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Japanese Toy Companies : ALPS TOYS

December 26th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

ALPS (Shojo) 1948 – present

Generally regarded as being a producer of some of the better quality Japanese toys throughout the post war years ALPS was originally founded in occupied Tokyo, Japan in 1948 by a former employee of CK – Kuramochi Shoten, then the largest pre-war Japanese toy company. Its distinctive trademark / logo has the word ‘ALPS’ superimposed on a triple peaked mountain and makes it toys relatively easy to identify.

ALPS produced a range of tinplate / mechanical toy vehicles, space toys including robots along with numerous animated novelty animals. Many of their early toys had multiple action features which was to set Japanese toys apart from their European / American counterparts and it was this ingenuety which ensured the popularity and demand for Japanese toys in the early post war years. Many of which were either clockwork initially or later battery in operation.

Despite their obvious success in the toy market ALPS decided to abandon all this in the early 1970′s and to concentrate all their manufacturing efforts and expertise into the larger and more profitable consumer and industrial electronics marketplace.

< ALPS Toys Pontiac :

‘Made in occupied Japan’, a very early ALPS product, tinplate, red bodywork finish, white balloon wheels, plated parts, clockwork operation, permanent key, 15cm.

ALPS Toys Cubby the Reading Bear >

 Clockwork figure, raises head and turns over pages of a tinplate book.

 

 

< ALPS Toys Picnic Bear :

Seated grey bear on lithographed tin base. Holds plastic cup and bottle, battery operated. Bottle pours and cup lifts to mouth and eyes light up.

 

 

 

 

ALPS Toys Plymouth Belvadere > 

Large scale tinplate battery operated American sedan. Red bodywork with cream panels and roof. Detailed tinprinting to interior, plated parts including hub caps to white wall tyres. Operating headlamps, steerable front wheels, 30cm.

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  1. Ethel
    May 7th, 2013 at 01:08 | #1

    I have a toy wind up bear playing ,cymbals when wound. It’s in a box #A2110 pat.382582,reg.96168 . It has trade mark ALPS made in Japan. Registered trade mark made in rvt Japan. Can you tell me anything about it ?

  2. dave
    May 8th, 2013 at 15:25 | #2

    Thanks for your question Ethel and for a while you had me stumped ! The only Alps bears I was aware of were a couple of ‘drumming’ bears, neither of which cross referenced with the other bits of info you provided. So I had to do a bit of digging before I realized your cymbal playing animal was not a bear but was in fact a monkey !! Alps did two cymbal playing chimps – one, which I think is your toy, was known as ‘Musical Chimp’ sub titled ‘The Band Leader’. Produced sometime around the late 1950′s early 1960′s, clockwork in operation and stood some 23cm. in height. Many Japanese toy companies of this time carried not only their name/logo but also a secondary identification mark, in this case that of VIA – Rock Valley Toy Co., which may well be its American distributor. Although it is often argued that several of the largest Japanese toy companies did not manufacture themselves but sub-contracted to other much smaller companies. Unable at this stage to source info on Rock Valley. The second cymbal playing monkey from Alps was titled ‘Jocko – The Band Leader’ and was identical to the ‘Musical Chimp’ version but came packaged in a different pictoral box. Hope this is of some help.
    Cheers, David.

  3. Marc
    August 26th, 2013 at 17:28 | #3

    Hi!
    I have a ALPS toy tokyo (111) Japan ‘Melody Doll’ -there is a numbered sticker on the box:2700A. It is a doll with big eyes that turns on a mechanical motor to the theme from Love Story. It’s boxed and in really good condition. I guess by the clothes it’s 70s. Do you know any more about it? Does it have any value?
    thanks!
    Marc

  4. dave
    August 28th, 2013 at 12:10 | #4

    Marc, I’ve got to hold my hands up here and admit that I know absolutely nothing about toy dolls. Had a look through the reference books I’ve accumulated over the years and drawn a blank there as well. I know they did novelty dolls like the ‘Hula Dancer’ but that’s about the limit of my knowledge. The Love Story theme music didn’t come out until around 1970 which was around the time that Alps was withdrawing from the toy sector so may have been a ‘bought-in’ item from another manufacturer. Will keep looking but if anyone has any info on this item for Marc please message me.
    Sorry I can’t be of any further help on this, David.

  5. marc
    August 29th, 2013 at 16:46 | #5

    @dave
    thanks dave – anyone else got any info?!

  6. Bean
    September 13th, 2013 at 01:39 | #6

    Hello!

    I am currently doing research on ALPS toy robots but can’t find any stories attached to them, only short ones. I wonder if they produced these toys (examples: television spaceman, mechanical television spaceman) have any side-stories to them? I would be wonderful if you could help.

    best,
    bean

  7. dave
    September 16th, 2013 at 11:23 | #7

    Hi there Bean, not quite sure what you are looking for, can you be a little bit more specific please.
    I have put the basic info re Alps as a company in one of my previous listings with a little write up on a few of the toys they produced.
    Are you looking for more info on just the robot element of their toy output ?
    Message me back with your thoughts – cheers, David.

  8. James
    September 25th, 2013 at 06:16 | #8

    hi Dave
    I have a Alps, GBCToys, mechanical cowboy in box . I am trying to find out it might be worth if anything. the box is a bit damaged but toy is mint. i have been told it is a rare toy and theone i have is numbered 379/504. can you help me out or tell me anymore about it ? cheers james

  9. October 27th, 2013 at 10:34 | #9

    Hi David, great Alps page! Very interesting to see how many people have Alps toys and don’t know anything about them, but that’s not a surprise, some of the toys are very old ;-)

    On my webpage I also have many questions regarding (Japanese) toys and maybe you know anything about a tin wind-up bear a visitor mailed me the other day. I’ve posted the photo but haven’t had any response yet from other collectors…

    best regards,
    Jan, the Netherlands

  10. scott sullivan
    January 27th, 2014 at 03:14 | #10

    Ihave a tin wind up hobo clown playing marraccas, I think it’s an Alps but not sure. The shoes and outfit are exactly like other clowns I’ve seen by Alps. ANY HELP?

  11. Roger Welland
    December 7th, 2014 at 07:41 | #11

    Good Morning
    I was given Tin Toy Steam Train battery operated when I worked in the US, its Black and says ‘N.Y.C 723′ on the rear it says Alps Japan can you date it and I was thinking to sell it?

    Thanks

    Roger

  12. dave
    December 10th, 2014 at 20:08 | #12

    Hi there Roger,
    The train you have came as part of a set sold as the ‘Shuttling Switcher Freight Train’ and this, or something very similar, was also marketed in the United States by Cragstan. The set itself comprised the engine (loosely based on a Union Pacific locomotive) with running number NYC723, its coal tender, 4 pieces of straight track and two ‘switches’. The train itself runs along a predetermined route along the track and down the sidings but cannot actually be ‘switched’ as there are no switching points as such. The set itself is tinplate in construction and colour litho printed. The front of the locomotive opens to reveal the battery compartment. The set would date to somewhere around the mid to late 1950′s but I have no idea of its worth as I have not seen a complete set sold. Individual component parts of the set therefore are relatively worthless in their own right.
    I have managed to find a decent picture of the set as it should be :

    Hope this info may be of some use to you.
    David.

  13. Catherine
    April 19th, 2015 at 15:44 | #13

    Hi, I acquired a stage coach that has Alps on triple mountain and underneath says made in Japan

    I can’t seem to find any info on it. Is has 4 horses a driver and says ” Butterfield Stage Lines” across top and “Texas” on the bottom – could you help me identify what year this was made
    Thanks
    Catherine

  14. dave
    April 22nd, 2015 at 18:21 | #14

    Hello Catherine, Alps made a variety of these US western stage coaches amongst which was the Wells Fargo Overland Stage and the Butterfields Stage Line models. All were tinplate in their construction, multi-colour tin printed with passengers looking out, some firing guns. On some the shotgun rider was laying on the roof as if firing. Your model has four horses but some had just two but in all cases the horses were modelled as if galloping. As far as I am aware all were mechanically driven either clockwork or battery operated. I know the Butterfields Stage Lines model came in two versions ie two or four horses and only the four horse version had the word ‘Texas’ printed on a white banner across the coach sides. All these models were produced from the mid 1950′s through to around the mid 1960′s.
    Cheers, David

  15. Gerald Cunliffe
    January 4th, 2017 at 20:44 | #15

    I have a mechanical jumping frog. Boxed. It has a felt covering. There is a butterfly on a wire from its mouth. When wound it croaks and jumps. Cannot find any reference to it for value purposes. Both box and frog are in very good to excellent cond.

  16. dave
    January 6th, 2017 at 10:35 | #16

    Hi there Gerald, sorry mate nothing ‘springs’ to mind on this.
    Triang as you may know did a ‘Kitty and Butterfly’ which sounds similar and certainly Schuco did a felt covered jumping frog but I have not come across one with a butterfly attached.
    A picture of the box may help especially if it has a logo.
    Bear in mind that there is a whole host of clockwork items coming in from Eastern Europe and China.
    Without knowing its manufacture its difficult to say its worth but generally small mechanical animals don’t realise much at auctions and tend to be organised in lots averaging around £10 – £20 each item for something like Schuco.
    Sorry I can’t be more specific, David.

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