Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mr. Atom (The Advance Doll & Toy Co. / 1956 / U.S. / 18 inches)

If the last post featured the smallest robot I own, this is by far the largest. Hulking in at 18 inches tall, Mr. Atom is a robot to be feared, a robot designed to stomp Barbie's dream house into tinder while little Suzie runs crying to mom. Awesome.

Not only is he one of the largest toy robots, Mr. Atom is by for the rarest of the three major plastic robots made by American companies in the 1950s. (The others are Marx's Electric Robot and Ideal's Robert the Robot.) Big and rare -- but fairly simple. Powered by three C batteries, Mr. Atom walks using a ratchet-wheel mechanism in his feet, and at the same time, his head turns side to side while his arms swing. Pushing the red button on his chest turns on a morse code buzzer while a bulb in his heads lights up. If you push the slider on Mr. Atom's chest to "Full Power," the buzzer and light activate while he's moving.

Sliding the switch adjusts how the toy operates. The button on the right activates the morse code.

Lots of detail molded into the plastic. The nut in the center holds the body halves together.

Early silver plastic tended to separate during mixing, leading to really cool, swirly patterns in old toys. The battery box is located under the flap in back.

Speaking of walking, I'm always amazed that this toy functions without falling over. He's got tiny, tiny feet! But Advance Doll & Toy knew what they were doing and designed this guy right. He trundles along just fine.

Tiny feet!

I've wanted this toy for many years, but every time it became available through dealers or eBay, it would either have broken parts or it wouldn't work properly. I thought I'd finally found one when I returned from Botstock recently. A collector was selling one, but by the time I found out, it was already spoken for. Then something happened and the toy came back on the market -- but again, I learned about it too late! I'd pretty much given up on getting my hands on a satisfactory example when all of a sudden I stumbled over one while searching eBay. Amazingly, I won it for about 40% less than I'd expected, proving once again that it patience always pays off when collecting.

You know, maybe it's me, but Mr. Atom looks like he stepped right out of a B grade science fiction flick. I keep expecting to look in the dome and see the stunt man hired to wear the robot costume. Anyhoo...

Things to look out for when shopping for a Mr. Atom: The eyes and dome are made out of thin plastic, similar to the "blister packaging" you'd find on an action figure. The pieces are often torn or missing entirely. Also, check the body for cracks -- the thin styrene snaps easily. Finally, check the toy to make sure it operates properly, and that the switch and morse code button do their respective things.


  1. "Hulking in at 18 inches tall, Mr. Atom is a robot to be feared, a robot designed to stomp Barbie's dream house into tinder while little Suzie runs crying to mom. Awesome."

    HA ha ha ha ha!!

    Thanks for the laugh!

  2. Awesome, Awesome.... Awesome! The Story, the photography, and the shiney product itself. All awesome.

    My meager army of atomic tin men bow down before your Awesomeness, Doc Atomic!

  3. It seems like when you least expect something bam you find it!!!

  4. I was just looking at this robot again and noticed the little lightening bolt details. It reminded me that during the fifties electronics and electricity were "The" technology. Sort of like the internet today. And everybody tried to capitalize on it, including the toy manufacturers. It always gives me a chuckle when I notice details like those.


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