Toy Robots and Space Toys
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DEEP-SEA ROBOT - AHI - JAPANA.N. is something of a mystery company. Their toys were usually imported by AHI Toytime, (Azrak Hamway International) whose logo features prominently on the boxes, and this leads to some confusion. There is clearly a connection with the early Nomura astronaut design, while the accepted maker is 'Naito Shoten'. There's no confusing the fact that they created a superb group of early wind-up astronauts. These are the Inter Planet Space Captain, the Interplanetary Explorer, the Deep Sea Robot, the Spaceman, and the Polar Explorer. The Deap Sea Robot was on sale in August 1957.

The Deep Sea Robot is silver in colour with red detailing and a big blue helmet from which a pair of eyes stare out. The oxygen cylinders are not fully formed, as in most astronauts, but are half pressing instead. There's a design on his leg that is similar to a pattern on the older Nomura Radar Robot. The action is simple, he walks forward and his arms swing.
INTER PLANET SPACE CAPTAIN - AN - JAPANLithographed tin wind up astronaut with gun. This early astronaut is one of a series based on the same pressing. The astronaut has a cream body, black legs and a blue helmet that fully encloses the head. There is a lithographed basic face in the small visor panel. On the back is a dimpled tinplate backpack or oxygen pack. The astronaut carries a rifle in his right hand. Walking action with moving arm.

AHI is the importer - Azrak Hamway International. The accepted manufacturer is Naito Shoten.

The leg pressing are identical to those used in early Nomura robots.

AN logo
Naito Shoten group
INTERPLANETARY EXPLORER - AN NAITO SHOTEN - JAPANLithographed tin wind up astronaut. This is one of a series based on the same pressing. Green body with an orange helmet completely covering the head. A stylized pair of blue eyes are printed in a panel. The astronaut has a rifle in his right hand. There is a dimpled red back pack or oxygen pack on the back.

Advances with walking motion as arms swing. See the Deep Sea Robot for details. Naito Shoten connection. The leg pressing are identical to those used in early Nomura robots.

Two box versions:
1. AN logo only
2. AN logo and AHI logo
3. AN logo with additional importer Toytime No 3622 - also marked HTC on the side.

Newspaper advertisement dates this to November 1957
ROBOT LILLIPUT - CK C.KURAMOCHI & C) - JAPANTin windup robot. Advances with shuffling motion via spikes under his feet that alternately move. (Pin feet) Free swinging arms have claw hands. The lower part of each arm is a separate unit shoved in to the upper arm. This fragile connection means that the lower arm is frequently missing. Lilliput is believed to be the first mass produced robot. The box carries the two logos KT and CK. KT is the manufacturer and CK probably the distributor.

There are two distinct versions of the robot: the difference is that the (presumably first) has a dial that is mounted in a hole in the chest with small tabs; the (later) version has a clockface stamped into the metal with titho clockface. It is assumed that the simpler version is the later; the manufacturer had presumably found a way of stamping the clock depression that would not damage the litho dial.

The design is very similar to the Atomic Robot Man (which has been firmly dated to at least 1949 and self-evidently later than 1945). The Lilliput, however, is a pre-war robot and as such is the first. The Japanese tin toy industry was well-eastablished in the 1930s. Production stopped in 1938 when toy factories switched to war production. The industry did not restart until 1946.

CK (Kuramochi Shoten) was the largest supplier of made in Japan toys prior to WWII. Two of their main employees fearing the companies demise after WWII left to form Normura and Alps. KT (possibly Kuramochi Toys) is a trade mark that is invariably seen on pre WWII toys, usually in conjuction with another trademark such as Masudaya. The manufacturer Komatsudo Seisakusho has also been mentioned, but the information needs clarifying.

In the Nurnberg museum is a Lilliput bearing a trade sample import label dated 2/7/1937. The Liliput had come out the Schuco Toy Company archive. Shuco had ordered this Robot in 1937 for " Benchmarking " When Schuco closed their doors in the 1970s some items from their archive found their way
SOUTH POLE EXPOLORER B-17 - AN NAITO SHOTEN - JAPANLithographed tin wind up astronaut robot on skis. AHI importer. Marked TET on back. B-17 is printed on the left shoulder. The tan colored robot has a green helmet covering all of the head. A lithographed face is printed in a visor panel. A Leica camera is printed on the chest with the wording "South Pole Explorer B-17" written above. Fur effect litho on the face and legs. Box?

Walking action with moving arms. skiing ski-ing

Naito Shoten connection. The leg pressings are identical to those used in early Nomura robots.
SPACE COMMANDO - NOMURA - JAPANTin windup astronaut. Advances with walking motion as his left arm swings. Clear plastic dome. The rifle has a distinctive hinged construction.

This simple astronaut design was used as the basis for a long line of other robots. The legs and feet and the arms and rifle can readily be seen on such items as the Naito Shoten (AN, AHI) spacemen, the Linemar Porthole Robot and other Nomura battery op astronauts. It emphasises the complex relationships between the manufacturers.

On sale in December 1955.The Porthole Robot has been dated to 1957 and this is very similar in shape and litho detailing. This robot appeared in one of the early episodes of the "Twilight Zone"; in "One For The Angels" it is being sold along side the Mechanized Robot.

Image Smith House Auctions
SPACEMAN ROBOT - AN NAITO SHOTEN - JAPANBlue lithographed tin wind up astronaut with gun. This is one of several versions based on the Naito Shoten pressing. AN - one of a group of early tinplate astronaut robots. Tin lithographed wind up astronaut robot. Marked TET (possibly the distributor) on the side. Carries a rifle in his right hand. The gun has Space Patrol printed on the stock. B-17 is printed on the left shoulder.

The metallic blue robot has a Leica camera printed on the chest along with a rope, wrench and flashlight. Coiled spring antenna on the white dome head. Backpack with dimples. The camera and B-17 link this directly to the B-17 South Pole Skiing Robot.

Naito Shoten connection. The leg pressings are identical to those used in early Nomura robots.
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