European, Japanese and American vintage toys share the stage at Milestone Jan. 13

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – An amazing selection of pre- and postwar toys from around the world is on tap with Milestone Auctions New Year’s Antique Toy Extravaganza on Saturday, January 13. The catalog is now available for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

The 732-lot sale includes some of the most sought-after European, American and Japanese playthings from the golden era through the postwar production years. Highlights include a super-rare boxed Linemar Mechanical Popeye & Olive Oyl tank, a stellar Diamond Planet Robot, and a Marx Big Loo robot prototype with impeccable documentation and provenance from its original designer.

“We feel very fortunate to have so many incredible toys from advanced collections in one sale. Many are high-end, museum-quality pieces. Also, there are some unusual buying opportunities in the mix, like the rare variations and prototypes, which toy buyers always respond to very favorably,” Milestone’s co-owner Miles King said.

The toy hobby is still buzzing about the boxed Popeye & Olive Oyl tank that set a world auction record on April 9, 2022 when Milestone sold it for $105,000. One of perhaps a half-dozen examples known to exist, the toy had emerged from Australia, a fact that became widely known after the sale. Contrary to the old adage, lightning did strike twice in the same spot. Worldwide postsale coverage led to the discovery of yet another boxed Popeye tank in Australia from a different, completely unrelated source.

John Elsbury of Western Australia received the tank in 1957 as a seventh-birthday gift from his parents. He clearly remembers being instructed by his mother to sit outside Randall & Edwards jewelry store in downtown Kalgoorlie while the secretive purchase was being made. Sixty-five years later, after stumbling across an online article about the $105,000 price paid for a similar-looking tank, Elsbury starting digging and eventually located his toy, still in its original Linemar packaging with a two-shilling price tag. Elsbury contacted Milestone, and arrangements were made for the tank’s shipment to Ohio. It has an estimate of $40,000-$60,000.

Yonezawa’s Batman tank, all-original and complete with its vinyl Batman driver, is one of the scarcest of all Batman toys. The bright red tin-friction vehicle is emblazoned with Japanese writing, bat logos and images of both Batman and Robin. It carries a $15,000-$25,000 estimate.

Variations are the stuff of collectors’ dreams. A fantastic Yonezawa Diamond Planet Robot is an especially uncommon variation, with a silvery-blue body and red arms and ears. “Any Diamond Planet Robot is like a Fabergé egg to robot collectors. It was made in two color variations – red body with blue arms and ears, and the even rarer blue body with red arms and ears, like the one in our auction. They simply do not turn up for sale anywhere,” said Miles King. “Only a few have ever come to market, so it’s sure to attract strong competition.” The Diamond Planet Robot is estimated at $20,000-$30,000.

The word “prototype” is music to any toy collector’s ears. The sale includes the actual preproduction sample for Marx’s Big Loo Giant Moon Robot. Standing 38in tall, the unpainted silver Big Loo was acquired directly from the toy’s designer, Harry Evanoff, in 1963. It has production numbers on its back and retains a Marx sample tag that says ‘7650, Big Loo, Erie, Return to Harry E.’ The lot also includes archival letters from Louis Marx about production issues and returns, and other unique documents such as a test-sample letter and a timesheet showing hours spent on development. The godfather of all Big Loo robots has been assigned a $15,000-$25,000 estimate.

Antique toys are on a roll at Milestone Auctions, with a fresh offering on Sept. 24

Kingsbury pressed-steel clockwork wrecker truck, 13in long, all original, very hard-to-find toy. Excellent condition. Estimate $1,000-$1,500

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – If anyone wondered whether new collectors were still entering the antique toy hobby or not, they got their answer last spring when Milestone Auctions closed the books on their headline-making Antique Toy Spectacular. Toy fans worldwide are still buzzing about the Popeye and Olive Oyl Tank that brought a record $105,000 at that sale. On September 24, Milestone will roll out a fresh offering of outstanding vintage toys from the Mark Smith Collection, with high-quality additions from other consignors.

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Rare Marx prototypes claim top honors at Milestone’s $500K toy auction

The top lot of the sale was a Marx prototype Speedboy 4 motorcycle with a soldier driver, ‘AMMO’ box, and spring-loaded cannon for shooting projectiles. Sold for $16,800 against an estimate of $6,000-$9,000

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – There’s no great mystery as to why vintage toys are so popular with collectors. They’re colorful, they’re fun, and they invariably prompt the comment so familiar to auctioneers and toy dealers: “Wow! I had one of those when I was a kid!” One of Milestone Auctions’ specialties is antique and vintage toys, and the nostalgia factor that drives today’s prices for clean, crisp vintage toys is something they witness at each of their sales, including their January 29 Winter Antique Toy Spectacular that took in just under half a million dollars.

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