Rare Japanese robots and space vehicles dominated the top 10 at Milestone’s $700K Spring Premier Toy Auction

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Boxed Gang of Five Target Robot, Jupiter Robot, Space Patrol Car, Walking Batman and Batman Jeep were among the big winners

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – Many hundreds of absentee bids were already on the books by the time Milestone Auctions’ co-owner and principal auctioneer Miles King stepped up to the podium to officially open the Ohio company’s May 27 Spring Premier Toy Auction. The 835-lot event, which featured virtually every popular category in the antique-toy realm, was on many a collector’s radar and had been closely monitored online, especially after word got out about a stellar collection of rare Japanese robots and space toys featured in the sale.

As predicted, it was the postwar Japanese rarities that added the most fuel to the fire, helping to push the one-day total to a pleasing $700,000, inclusive of buyer’s premium. The undisputed leader was a Masudaya 15-inch battery-operated Target Robot from the famed Gang of Five series. Extremely bright and beautiful, the all-original ‘bot came with its correct dart gun and two darts, as well as the pièce de résistance, its original pictorial box. Entered with an estimate of $20,000-$25,000, it went the distance and then some, selling for $34,440.

Rare Yonezawa (Japan) battery-operated Jupiter robot. All original and complete with correct remote control battery box. One of the classic robots every collector wants. Accompanied by nice repro box. Sold for $20,400 against an estimate of $6,000-$8,000
Rare Yonezawa (Japan) battery-operated Jupiter robot. All original and complete with correct remote control battery box. One of the classic robots every collector wants. Accompanied by nice repro box. Sold for $20,400 against an estimate of $6,000-$8,000

Target Robot’s wingman was a rare Yonezawa battery-operated Jupiter Robot. All original and complete with its correct remote control battery box, it was an exceptionally well-preserved example of one of the most sought-after of all classic robots. Offered together with an attractive repro box, it was chased to $20,400 against an estimate of $6,000-$8,000.

The auction waters were also favorable for a great-looking Nomura battery-operated Walking Batman. The super-clean, all-original battery op appeared never to have been played with. Even its cloth cape looked as crisp as the day it marched off the factory production line. Importantly, it retained its visually appealing original box, which has exciting graphics of Batman in crimefighting mode, with Robin visible in the background in the Batmobile. The toy sold for $12,915 against an estimate of $6,000-$8,000.

Also emerging from a Gotham City garage was a very scarce and exotic tin friction Batman Jeep. Decorated on all panels with Batman and Robin graphics plus bold Japanese writing, the lithographed vehicle came with its original box decorated with similar iconography in bright primary colors. Estimated at $4,000-$5,000, it more than doubled expectations, commanding a winning bid of $10,455.

Another extraterrestrial vehicle that captured bidders’ attention was a rare Daiya tin friction Space Patrol Car. The jaunty red convertible with two astronaut drivers “dressed” in spacesuits and helmets doesn’t come up for sale in the marketplace very often. The toy was all original, complete, and offered with a nice repro box. It more than tripled its high estimate, selling for $9,900.

Whether it was intended to race to fires on present-day Earth, in prehistoric times or in the future, Yonezawa’s 15-inch-long tin friction Magma Ambassador Fire Truck ignited auction competition at Milestone’s event. An unusual design with vinyl figures as passengers, the toy is based on the 1960s Japanese manga and tokusatsu TV series in which a living giant forged from gold – Ambassador Magma – has the power to transform into a giant rocket ship. He also shoots rockets out of a panel located in his chest and electrical bolts from his antennae. Images of the popular character are shown on the fire truck and on the accompanying (partial) box. The coveted toy was bid to $11,685, nearly four times the high estimate.

Fans of Bedrock City’s most famous residents didn’t miss the chance to bid on a boxed example of Marx’s battery-operated Fred Flintstone on Dino, accompanied by its colorful original box. “Flintstones toys have never lost their appeal,” said Miles King, co-owner of Milestone Auctions. “Three generations of cartoon fans have enjoyed the Flintstones on TV, and the toys strike a chord with all of them.” The Fred on Dino was in fine working order and appeared never to have been played with. Against an estimate of $1,000-$1,500, it was off to a new owner for $2,829.

The Man of Steel also muscled his way into the top 10 in the form of a toy known as the Superman Rollover Plane. Made by Marx, the tin windup depicting Superman coming to the rescue of a piloted single-engine plane was a desirable color variant (blue airplane) and presented at auction in excellent, all-original condition. Together with its colorful, profusely graphic box, it landed at $4,428 against an estimate of $2,000-$3,000.

Ever-popular pressed-steel toys had a good day at the auction. A scarce Buddy ‘L’ windup replicating a “Scarab” – an actual streamlined car made by Stout that was a precursor to the minivan – was in flawless condition with bright red original paint and decals. It came with its original Buddy ‘L’ box imprinted with primitive lettering and imagery, and sold for $2,706 against an estimate of $400-$600.

Also, a very scarce Kingsbury motor-driven pressed-steel stake-bed truck, measuring 25 inches in length, displayed excellent paint, original white rubber tires, and J.C. Penney “Little Jim” decals. It sold well above estimate for $4,080.

After the auction, Miles King remarked, “We were extremely pleased with the results, which reflected how strong the toy market is right now, not only for robots and space toys, but antique and vintage toys in general. We see new buyers at each successive toy sale, and that’s definitely a good sign for the toy hobby.”To discuss consigning a collection or individual item to Milestone’s next toy auction, please call 440-527-8060 or email [email protected]. All enquiries are kept strictly confidential. Visit Milestone online at www.milestoneauctions.com

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