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By the mid 1950s and early 60s, the idea of space seemed to dominate American popular culture. Automobiles were named for rocket ships. Bicycles, coin banks, ashtrays, flashlights, laundry soap and sun glasses were produced with space motifs. Among the most prominent categories of space-related artifacts were toys. Small rocket ships and jet pilot card games, outer space puzzles and satellite cap bombs, space tops and orbit yo-yos saturated the market. Often made of lithographed tin, as well as from a revolutionary new space-age material, plastic, these toys were often created not in the United States but in Japan, which was beginning a technological and economic renaissance after the Second World War. Of the Japanese space toys, some of the most innovative and beautiful were the robots which flooded the U.S. after the mid 1950s when Nomura's Mechanized Robot, modeled on the robot Robby in the film "Forbidden Planet," started the 1950s toy robot craze.
Ray Guns of the 1950's and 1960's
Japanese toy ray guns began to enter the American market in the mid 1950s. Generally fashioned of tin or of tin and plastic, and usually thinner and less durable than their American counterparts, the Japanese guns nevertheless possessed fanciful decorative graphics which were often more sophisticated and interesting than those on the American guns. Visual and imaginative, tin guns like the diminutive Space Control Gun by T Nomura and the whimsical Super Sonic Gun by Daiya are brilliant examples of the art of toy making.
The late 1950s and early 60s stands as the apex of Japanese toy space gun manufacture. By the mid to late 1960s, with the exception of toy space guns made in Europe, the production of space guns moved largely to Hong Kong and after that to China.