Not Just Any Toy Robot – The DUX Astroman Robot

The DUX Astroman

The DUX Astroman Robot – manufactured in West Germany and first introduced c. 1959. The artwork on the original box is considered one of the big pluses for this prized collectable. (Photo via Alphadrome Robot and Space Toy Database)

In the 1950s (and beyond), Japan toy manufacturers had the reputation as the best – in creativity, design, and quality. To this day some of the most wanted post-WWII vintage toys were manufactured in Japan – particularly the tin-litho windups, including robots, i.e. The Alps Television Spaceman and The Radicon Robot.

Still, there are some non-Japanese vintage toy robots that collectors prize – one of them is the DUX Astroman Robot made in West Germany.

The battery operated remote controlled Astroman Robot, complete with red antenna and padded hands.

The battery operated remote controlled Astroman Robot, complete with red antenna and padded hands.

Designed by Lothar Stanetzki of Bonn, Germany and originally seen in German catalogs in 1959. The original patent, which was filed in January of 1960 and granted in April 1964, defined the specific distinction of this robot:

…a serious drawback of many presently utilized toys of this general character is that all movements which the toys are capable of performing must occur in a predetermined sequence i.e. that the player cannot change the sequence of movements as he wishes…An important object of [this] invention is to provide an improved automaton which is…constructed in such a way…that the movements which it is adapted to perform are independent of each other and may be initiated either simultaneously or in any desired sequence which dependents only upon the user’s choice.

The final result was a 12″, battery operated remote controlled robot named Astroman – it became a best seller. Astroman has a translucent green body with a light up chest, a forward walking motion, bends at the waist, and opens and closes his arms to pick up objects. He also has a glow-in-the dark head, a clear plastic helmet, red antenna, and headphones.

DUX-Astroman 150 Catalog Listing - 1960

A marvel of toy construction immediately appealing for father and son. – DUX-Astroman 150 Catalog Listing, 1960 (Photo via Blechroboter at Alphadrome)

DUX Astroman Pickup PicPlastic robots in the 1950s and early sixties were very rare. DUX Astroman Robot is considered the first of its kind. It’s for this reason that the robot can be quite expensive – not only for its historical value, but also because of the wear and bowing that is known to happen with plastic toys. The red antenna is fragile and is often missing and the pads on the hands can often be worn down or missing altogether. The clear plastic helmet can be discolored after years of being exposed to the elements. A reproduction replacement for the antenna can cost anywhere from $35.00-$60.00 in some places. A reproduction of the helmet can cost as much as $90.00, and a reproduction head/mask can sell for $35.00-$60.00 – most aren’t even glow-in-the-dark. To find an original DUX Astroman Robot in mint condition with all working parts accompanied with the original box, standing display, cargo boxes, and instructions is very rare. Collectors have been known to pay anywhere from $1,100.00 to $1,800.00 for the complete set-up like the one shown below.

Complete DUX Astroman SetSo, if you’re a person who visits garage and lawn sales looking for that amazing find, and you see a DUX Astroman Robot set that’s selling for an amazing price, even if you’re not a fan of vintage toy robots, buy it. Consider it a worthwhile investment.

(Photos via ToyTent except where noted)

Be Prepared For An Intent Quest If The Radicon Robot Is What You Seek


Collecting toy robots is a serious business – especially collecting vintage toy robots. As noted in a previous post, those produced in post-WWII Japan are some of the most prized to collectors. To many hobbyists, acquiring The Radicon Robot is like obtaining the Holy Grail.

14.75″ tall (22.5″ tall to top of wire antenna) made in Japan by Masudaya (Modern-Toys) in 1957. This is the second known radio-controlled toy and the first known remote-control robot. The Radicon Robot is also the first of the famous “Gang Of Five” classic Japanese robots. The robot was technically difficult to produce due to the complex mechanism and the thicker tin plate used to stamp the parts for it. The outside surface of this tinplate has a special textured paint that was electrically-applied. The robot is controlled by… [a] deep remote (complete w/15″ long antenna) that is battery-operated, as is the robot itself. Left side of the robot’s head has separate wire antenna to receive commands given via remote. [When the] robot’s “Off-On” switch is turned on robot begins working and functions include – moves forward, arms swing, loud clicking noise is produced, both antennas on head turn and occasionally changes direction. This action (changing direction) as well as stopping and starting is…controlled by using the remote. [There is a] light in [the] chest compartment as well as blinking eyes.
Hake’s Americana and Collectables

The pictures below are from the Hakes 2013 Auction #210 listing. Bidding for The Radicon Robot ended 21 November 2013. The winning bid was $7,210.50, which included a 15% Buyer’s Premium. So, the next time you’re browsing around resale shops, garage sales, or flea markets, consider well those old/vintage toy robots – there just might be a whole lot more to them than meets the eye.

The Radicon Remote Control Robot With Remote. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Remote Control Robot With Deep Remote. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Robot Front View. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Robot Front View. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Robot Head Close-Up. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Robot Head Close-Up. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Robot Chest Compartment Close-Up With On-Off Switch. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

The Radicon Robot Chest Compartment Close-Up With On-Off Switch. (Photo: © Theodore L. Hake)

If you’re interested in pop culture collectables you can’t go wrong by checking out Hake’s. The items listed for sale or auction are always in great/good condition. Ted Hake has a passion as a ‘middleman of memories’ and has been in the business as the captain of secret treasure since the 1960s.

Behold, the Alps Television Spaceman Robot!


This robot is a star from the Golden Age of robot and toy production. It was a masterpiece of mechanical design. The ‘Television Spaceman’ was created and manufactured by Alps  – one of the top Japanese toy companies to emerge post-WWII. If you wonder why so many collectors note Made In Japan when describing a mid century robot or toy, the answer is twofold: quality and multiple features. Alps put both of those virtues into the Television Spaceman – and a lot of creativity to boot. You can click here to read all about the fantastic features of this little marvel at Robot Era.

As can be seen in that nifty video, the centerpiece of this prized robot is the television:

…pre-Apollo era artwork inspired by (or more accurately copied from) the works of the famous space artist Chesley Bonestell…Also noteworthy is Dr Werner von Braun’s space plane prominently displayed at various points in the panorama.

Not all toy robots are alike – and there’s more than just a bit of graphics that set them apart. Alps’ ’61-’69 Television Spaceman robot is a splendid example of just what exactly does.