Originally posted back in September 2010, I thought it would be good to look at these two soviet era toys from my collection again.
You had to hand it to the Soviet Space programme, they did manage some fantastic feats of engineering in their time. Besides placing the first artificial satellite in orbit, the first man in space and the first spacewalk, they also managed to photograph the dark side of the moon and launch probes to most of the inner planets and send back photographs. All vehicles were singularly distinctive and designed in a way that looked noticably different from their american counterparts.
A particularly unusual and remarkable project was the Lunokhod or 'moonwalker'. The first mission placed a remotely operated rover on the moon in 1970 and again in 1973 Lunokhod 2 surprised the world as it spent four months travelling across the lunar surface sending back pictures of its travels before mysteriously halting.
Many toy and model companies have produced versions of Vostok, Soyuz and the Mir and Salyut stations, but appearances by the strange Lunokhod are few and far between.
Just recently I was extremely lucky to win a rare russian toy version of the toy, It was a restoration job as it had been painted and the motor was shot, but the basics were there and best of all, it looked wonderful! I added a couple of red star decals from an old airfix kit and it now stands proud on display.
After spotting the toy for sale, I had a quick trawl round on the web for info on the rare toy and found an excellent article by Mat Irvine on Scale Model News. This told me that it was made by a russian company called 'Ogonjek'. Originally, the tinplate body had lithoed markings and a name and the vehicle was attached by a cabled remote which had been removed. Even with these apparent defects, it is still an amazing toy and sits at about a foot long and is remarkably heavy having two strong electric motors, rusting inside.
Prior to seeing this tinplate version of the moonwalker, I had run into the little bathtub some years ago after I found a spanish toy by Congost. Lunajod 200 is a big boxed game, with the box itself an integral part of the toy. A large moon disc is printed on the reverse and the toy element consists of a fabulous little Spacex scaled model of Luna 21 and Lunokhod 2 riding on its back. The moon surface has holes punched in it to accept plastic buffers and Luna 21 is lowered onto the box with a small chain. As the lander touches down, ramps pop down and Lunokhod dutifully rolls off. If you aim correctly, Lunokhod rolls into the buffer and a small catch is released, the 'bathtub' lid pops open and a magnetic arm flips out. Behind the buffer are small metal disks or 'moon samples' and the arm picks one up automatically. Its a fantastically inventive toy, and beautifully made too.
|Congost Lunajod 200 box base|
LUNA 21 and Lunokhod 2 waiting for lunar touchdown.
|Lunar Samples and buffers in special box|