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Tomy Japan 100th Anniversary, manufacturers of the first tin skirted robot


plasticaugie

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This year Tomy turns 100 years old. The first product was a simple tin airplane which birthed of the greatest Japanese toy company. This started Tomiyama on a path that would evolve from everyday vehicle toys to robots and spacetoys, from tin to plastic. Without Tomy many of our prized robots would not even exist.

 

1924 tomy plane.jpg

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Take a look and the bottom of the plane image where they show all their logos. The oldest is E.T.CO. the circle and pointed star, the one on the left. This is also the same as the logo on the Directional Robot box, both of them.

etco directional.jpg

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After the WW2 Tomy along with the rest of Japan were trying to find new products that would be a success. They partnered with Yonezawa, which was a distribution house to fund production of toys. That's right, Yonezawa was not a manufacturer. In 1951 Eiichiro Tomiyama had the idea to produce a tin toy of the B-29 bomber, this was the most iconic plane during the war and should be a popular export to the United States, the rest of the company were stunned but went along with this idea. The B-29 proved to be the Tomy's greatest success up to that point. The plane carried both logos, E.T.CO. and Yonezawa. 

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I always suspected that Tomy was a huge player in the robot and spacetoy history, their quality and engineering was amazing. When the Morita book came out, even though I couldn't read the text I knew after seeing the table with Directional robot and Mr Atomic along with the B-29 I was onto something. The whole table is covered with Tomy products. Then when the Bunkum book came out it is revealed that Directional was designed by Mansanari Tomiyama, Eiichiro's son. Here are the pages plus what was the mysterious stamping on the bottom of Directional. It should also be noted that Directional and Buzzer (which also has the E.T.CO. stamping) were in production until production of the Cragstan Mr Robots. In the database it states that Buzzer has a directional head paired with a Mr. Robot body. This is incorrect as the chest of the buzzer was made as a speaker grill.

directional and b29.jpg

green directional.jpg

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1962 Enter Mr. Atomic

You ever look at a Mr Atomic, really look at it? The 16 lights, the shape of the dome? Thinking back, after actually having the b-29 in hand and thinking about how bittersweet the great success that Tomy had with the B-29 was, afterall the Enola Gay was a b-29. Then Tomy went into heavy R&D to design the Mr Atomic robot that was based on an atomic bomb, this is pretty heavy to think about, but it's not just the body shape of the robot, its the face and dome. Could Mr Atomic's face actually be inspired by a b-29 cockpit? Let's take a look at the 16 lights and 16 windows.

b-29 mr atomic.jpg

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I would also like to note that the MTH production of Mr. Atomics made a big deal about getting the rights to the Yonezawa logo while Osaka actually credited it as Tomy/Yonezawa. I think the Zippo was produced during this period. Most of the 60's sears exclusive tin toys were actually Tomy (although unmarked) and I would also say Mr Mercury and the Talking robot. I am now working on NGS, the mysterious actual maker of some great Cragstan robots. There is a long history of this, Nomura and C.K carrying both their mark along with E.T.CO.

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Thank you for your reseach  Plasticaugie. Very interesting. I'm looking forward for your new historical  discoveries. So many things are unknown or forgotten about the toy industry .

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Wonderful to learn about this almost forgotten history. You put it all together very nicely. Thank you! 

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dynamite stuff, PA!   - I look forward to learning what you did from the TN / NGS breadcrumbs.   

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Thanks guys!

Reading back through all this and going back through my time trying to find robots to buy and how to afford them it was easy to overlook the importance of the Directional robot. At the Griff auction I didn't have much to spend, and my strategy was to snag one of the Tomy Giant Robots which I hoped would have been overlooked, even back then I was a Tomy fanatic. Instead of trying for the Giant I won the green directional that was pictured in the Moran book, at time I believed it was just another "Yonezawa" robot. Directional was the first substantial Japanese tin battery op and also the first tin skirted robot. Directional is much closer in style to the the Marx Electric robot than Robert, but overall, it is not a direct knock-off of the style unlike Chief Robotman or Hook robot. I really regret not keeping the Griff Directional.

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Very interesting. Man would I have liked to been within ears drop of those corporate meetings. Can you imagine Eiichiro Tomiyama presenting the idea of mass producing the very aircraft that culminated into the defeat of your homeland only 6 yrs after the event. I'm sure the idea alone was met with displeasure . Akin to one of our companies manufacturing and selling models of the world trade center to Saudi. I don't mean to take away anything from the product itself. It's beautiful.  By that time was there actually an endearment for the US occupation ? Are we sure it was presented as a 29 ? By then the B-50 would have been in service for 4 yrs. Although the 50 is based on the 29 it has a larger stab and bigger cowls to house the R4360 instead of the B-29 3350's .

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6 hours ago, Eagle said:

Are we sure it was presented as a 29 ? By then the B-50 would have been in service for 4 yrs. 

Good point, it was packaged as a B-50 but in their own words on their website it is a B-29 from inception to production. Tomy's mission was to conquer the world through quality. By choosing the B-29 and later Mr. Atomic it appears they redirected the trauma in an example of "What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger".  

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