Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wind Up Venus Robot (Yoshiya / 1969 / Japan / 5.5 inches)

The Venus Robot isn't the most complicated robot ever made, but this diminutive little guy is still a favorite of mine.

The bright, solid color; the simple lines; the small bursts of graphics -- Venus Robot really is as much a design object as it is a toy. It's made of plastic with lithographed tin accents, and features a simple, key-wind walking mechanism.

One nice touch: Venus Robot uses a foot construction that creates an illusion of a heal-toe walking motion. The ratchet wheel system actually shuffles forward and back -- like that of many other robots -- but as it does so, it see-saws on a central axis inside the leg/foot housing. It's a great effect, one that's seen on other plastic Yoshiya robots (like the Battery Operated Jupiter Robot, which I wrote about here), as well as Nomura's Piston Action Robot (which can be found here).

Venus Robot was also available in the more common battery operated version, which featured a blue body with red arms and face. (I'll write about it somewhere down the road.) A company called Telsalda also produced wind up versions in silver, gold, and red. These are all significantly rarer than the original. (I'll write about these if I can ever manage to snag them. Grumble, grumble, grumble...)

The box for the wind up Venus Robot is much less common than that of the battery operated version. I've got no idea why.

I bought my Venus Robot from a dealer named Jay Brotter. No real story behind it, but I want to give a shout out to Jay because he's a great dealer and a heck of a nice guy. He runs a web site called Robot Island, and I've never had any complaints when dealing with him.

I'll admit, Venus Robot took a while to grow on me -- as did all of the Yoshiya plastics. I didn't like the plastic construction, I didn't like the red and black color scheme, I didn't like the tiny size. Now of course, those are all reasons I love the toy.

I'm always fascinated by the way my tastes in toy robots have developed over the years. I'd say at least 25% of my collection is made up of toys I actively disliked when I first started collecting. I'm not exactly sure what caused my tastes to broaden; I know that exposure to other people's collections certainly helped. I think that time played a big role, too -- if you see a toy enough times, you start to gain an appreciation for it, quirks and all.

The upshot, anyway, is that the amount of toys I wanted to own eventually doubled -- tripled? -- guaranteeing that I'll be collecting robots for a long, long time.



  1. Love the atomic symbol on it's chest.

    When can I come over and play at your house? =)

  2. Ahem. These are not toys you play with.

    Nah! I'm just kidding. The Attic is a hands-on kind of museum. Toys can't be fully appreciated until you take them off the shelf and power 'em up. Granted, these things are old, they're pretty delicate, I don't play with them today the way I'd have played with them 50 years ago (if I'd been born 50 years ago, of course). But I do pop batteries in the motorized ones every once in a while, I do wind up the spring-loaded ones and watch them run.

    Actually, it's a good idea to run these toys every once in a while. The motors in the battery operated ones in particular can seize up over time as the grease hardens.

    On the other hand, you don't want to play with them too often -- parts weaken over time, you don't want anything to go snap! (I've seen it happen. Nothing's sadder than a weeping robot collector.)


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