Our story so far:There was no brand on the traffic signs I found for the Straco Express display layout. They were made in Japan in the late 1950s-early 1960s. But that was all I knew.
Then I found them in a floor train set made by Ichimura. So the mystery was solved.
|The Ichiban set. Originally, it was about the signs.|
Soon after, I found them again in a penny toy car set imported by Cragstan. There was no other brand on the packaging, so it was logical to assume that it also was made by Ichimura.
|The KHT train set. So who made the signs?|
I then ran across another penny toy set that had the signs. This one had a train and was branded KHT, Kawahachi Toy Co. Ltd. So who made the signs? KHT or Ichimura?
Enter "NT"I recently ran across a set that further muddies the waters. There are no signs, but this little box set has the same loco and rolling stock as the KHT set.
|The surprise isn't inside -- it's on the top of this box.|
The lithography has been changed, but it's definitely the same stamped metal design. Only the box bears an N with a T overlay -- the brand of Nakamura Toy of Tokyo, Japan.
|The logo, an N and T inside a circle, is on the far right of the box.|
Who was Nakamura Toy? I can find examples of their products, but no information about the company itself. What was the relationship between KHT and Nakamura? Who supplied the original train, and who rebranded it? Or did they both get their product from Ichimura? Or vice-versa?
|The Nakamura set (top) and the loco from the KHT set (bottom). |
The locos are identical, save for the lithography.
The only thing that's remained constant is the importance of the packaging. It's the only place any type of branding has appeared in relation to these toys.