artist George Eisner created new ‘50’s-themed box art for
the “Gang of Five”
wind-up robots, available through Rocket USA. Shown
are three members of the gang. L to R: Sonic (Train) robot, Non-stop
(Lavender) robot, and Target robot. At around $20, these
wind ups were a robot bargain.
to R: Machine Man witth the Masudaya Box. The original Machine Man, a
skirted, batttery operated, bump'n'go robot from the 1950s is one of
the rarest robots in the world. In 1997 an original Machine Man went
for a whopping $74,000 at an auction at Sotheby's. The Masudaya box has
Japanese writing except for the robot's title in English. They were
also alternately packaged with all six robots in one box.
The Gang of Five are really six. Shooting Giant Robot, on the drawing
board but never produced, made his debut as a Masudaya wind-up. Shown
with the Rocket USA box.
The original Radicon Robot was billed in the 1958 issue of Popular
Mechanics as the first radio- controlled robot. Shown with the
just under five inches,
Masudaya's Gang of Five
tinplate wind-ups vividly recreate the
days of robots. Each is a miniature replica of one of Masudaya's now
colorfully-lithographed, battery operated tin toy robots of the 1950s.
These Masudaya wind-ups originally sold for under $20 each and were
imported from Japan. Masudaya entered into an agreement with Rocket USA
to distribute them in the US in English language boxes with retro art
by robot artist George Eisner. The box art was also available as
decorative signs and signed fine art prints.
toys were eventually outlawed in
the USA as kids' toys because of the sharp, folded over edges. Thus,
any tin toys sold today are marked "for collectors only". However,
these Mausdaya robots are far better made than many tin toys being
cranked out today and have plastic pieces covering the metal seams.
the original Masudaya robots are scarce and rare, these wind-ups are
numerous and affordable and probably the best bargain for the budget
robot collector. It's a great credit to Masudaya that they would make
these wind-ups available at such an affordable price, bringing their
brightly- lithographed, fascinating robots in reach of everyone. We
think Masudaya should
get the Nobel Prize for bringing peace through robots.
Above L: Radicon
recharge at the robot power plant, built from an early '50s no. 6 1/2
Erector Set and GeoMag pieces.
R: The primitive
power plant delivers a jolt of juice.