I'm intentionally leaving out information about the auctions themselves -- who was selling the toy, what it went for, etc. While it's public information, I still feel like I'd be stepping on other collectors' toes by including those details. So consider this just a heads up on some cool toys you might have missed.
So... What was on eBay during the last few weeks? Lots of juicy stuff!
1. Pistola Spaziale (Samco, 1960s)
A rare toy released by an Italian company, the Pistola Spaziale is clearly based on the Dan Dare Cosmic Ray Gun. The company replaced the flashlight and reflector dish with a dart mechanism, and then included two darts based on the ones included with the Space Patrol (and Dan Dare) Rocket Dart Gun. While other companies -- all Italian -- have copied the Cosmic Ray Gun, Samco is the only one to use the actual gun. If you were to look closely at the toy, you'd see that it has all the same markings as the original -- including the words "Made in England!" How do you say "ballsy" in Italian?
2. Mechanical Robot (Unknown, 1960s)
This simple Japanese robot features a wind up mechanism that causes it to sort of shuffle/hop around. It's surprisingly uncommon, and is often missing the decal on its chest. Kind of goofy looking, yeah, but I really like it.
3. Space Patrol Cosmic Smoke Gun (U.S. Plastics, 1952)
This large sized, red Space Patrol gun is really, really rare. Normally, this version of the toy is metallic green; red was used for a version that has a smaller barrel. Every once in a while, a small green one will appear, but in all my years of collecting, I've never seen a large red version of the gun. Fascinating. (Note: By large I mean about six inches... the small one is about four inches long. Just so we're all on the same page.)
4. Planet Robot (Yoshiya, 1958)
Generally, the metallic blue paint job was only used on the battery operated Planet Robots. This is an extremely rare wind up, metallic blue Planet Robot. To see it is to love it, which is unfortunate since this is only the fourth example I've ever seen, and the only one that actually appeared on eBay. Unrequited love is a painful, painful thing.
5. Water Pistol (Reliable, 1950s)
A rare water gun made by the Canadian company Reliable. I don't actually know much about this toy, except that whoever put it on eBay included a very affordable buy-it-now, and I stupidly took my time debating whether I wanted to shell out the money. The decision was made for me when someone else bought it. Someone smarter than me. (A friend of mine likes to say that buy-it-nows always seem much more reasonable after someone else has bought the toy. So it goes.)
6. Dan Dare Rocket Pistol (Merit, 1950s)
The British company Merit based their Dan Dare Rocket Pistol on U.S. Plastics' Space Patrol Rocket Dart Gun. Same basic mold, but using metallic colors. It's much less common than it's American counterpart, too, especially here in the States. I've got the rarer copper version (hah!), but I don't have the great box (grr!). Note the darts -- they're the ones that Samco -- in this article's first entry -- used for their Pistola Spaziale.
7. Thunder Robot (Asakusa, 1967)
This strange looking tin robot is also mighty rare. The toy's got a great action: It walks forward with spinning propeller, then stops, raises his arms, and fires his light up hand cannons with a rat-tat-tat sound. Kinda makes you wonder where Tony Stark got his idea for Iron Man's repulser cannons... If you like this toy but can't afford an original, you'll be happy to know that a number of inexpensive reproductions have been released over the years. A quick search on eBay will turn up a bunch of them. Definitely a fun one to have sitting on the shelf.
8. Mr. Atomic (Cragstan, 1962)
One of my all-time favorites. Unfortunately, it's rare and expensive, so I don't think I'll be adding it to my shelves any time soon. The toy rolls around with bump-and-go action while its dome lights change color and it makes a plinking noise. It was also available in a slightly -- slightly -- more common silver version. I love 'em both. The toy was reproduced by two companies, Mike's Toy House and Osaka Tin Toy Institute; both have minor variations but are, for the most part, true to the original. These repros aren't cheap, though, and usually pull in a few hundred bucks. Still, that's a fraction of what an original costs.
9. Atomic Jet Gun (Crescent, 1950s)
A very cool British water gun, clearly based -- at least roughly -- on the Hiller Atom Jet water pistol here in the states. Slightly more stylized, though, with a few extra swoops thrown in for good measure. A tough toy to find, especially in this condition.