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Tinplate toy creates a stir in Cheshire

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A Mobile Space TV Unit with Trailer, made by Nomura for Rosko, was one of the hightlights of a recent British Toy Auction sale. One of only five such toys known to have come to auction worldwide, it is one of the most sought-after examples from the Japanese tinplate toy manufacturer. Nomura is probably best known for its tiny tinplate robots based on ‘Robbie’, a character from the 1956 cult classic The Forbidden Planet. They did however, produce toys for several American import companies, including Rosko.

The owner, Cath Pater-Lancucki, 59, a TV set designer from London, describes how she first came to purchase the toy: “I was on holiday in India in 1989 and a friend told me of an extraordinary toy shop that she had discovered, tucked away in the Goan capital, Panaji.”

Her friend had discovered a veritable time capsule, packed with original stock from the tinplate manufacturer and what’s more, it was all being sold at 1960s prices. “I am not a collector and I had no idea of the value of these little toys. The shopkeeper also seemed clueless. My friend bought six or seven of these toys, paying no more than a few rupees each for them. I loved the retro design of my friend’s purchases and thought I’d check it out.”

Ms. Pater-Lancucki went on to purchase the Mobile Space TV Unit with Trailer. At the time of manufacture, this toy was crammed full of innovative and unique moving features. The embossed unit moved with a ‘mystery’ bump and go action, the tv camera’s lenses rotated and illuminated space scenes revolved in the camera’s viewing panel. The ‘space tank’ was driven by a seated, bubble headed, astronaut cameraman while the trailer, which housed the battery pack and had a moving antenna, was separate from the main unit and was towed by the space tank. The lithograph was bright and very detailed.

Time has taken its toll on the space tank and it is no longer in full working condition. It does however, still retain the original box and a giant helping of 1960s allure.

It attracted much excitement when it went to auction receiving thirty bids, before the hammer finally fell on an out-of-this-world £1,150 for this tiny piece of Sixties history.

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