New space toy doesnt measure upBy

New Space Toy Doesn't Measure Up

Get Out Your Ruler Before Your Buy

Do a quick check of your toy books and you'll easily find close up photos of the classic 1950's toy, "X-9 Robot Car". The best pictures are in Robots-Tin Toy Dreams, pg. 31, T. Kitahara, Chronicle Books, © 1985, and pg. 143 in 1000 Tin Toys, Y. Shimizu.

The original was made by the Japanese toy company Masudaya in the 1950s. Barry Kirsten, battery toy specialist with Lloyd Ralston Auction of Norwalk, Connecticut was told the X-9 is a rarely seen. When asked to estimate the current value of an original, Kirsten replied, "They just don't show up [for sale]. I can't remember the last time one sold. It's hard to estimate a current value."

Vehicles with robot bodies are among the most desirable of original space toys. In 1990, a "Robby" style robot on a low Jeep-like vehicle The Mechanized Robot (by TN Co) sold for nearly $28,000. A Space Robot Car (by Yonezawa)–which has a similar plastic bubble like the X-9–currently brings $2,000 or more.

Separating Old From New

As you can see from the photos above, new and old look virtually identical. In fact, if you held a photo of the reproduction by the photos in the books, any logical person would swear they were identical. But like in so many other matters, the devil is in the details.

For example the reproduction is only 4" long; the original is almost 8" long. But can you tell from the photos alone? This is more of a problem than it first appears because Kitahara's books only give the dimensions in millimeters (190mm long). To know the true size, you would have to do a mathematical conversion or hold a metric ruler next to an English ruler.

The other major difference is that the original X-9 is a battery toy; the reproduction is a wind up. This information is not included in the caption of the photo of the original in Kitahara. In Robots-Tin Toy Dreams, the photo of X-9 appears on page 31; the description of they toy as being battery operated appears in an appendix on page 101. Since only the left side of the original is shown in the book, you wouldn't know that there should not be a wind up knob on the right side as found in the reproduction (Fig. 3).


Fig. 1 Reproduction X-9 Robot Car. Litho on tin. Price was $26.50 retail.


Fig. 2 Original X-9 Robot Car, ca. 1950s, by Masudaya, Japan.


Fig. 3 Original toy is battery operated. Wind up knob on right side of reproduction shown above.