Record auction price paid for tin robot at Morphy’s Feb. 26-27 $1M sale A battery-operated Masudaya Target Robot with original box and sealed bag of accessories set a world auction record for an example of its type when it sold for $52,900 at Dan Morphy Auctions, Feb. 27.
News-Antique.com - Mar 02,2010 - DENVER, Pa. – It came from outer space, and when it landed in southeastern Pennsylvania last month, Masudaya’s multi-action Target Robot smashed a world auction record for an example of its type when it hit the bull’s-eye at $52,900. The boxy tinplate alien invader – complete with original box and shooting accessories – took top-lot honors in Dan Morphy’s Feb. 26-27 sale, which grossed $1,070,000 (all prices quoted inclusive of 15% buyer’s premium).
“The robot result shows what the market will pay for a classic-era robot whose condition is complete and this close to being brand new,” said Morphy’s chief operating officer, Tom Sage Jr. The Target Robot, which is one of Masudaya’s ‘Gang of Five’ robots made in the late 1950s and early 1960s, was designed for use with a tin shooting pistol and two rubber-tipped darts. “This is the first instance we know of in which the robot still has not only its rare original box but also its shooting accessories still intact in the original sealed bag,” Sage said. The 15-inch robot with a carnival-style target on its chest came from the factory in Japan in a multicolor box that instructs: “Shoot him…He roars, flashes, and goes away…soon comes back to you!”
Morphy Auctions’ owner and CEO, Dan Morphy, noted that the highest recorded auction prices for a boxed Target Robot in the last five years included $16,385 paid at the May 9, 2008 auction of the Robert Lesser collection, and $12,362 at Christie’s South Kensington’s Nov. 17, 2005 sale of the Paul Lips collection. “The Target Robot we just sold has more than tripled the previous auction record, so that just goes to show you the premium collectors are willing to pay for something as seemingly insignificant as a sealed bag of unused accessories. To them, it was very significant,” Morphy said.
The 2,114-lot auction featured a colorful array of antique advertising, toys, dolls, historical and political memorabilia and part II of the Pat and Lowell Wagner steam toy collection. Toy highlights included a circa-1900, 20½-inch Radiguet (French) Rodney steam-powered ship, $6,325; an 1870s George Brown “Broadway & 42nd Street” horse-drawn tin trolley, $6,325; and a Marx prototype Jiminy Cricket hand-painted tin windup toy with a 1939 Walt Disney Production mark, $3,162.
The rush for early marbles repeated an ongoing theme at Morphy’s, as travelers from several states arrived specifically to bid in that section of the sale. “We’re really pleased that marble collectors regard our sales as mini-conventions,” said Dan Morphy, himself a long-time marble enthusiast and supporter of the hobby. An incredible $9,200 was paid for a complete boxed set of 12 Peltier-brand marbles, each bearing the image of an early cartoon character, e.g., Betty Boop, Little Orphan Annie and Koko the Clown. The set had been estimated at $1,400-$2,200. Of the single marbles offered, a 2-inch-diameter onionskin marble with 16 “fine and very distinct” lobes fared best, earning $3,737.
In the antique advertising section, a painted-zinc Indian brave tobacco figure cast in 1875