Tin Japanese Toys

Tin toys gained popularity in Japan in the late 19th century through the mid-20th century. Originally, production was dominated by Germany, however, Japan's cheaper costs allowed its market to grow. Aimed at the American consumer, manufacturers constructed them from tin plate. Japan's production increased after WWII, and remained the world's largest manufacturer in the metal toy industry until the mid-1950s. Companies in Japan utilized technologies such as chromolithography and punch machines to create imaginative, precise toys in bright, appealing colors. Masudaya, Kuramochi, and Saito are brands that people know for their trains and tracks, sea and air vessels, and merry-go-rounds, while people know Bandai, Ichiko, and Marusan for their intricate automobile toys.

These days, vintage tin toys are popular collector's items among antique enthusiasts. Rare tin toys, or those that are that in their original box, fetch incredibly high prices among serious toy collectors. Those which are less valuable are every bit as valid as they were many years ago with their sturdy design able to withstand rough play. With the advent of plastic toys, tin toys swiftly went out of production in the 1970s, and are becoming much more difficult to find.

Which Types of Tin Toys Are Popular?

Created with the play of baby boys and young boys in mind, the majority of tin toys are boyish with plenty of cars, motorcycles, boats, and robot designs, which in today's world are retro and vintage icons of yesteryear. Girls didn't miss out entirely, however, with animals and dolls also produced.

  • The vintage or antique collector will have a lot of enjoyment at seeing the manufacturer's predictions of the future with rockets and robots featuring heavily.
  • Windup tin toys gave a realistic element to futuristic toys like robots, allowing them to walk about.
  • As popularity grew, so did Japanese ingenuity. This coupled with the progression of clockwork to battery-powered toys allowed unprecedented designs. Manufacturers used a tiny record player and stylus inside the body to create smoking bears, talking vehicles, and musical monkeys.

Which Materials Are Used To Manufacture Japanese Tin Toys?

After World War II, production of tin toys shifted from Germany, which always had the lion's share of the market for its quality product, to Japan. Japanese manufacturers borrowed heavily from German techniques and swiftly developed its own craft methodologies.

  • Manufacturers used recycled tin cans in order to craft many of the toys.
  • Many of them were metal food tins that were originally from the U.S.A. After recycling them into metal toys, Japan sold them back to the American market.
  • Tin toys tended to be hand painted or painted using tin lithography in bright colors. The lower labor costs in Japan meant that previously expensive toys were suddenly far cheaper to produce and sell.