I wanted to see what I could discover about this under-documented aspect of postwar toy manufacturing from primary sources. Like many trips, the adventure's in the journey. I ran across the item shown above recently. I was surprised at how much I knew about it.
Original packaging is always helpful. I was familiar with the importer, Cragstan, and knew they worked with a variety of Japanese toy firms. In this case, the supplier seems to be Ichimura. I recognize those road signs.
Perhaps because I most recently wrote about the Toy Merchandising Corp. of New York, I was sensitive to proper markings for imported items. No problem -- Cragstan played by the rules. The package is clearly marked "Made in Japan."
|Mystery solved. In this photo are two roadway sets made|
by Ichimura, and imported by Cragstan.
One had the same assortment of signs as the Cragstan Racing Car set: Keep Right, RR Crossing, and Speed Limit 50. It had three cars, one red, one blue, and one green. The second set had the same three cars, but a slightly different sign assortment, with Stop Ahead replacing the Speed Limit 50 sign.
Why the variation? Probably just expediency. These were low-margin toys, and I'm sure the only rule for assembly was three different car colors, and three different signs per package.