Vintage Toys: Cape Canaveral Satellite Monitor, Circa 1950s

Cape Canaveral Satellite Monitor toy bus, circa 1950s. Produced by Yonezawa Toys.

Via the Smithsonian —  This toy “Cape Canaveral Satellite Monitor” bus is a tin toy produced in Japan for export to an American market. In post-WWII Japan, producing space-themed “tin toys” originated as a way to tap into an international market for “penny toys” or cheap playthings. By the late 1950s, however, this home-crafted industry had become a successful international business manufacturing creatively-designed, complex toys with moving parts and/lights that competed successfully with Western toymakers. This toy’s maker, Yonezawa Toys, Co., Ltd., was one of the biggest manufacturers in Japan of tin toys, many of which carried space themes. The design of this toy, which features lithography created to appeal to an American market, tapped into the American fascination with the new NASA human spaceflight program while also showcasing the toy’s battery-powered features.