Over $700,000 of some of the rarest Japanese superheroes, die-cast, vinyl, robots, and space toys was sold at Morphy’s Nov. 13-14 auction in Denver, Pa.
New Jersey-based collector Marc Solondz consigned the very impressive toy collection of nearly 1,500 lots, marking the first time a Japanese die-cast and vinyl collection of this caliber has come to auction, with most of these toys either boxed or in their original plastic packaging.
According to Toybox.com founder Alen Yen, one of the specialists who cataloged the die-cast and vinyl toys for Morphy’s, this is “the first time anyone has formally cataloged and priced these types of toys, which finally legitimizes what has been going on for 20 years.”
“There have been private sales in the past, with collectors selling to dealers, or collectors selling to other collectors, including through eBay, but there has never been an entire collection offered at auction,” he said.
There were five categories that made up this unique collection: robots (tin and some plastic), space vehicles, Japanese superhero toys, die-cast toys by Popy and other Japanese manufacturers such as Bullmark, Takaoku, Ark, Grip, and Marusan to name a few, and Japanese vinyls (both vintage and contemporary).
One of the premier highlights of the auction was an excellent/near mint-condition Yonesowa hand-painted Super Jetter Prototype Race Car that sold for a phenomenal $11,115, the highest price paid for an individual toy in the auction. The 15 1/2-inch car rolls forward via friction motor. It is believed to be a one-of-a-kind first generation prototype.
Another Yonesowa-produced classic, the 9-inch-tall X-27 Explorer Robot, was expected to be another highlight of the auction, and it didn’t disappoint. The near mint/mint-condition robot sold for $8,775.
“Although Mark and his collection later became very well known, he formed the core of his fantastic collection quietly, and made many trips to Japan to purchase superhero toys that were not available to buy in the United States,” said Dan Morphy, owner and CEO of Dan Morphy Auctions.
“It (collection) stands apart from any collection we at Morphy’s have ever seen before because it contains so many of the great die-cast pieces made by Bandai offshoot ‘Popy,’ in boxes with Japanese writing that are so desirable to collectors,” he added.
In general, Popy die-cast toys made from the 1970s-2000 are highly desired by collectors today, as Popy was considered the premier brand of Japanese toys. Despite a relatively short life, Popy was ahead of its time by merchandising toys from popular series, a practice later adopted by U.S. toy manufacturers Kenner (producer of the Star Wars line) and Hasbro (producer of the G.I. Joe line) during the late ’70s/early ’80s respectively that continues in the action figure market today.
The top-selling Popy-manufactured toy featured was the Daiku Maryu DX (Series Number GA-50) purchased in mint-in-box condition for $5,265.
Popy was also responsible for raising the production standard of toys by including die-cast and top-quality plastic. The toys featured a number of other innovative features – Raideen is often considered the first transforming toy, serving as a precursor to Hasbro’s enormously successful Transformers line. A black-version Raideen (Series Number GA-09) sold in mint condition for $936.
Popy also coined the now-mainstream terms “Chogokin,” meaning “super alloy metal,” and “Popinica,” which combines the name “Popy” and the Japanese word meaning “mini-car.”
Capping it off as a bonus were some very nice-quality comic character toys. “Marc’s buying choices were excellent,” said Tommy Sage Jr., Morphy’s COO and postwar Japanese toy expert. “The collection includes a lot of Popeye, Frankenstein, and Batman character toys, and all of it is really nice,” he added.
Other notables included the 13-inch-tall tin and vinyl Giag toy made by Bullmark, which sold in excellent/near mint condition for $9,945, and the 15-inch-tall tin Radicon Robot, produced by Masudaya, which sold in excellent/near mint condition for $7,605.
Dan Morphy Auctions is one of the fastest-growing and most successful auction houses and antique galleries in the country. They offer a wide range of categories from Tiffany to Fisher-Price, specializing in “fresh to the market” collections. For more on Dan Morphy Auctions, visit their Web site at www.morphyauctions.com. Or contact them at Morphy Auctions: 2000 N. Reading Rd., Denver, Pa. 17517, phone 717-335-3435, fax 717-336-7115, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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