The renowned auction of the Robert Lesser robot and space toy collection went out with a bang. The phone and online sale by the Smith House Toy & Auction Company was a fantastic success, breaking house records for length and Web site hits, and attracting bidders from across the U.S. and overseas who wouldn’t let it end.
The jewel of the auction was a red Diamond Planet Robot, with its beautiful original box, which went for a winning bid of $50,850 (all prices include 13 percent buyer’s premium).
Tremendous Mike lived up to his name, drawing dozens of bids and eventually selling with its great box for $25,425. Also revving up collectors was the Space Patrol Super Cycle, which came with its box, rider, and the only known existing example of the rider’s space helmet. The toy sold for $20,905.
The popular Chime Trooper, with its very scarce box, rang in at $17,515. Two members of the famous Gang of Five robots also did well: Radicon brought $17,515 and the Target Robot scored $16,385. The hard-to-find Mighty 8 Robot, with box, earned a strong $14,972. A Hook Robot in pristine condition, with box, brought $13,560.
A rarely seen toy, the Flying Space Saucer – a little robot manning a double-barreled missile launcher – also saw a lot of action. “Because it surfaces so infrequently, no one knew what to expect,” explained Smith House owner Craig Thompson. It brought $12,995.
In the same range were the Astro Scout with box, at $13,560, and X-27 Explorer, with box, at $12,995.
Among the mid-range toys bringing unexpected prices were the Nomura/Sonsco Spaceman, with box, at $8,531; the Nomura Batman, with box, at $6,780; and the Interplanetary Explorer, with box, at $6,328.
The announcement back in September that Lesser was letting go of his fabulous collection, which had been exhibited at museums in New York and Chicago, sparked a buzz of anticipation in the international toy collecting community. The sale opened for bid on April 24 and the closing date was posted as May 9 at 11 p.m. But it didn’t quite go that way.
The Smith House policy is, once it hits the deadline, to keep the auction active until there are no bids for 15 minutes. But the bids just kept on coming. At 10:30 a.m. on May 10, the span was tightened to 5 minutes. The auction finally closed at 11:43 a.m., the longest auction in Smith House history.
Close to half of the toys were won by overseas bidders, Thompson said, reflecting the large base of Smith House bidders outside the U.S.
For collectors seeking a good reference guide, there is still a limited quantity of catalogs from Auction 72, the Robert Lesser Collection. Send $35 U.S./$45 foreign to Smith House Toy & Auction Company, P.O. Box 129, Telford, PA 18969.
The next Smith House phone and online sale, Auction 73, will begin in late October and end Friday, Nov. 14.
Smith House Toy & Auction Company has been dealing in fine toys and nostalgia since 1986. Craig Thompson expanded the bidding to the Internet in 2004, but has retained the personal service for which Smith House has always been known. Smith House is looking for consignments for future auctions, whether it is one quality item or an entire collection. For information, contact Thompson at 215-721-1389, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.