Cleveland), OH 44094. Start time: 10 a.m. ET. All forms of remote bidding will be available, including absentee, by phone, and live online through Milestone’s bidding platform or LiveAuctioneers. For additional information on any item in the sale, call 440-527-8060 or email [email protected]. Online: www.milestoneauctions.com
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