So here is a little toy gem I was able to purchase for $25. The crappy economy has some perks because years ago, this pint size robot would have cost much more.
He’s about six inches tall and his torso is chrome plated tin, the rest plastic. When you wind him up he walks and his chest sparks. He also shoots two missiles…and they go really, really far so this guy has a wicked spring action built in!
A few reasons why this is a really nice robot toy, for me anyway. Aside from purchasing it cheap and the great box art which in most cases can be better than the toy itself, this particular robot is made from one of my favorite Japanese tin toy manufacturers, T.P.S., which stands for Tokyo Plaything Shokai also known as “Toplay” pronounced “toe-play”. TPS also manufactured a lot of tin toys for US importers such as Linemar, Cragstan and other American toy companiies in the 50s and 60s.
In my research I also discovered that TPS happens to stand for “The Toyota Production System” which was developed by Toyota in 1948. This was a manufacturing philosophy that focused on “lean manufacturing” and was embodied by a lot of Japanese companies. I think Toplay embraced the TPS manufacturing process and wanted that reflected in their logo, not only in the initals but also in the three fingers being held up. The whole Toyota Production System philosophy was initially based on eliminating three things; overburden (muri), inconsistency (mura) and waste (muda). Just my observation, I didn’t want to get sidetracked too much but I thought it was interesting enough info to share.
Anyway, TPS the toy company was a favorite of mine 15 years ago or so when I collected tin toys. They weren’t really known for making robots, this one in particular was probably made as the result of the success Horikawa was having at the time making their series of tin robots. TPS was better known for great tin lithography and making really clever, imaginative wind-up toys that involved funny animals skipping rope, golfing, playing billiards, bouncing balls and more. Below are a few examples of their more popular tin toys and my favorite wind-ups, “Comical Clara” and “Pop Eyed Pete.”