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Christie’s South Kensington is located at 85 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3LD. Nearest Tube station: South Kensington.

Contact: Tel [UK] 011 44 207 752-3274

Robot war boat battles to the top slot
in Christie's $475,000 robot auction.

Click on image for

Masudaya Radicon Robot, boxed, with remote control

One of the Gang of Five, a classic series of 15in novelty robots produced by Masudaya in the late 1950s/1960s, the circa 1958 Radicon Robot sports an industrial look, its body panels made of grainy gray metal. This example retains not only its original box, inserts and instructions, but also its essential battery-operated remote control. It brought $12,362 at Christie's.

Masudaya Target Robot with box

Another Gang of Five member, Masudaya's battery-operated Target Robot in metallic blue-violet with appealing red and yellow detailing, roars, flashes and goes away soon comes back to you, says the box advertisement. Complete with its original gun for shooting the robot's red chest button, this example from the Paul Lips collection sold on target for $12,362.

Robot War Boat with only known box

Robot War Boat with only known box
The top-finishing lot in the sale was a piece fueled by fantasy: an ASC crank-handle-operated Robot War Boat R-7. Accompanied by its extremely rare original box, it sold for $30,906 against a $9,000-14,000 estimate.

LONDON's Rarity, condition and the cachet of a choosy collector's name joined forces to produce a stellar $475,087 result on Nov. 17 as Christie's South Kensington auctioned the Paul Lips robot collection. The 340-lot grouping comprised of mostly Japanese-made robots, space toys and sci-fi novelties was amassed by the consignor over a 15-year period of intense international searching, networking and purchasing.
     Word of the auction had spread throughout the robot-collecting community like wildfire. Some bidding hopefuls flew thousands of miles to personally preview the 40 display cases filled with glistening, like-new toys. The saleroom was like a polite battlefield, with the auctioneer armed with a book full of strong bids from around the world, said Christie's expert in charge, Hugo Marsh. Clearly, robots and space toys are a niche market, but I was hoping that the absence of similar collections from the market for many years would ignite interest and draw new converts. Fortunately, my best hopes were realized.â€
     Where a decade ago the top slot in any major robot auction almost certainly would have been captured by one of the boxy, oversize Masudaya robots from the tin quintet known as the Gang of Five, today's collecting aesthetic generates quite different results. It is the offbeat designs and bizarre themes that garner greatest interest. The blue ribbon in the Paul Lips sale was snared by a very rare 11 ¾in ASC Robot War Boat R-7 with dual mounted rocket guns and crank-handle action. Richly graphic, with an amusing robot pilot and colorful original box, the toy estimated at $8,900-14,000 soared to the no. 1 slot when it sold to a U.S. collector for $30,906 (all prices quoted are inclusive of 20 percent buyer's premium).
     Another fantasy-driven entry, a boxed 7 ½in Sankei clockwork Television Robot with a sparkling video chest panel, finished near the top of its estimate range at $17,513. The buyer was a European collector.
     The third-most-expensive lot in the sale, a 7 ½in Masudaya battery-operated Space Man with original box, dramatically illustrated the power of provenance. The squatty, helmeted space explorer came with provenance from the legendary F.H. Griffith collection (auctioned in New York in 1996) and carried an estimate of $3,600-5,300. Interest from many corners drove the bidding to a $15,453 conclusion.
     Two Gang of Five members tied for the no. 4 position. Both a battery-operated, remote-controlled Radicon Robot with original box, inserts and instructions; and a boxed Target Robot with original dart gun achieved a healthy $12,362. In similar fashion, a boxed 8 ¼in Nomura battery-operated Pug Robby Robot (estimate: $890-1,200) and a 15 ½in Yonezawa Moon Rocket X125 (estimate $890-1,400) earned identical money, with each landing impressively at $8,242.
     Others finishing in the top ten included a 7 ½in SNK clockwork Robot 5 with silver and red body and rivet detailing, $9,272; a boxed 11 ¾in KO battery-operated Moon Man (ex Griffith collection), $8,654; and a boxed 13in Nomura Robby Space Patrol, $7,211.
     Exciting and exhausting, the sale was a testament to the unabated popularity of robots and space toys, according to Hugo Marsh. The remarkable result proved our clients trust in our name and publicity machine, which reached every important robot collector. This resulted in fierce competition for almost all of the star lots as well as a good variety of affordable pieces and a final total well beyond our expectations.

For additional information or to order a catalogue, please contact Hugo Marsh at: tel. [UK] 011 44 207 752-3274, E-mail: toyauctions@aol.com.


Sankei Television Robot

Sankei Television Robot
With original box, Sankei's Television Robot, finished in silver with red feet, blue and yellow detailing and a sparkling chest panel for video reception in outer space, was a hit with collectors, who pushed it to $17,513.

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