Released by the Chinese toy company, Ha Ha Toys, as a reproduction of the silver “Astro Spaceman” from 1950s Japan, the Astro Spaceman is reminiscent of the 1950s Tin Toy Robot Age from Japan.
After the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, Japan was determined to rebuild its economy. Under U.S. occupation, instead of bullets, guns, and war machines, Japan began having its factories use its various metals, particularly its tin, to develop and mass produce windup toys, trains, and cars. With cheap labor and costs, these Japanese toys became very popular worldwide, particularly in the U.S., and even began to rival the German and U.S. toy companies, which traditionally had held a strong foothold in the toy marketplace. In their pursuit to become a world super toy power, Japanese toymakers began experimenting with various innovations to its toys, including rolling treadmills and wheels. Whereas the German toymakers were still concentrating on wind-up mechanisms, the Japanese focused its efforts on the use of incorporating batteries to power up their toys. Accordingly, these tin toys became very popular.
With the growing trend of America’s enthrallment with space travel and science fiction in movies, books, television, and comic book characters like Buck Rogers, along with the Space Race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union over who would be the first super power to reach the stars, many American kids during this time period became fascinated with space travel, how technology would shape the future, and of course, robots, who would make all of this possible. America wanted to see how technological improvements would improve society and household living. Americans wondered what the world would be like with robot dogs, robot butlers, and flying cars.
With growing interest toward this robot trend, according to Collectors Weekly, or https://www.collectorsweekly.com, U.S. importers, such as Marx, Rosko, Cragstan, and Mego, soon thereafter began selling robot toys to the American public, where they were actually manufactured by toy companies from Japan. This included companies like Masudaya, Nomura, Daiya, Yoshiya, Yonezawa, and Horikawa. In fact, in 1963, tin toys accounted for 60 percent of Japan’s toy exports.
At about 12 inches in height, this silver Astro Spaceman walks with swinging arms, stops, and has a lit up chest dashboard and helmet. It takes 2 D-Batteries, which are placed in each of its legs.
Where art reflects society, the Astro Spaceman represents America’s fascination with space travel and technological improvements. Although just a toy, it not only served as inspiration to future science fiction geeks and enthusiasts, but served as a reminder that technology plays an integral part to the future.
Do you have any Ha Ha Robot reproductions? Did you grow up during this time period and remember the space and robot toys from this time period? Please share your thoughts and opinion, and as always, your videos / pics.