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Moss Vale

The Vintage Toy Box specialises in unique, fun & funky vintage & retro inspired toys, games and gifts for children (and big kids!) of all ages.

Return of the Retro Robot


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Return of the Retro Robot

Saskia Sharp

Kids in the 1950s and 60s didn’t have computers or smartphones and tablets. The only way they could get in touch with electronic tech is by watching TV shows, talking about space travel or by playing with the coolest new release toys. One of the most desired toys of this era was the toy robot. 

Of course, we are not talking about our modern day sci-fi robots, complete with artificial intelligence, but simple, tin-litho robots with simple wind-up mechanisms.  The first tin toy robot to be made is believed to be the yellow, box-like Robot Lilliput from Japan. Lilliput was always thought to date from the 1930’s, but it is now believed that he was actually made after the war, around the mid-1940’s.

The next robot to make an appearance, was the late 1940's Atomic Robot Man, also born in Japan. This robot was given out as a promotional item at the New York Sci-fi convention in 1950. The box for Atomic Robot Man showed a scene of the robot marching through a decimated city, complete with an atomic mushroom cloud.

Battery operated robots became the next big craze, with the release of the movies Forbidden Planet, introducing Robert the Robot in 1956, The Day the Earth Stood Still in 1952, and finally by the launch of Sputnik in 1957.  Robert the Robot ended up becoming the most re-produced robot ever, now coming in multiple variations including Planet Robot, Robby The Robot or the simpler named Mechanized Robot.

It turns out that these retro toy robots are still one of the most highly desired toys by kids. In the last few years, we have witnessed the increased interest in almost everything retro from clockwork wind-up robots to retro toy cars. Everyone just loves vintage and retro everything! 

With a retro robot, children experience many play related benefits. For instance, they are more physically active, using their imagination to set up whole planets for robot destruction and decimation. Kids can now go a step further, by reenacting their own robot show, for example with Clockwork Soldier’s Robot Puppets. With this amazing craft pack, children can create their own robots; stimulating their creativity too.

When we say retro robots, we just don't mean the robots themselves, we mean every toy that is inspired by this science fiction theme. For instance, the Robot Jigsaw Puzzle is a robot-themed puzzle. This is one of those classic toys that are here to support children’s cognitive development. By finding different pieces of the puzzle, children can create a beautiful image that depicts one of the most well-known robot toys. The toy contains just 24 pieces which means that even small children can finish it in a relatively short period of time.  Of course, this doesn’t mean that the puzzle is not challenging. On the contrary, there are some parts where placing the right pieces can be very tricky indeed!

Space Robots is a retro toy that contains three tin robots, which as the name suggests come from a different planet. Or maybe they were sent to space? In any case, this is one of those toys that promises many hours of fun and entertainment. The robots spin and roll,  changing directions whenever they hit an obstacle.

If you are interested in a classic robot toy, you can’t go wrong with High Wheel Robot. This old-school toy features windup walking and it was inspired by the popular toy from the 1960s of the same name.

Origami is a popular paper folding technique that originates from Japan. If you want to introduce this technique to your children early, you should consider our Spacecraft Robot Origami. This set comes with five nicely illustrated cards and an instruction booklet. With the help of these cards, your kid (with or without your help) can create a unique spacecraft and imagine how space exploration would look like.

Finally, if you want to revive the times that most people have forgotten, then you can check out our Robot Hands Temporary Tattoos, which turn the hands of your children into fun robots. This set comes with 8 unique robot tattoos that are easy to put on and remove and will guarantee hours of imaginative fun and storytelling!

Retro robots are guaranteed to be loved by generations to come, in whichever form they take - a timeless classic and fun for everyone!