Boxed Machine Man Robot leads strong lineup at Morphy’s

14 September 2020
European toys, parade of comic character favourites, huge fleet of motorcycles and other desirable American cast-iron vehicles entered in colourful two-day event
Boxed Machine Man Robot leads strong lineup at Morphy’s Images

One of the most enjoyable aspects of collecting antique toys is attending an auction, discovering that elusive piece you’ve been chasing for years, then bidding on it and experiencing the thrill of taking it home. Morphy’s is a place where many great toy discoveries have been made, and more are on the horizon when the company presents an outstanding lineup of rare and coveted toys and banks from long-held collections. The auction will be held over 23-24 September, at Morphy’s 45,000-square-foot gallery, with all remote-bidding options available, including Internet live bidding through Morphy Live. 

One of the sale’s top lots is an extremely rare battery-operated Machine Man robot with its original pictorial box. Machine Man is the most sought after of Masudaya's revered postwar robot quintet known collectively as the “Gang of Five.” Its bright red body features lithographed rivets and convoluted gears on its chest plate, and its eyes and ears illuminate through colored plastic. In March 2019, Morphy’s auctioned a high-grade Machine Man for $86,100. The boxed example entered in the September sale has a $60,000-$90,000 estimate and would be a prized asset to any robot collection. Also from the fabled Gang of Five, an industrial-gray Radicon Robot – the only “Gang” member designed for remote-control operation – comes with its original pictorial box and is expected to make $8,000-$12,000.

In the past, some of the world’s finest mechanical bank collections have crossed the auction block at Morphy’s, including the legendary Steve and Marilyn Steckbeck collection, which attracted national television coverage and set the benchmark for bank collectors everywhere. The unreserved 492-lot collection brought $7.7 million, making it the highest-grossing single-day auction of antique toys ever. 

“In all of our toy sales we include an array of original antique mechanical banks with estimates at several price points so both new and more-advanced collectors can bid on something special,” said Morphy Auctions founder and president Dan Morphy, himself a lifetime bank collector and author of the respected 2007 reference The Official Price Guide to Mechanical Banks. 

Among the mechanical highlights in the September event are a Girl Skipping rope, $12,000-$16,000; Panorama bank, $5,000-$8,000; Indian and the Bear, $8,000-$10,000; Atlas, $4,000-$8,000; and a very scarce “U.S.” bank with a gold-painted sentry in its doorway, $6,000-$10,000. A Lion and Hunter is entered with a $6,000-$8,000 estimate, and a Speaking Dog bank carries a $3,000-$4,000.

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Also on the list of classic mechanicals are: William Tell, $1,200-$2,000; Speaking Dog, $3,000-$4,000; Two Frogs, $2,500-$4,000; Paddy and the Pig, $2,500-$4,000, Boy and Watermelon, $3,000-$6,000; Darktown Battery, $3,000-$6,000; Chief Big Moon, Artillery, Professor Pug Frog, Trapeze, Butting Buffalo, Magician, Monkey and Coconut, Boy Scout Camp, and an ever-popular Calamity bank. This is only a small representation of the many dozens of mechanical banks that will be available.

The two-day lineup crosses nearly every toy specialty imaginable, including Buddy ‘L’ and Smith-Miller pressed steel; Marx, Chein, Japanese Linemar, battery-operated toys, Disney, Popeye, Felix and other character toys; trains, soldiers, cap guns, penny toys, marbles, and dolls, automata and dollhouse furniture/accessories. 

Both sessions of Morphy’s Toy, Doll & Figural Cast Iron Auction will take place at the company’s gallery, 2000 N. Reading Rd., Denver, PA 17517, starting at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through Morphy Live. Questions: email [email protected]. Online: