Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Golden Robot (Linemar / 1956 / Japan / 6 inches)

Most of the robots in my collection have faces with fairly blank expressions -- if they have faces at all. Not Golden Robot. He's grinning exactly the way a robot grins when he's either best friends a little boy from the future, or he's about to throw off the shackles of human domination and run free through the woods like a hulking, clanking, grinding, lumbering tree sprite. Regardless, he's one happy robot.

Golden Robot stands out on a crowded shelf. Besides the crazy grin and the golden color for which he's named, the toy has some wonderful, vintage-looking lithographed thing-a-ma-bobs on his chest, back, and head. He's also got the classic, boxy design that makes the lady robots swoon. 

Golden Robot uses a two-button remote control to walk forward or back with light up eyes and swinging arms. He uses yet another modified pin-walking system, this time with wheels that have been shaved down on one side to give him a bobbling motion when he moves. 

There are two versions of the Golden Robot. One, like mine, has indented feet and a slightly wider shoulder width. The other version has a single rectangular slab for feet. I dunno, I like mine more. 

This is a pretty rare toy, and I never honestly expected to own one. This Golden Robot didn't seem any more likely to end up in my collection, especially since it popped up on eBay right after I'd spent an extra-large freelance check on my Alps Door Robot (see earlier post). But the seller listed him as non-working, so I added him to my overloaded watching page just in case. 

See, some robots are non-working because they're broken, but in some cases, the toy is only "broken." Non-working robots often sell for much less money than mint examples, and if it turns out to only be "broken," it's usually not that tough to repair. Then, voila, you've got a nice example of a rare, and otherwise expensive, toy. 

So what's going on with these not-really-broken broken toys? Often, there's a layer of gunk on their gears or motors that causes the parts to stiffen up. Sometimes it's a loose wire in a battery box. Maybe a connection isn't being made between a battery and a terminal. All of these require very little effort to repair, but you'd be surprised how many sellers don't even bother. Granted, it's sometimes something much worse -- a broken gear, a snapped shaft, a loose internal wire, bad rust in the battery compartment. But even these aren't impossible to repair, and a savvy collector can score some amazing deals by taking on a fixer-upper. 

A nice trick: If you put batteries in the toy and the lights work but the legs don't, you know the circuit's complete and it's probably just some stuck gears. A light tap is sometimes all you need to get things working. Or, perhaps, move the legs manually to help free things up. Poking a chopstick up into the body can sometimes nudge gears forward. Whenever you see a listing like, "Eyes light up, but the legs don't move," you know you might be able to bring that toy back to life without too much trouble. 

Anyway, I noticed after a few days that the price on the Golden Robot was still sitting just south of reasonable. At the same time, yet another freelance check arrived in the mail. I can't say I believe in fate, but I'll certainly pretend to when looking for an excuse to buy a robot. So with fate on my side, I decided to place a bid. And wouldn't ya know it, I won.

When I got the toy, I immediately discovered that the battery box had, at some point, been wired incorrectly. An easy fix, since the connections are exposed inside the remote control. No need to open the toy, clip the wires, or do anything that might end in the tragic death of a vintage toy. So I made the repairs and the toy ran perfectly.

Just goes to show, you don't need a bottomless wallet to build an impressive collection. Stay smart, know your toys, keep an eye out for deals, and you'll definitely score some major robots. 


  1. Not only is he smiling with his face, the back of his head is winking at you.

  2. Yeah, I noticed that, too. He's definitely a robot who wears his feelings on his sleeve.

  3. Hey, thanks for joining my blog!

    What a great topic and toy blog you have!

    Keep up the good work! I can't wait for more posts!

  4. Nice Robot toy you have there. I have a Tin toy Robot mini too! Mine was a windup toy tho.

  5. @ LEon:
    Ah, a fellow collector. Glad you like the 'bot!

  6. Hi
    Found the same robot in it's box in my mom's attic. Box is a little worn on one side and has some ink markings. It shows original price of $1.29. Robot was hardly used and works.

  7. Wow -- that's pretty cool! Are you a collector? If you've got any questions about the toy, feel free to email me directly and I'd be happy to chat.


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