Milestone’s Winter Toy Extravaganza closes the books at $750K, with rare Diamond Planet Robot in the lead
Fueled by international interest, many postwar Japanese toys landed above-estimate prices, as did classic American Marx toys
WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – Nearly 880 lots of high-quality antique and vintage toys crossed the auction block at Milestone’s December 10 Winter Toy Extravaganza, chalking up $750,000 and making many collectors’ Christmas dreams come true.
Fueled by strong international interest, four dozen robots and space toys easily achieved liftoff, with an extremely rare color variation of a Yonezawa (Japan) tin windup Diamond Planet Robot leading the group. At 10 inches high, Diamond Planet is the largest of all windup robots produced during the golden era of postwar Japanese toymaking. The 100% original robot with a blue body and red arms was offered together with a high-quality repro box and sold within estimate for $33,210.
From the legendary Masudaya (Japan) Gang of Five series, a 15-inch-tall battery-operated Target Robot presented in all-original condition, complete with its correct dart gun with dart. In excellent condition with glossy, colorful lithography and a super-clean battery box, it grazed its high estimate with a winning bid of $14,400.
Japanese toys had a great day overall. One of the most asked-about lots was the very rare Miura tin friction fire truck in bright primary colors with Gigantor Tetsujin graphics on the vehicle’s sides, hood and ladder. “It was an extremely nice example of a superhero toy that’s all but impossible to find. We knew it would fly,” said Milestone Auctions co-owner Miles King. In fact, the 7½-inch-long truck with firemen figures nearly tripled its high estimate with a selling price of $11,377.
Marx toys found favor with bidders, as well. A postwar classic with lithography second to none, a battery-operated Hootin Hollow Haunted House was not only in pristine condition, it also had all its original working parts and functioned perfectly. When activated, its actions include surprise appearances by a skeleton, vampire, black cat and ghost; and its sounds include a howling wind and shaking roof. Accompanied by its original pictorial box, the Haunted House in Milestone’s sale achieved $3,813 against a $1,000-$1,500 estimate.
“This toy is a favorite with Halloween collectors as well as collectors of battery-op toys,” King noted. “There’s always competition when a nice example like the one we sold appears at auction.”
Other Marx toys that surpassed pre-sale expectations included a hand-painted prototype of the company’s 1939-’40 New York World’s Fair “crazy car” [so named for its eccentric action], which rose to $7,995 against a $3,000-$5,000 estimate; and a 16-inch windup “Blondie’s Jalopy” comic character toy in exceptional all-original condition. It was a fresh, clean example with its original box and its key still enclosed in its factory bag. It changed hands for $4,305. Also noteworthy was a postwar comic character production from Marx’s Japanese subsidiary, Linemar. Known as Mechanical Popeye, the 5-inch-tall windup toy depicting the scrappy cartoon sailor was irresistible when paired with his rare, vibrantly-hued original box. All original, it easily surpassed high estimate at $4,428.
The moment Milestone’s specialists laid eyes on one particular German toy, a Distler 8-inch tin windup Directional Policeman car, they knew they had a winner. “None of us had ever seen one before, and that’s saying a lot, considering how many toys we’ve all handled over the years,” King observed. In all-original condition, the whimsical vehicle with a comical, bug-eyed driver was profusely decorated with graphics of cars, motorcycles, people, dogs and more. It sold just below its high estimate for $14,400.
In the world of pressed steel, Buddy ‘L’ rules. Amongst the Buddy ‘L’ toys that tempted bidders on December 10th was a 19-inch Road Roller with attractive paint and decals. Rated as being in VG-Excellent condition, it well outdistanced its $1,500-$2,000 estimate to settle at $6,457. Also, many collectors wanted a close-up look at a new/old stock Buddy ‘L’ factory case containing six examples of Model #5628 “Army Transport Trucks with Howitzer and Poly Soldiers.” Each of the 14-inch trucks, with accessories, was secured inside its original individual box, making this near-mint assemblage impossible to pass up. With multiple bidders chasing it aggressively, it sold above high estimate for $3,690.
Milestone’s next gallery auction, a New Year’s Vintage Toy Spectacular featuring many beautiful boxed racers and dozens of other types of fine toys, will take place on January 7, 2023, with all forms of remote bidding available, including absentee and live online through Milestone’s bidding platform or LiveAuctioneers. The gallery is located at 38198 Willoughby Parkway, Willoughby (suburban Cleveland), OH 44094. Start time: 10 a.m. ET. For additional information on any item in the sale, or to discuss consigning to a future Milestone auction, call 440-527-8060 or email [email protected]. Online: www.milestoneauctions.com