Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Of Colgate, Vintage Toys, Letters and Nostalgia...

                               


We all have that one toy that we would keep not just because of it's sentimental value, but it's WOW factor and great playability. Then you would pass it down to your child, hoping that they would also have fun as you did many years ago.
"let's crack this thing open!!!"

Any kid of the early 90's would remember this toy that came free with a box of your famous toothpaste. They call by many names, but the famous one would be the ALPHABET AND NUMBER ROBOTS by COLGATE!!!

                             
                             

Every box of Colgate Toothpaste would come with a free ALPHABET or NUMBER robots ( there are also math symbols as well ) They're small and colorful little pieces of plastic that you will transform into a robot, complete with arms, legs and beady little eyes and mouths. They're pretty easy to transform to a robot and back to a letter or a number ( there have also been free diecast cars taht came with every box of Colgate, but they don't have the impact as much as these do. ) So while a child is having fun playing with the toy, he/she will also learn the fundamentals of ABC's and 123's and a little bit of math as well. Pretty neat learning gimmick.
                         

What most 90's kids from the Philippines would remember are they are very nifty toys that you can play on the dirt or with your GI Joes or Transformers. All the robots have the word COLGATE painted on their bodies, so most kids would remember as Colgate being the original "makers".

Now there have been debates as to where these originally came from, as the Colgate ones don't have any copyright usually embossed on authentic toys and there have been several bootlegs and different versions that were sold even today ( you just have to know where to look ) but some extensive research on Google, forums, blogs and ebay, I was able to shed light on their origin.

an example of a bootleg alphabots...

i kept this card just for catalog purposes...
The toys were created by a Mr. Shigeyuki Horiuchi from Japan ( where else would we see this kind of oddity? ) commissioned by Mattel ( makers of toy properties like Hot Wheels, Barbie, He-Man etc. ) back in August 1986. They are originally called " Toy Block Transformed into a Robot " by the creator. Not really sure what they are really called, but Alphabots and DoubleDooz ABC's are the names that I was able to find. The creator also made some other toys as well, like a robotic toy fish ( you can check how the robots should look like transformed HERE, HERE and HERE. )The patent looks legit, and the website is convincing enough, so I'm sticking with this origin for now until I can unearth more ( you can check the original patents HERE )

patent designs... a lot of thought comes into it...
patent designs... a lot of thought comes into it...



the fish aquarium toy, also designed by Mr. Horiuchi...


Finding and buying all of your missing letters, numbers and math symbols to complete your collection can be a pain, as they're not that worth that much. But you have to admit, they do have that WOW factor. Any  true-blue vintage toy collector would recognize one immediately. I was only able to see 2 ads that were being sold online from 2 different websites locally and they were being sold immediately. So far, all I'm seeing that have been selling online are knock-offs. They practically use the same mold, but the colors are painted shoddily. And, they don't have that same nostalgic, fuzzy feeling when you're buying a Colgate "original".
group pic

                               

My parents were very kind enough to buy me a lot of Colgate robots that I almost have a complete set. I remember playing with them, even using clay to mold some swords, guns and even a crown for them to use. Lately I was able to buy some knock-offs to complete most of what I'm missing. Now all I need are the math symbols and numbers 1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0 to go full circle.  Up to this day I still have them, displayed on top of a bookshelf. Some have shown signs of age ( rusty screws, faded 
colors, collected dust, loose joints ) but I wouldn't sell them not even for 5000php. I want my child to play with them and take care of it long enough to also pass it on to his child, and so forth.
                         
                           

- "the king"

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I have number 9 sir :)