Archive for February, 2013

Japanese Toy Companies : HORIKAWA TOYS

February 13th, 2013 2 comments

Horikawa Toys 1959 – 1980

Formed in Tokyo in 1959 Horikawa, often thought of as a manufacturer of tin toys, is now believed to have been simply a reseller of products supplied by Metal House (Marumiya) which itself began life around 1943.

Horikawa is best known for its prolific range of space toys, noteably its space robots (Mr. Zerox, Attacking Martian, Fighting Robot) to name but three. Initially the robots Horikawa produced were clockwork in operation and are often referred to as their 1st. generation robots, later these were replaced by a ’2nd. generation’ which were battery driven. Depite three decades of success Horikawa, like many other Japanese toy companies of the time, closed in the late 1980′s whilst Metal House still continues to this date producing a range of battery operated tin robots.


< Horikawa ‘ATTACKING MARTIAN’ Robot

1970′s battery operated ‘Attacking Martian’ robot. Tinplate with plastic head, arms and legs, detailed tinprinting with open chest with firing guns. Walking action with moving arms, 23cm.




                               Horikawa ‘Mr. ZEROX’ Robot >

1960′s battery operated ‘Mr. Zerox’ robot. Tinplate with plastic head, arms and legs in dark brown colourway, red ‘baseball’ type hat and bronze feet. Walking action and moving arms, opening chest door reveals guns with firing and sparking action, 23cm.



< Horikawa ‘ROTATE-O-MATIC’ Robot

Battery operated ‘Rotate-O-Matic’ Super Astronaut Robot. Tinplate and plastic construction with opening chest with blinking and shooting guns with realistic noise. Automatic ‘Stop-N-Go’ walking action, moving arms and rotating body, 29cm.


    Horikawa ‘STAR STRIDER’ Robot >

A 1970′s battery operated ‘Star Strider’ robot of tinplate construction with plastic arms and legs. Robot comes in green finish with lithographed detailing, opening chest feature with blinking and firing gun with realistic shooting sounds. Walking action, moving arms and rotating body, 30cm.






Battery operated tinplate model of a ‘NASA Space Station’ c1950, model is in blue finish with red trim. 5x clear panels each showing a different ‘room’,  control room / offices / dormitories etc., 29cm.

Horikawa ‘GEAR’ Robot >

Clockwork, permanent key, ‘Gear’ robot from Horikawa  of tinplate and plastic construction in grey colourway finish with red feet. This 1960′s robot has forward walking motion with moving arms and space sounds. Clear plastic panel to chest with visible rotating gear mechanism. Red plastic sparking helmet, 23cm.

Categories: General Discussion Tags:

Japanese Toy Companies : HAJI Toys / HAJI – MANSEI Toys

February 8th, 2013 No comments

Mansei – Haji 1951 – 1960

Founded in 1951 the Mansei Toy Company, which often used the trademark ‘HAJI’ lettering within an oval, was a relatively small Japanese toy maker, based in Kotobuki, Taito-ku, Tokyo, that concentrated its output on tinplate vehicles but occassionally produced other metal toys as well. Mansei is not known to have produced toys after c1960.


< Haji Savings Bank

Tinplate saving bank dating to around the mid-1950′s, modelled as a ‘Select-O-Matic’ Jukebox. Multi-coloured detailed tinprinting but predominantly in light blue finish with transparent celluloid window to front. Clockwork in operation, when coin is deposited turntable rotates with 3-dimensional record (red raven label). Internal music box is operated by switch to rear, 12cm. high. 


Haji Police Car >

Friction drive vehicle modelled as an American Ford Edsel Police Car. Model comes in typical police black and white bodywork finish with police badge decals to doors, plated parts with wrap-around bumpers and detailed tinprinted interior, 19cm.


< Haji Livestock Truck

Friction driven 6-wheel vehicle comes in red bodywork finish to cab and back with black cab roof and black detailing to upper portion of back, 21cm.


                              Haji Motorcycle and Rider >

Tinplate friction driven model of a motorcycle and rider. Motorcycle comes in red and blue finish whilst the rider has yellow trousers, green jacket and white helmet.



  < Haji Ford Ambulance

Haji friction drive Ford Ambulance, model is based on an American Ford Station Wagon of the 1960′s. Vehicle comes in white bodywork finish with typical red Ambulance markings, detailed tinprinted interior, plated parts with wrap-around bumpers and hub caps, 21cm.


Haji ‘Strutting Sam’ Dancing Figure >

Battery operated (2 x ‘D’ cell) detailed tinprinted ‘dancing’ minstrel figure. Figure in green chequered jacket with orange striped trousers and yellow ‘straw’ hat. Detailed tinprinted base with figures of dancing Sam all around, 28cm high.



< Haji Jumbo Jet

Battery operated model of a Jumbo Jet in the livery of Pan Am airlines. Tinplate upper and grey plastic lower fuselage with grey tinplate wings fitted with 4 x engines. Measures some 35cm. wingspan.



Haji Donkey Boy >

Haji Donkey Boy, a tinplate clockwork donkey with a mounted boy rider. Both the boy and donkey are tinprinted in colours. Clockwork mechanism fitted with permanent key. 9cm. in length.

Categories: General Discussion Tags:

Japanese Toy Companies : MARUSAN SHOTEN

February 5th, 2013 2 comments

Marusan Shoten 1947 – 1968 / 1969 - present.

Formed in Tokyo in 1947 Marusan was initially a wholeseller/reseller of mainly tinplate and optical toys. Its roots lay in an earlier company, Ishida Manufacturing, formed in 1923 by Naokichi Ishida, based in the Tawarachou region of Asakusa, Tokyo. Ishida again producing tinplate and optical items such as toy binoculars and telescopes. It was Ishida’s founders two sons along with a third party who were to set up Marusan. The company name and logo derive from the Japanese ‘Maru’ = Circle and ‘San’ = Three. In 1950 Marusan was formally incorporated as Marusan Shoten Ltd., ‘Shoten’ = Company. At this time the three founders, Haruyasu Ishida was listed as President, Minoru Ishida was the Managing Director and Yasuo Arai, Director.

By 1951 Marusan was producing a range of both friction and mechanically driven tinplate toys some of which incorporated celluloid figures. The 1950′s was a very busy time for many of Japan’s toy companies including Marusan as the US, in particular, began importing more and more tinplate toys. In 1953 Marusan introduced their now famous and successful tinplate model ’Cadillac’ and it is this vehicle in particular along with similar Marusan civilian model cars that are much sought after by collectors today.

Several of Marusan’s elaborate tinplate vehicles, including the cadillac model, were actually sub-contracted to one of the top toy craftsmen of the time, Mr. Matsuzou Kosuge and his Kosuge factory, whos mark can be found on the boxes and model bases along with the SAN mark  on such vehicles.

Apart from the usual range of tinplate civilian and military vehicles the 1950′s also saw Marusan release several battery operated toys based on a smoking theme with titles such as ‘Smoky Bear’, ‘Smoking Grandpa’ and ‘Smoking Bunny’ to name but three as well as a clockwork ‘Smoking Donkey’. Not very PC by todays standard !

By the beginning of the 1960′s Marusan had already moved into plastic model kits a theme which was to continue and also ventured into die-cast miniature cars called ‘Toyo Ace’. However Marusan was unexpectedly declared bankrupt in 1968 a fact which was to lead eventually to the establishment of two companies. Marusan continued with a range of vinyl character toys and also began producing toys and parts for third parties in the 1970′s and 1980′s. Marusan is now one of the oldest names in the Japanese toy industry. 

It should be noted that in 2001 Marusan announced the release of a ‘Limited Issue’, highly detailed, tin toy Cadillac car made in the style of the 1950′s classic, all of which sold out !

< Marusan Cadillac

A 1959 Marusan friction driven, tinplate model of an American Cadillac. Vehicle comes in black bodywork finish with plated parts including wrap-around bumpers and wheel hubs. Detailed tinprinted interior, 24cm.

                                      Marusan Cadillac >

Shown opposite is the vehicle released by Marusan in 2001. This ‘Limited Issue’,  highly detailed tinplate model of an American Cadillac was based on the cars released in the 1950′s. The model, based on the 4-door pillarless Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Sedan, was released in three authentic colours, the one shown plus one in black/white and one in blue/white.     


< Marusan Lucky Car

Battery operated toy, open topped car in red bodywork finish with plated parts including wheel hubs. Detailed tinprinted interior with tin driver figure smoking pipe. Fitted with ‘mystery action’ to underside, 24cm.   



Marusan Baby Scooter > 

Friction drive tinplate scooter with tin rider and schoolgirl passenger. Multi-coloured model, scooter predominantly in red and grey with ‘Silver Pigeon’ lettering to rear, fitted with clear windshield, 13cm.

 < Marusan Motorcycle

Marusan ‘Speed Lion’, friction driven tinplate motorcycle with rider. Multi-coloured, red, orange, blue and green with red plastic engine panels with sparks behind. Rider has racing number 18 to his back, 14cm.                 

                      Marusan MG Wonder Car >

Pictured opposite is the Marusan Wonder MG Car, model is of tinplate construction with clockwork drive. Fitted with 2x tin figures and a revolving umberella. In operation the car crosses the bridge, turns around and repeats the operation. Colourful tinprinting, car predominantly in red colourway finish with plated parts. Car is 13cm, track is some 31cm.                  

Categories: General Discussion Tags: