The carefully curated collection of favorite space toys from the mid-1900s features numerous toys, including the rare Electroman Robot and the prized Atom Jet Racer.
HALTOM CITY, TX, October 05, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — The DFW Elite Toy Museum in Haltom City, Texas announces its upcoming special exhibit, “Robots and Space Toys,” which opens in September 2023 and runs through March 2024. Available to view during the museum’s open hours the exhibit is free of charge and contains robots and space toys from the mid-20th century, including the rare Atom Jet Racer, Electroman Robot, the “Gang of Five” robots, Volkswagen Beetle Space Patrol Car, and the unique Italian-made Gumbo the Robot Gumball Dispenser and Gort, the robot from the movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still”.
The DFW Elite Toy Museum is the brainchild of businessman Ron Sturgeon, who first started collecting toy Mercedes cars more than 40 years ago. Sturgeon expanded his interests to include rare and vintage automobile themed items such as race cars and scale models. As the years progressed, Sturgeon’s interests expanded to include vintage toys, unique signs, salesman and patent models, automotive memorabilia, and other rare and historic collectibles. As his burgeoning collection grew, Sturgeon hatched a plan to open the DFW Elite Toy Museum, home to the upcoming “Robots and Space Toys” display. The museum recently welcomed the gang from American Pickers, which filmed a segment that aired in 2021. The episode was named “Fort Knox of Toys”.
A fabulous piece of history from the 1950s, the 27-inch-long, brightly colored, futuristic Atom Jet Racer was created by Japanese manufacturer Yonezawa. Originally designed as a racer-jet hybrid, the Atom Jet Racer was one of the last large-scale tin friction toys ever made. With its impeccable and highly detailed workmanship, this streamlined friction-propelled car boasts chrome hubcaps, rubber tires, built-in siren, and a goggle-wearing driver in the enclosed cockpit. Detailed graphic images are exceptional, and even appear on the undercarriage of the vehicle. Inside the body of the Atom Jet Racer, sparklers shoot sparks from the back of the vehicle as it rolls.
According to Brian Sturgeon, Museum Director of the DFW Elite Toy Museum, the Atom Jet Racer might be the most popular toys in the museum’s collection. The scarcity of the Atom Jet Racer makes it highly prized by collectors of large tin toys, and as a result, one of the museum’s most treasured pieces.
“Back when Atom Jet Racers were being made, they were pretty inexpensive tin toys,” Sturgeon said. “They were toys that kids would play with … and sometimes destroy. Because of that, very few survived and even fewer with the original box.” This is true of all old toys, and the boxes can double or even triple the value of the toy.
At nearly five feet tall, Gumbo the Robot Dispenser is a rare Italian coin-operated gumball vending machine manufactured in the late 1950s. Crafted of polished metal, Gumbo features orange illuminated eyes and mouth, geometric arms, and a clear chest panel that displays the gumball storage area.
Electroman Robot was manufactured in Japan by Yoneya. With a height of almost 10 inches, this beauty is known as “the holy grail” of robot collectors, as it is quite rare. Powered by 2 D-cell batteries, Electroman is made of tin and features beautiful lithograph decorative details. Wheels on both sides drive movement for the legs and arms. Electroman’s mouth opens and closes automatically when the robot is in action. The energy chamber is illuminated by a red light, and three small tin pistons move rapidly when the robot is in action.
Made in Japan by Yoshiya in the mid-1960s, Mighty Robot, is the last one in the company’s series of skirted robots. At 12 inches tall, the battery-operated robot is a beautiful metallic blue with red plastic arms. On the back of the robot is an on/off switch that controls movement on its wheeled bottom. The inside of the transparent plastic head is illuminated by two lights, so it’s easy to watch the colorful spinning gears inside Mighty Robot’s head.
The exhibition also includes the “gang of Five” robots, a series of 15″ tall robots. They include:
• Non-Stop Robot
• Giant Machine Man
• Giant Sonic Robot
• Target Robot
“Gang of Five” family of robots were based on the same stampings. These 15-inch-tall, battery-operated robots, were produced by Masudaya of Japan. Masudaya is Japan’s oldest operating toy company, tracing its history back to 1724. Their MT (T over M) logo (for Masudaya Toy) has been used since the 1920s.
Manufactured by Louis Marx and Company for the 1963 holiday season, Big Loo had a limited production of about 5,000, making this guy quite rare. Described by the catchphrase of “Your Friend From the Moon,” Big Loo was one of the largest toy robots made, with a height of more than 38 inches. The elaborate design and attention to detail on Big Loo is truly remarkable. A rocket-firing launcher with two rockets operates from his base. Battery operation controls his flashing red eyes, and Big Loo can turn his head, roll forward, take a bow, launch balls, shoot darts, squirt water with his “water ray,” and grasp objects with his spring-operated hand. He speaks 10 phrases and can even send messages in Morse code, using the clicking mechanism on his back. Big Loo’s “sonic signal” hard plastic whistle is on the back of his head, and between his feet is a working compass.
Flashy Jim the Robot, created in Japan by ACE in the 1950s, features a metallic silver-colored tin body with plastic hands and flashing eyes. At just over 7 inches tall, Flashy Jim functions with a battery-operated remote, which lights the eyes and mouth, and controls the robot’s walking action. One of the unique features of Flashy Jim is that his gait simulates human walking movement, unlike other toy robots of the era.
Gort the Robot is a character from the legendary 1951 sci-fi classic film “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Approximately eight feet tall, this amazing early replica features a removable head with visor that can be opened and closed manually.
A two-player action game made by Louis Marx and Company in 1964, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots features two dueling robot boxers, Red Rocker and Blue Bomber. The boxers were positioned to face each other on a yellow plastic platform. Each player operated two buttons, which controlled the robots’ punching movements. When one of the robots received a well-placed punch to the head at just the right angle, the head popped up, signifying a win for the other robot. Anyone who watched television in the 1960s might remember the commercials for Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots: “Awwww, my block is knocked off!” The imposing animated and remote controlled robot in the museum’s collection is 5’ tall.
At nearly 12 inches tall, Radical Robot is a battery-operated, mechanical skirted robot produced by Yoshiya and distributed by Cragstan in the 1950s-60s. When in operation, two circle antennas rotate, a light on the robot’s head illuminates, and the robot’s head turns left and right.
Made in the 1960s by Japanese manufacturer Nomura, the Volkswagen Beetle Space Patrol Car R-10 is metallic blue, red and silver, with a metal windshield and bumpers. A tin pilot-driver is dressed in a space suit and helmet. The lithographed interior is designed to imitate the inside of a spacecraft, with controls, levers, radio, lights, gauges and a steering wheel on the dashboard. During operation, there’s a delightful red glow from the rocket engine, and a red light that moves above the engine. Operated with two D-cell batteries, the car’s motor propels it forward on its rubber tires.
Any superhero fans surely will appreciate the 1930s-era Flash Gordon toys in this collection. The seven-inch-long Flash Gordon Signal Pistol is made of green and red plated steel and was manufactured by Louis Marx and Company. The Flash Gordon Rocket Fighter, also made by Marx, is about 12 inches long and features color lithography on tin. A dedicated key is used to wind up the toy, and when it is switched on, the rocket moves forward, sparks flying from the back of the rocket.
About DFW Elite Toy Museum
Rare cars, dog antiques, collectible toys, and hard-to-find memorabilia are featured at the DFW Elite Toy Museum, which contains more than 3,000 pieces collected by serial entrepreneur and real estate developer Ron Sturgeon. Admission is free to the dog-friendly museum, which is located at 5940 Eden Drive in Haltom City, Texas. It’s one of the only two museums in Haltom city owned by Sturgeon, including the Salon and Spa Museum.
Featured in the popular book “100 Things to Do in Dallas-Fort Worth Before You Die,” the museum is open to the public by appointment. Special events and groups are welcome with advance notice. View this video to discover how Sturgeon started his collection more than 40 years ago, and how that led to opening the museum. Learn more by visiting the website at dfwelitetoymuseum.com. You can also call (817) 834-3625 or follow the museum’s Facebook page.
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