Saturday, 22 September 2012


The Fantastic 'Robinson' Spy Case

 Here's Ken with a review of the Rare & Wonderful 'Robinson' Spy Case.
 Looking at pictures of the Italian Robinson spy attache case on eBay made me wonder a lot about two things:  The first was exactly what most of the items in the set (the two black objects, the red box, the silver rod, the clear plastic thingy) were supposed to be.  My best guess was that one of the black plastic items probably combined with the silver rod to make a shoulder stock for the little pistol.  The second mystery was why the makers of this case, and apparently no others, thought that a secret agent needed a first aid kit (the little blue box with the red cross).   When I finally got my hands on the case and opened the box, I saw that it contained, not bandages and ointment, but what looked like a bar of clear facial soap.  And when I looked over the illustrated instruction sheet, the Italian word for "narcotic" was close enough to English for me to figure out that that was what the "soap"was intended to be;  a little drawing made clear that one was supposed use the syringe-like clear plastic device to extract a small pellet from the bar, then insert it into the muzzle of the pistol so that it could be fired at ones adversaries.  I wasn't sure how to take this revelation.   On the one hand,  it was no doubt laudable for the manufacturer to come up with a non-lethal weapon for the spy that children were supposed to be imitating, on the other hand, they would be running around pretending to shoot people full of drugs--not nearly as bad as killing them, certainly, but still a bit worrisome.  

     A quick look at the diagrams on the next page answered my other mystery.  The silver rod screwed into the red box, one of the two black antennas was then attached to it, and if you happened to have a 4.5 volt battery (unknown in the US), the assembly would spin around: the box was some sort of communication device.  The motor that turned the silver rod also rotated the black disk on the front of the box, revealing one picture at a time on a colour transparency disk, two more of which were stored in a pocket inside the lid of the case, which also held a passport, two kinds paper money,  and coins.

    In addition to the instructions, there was an illustrated booklet titled Robinson's Story, also in Italian.  Most of pictures seemed to depict typical scenes of espionage; only the one on the cover really drew my attention:  a man and woman holding a young boy between them.  This seemed to indicate to me that Robinson rather oddly and unadvisedly took his wife and son with him on his spy adventures.   There was also a brochure for other Robinson spy toys available from the manufacturer Uniwerk.  In addition to the "Valigetta Robinson" that I had, they had also offered a smaller set with just the pistol and the dope, a "Libroradio Robinson" or book transmitter that I would really have liked to have seen a better picture of, a Geiger counter, and a remote-controlled boat.
    About a year later, when I figured out where I had stashed the attache case and determined to give its contents a second going-over, a few more details stood out.  Unlike most passports in these sets, this one was filled out for you.  You were posing as a European ambassador, or, if you decided to use a handy insert to change your identity, you were a financial director named John G. Smith born in Montreal and living in the US.  And in either case, your identifying feature was a bullet wound in the leg, cited in four different languages.  Taking a closer look at the picture disks, I discovered that frame by frame they related a sequence of events:  one depicted a car chase ending in a gun battle, another showed a helicopter pursuing and firing at a boat.  The back of the ad brochure, which before I had missed completely, revealed that Uniwerk also sold games: one had something to do with bicycle racing, the other was "Il Gioco Di Robinson," which from the illustration and what I could make out of the text was supposed to be really darn exciting.
    The last and most important step of this re visitation was to put the text of that booklet into the Google translator and learn the details of Robinson's Story.  And one heck of a story it is.  For one thing, the little boy in that picture is Robinson himself, born Joseph Leonard M. in Bolivia and living in countries all over the world as his father followed work as an engineer, finally settling for good in Boston, Mass, where Joseph entered Harvard at the age of seventeen and went on to graduate with honours with degrees in science, medicine, chemistry, and law.  He then became a doctor and opened his own centre for research.  Meanwhile, his father became one of the most celebrated and successful engineers in the world, but after he did some work at a secret government facility in Nevada, foreign agents pursued him and attempted to gain information from him using bribes, threats, and blackmail.   When he nobly refused to betray his adopted country and his own ideals, he was ambushed at the port in Boston and mortally wounded.  He managed to escape his pursuers and was taken by a passing motorist to the nearest hospital where, as fate would have it, his son Joseph was working in the emergency room.   Unable to save his father's life, he underwent a spiritual crisis, gave up the practise of medicine, and became a trainee at the intelligence service Uniwerk, easily passing all the exams and becoming a secret agent dedicated to peace in the world, aiding "those countries that were struggling in intricate situations against atrocious injustice and extortion."   The image of his dying father in his memory made him resolve never to kill;  he would help the weak but would never resort to extreme violence.  And Joseph L.M. would from now on have no name other than ROBINSON: "a name that shakes the vile and violent, a name that  victims of abuse can call on anywhere."

      To aid in his mission, Robinson used his great knowledge to create several useful inventions.   The first was a transmitter concealed in an encyclopedia, which he used to communicate with Uniwerk headquarters as well as agents in the field, equipped with small receivers concealed in harmless-looking cigarette packages.  The second was the RADARSONAR,  which allowed "visual and acoustic soundings of large areas, even in adverse weather conditions."  The third and most important was a gun that fired a pellet made from a special plastic narcotic developed by his research facility, which, when it entered the body, rendered a person instantly unconscious.   Everyone came to know that "Robinson leaves his mark, but does not kill."

UPDATE:   I found an Italian site that had some information about the Robinson toys, including some pictures I have attached.
In commenting on the Robinson Libroradio, the writer says that the book transmitter could be used to communicate with two receivers concealed in packs of cigarettes, but what you didn't know until you actual got the toy was that the communication involved wires and that it was only a matter of flashing lights or beeps...i.e. Morse code.  (There are also some other spy type guns on this page.)

Looking at the better pictures, I have to say this particular spy toy, its functional limitations notwithstanding, is incredicool in my opinion and a must have.  I found some evidence that a couple got sold on the UK eBay a while back, but nothing current.

Sunday, 16 September 2012


Here's more of Kens Excellent collection.the Great Moonraker Case, and the excellent X-7 Case, over to Ken!..

The first thing I noticed about the Moonraker case was that it was definitely child- sized;  about 8 by 10 by 2 and a half inches, half as big as it appeared in pictures on E-bay.  And the three buttons on the case that launch three red "missiles" (they look more like bullets to me) are child-sized, too; to operate them at all as an adult you have to use your pinkie and and press really hard.  After that, if you are still in trouble, you can always slide open two small doors and pull the trigger on the "Tiger-Matic" pistol inside the case  to shoot silver pellets out the other end (and as a last resort, I guess, you can open the thing up and throw the little cap bomb).

 A third door that slides open next to the three tiny buttons reveals the business end of the periscope, which pops out when you push a fourth and larger button.   Inside the attache, in addition to the aforementioned pistol and bomb, are, in clockwise order, a mirrored signal flasher, a tiny radio, a grid device for decoding messages, and a small radar set.  I was expecting something to happen when I turned the little knob, but no, it's just for looks.  One thing that strikes me now about every Japanese spy attache I have ever seen is that unlike the more British and American versions, they all have art inside the cover, and the Moonraker scene in this one is especially striking and elaborate, almost dreamlike.

Secret Telscope!

Inside the case
Great Pic

  Here is a real oddball cheapo cardboard attache, apparently cobbled together by the manufacturer during the spy craze from items they already had in stock.

 Yes, what secret agent doesn't care a handy safe around with him?  And the dart gun is marked "Suburban 400";  a special gun for the suburbs?  In any case, this is the only one of these  I have ever seen anywhere, and probably for good reason.


Sunday, 9 September 2012


Here's some of Kens more unusual toys, i love these old Honk Kong rack toy's as readers of the blog already know!.the first one is very unusual, and comes from Japan and features shooting Sunglasses!, something I've not yet come across in the rack spy toy line

Love the Aston Martin & Spy Header
The next one is just brilliant, another 007 knock off, but featuring a spy on the card who looks more like one of bonds deadly enemies, Blofeld springs to mind, this is one of the best rack Knock off toys I've seen so far, and i would love to get even comes with a whistle!, as we know most agents in  deadly danger need a whistle!

IRWIN AGENT 808 Rack Toys

Ken doesn't own the 'wild sniper' set, but he gave me this info..I got outbid on this one when it came up, but I would still like to have it just because it is so weird..  The badge says "Sheriff Wyoming" on it, the box says 007, the guys on the box might be spies or they might be cops.   I have seen t radio gadget (Which shoots out little saucer disks when you pull a cord) for sale separately.
I've included it because the chances of seeing another i guess are very slim, and as knock off sets go, its pretty outrageous. 
The Irwin Agent sets are Kens and as he Say's..   'I have also attached a picture of a couple of carded items from yet another company with a cheap line of spy toys, Irwin.   I had the incredibly fake transistor radio with the gun in it when I was a kid.'..i love these, it would be interesting to see if they did any bigger toy sets, the 2 Ken has sent are very similar to the Agent 707 cards, but without the great artwork.

Super Cool Camera Gun
Great Goldfinger Knock Off
2 More great Rack toy knock offs from Kens Collection, the wonderful ' Camera Gun'..with missiles & Ring??..and a great ' Agent AA7'..knock off.. Using the Same gun as a ' Hamilton's Invaders' Set 7 an Official James Bond Set.
The agent looks nothing like Bond,and resembles a chubby schoolboy with lipstick!.. but the Villain very much resembles ' Goldfinger'. unusual as well to have 2 Guns in the set, this is a great item, the last one i saw for sale on e bay fetched £ its very collectible.
I don't know, but would presume, this is the only Agent AA7 item, maybe the Hong Kong toy company's were running out of numbers for their knock off agents, and thought that using letters would be more original!

This last ( but not least!) rack toy is a ' Secret Message' spy set its a great little item, with some very interesting artwork on the backing card, it also comes with a ring..again! and a pipe, to disguise the secret pen, the art on the card seems to bear no resemblance to the actual secret message writing of the set.


I Was Recently contacted through the blog, by a fellow spy collector, a splendid chap called Ken Smedley from the States, he very kindly sent me pics of his great Spy collection, i was very impressed,and asked if i could feature some of them on the Blog, he very kindly agreed, so the following pics and items are all Kens, theres some great and unusual bits here and it would take a good few years of e baying & toy fair searching to find some of these great rare items.

Here's the first, a great Redbox item, the special Agent 707 watch gun, same header & art as the other 707  Rack toys, its just great to see another variation and one to watch for on the E bay, if it turns up.

Really Nice item This!
Here's a great Redbox Bond set, but still has the Agent 707 Badge with it!, it seems, as Ken Mentions in his E mail to me, Redbox did lots of variations with the Packaging, licensed & Unlicensed and the pic at the bottom is definitely Agent 707 and not Bond.

Here's the Coibel Bond Spy Set, as I've feature a few coibel items on the Blog before, but not seen this one its pretty fab, Ken sent pics of the contents too

Superb Coibel Spy Set
The set contains the classic exploding spoon, tie clip gun & holster, no date but as its 'Roger  moore' bond maybe late 70's Early 80's?