Milestone’s May 1 auction: robots & space toys, early comic character toys, vintage toy boats & motors

 In Auctions

Featured: Coveted Gang of Five, Tremendous Mike and Walking Batman robots; English pre-WWII Mickey Mouse Krazy Kar, 20 Marx prototype toys

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – They came from the future and landed on Earth in the 1950s and ’60s, but now toy robots of that classic production era seem more like prophets whose mission is being fulfilled more than half a century later in the labs of MIT and NASA. For many collectors, the connection to robots is rooted in a childhood memory – discovering that Santa had left them a walking, flashing, noisy android under the Christmas tree. Collectors will relive that indelible memory on May 1st at Milestone’s 766-lot Spring Spectacular Toy Auction, which features a specialty grouping of more than 100 coveted vintage robots and space toys.

The robot lineup contains examples of some all-time greats. From Masudaya’s powerhouse “Gang of Five” comes an elusive 15-inch-tall Target Robot. All original and complete, its appealing color palette of rich purple with red and yellow accents is further enhanced by colored gels over its flashing eyes, mouth and ears, and the all-important red target on its chest. This great robot has its correct metal dart gun and one rubber-tipped dart. Competition will be strong for this imposing fellow, who comes to auction with an $8,000-$12,000 estimate.

Target Robot’s Gang of Five stablemate, an all-original 15-inch-tall Radicon Robot, boasts exceptional condition to its grainy metal finish and comes with its correct remote control with antenna. All of the robot’s functions worked properly when put to the test by Milestone’s team of toy experts. Estimate: $8,000-$12,000

The dream selection of robots continues with Tremendous Mike. “Every robot collector considers Tremendous Mike to be a must-have, but examples in any condition are hard to come by,” said Chris Sammet, co-founder of Milestone Auctions. “In this sale we’re pleased to be able to offer collectors a super-clean Tremendous Mike with the ultimate bonus, its original box. The toy literally looks like it has never even been played with.” Its windup mechanism, “sparkling” chest screen and revolving radar antenna all passed with flying colors when tested. The interplanetary tourist stands 10 inches tall and is expected to make $12,000-$15,000 at auction.

Among the other top robot and space toy highlights is a Bandai friction-powered “Flying Spaceman” on a “Super Cycle” with its original caped, green rubber “Superman” figure wearing its original red and yellow S-logo chest shield. It is accompanied by the correct, colorfully illustrated box lid and is estimated at $15,000-$25,000.

Also headed for the spotlight is a fantastic Nomura 12-inch battery-operated Walking Batman, all original [including cloth cape], in very good working order, and with its clean, original pictorial box. One of the most desirable superhero toys ever made, it should easily meet expectations of $6,000-$8,000.

Another featured collection that’s expected to make waves consists of 150+ lots of vintage toy boats and electric outboard motors. All are new/old stock and retain their original illustrated boxes. The brands represented include Evinrude, Johnson, Mercury and more. Just one of the many highlights is a rare 1959 Fleet Line Mercury Mark 78A outboard motor “drink mixer.” Both the motor and its Keikhaefer metal gas tank come with their original boxes. They comprise one lot that is estimated at $1,500-$2,000.

“It’s very unusual to see a collection of toy boats and outboard motors like this one. Not only is it extensive, its contents are beautiful new/old stock, which you just never see,” Sammet said.

The auction also presents one of the most comprehensive collections of comic character toys to reach the marketplace in several years. The cast of characters includes Popeye, Felix the Cat, Charlie McCarthy, Mortimer Snerd, Powerful Katrinka, and a whole host of Disney favorites, ranging from Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto to beloved storybook characters like Pinocchio and his creator Geppetto’s pet cat Figaro.

One especially exciting entry is the Walt Disney-authorized Mickey Mouse windup Krazy Kar with three-dimensional figures of driver Mickey with passengers Minnie Mouse and Pluto. The exterior of the vehicle is whimsically decorated with images of Mickey, Donald Duck and Clarabelle the Cow. Made in England prior to World War II, the toy is marked “Made with Permission of Walt Disney Mickey Mouse LTD.” It is one of few known examples and carries a pre-sale estimate of $15,000-$20,000.

Another highly desirable toy is Distler’s (German) tin Walking Mickey Mouse with lithographed “pie” eyes and teeth, details seen on only the earliest toy productions depicting Disney’s beloeved cartoon rodent. Made in the 1930s and standing 8½ inches tall, this very rare windup is estimated at $2,500-$3,500. Also from the 1930s, a German-made steam toy accessory called the Mickey Mouse “Slate Dancer” is cataloged with a $3,000-$5,000 estimate.

Many eyes will be riveted on the genuinely “unique” toys in the sale: the 20 or so Marx prototypes. An outstanding 1947 Marx hand-painted prototype Goofy the Goofy Driver tin windup toy is 8 inches long, carries a Donald Duck passenger figure, and has an eccentric, or “krazy kar,” action. Its auction estimate is $1,500-$2,000. An excellent prototype Moon Mullins Speedboy Delivery Motorcycle, 10 inches long with a hand-painted Moon Mullins driver figure, is one of the many toys in the Marx prototype selection that never saw production. Estimate: $3,000-$4,000

That spinach-quaffing, pipe-tooting sailor Popeye features in 66 lots, with iterations that range from table lamps and concept art to cookie jars and, of course, tin windup toys. A Marx Popeye Fliers toy with original box is estimated at $2,000-$3,000, while a Chein Popeye Overhead Puncher might bag $1,500-$2,000. Leading the category, a rare Linemar (Japanese) Popeye the Acrobat mechanical tin toy in fantastic condition with a crisp and colorful original box could somersault its way to a winning bid in the $4,000-$6,000 range.

The auction also includes a nice selection of pressed-steel trucks by all of the most sought-after brands, including Buddy ‘L,’ Sturditoy, Tonka, Kelmet, Marx, American National, Smith-Miller and more. Some feature advertising, e.g., Allied Van Lines, Railway Express, Timberland Lumber, Coca-Cola, etc.

Milestone’s Saturday May 1, 2021 gallery auction will be held at 38198 Willoughby Parkway, Willoughby (suburban Cleveland), OH 44094. Start time: 10 a.m. ET. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through Milestone Auctions’ bidding platform, LiveAuctioneers or Invaluable. For additional information or to reserve a phone line for bidding, call 440-527-8060 or email Online:

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