Japanese post WW2 larger tinplate toys

The collection is now really centered around the marvelous and beautiful large tinplate friction and electric powered toys produced in Japan after WW2, as well as some of the rarest and most beautiful die-cast vehicles from the same country. The makers are Marusan, Yonezawa, Alps, Ichiko, Asahi, Bandai and a plethora of other great companies in the land of the rising sun.



Left: the top shelf displays a 14" Marusan Ford in excessively scarce chrome plated finish, a large and heavy 17" SSS Shioji 1961 Cadillac, a Yonezawa '61 Olds and a rare ATC 1962 Chevy Bel Air. Below are a '58 Buick Century by ATC (Asahi Toy Co), a rare ATC 1961 Imperial, a large 19" Ichiko 1961 Buick as well as smaller Buicks by various manufacturers from Bandai, Ichiko, Marusan, Taiseiya "Cherryca Phenix" (sic!) and Dinky Toys.

Right: the enormous 22" 1961 Cadillac on the lower shelf is by Ichiko, with color-matching Buick and Lincoln from the same company. The small gray Buick is by Marusan.

The splendid 1960 Buick Electra by Ichiko is one of the largest Japanese tinplate toy cars. Painted in two color schemes, this one is the more common version. Tampo printing was used for the side portholes and the car's name on front of the hood and at the back, a very unusual technique for a Japanese manufacturer.
The toy is very realistic with extremely nice proportions, a very pleasant model only missing some whitewalls on its tires for reaching perfection. Because of its large size, this toy is not easy to find in perfect condition, but overall, it was a successful seller and is not rare. The box is much harder to find and is just as nice as the toy itself.


The characteristic "wings" that so made the Chrysler fins immediately obsolete are extremely well represented on this, one of the finest Japanese tin cars.  


The queen of all Japanese post-war tinplate toys, the 14" Asahi '61 Imperial is as pretty as it is rare.

CLICK HERE to see detailed pictures of this great toy.


  The Haji 1957 Ford convertible exists in two color schemes, the other in two-tone blue. The 12" friction toy is one of the most attractive Japanese tin cars and highly sought after by collectors.

Below, Marusan created the finest and one of the most desirable (and expensive!) toy cars ever made. It exists as a 2-door Fairlane sedan as well as a rather rare convertible version. Three color schemes and three different versions, one friction powered, the other two free-running electric and cable controlled were available. Very hard to find in any version including the chrome plated model as seen below.





Left, the splendid 14" Marusan Ford in its chrome plated version. Above, the painted version is equally beautiful Both are quite rare toys today, commanding prices that would buy
the real thing in many cases! The sheet-metal pressing tooling  is second to none, another fabulous piece of craftsmanship by Mr. Kosuge.


https://www.tsrfcars.com/marusan-ford-3-72.jpg   https://www.tsrfcars.com/marusan_ford_electric_1.JPG


The Marusan Ford is a mix of models, part 1956, part 1957, but who really cares, it is a beautiful toy! Several versions exist, the rarest being the self-propelled electric

powered models with functioning head and tail lights. The standard veriosn are friction powered, and there is also a cable controlled version with an electric motor and

the batteries set in the control unit.


https://www.tsrfcars.com/toys-08-091.jpg   https://www.tsrfcars.com/toys-08-092.jpg
The painted version of the Marusan Ford is just as nice as the chrome plated example, and exists in three different color schemes and also in convertible trim. The blue and cream model has recently joined the collection after sitting on a shelf in a home in Wisconsin for 50 years. A 92 year-old woman finally sold her toy, purchased new when she found it in a dime store. It was a near-exacting model of her own car, purchased brand new in 1957.  Even the color was the same. The toy was never played with but unfortunately she did not retain the pretty box.



Left: a 12" Alps '56 Lincoln Futura show car next to a large 17" Ichiko '58 Oldsmobile "88". It's all Cadillac on the lower shelf, the 19" Yonezawa Pinin Farina designed Fleetwood sedan as the star.
Right: another 14" ATC 1958 Buick next to a 12" Marusan '54 Chevy, with a Cox Chaparral 2C as an intruder. Lower shelf has a 16" Alps '53 Packard Caribbean and a Bandai 1957 Ford Ranchero surrounded by a 12" Marusan 1951 Cadillac De Ville and a similar 1953 model by Gama of Germany. The Tootsietoy sign was a dealer display for Graham-Paige and LaSalle toys.


More pictures of the gorgeous ATC '58 Buick in all its glory. Lotsa chrome here. This 14" toy is friction powered and exists in several other colors than the ones shown here.



More treasures above, with a rare electric powered Marusan 1954 Chevrolet BelAir (left, top shelf) and a 1951 Cadillac, with another Ichiko Oldsmobile at the back. The small 1957 Cadillac Eldorados are by Mercury of Italy. Lower shelf is all Ford products by Bandai, Haji, Solido, Tekno, Dinky Toys and Cherryca Phenix. The lower shelf has a pair of Alps Cadillacs in a sea of other Fords, with occasional French Dinky Toys Peugeot 203's in the mix.


This 13" Linemar (Marx) Lincoln benefits from functioning electric front and rear lights as well as cable remote control, removed on this example for display.




This 13" example originally had a cable remote with steering wheel and switches for the electric head and taillights, as well as forward and reverse on the battery box. It is currently being restored so that the toy will soon be fully operational again.

Detail on this 2-dollar toy sold at Woolworth in 1957 is impressive. No less than 157 parts were assembled by Japanese women on an assembly line. The interior has lithographed detail and even a rear-view mirror.


All details are steel pressing, as very few of the Japanese toys then used the cheaper die-cast method that does not render the realism of true tin. The electric lights have a magnifying lens, projecting the light like real headlights, an added attraction of the children. The exaggerated size of the rare emblem (most found are missing it) gives it the toy aspect that make these models so charming and attractive.


The tin base can be removed in seconds, thanks to a brass nut at the back of the chassis. This allows access to the electric motor, remote cable and lights connections. This toy was found in semi-distressed condition but a good polishing of the original paint and nickel plated details, plus a bit of body work to push a couple of tiny dents out and it is now really nice, almost as-new.
Much rarer is the free running battery powered brown example shown above (right), with 3 on-board C-cells. It has a lever on the back for forward and reverse, a separate switch for the front and rear lights and steering that also controls turn signals!




  Another well-known Japanese company, Yonezawa, produced this 14" painted tinplate 1954 Lincoln sedan. The model was available in blue and cream as well as red and black. It is friction powered and has no electric lights. As in most such toys, the windows are acetate and shrink over time, often missing as they fell off. Nice front-end detail for a cheap toy.
The toy is quite realistic. Many Japanese tinplate automobile toys were patterned after advertising for the real thing seen in Life magazine, often with exaggerated proportions that are also found on the toys.




  Another splendid Alps model is this 14" 1957 Chrysler New Yorker, an excessively rare toy today. Before making some of the world greatest computer printers, the Alps company was manufacturing toys, and some of their models are some of the most prized by collectors. A few of their models especially stand out, but are unfortunately very rare today. The Chrysler is one of them.



This Toyopet Crown put the Bandai company on the map of the tinplate automobile toys, and after many successful years based on exporting, got them to be one of the world's largest toy manufacturer on the planet.


  The Bandai Rambler wagon is pulling a Shasta tin trailer complete with water and gas bottles, while a Lionel family awaits their children to go on a well deserved vacation aboard the rig. The Isettas are by Bandai and not rare at all, a sign of a popular toy. Below these are Schuco and Distler most popular toys, that include complex mechanism allowing gear shifting, working horns or other features such as "radios", actually Swiss-made music boxes integrated inside the toys.


Go back to home page