Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Clockwork Coupe from Japan

I recently won an auction for the tinplate toy you see below. It's made in Japan (as marked), and initially I purchased it for the Straco Display Layout. But now I'm not so sure.

The size of the piece is pretty close ("scale" is a squishy concept with these inexpensive Japanese toys). While most of the vehicles on the display layout are friction-powered, this coupe is clockwork. That's not really a problem. Some of the display cars have no power at all, just free-spinning wheels.

No, the issue is that this is definitely a pre-war toy -- and the focus of the display layout is early post-war Japanese tin toys. The design of this toy mimics automobiles of the of the late 1930s, and the type of lithography and the colors used are also more pre- than post-war. And it's ingeniously constructed..

This coupe seems to fit right into the Straco display.

The sides are indented to give room for the stem. This keeps the stem from sticking too far out the side of the vehicle. There are two tabs, one under each bumper. The front tab is the catch, which lets you wind the spring, then release it for motion. The back tab controls the rear wheels, which can be turned at a slight angle to the left or right. So you can steer this coupe (sort of).

Front tab is spring catch, the back turns the rear wheels.

It's a great piece, and remarkably, after eighty years, it still runs. No one's over-tightened the spring, or bent the axles, or broken off the stem. And that allowed me to make the video below. Well worth the $9.80 this cost me!


And it does look good on the layout....

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