In my twin roles of Quality guru and tin robot tycoon, I’m in a unique position to settle the debate as to whether China will unseat Japan as the manufacturing powerhouse of the global economy. In terms of sheer volume, there is no debate: China is already big boss. But quality? If you want a wobbly plastic bucket, a t shirt with unintended underarm ventilation after two washes or a can opener that doubles as an instrument of digital amputation, then China’s yer man. If, on the other hand, you want a robot you can hand down to your children, then you need Space Evil. So there you have it.
In the world of tin robots, there is only one Space Evil. He is made in Tokyo by Katsumasa Miyazawa, the Hattori Hanzo of pressed tin roboteers, at Metal House, home of smoking robots. The company’s modest, succinct and – possibly mistranslated – mission statement is an understated summation of the Japanese concept of Kaizen:
“Metal House was founded in 1943 (it used to be MARUMIYA). We were the subcontractor of HORIKAWA, YONEZAWA, NOMURA,etc.The ex-president was well-known at the tin toy industry for developing SMOKY ROBOT. We succeed to his skill and dream, we put more effort into making tin toys from now on.”
Space Evil is a more evil version – insect eyes and basilisk head – of the Horikawa Star Strider robot, which Metal House also manufacture. The Chinese copy, known as Robot 2008 in the last incarnation I have seen, is admittedly less than half the price, looks superficially the same but rather like Chinese MIG fighters, is made for fewer sorties. It looks OK on the shelf but wouldn’t even save your living room, never mind the Galaxy, from imminent destruction.
On the strength of their unbending commitment to maintaining the highest standards of manufacturing quality regardless of cost and largely in the absence of a market, Metal House Robots have been inducted with full space honours to the Thus Quality Hall of Fame. I for one would spend all my disposable income, were I to have any, on limited edition robots, especially Mad Robot type M . Thus readers planning to invest in pension funds etc. should seriously consider buying a few Metal House robots instead. The value of investments can go up and down but Space Evil, Mad Robot, Piston and Engine Robots, not to mention Monster Robot 2 can go backwards and forwards, clanking, whirring, flashing and generally striking an attitude.