Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Haji Theme and Variations 2

A simple and economic way to create new toys is to change a detail or two -- rather than starting from scratch each time. That was the strategy of Mansei Toy Co. Ltd. Under the brand name Haji, they produced a series of inexpensive friction drive toy trucks during the mid-1950s.

These 3-inch long tin toys all shared a common chassis and cab. By using different bodies and lithography, Mansei created a variety of toy vehicles with minimal investment. There's virtually no documentation about this line available, so everything I know about it has come from first-hand observation.

And recently, another variation has emerged.

The firetruck uses the common chassis, but that's about it. Rather than a closed cab, it has an open cab with a fireman. Both are unique to this toy, as are the ladder and hose storage. Different components mean added expense, and in this case, perhaps an unnecessary one.

The closed cab was made from a single sheet of metal with a stamper. And it was used over and over for all of the previous eight variations I'm aware of. That maximizes the investment in the tool and die work.

This vehicle replaces the single unit cab with two different pieces -- a windshield that has to be cut and shaped, and a fireman that also has to be stamped and bent. It also requires an addition to the stamper for the chassis to create the two additional slots for the fireman (that's not such a big deal). And added labor to affix both pieces where previously one was.

That makes this version a little more expensive to produce than the rest of the line. I wonder if that affected its wholesale/retail price?

The firetruck is a great-looking toy -- and one that's extremely rare to find intact. As with most firetrucks, the ladder is often missing, as is the fireman.

This is the ninth version of this truck I've found to date. Who knows what else is out there?

(To compare this to the other eight variations, visit the original Haji Theme and Variations post).

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