Tuesday, December 22, 2009

R-35 Robot (Linemar/Masudaya / 1955 / Japan / 7.5 inches)

Back in the day, toy robots had style. Take, for example, the R-35, a personable little fellow with funky, bulging eyes; a dapper cap; and artfully applied lithographed gears and doo-dads. He's a far cry from today's robots, which often seem to substitute hulking menace for clever design, and imposing weaponry for charming personality.

The R-35, which gets his name from a label lithoed onto his back, abandoned some of the boxy, blocky elements that defined his cousins and replaced them with circles and cylinders. There's a great attention to detail, from those eyes -- which have their blue dot painted on the inside of the glass bulb -- to the strange, tubular ears to the piece of lithoed tin that serves as a mouth. It's definitely a robot that stands out from the pack. The blue and silver finish, which on the head has a bit of a hammer tone to it, doesn't hurt either.

The toy is one of the earlier, battery operated tin robots. In action, it ambles forward and backwards using a pin-walking mechanism, while his arms swing and his eyes light up. Fairly run-of-the-mill for toys from this period, but that doesn't make it any less fun. The robot's controlled by one of the nicest battery packs in the hobby. Whimsical graphics offset the industrial design, making this battery box as fun to display as the robot itself.

When I began collecting, the R-35 was fairly easy to find. It'd pop up on eBay all the time, and often, collectors could choose from two or three ending in a given week. The number of toys floating around today are testament to the R-35's original popularity -- and the fact that so many continue to work speaks to the quality of the Japanese construction.

Anyway, despite the plethora of available robots, I held off on buying one. I'm glad I waited, because eventually my friend Donald Conner -- who I've written about here -- turned me on to a mint-in-box example with a buy-it-now of only a bit more than the toy usually got when selling loose. Now, I'm not one to generally collect boxes, so I ended up selling this one for pretty much what I paid in the first place -- making the robot itself nearly free. I loved the box, and it was sort of a shame that I had to sell it, but the technique of selling off boxes has allowed me to afford many of the robots in my collection. It's about defining priorities, I guess.

Lately, R-35s have become a little less common. They still appear on eBay and dealers' web pages, but not with the frequency that I remember from a few years ago. I wouldn't go so far as to call the toy rare, but the drop is definitely noticeable.

Not much else to say about this great little toy. He's worth adding to any collection, I think -- a fun toy that looks great, too. What's not to love?


  1. I've long wanted one of those! That's a really excellent example you have there!

  2. Thanks. One of the advantages of buying something in its box is that it's usually in great shape. The disadvantage, of course, is that you usually have to sell a body part to get boxed robots! I really lucked out on this guy.

    If it's a toy you're looking for, definitely keep your eyes on eBay. They do come up, and with the economy being what it is, you could very well snag one on the (relatively) cheap.

    Good luck!

  3. Hello, Did this Robot ever come with just a plain red battery controller as I have seen one at an auction and I am not sure if the original has been replaced with this. Thanks.

  4. Yes, actually, it did. I don't know a lot about it, but later versions did come with a plain red controller -- I believe it was plastic, though I might be mistaken -- and a slightly different sized box.

  5. Great, Thanks for that. Yes it looks plastic, cylindrical in shape with 2 push buttons. When you say a later version, how much later.

  6. I did some digging but couldn't find the exact date of the later R-35 remote. However, I'd guess late Fifties, early Sixties at the latest.

    Unfortunately, it's not a version that was ever really on my radar, so I don't know a whole lot about it. It's less common than the thin litho remote, but also less desirable -- it's way less interesting looking. (That said, "variation collectors" might place more value on it... I'm not sure, though.)

    I might be mistaken, but aren't the eyes on the one you're looking at a different color? Green instead of blue? There is a version of the toy with green eyes -- I thought it was associated with this remote, but at the moment I just can't remember.

  7. Thank you for your reply and taking the time to dig! I came to the right place as I spent a good 2 hours trying to find out anything about him.
    I only found him with the remote the same as your one.
    Yes you are correct this one does have green eyes, I never noticed until you mentioned it.


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