16. THE HOLY GRAIL OF COLLECTORS 1950's NOMURA MECHANIZED ROBBY ROBOT
All original 1950's Nomura Mechanized Robby Robot. Works perfectly - fully functional. Included is the original box bottom and lid in very nice condition. Robby is in excellent condition - not a visible scratch and no rust. Guaranteed untouched. Still maintains its original shiny gloss and color. This is not the Osaka repro this is the original from the 50's
Nomura's Mechanized Robot is an icon, a masterpiece...
Robby the Robot from "Forbidden Planet" was released a few months before the 1956 MGM classic film for the obvious marketing reasons. He was produced in two colors, black/silver and surely Nomura were shocked when the film appeared with a black version of Robby!
Nomura's release was the first and most accurate period rendition of the movie robot.
Nomura's Mechanized Robot is
battery operated and features a circle-walking action, spinning antennas and
it's head pistons furiously pump up and down! as in the movie..
Though scores of Robby imitators emerged in the market over the years, none managed to capture the style and elegance of the Nomura classic!..
BLACK ROBBY MIOB $2.700
SILVER ROBBY MIOB $11.400
MOON ROBOT VARIATION MIOB $3.600
(Griffiths auction 9-12-00)
There are, in fact, many robots that can claim to be Robby robots, but very few of them are genuine licensed spin-offs from the classic film of 1956. The Japanese companies were unwilling to invest in licenses and preferred to work around the problem by avoiding the use of the name Robby.
The first, and most memorable, of the robots is the 'Mechanized Robot' (Kitahara #1) by Nomura (TN). This beauty stands over 30 cms tall. It is a fine example of toy making. It looks stately and has had a profound influence on toy robot design. Take away considerations of rarity and this is the definitive robot toy.
The story goes that Nomura first produced a silver robot powered by two 'C' cell batteries. The robot was put on sale before the release of the film. Nomura were, apparently, taken by surprise when the film appeared with a black Robby. It is strange that they got such a good likeness without noticing the colour. It's certainly the case that the smaller 'C' cells provided inadequate power or stability for the large toy. Consequently the silver Robby was withdrawn and a black one with 'D' cells took its place. Nice story - but it's probably incorrect:
Over the last few
years it has become apparent that the "mistaken colour" explanation isn't
correct. The following versions of the robot have turned up
1 Black Robby with C cell batteries - short lived, underpowered
2 Silver Robby with C cells - about 4 known
3 Black Robby with D cells - the "standard"
4 Silver Robby with D cells - Obviously later than the C cells, but still silver, so the colour wasn't bothering Nomura
So the colour didn't change when the C cell was upgraded. Black and silver have always been available, it's just that the black far outsold the silver.
A few facts about Robby
He's designed to walk in a circle, not in a straight line.
The mechanism relies on a long rubber band providing power to the pistons in the head: it's a part that usually perishes.
Replacement domes are available but expensive. The ones I've seen use plastic that's slightly thinner than the original, though they look good.
Replacement hands are available.
The basic body pressing was also used for the Rosko Astronauts (Kitahara #62) and Tetsujin 28 (Kitahara #217)
The 'Mechanized Robot' is not a rare toy. In fact it exists in considerable quantities. It is expensive because it is so desirable. You will have to pay even more if you want a mint-in-mint-box example. The silver one will cost you the family jewels, if you can locate one.
You'll find two versions of catch on the door. The earliest are little pins, the later are much larger tabs. If you've ever tried to close the door using the pins, you'll know why they switched! There's just no decent grip to turn the catch. The tabs are much more functional.
The robot was reproduced in 1991 and again in 1999. The reproduction is available in a wide range of colours. The black and silver versions are the only ones with some claim to authenticity.
You can easily spot a reproduction. The battery compartment carries the give-away Osaka wording rather than simple litho battery designs. The repro usually has some pronounced kinks or folds in the back body, around the waist. The box is a half-hearted copy of the original, even capturing some damage that was on the source box. The dome has a distinctive sharp corners, unlike the smoother original. There are many other minor differences.