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The Machine Man robot with its original box.

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Estimated at $60,000-$90,000 at the sale on on September 23-24, it swept past expectations to land at $130,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium), a new auction record for a toy robot.

The ‘near mint’ 15in (37cm) fire-engine red robot is the most celebrated element among the most famous of all Japanese space toys: Masudaya’s robot quintet known as the Gang of Five.

Unlike the other members of the Gang – Lavender Robot, Giant Sonic Robot, Radicon Robot and Target Robot all available from a catalogue – ‘Giant’ Machine Man had to be specially ordered from an importer. It was perhaps made for one year only, in 1960.

Fewer than a dozen exist today. This example is one of only two or three retaining their original packaging.

The box cover displays a vibrant but curious graphic of the robot on a foreign planet, with two smiling human observers watching him – one of them waving and the other enjoying a cuppa.

SpecialistTommySage Jr had received a phone call out of the blue from a man who had found it in an attic while clearing out his mother’s estate. “He didn’t remember the toy at all but thinks it was a Christmas gift,” Sage said. The new owner is a US collector.

Morphy has previously sold two examples of the toy. Both unboxed, one took $36,500 in 2002, the other sold in 2019 for $69,000.

The example in the famed Matt Wyse robot collection sold at Sotheby’s New York in 1996 for $42,000.