Here’s an interesting find I just got from Japan… it’s a model kit of Superman from Aoshima. I’m not really sure if the date, but I’d guess it’s probably early to mid 1970s, possibly as early as the 1960s.
This is the kind of unusual Superman item I love to uncover. I first spotted this on eBay for over $500, which puts it out of my price range because I’m not comfortable spending that kind of money on an item with no established market value here. The problem with collecting foreign material like this is that it’s very difficult to value; foreign items come up so infrequently in the United States that it’s tough to find recorded sales. I can’t just go on eBay and check completed auctions like I can with more common items (like, for example, a Super Powers Superman). My approach, rather than trying to rely on a “guide value,” is to just pay what I’m willing to spend and not worry too much. As a result, I try to exercise extreme caution.
Fortunately, this kit came up at the right price on Yahoo Japan Auctions, so I bought it about two weeks ago.
To me, the box art on the front has everything I’m looking for in a foreign item: colorful, original artwork that is beautiful and has some unusual localized characteristics; this one has a dynamic, full-color painting of Superman rendered in a somewhat realistic style with tousled hair and a determined, intense expression. And, to cap off the awesomeness, he’s flying over a city with a pterodactyl. Cool!
The box top and sides show the various features of the kit. I don’t read or speak Japanese, so I can’t give you a translation, but I think the left side is demonstrating the “wind up” walking feature this model has.
The right side is great, too, as it shows some of the other models available in this series. The box shows a No. 5 in the upper right on the front, and Superman is in the fifth position here. Enlarge this and check out some of the other cool model kits… that third one looks like some kind of outer space Planet of the Apes knockoff or something.
Opening the box lid, you can see the contents of the kit, including the plastic pieces still on the original sprues. On the right side is a small bag that’s stapled to the box. Inside is a small tube of presumably long dried glue, as well as a metal wind-up mechanism that fits inside the chest. Yes, this isn’t just a static model model kit. It is actually an unassembled walking wind-up toy!
Here are the plastic parts from the kit. They are all molded in blue, except for the head, which is pink plastic with some pre-painted black details… hair and eyes, but no eyebrows for some reason. Also included are a vinyl cape and some stickers or decals for his belt and emblem.
Here’s a detailed view of the head.
I love this die cut insert that comes with the box. The Superman painting on the left looks like a handsome Japanese actor from a monster movie. Krypto and Superboy are fighting a dragon and a robot in the background. According to this web page (one of the few with any info at all about these Aoshima releases), Aoshima also released the dragon and the robot as separate kits. If you have either of these or see one for sale, please let me know!
The instructions are printed on one side of large sheet and then folded.
This smaller piece of paper was also included. I don’t know what it is… an ad? Some kind of guarantee certificate? A coupon? (Edited to add: In the comments below, Paul points out that this is a certificate for a Spectreman t-shirt offer; collect three certificates and mail them in for a shirt. Thank you, Paul!)
Like I mentioned, this is the kind of item I live for as a Superman collector, all made possible through the wonders of the internet. It’s pretty exciting to find something this unusual from 40 years ago and 7,000 miles away!