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Nomura Die Cast

text: Robert Duban & Matt Alt, graphics: Robert Duban

October 2001

Updated: 11.07.04

Image contributions: Great-Items / Great-Toys, Yutaka Ishida / Kaikodo, Todd Stadtman, Warren Schwartz, Alen Yen

[tin Tetsujin 28] Much like Yonezawa, Nomura Toy was a survivor of the heady days of tin in the '50's & '60's. Unlike Yonezawa, however, Nomura managed to carry over some of their success as tin-producers into the diecast realm. Although Nomura wasn't exactly a major player in the diecast character toy market of the 1970's, they did get their hands on at least one successful license: Space Cruiser Yamato. And several of Nomura's diecasts arguably rank among the all-time classics of Japanese toy design.

In the age of tin, Nomura was a star. Their 1950's and 1960's tin-toy output contains some of the most well-known character tins of all time, including several renditions of the seminal 'Robby' robot from the film "Forbidden Planet." Nomura went on to produce tins from many classic 1960's series (Mighty Atom, Magma Taishi, and Ohgon Bat, among others); their various versions of the Tetsujin 28 character are particularly sought-after collectibles today. As popular as Nomura was in the 1960s, however, the marketplace was about to undergo a huge change. The advent of the diecast character toys introduced by Popy in 1972 would all but kill the market for the tin toys that had made Nomura a success.

Nomura managed to gather a handful of licenses and began to produce diecast rather than tin. Eschewing a fancy brand name, Nomura simply emblazoned their packaging with the Japanese word for "diecast" in a metallic font. And while the boxes for many of their tins featured a "TN" ("Toy Nomura") in a diamond, the diecasts simply featured "Nomura toy" on their boxes.

Nomura's large-scale rendition of the eponymous spaceship from "Space Cruiser Yamato" is quite possibly the most sought-after diecast toy they ever produced. Yamato was Nomura's most famous license, and their 1/850 scale rendition is widely hailed as a wonder of the diecast toy world. No tricked-out gimmicks for this baby: it's a satisfying -- and nearly solid -- brick of cast metal. Nomura made a number of scales of the Yamato, a rendition of the ship's robot Analyzer, and one of the series' smaller spacecraft, the Cosmo Tiger. In addition, Nomura also made small plastic figures of the various Yamato crewmembers, a plastic "bridge", a "cosmo gun," and various other non-metal Yamato toys. The Yamato series of shows and films was a runaway hit in 1970's Japan, and it's only logical to think that Nomura's excellent toy renditions brought them more than a little financial success.

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While the Yamato series may have been a smash hit, Nomura's other diecast properties are far less well known today. In a curious turn, Nomura made toys from the TV series "Blue Noah" (10/13/79 - 3/30/80). Produced by an utterly obscure animation studio called "Production Academy," it is difficult to see as anything other than a bald-faced rip-off of Yamato. The twist, such as it was, was that Blue Noah patrolled the oceans of an Earth occupied by alien forces. Although theoretically a "space carrier," it never actually left the atmosphere until the very end of the series. The show tanked after a short, 24-episode run. (The theory espoused on several Japanese fan sites is that after seeing Yamato, the exploits of an ocean-bound carrier -- no matter how "super" -- came across as pretty pedestrian.)

Nomura produced several renditions of "Space Warrior Baldios," (6/30/80 - 1/25/81) a giant-robot character that ranks somewhere south of Blue Noah in terms of sheer obscurity. Baldios' boxy look, oddly asymmetric combination scheme, and "samurai" styling have combined to make the deluxe version something of a cult classic for collectors.

Nomura didn't limit themselves to character toys in the 1970's, producing a wide variety of "original" items such as toy cars, trucks, and games. They may not be with us any longer today, but their output stands as among the most memorable of the "minor players" on the Japanese diecast character toy scene.

[image] Baldios - mini - note
[image] Baldios - ST - box
[image] Baldios Triple Cross Battle Combination (DX) - inner box, box
[image] Plastic Robot Baldios - box
Baldios mini vinyl set - box
[Blue Noah]
[image] Battle Helicopter - box
[image] Blue Noah Standard Set - box
[image] Gattai DX Blue Noah - box version 1 - box
[image] Gattai DX Blue Noah - box version 2 - box
[image] "Fight, Blue Noah" plastic set - box
Blue Noah Gattai Set - package
[image] Analyzer - box
[image] Andromeda - box
[image] Cosmo Tiger - 1/100 Scale Model - box
[image] Yamato - mini - box
[image] Yamato - 1/1300 Scale Model - box
[image] Yamato - 1/850 Scale Model - box
Analyzer - wind up
[image] Mystery Analyzer (plastic) - box

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