Friday, December 25, 2015

Innovari: Innovations With Steel

During U.S. Steel's 1966 automotive presentation of "Innovations in Steel" to officials of the motor car industry, the Jack Brokensha Quartet and the Lenore Paxton Trio provided a distinctive jazz background for the occasion.  Their particular jazz style is high-lighted in the theme selection, "Steel Blue" which was created especially for the show as a musical tribute to U.S. Steel's concept-in-steel, Sports Station Wagon, Innovari.

We like the originality of "Steel Blue" so much that we invited the two groups to a recording session so that this album could be made for you.  We hope you enjoy it.

Recorded January 11, 1967
Detroit, Michigan

U.S. Steel really put a lot into their 1966 and 1968 Innovari & Innovan campaigns. The autos never saw production but the company sure did make a good case for their concepts.

Innovari I::

'Innovari is an experimental sports station wagon. It was innovated by U.S. Steel to show steel's unlimited design potential for automotive uses.'
'Style, stamina, and a preview of things to come.'
Innovari II::

In 1968 U.S. Steel brought back their favorite Innovari music makers, The Jack Brokensha Quartet and the The Lenore Paxton Trio with the album, Holiday Innovations. The album has fifteen holiday tunes including an original piece by Lenore Paxton and Loretta Balowski written exclusively for US Steel - Trimming The Tree At Christmas.

The foldout album cover design featured the Innovan II - this time using a taxicab concept to demonstrate the versatility and cost savings of designs in steel...'Because a taxicab has to behave like a car, and wear like a truck.'

An unusual limousine-type look: alligator-grain embossed steel sheets for the textured roof and wide easy open doors on a single stamped steel hinge.
'The 'interior styling creates a completely functional "people" package designed to provide the utmost in rider convenience, comfort and safety.'
As always, Syd Mead's  prototype illustration makes the Innovari a symbol of elegance and success. (From Mead's book, Steel Couture - Syd Mead - Futurist Sentinel.) Originally created for the U.S. Steel book, Innovations (1968).

(Images via Luis Casar on Facebook)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

They're Not Just 'Toy Robots'

In the 20th century nothing represented the spirit of the new technological age than the robot.  Robots were imagined as friends, helpers, liberators, and sometimes frightening rebels waiting for their chance to take control of Earth's destiny. Those images of the robot's role remain in the 20th century psyche, but the wonder isn't quite the same. Below are some examples of classic robot miniatures that rocked the imaginations of children and adults alike. And judging by the selling prices they're still immensely valuable to those who understand their place in modern history.

'1950's Japan Marubishi Co's Scarce Hook Robot - One of the most sought after of all 1950's tin plate Japanese Robots. Called "hook" Robot due to the Hook riveted on the head. Classic Skirted design with Block head. This robot has elegant yet Intricate litho details that inspire that most purist of robot collectors . This is the highly coveted light blue with silver mouth version . The arms roll freely at their sides While the friction power also causes the head to turn.' - Ozzie's Robot Toys & Collectibles

Sold At Auction: $1,900
'1950's Japan KO CO's Rare Spaceman with Rare Original Box - Nice working example of this desirable & rare 50's astronaut. Finished in a light blue & has a moving mouth that operates when the toy is in motion. Much more difficult to find than the red version. This version has nicer lithography details as well. Operates Via crank action.' - Ozzie's Robot Toys & Collectibles

Sold At Auction: $3,750

'1950's Japan Scarce !!!! Aoshin CO's Chime Trooper with Scarce Box- This is a super scarce piece that rarely surfaces. The chime trooper features wind up Bump & Go Action & a sound is also produced that many refer to as the "chime sound". Beautiful all tin lithography graces the classic skirted design. This toy is undoubtedly on the top of many high end collectors wish list..' - Ozzie's Robot Toys & Collectibles

Sold At Auction: $5,000

'1950s Friction Powered Space Adventure Robot with Incredibly Rare Original Box - Made by Yoshiya, Japan. - Clear plastic dome revealing a spinner beneath. This is a version of the coveted 'Space Trooper' distinctive because of its silver color. This is a rare robot that may have been a salesman's sample with a first design box. Certainly the name 'Space Adventure' is unique. Crank operated robot travels forward as the antenna inside the dome turns. Wheels in the base allow the robot to move but they are not eccentric and do not give the robot the waddling walk of the regular Space Trooper.' - Alphadrome Robot and Space Toy Database

Sold At Auction: $8,500

1950's Japan Scarce Deep Sea Robot with Ultra Scarce Original Box - Made by AHI, Japan. Extremely Rare Toy ( the rarest in this series ) & with ultra scarce original box. The Deep-Sea Robot carries an underwater gun and has neat 'piping' into his suit and helmet. There is reportedly only 2 or 3 of the Original boxes for this toy known to exist.

Sold At Auction: $9,500

1958 Scarce !!!! and Highly Desired Radicon Robot with Extremely Scarce Original Box - The first of Masudaya, Japan, 'Gang Of Five' series. The world's first radio remote controlled robot. Radicon has no litho and is instead finished in a steel gray textured finish giving him a true robot appearance. Torso is inset with an electric light and gauge. Controlled by a radio remote. The actions include moving forward & backward while also being able to turn. The eyes, mouth and ears light up. The copter on the left ear spins.

Sold At Auction: $31,000

And there it is: They're not just 'toy robots' - they're valuable artifacts of the 20th Century.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


This auction goes live at 10:00 AM PT today, 10 December 2015. It was hoped that this post would be up before the day but other things did not permit. The items below are just a few of interest. The comments about them are what might be considered for each one. Unfortunately, a strick budget prevents myself from jumping in to the bidding fray so I'll just blog about it. If you're catching this post in time, like any of the items, and you've got cash to spare, the auction is live at liveauctioneers - to get there click here.

Flying 'Astro Boy/Tetsuwan Atomu' © NTV, 1981 

The original box.
The listing doesn't have an image of the actual figure. This is it. (via ToyHaven)

 Lot 5005

This is 'The New Astro Boy' ('Shin Tetsuwan Atomu') battery-operated figure based on the 1980 animated series and manufactured by Yone, Japan for the Japanese market in 1981. He's 9" tall, made of hard plastic, can walk on a hard surface, or he can hang from the ceiling by a connection on his belt and fly around propelled by an add-on propeller that attaches to the bottom of this feet. This Astro Boy is hard to find with all the parts and the original box. Like almost all listings for this auction, the seller doesn't provide a lot of details on the item. The starting bid of $450 is a bit on the high end but considering how hard he is to find it may be a worthwhile investment for an Astro Boy collector (and there are a lot of them).

The 1973 Corgi Batmobile with Batman & Robin in the first black tire 'whizzwheels' version.

Lot 5031

This looks like an outstanding example of this Corgi classic. The car and box appear mint. The seller has even left the contents of the instructional envelope intact. The estimate for this item by the seller is $1,000 – $1,100 with a starting bid of $850. That's pretty close to what you'll find for the 1973 Corgi Batmobile with collectors. It may be just a tad on the higher end but this particular example might be worth it. I did locate an eBay listing for $474.19 (including shipping) here. That's a big savings and although it's in good shape it doesn't impress as much as this example.

The 1969 Remco Voice Control Astronaut Base

Lot 5127A

This is a difficult set to find in complete and working condition. Besides including figures, vehicles, a helicopter, and a working rocket launchpad, the command center building doubles as a neat record player. Two records feature actual NASA recordings that can be listened to with the 'Electro-Phone' headset. The estimate is $500 – $600 with a starting bid of $400. I saw a complete set sell on eBay for $130 relatively recently but that is a very rare occurrence. This Astronaut Base is a Space Age gem and would be worth inquiring about with the seller.

The 1955 Robot ST1 - German Made by Strenco

Lot 5144

A very prized vintage robot. The starting bid is $1,950. That's pretty competitive with the average collector's value, if the betting doesn't drive it up too high. Below is a photo of ST1 with the trolley from Strenco manufactured in 1956. So much super.

Image via evanism at Alphadrome

 The 1977 Mego battery operated, BATMAN COMMAND CONSOLE 

Lot 5236

In 2009 Hake's valued the console in mint condition with original instruction sheet at $100 to $200 - it sold at $126.50. In this auction it's valued at $300 to $400 and a starting bid of $275. Kind of iffy about this investment, but it's a cool item to own.

1958 Marusan friction-drive 'Robby' Robot Bulldozer

Lot 5246B

This is a super find. As is pointed out in the listing, the 'Robby' version of the Marusan Bulldozer is more rare than any other. The estimate is $1,200 – $1,400 with a starting bid of $1,150. Christie's sold one of these beauties in November 2005 - their estimate: $343 - $515. Realized price: $350. And Christie's came with an original box. Go figure. There is currently an eBay listing with a 'Buy Now' price of $479. It will be interesting to see if this one sells.

1960s SH Horikawa Video Robot

Lot 5249

This is a listing that would be so much better if there was a photo of the actual robot. Apparently there are two styles of this Horikawa video robot. The two are pictured below. The robot on the left has 'VIDEO' under the screen. The robot on the right has dials. Mr. Mercury at the Collecting Toy Robots site believes that the 'VIDEO' robot is more in keeping with the original box which suggests that it's the earlier one.

Strangely,  although the 'VIDEO" robot is seen less frequently, I find that the robot with the dials is more often than not more expensively valued. Whichever the case, this is a listing I would definitely consider - if I had the moola. I've wanted one for a while. Just look at this...ponder the coolness of the 'video':

1990 'Gorby' To America With Love Doll Figure

Lot 5384

A vinyl version of Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the Soviet Union from 1990-1991. When his stomach is squeezed his mouth mouth moves up and down. Historical and too cute - complete with topside birthmark. The starting bid is $150. You can save lotsa dollars by grabbing this one on eBay for $24 (including shipping) here.

1995 'BATMOBILE of 1950' - Highly Detailed Solid Model Kit, 1:24 Scale, Sculpt by Sen Maruyama. Officially licensed by DC Comics.

Lot 5363

Great sculpt based on the 1950 DC Comics way cool Batmobile design. High detailing makes for a fun model to assemble. Starting bid of $120 is competitive with a common 'buy now' price of $150 - $170.

1966 Aladdin Batman & Robin Lunchbox w/ Thermos

Lot 5504

Good condition. Starting bid of $350 on the high side but not by that much.

1950s Sterlite 'Space Patrol' Drink Mixer Spaceship w/ Red Drinking Straw

Lot 5814

Another interesting listing. This Space Patrol Drink Mixer looks very sturdy and the red/yellow colors are fab. It's the one I've seen a couple times in the past. Recently another version's been popping up. It's made out of a see-thru pink plastic with a clear plastic straw included. The one below is up for sale here on eBay for $125. I'd personally want the red/yellow rocket as it displays nicer and seems more heavy duty - this one has a starting bid of $250. Although not knowing about the differences between the two I would definitely inquire with the seller..

And finally, the 1977 Star Team ZEM-21 Zeroid Poseable Action Figure From Ideal

Lot 5834

This was the Ideal Toys' Star Team universe answer to C3P0. He's intended as a companion to the ZEROID robot. The vinyl plastic head design really makes ZEM-21 way cool. The original window box looks a bit worn but the humanoid looks in good shape. The estimate is $100 – $150 with a starting bid of $74. A very lightly used ZEM-21 with a near mint window box is selling on eBay for $80 (including shipping) here.

So there ya have it. Some neat stuffs in the Laurie Maoz XX C Toys Auction Part II. There are 792 items in this auction, if you want to check out the others you can view them at liveauctioneers by clicking here.