March 5, 2010
Space toys can be big business. In 2007, a toy Robby the Robot inspired by the 1956 movie Forbidden Planet was given a retail estimate of $4,500. But that’s chump change compared to what Masudaya’s Target Robot (right) went for at a recent auction at Dan Morphy—a whopping $52,900.
True, the 15-inch-tall alien invader had its original box (Shoot him… He roars, flashes, and goes away…soon comes back to you!) and shooting accessories (a pistol and rubber-tipped darts) stored in an unopened bag. The battery operated robot was one of Masudaya’s “Gang of Five” series produced in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The National Air and Space Museum has more than 2,000 space toys in its collections, including popular metal toys from the late 1950s and early 1960s, such as the aluminum “Space Tank,” left. “Except for the label ‘Space Tank’ and a few small rockets lithographed onto the sides of the metal toy,” reads the artifact’s summary, “there is nothing inherently space-y about this toy tank. This toy illustrates how toy makers tapped into the contemporary fascination for space exploration by adding a space theme to a toy even if the basic form of the toy was not space-related.”
Contemporary toys are also found within the Museum’s collection, including a few transformers featured in the movie of the same name (the movie was partially filmed at the Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in northern Virginia). Shown here is “Jetfire,” featured in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. In the film, Jetfire has hidden for many years in vehicle mode as the SR-71, dormant and semi-retired, at the Museum. In the film’s final battle—at the Pyramids of Giza, no less—Jetfire is gravely wounded, but selflessly tears out his spark core, sacrificing himself so that Optimus Prime can power up—just in time to defeat The Fallen. Guess you had to be there.
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