Golden Sahara II display Robots
GOLDEN SAHARA DISPLAY ROBOTS
Jim Skonzakes (aka Jim Street) came up with, at the time innovative, and attractive display material. To make his dream custom look even better. He had found these mechanical robots, which were the rage in the late 1950’s. He added some angle hair, and made the GSII look like it came straight from Outer Space.
This photo from the Keith Ashley Collection gives us a good look at how Jim’s display for the Golden Sahara II looked like back in 1958.
While walking down town Jim came across a toy store, and saw this fantastic looking mechanical robot in the shop display, based around the Forbidden Planet Movie. He bought one of the toy robots in that store, and was very much inspired by this amazing toy robot. Especially the way it was operating remind him of all the automated and remote control units he had designed for the Golden Sahara II. He came up with the idea to have these robots walk around the Golden Sahara, when it was displayed at the shows. Making it look like the car came from outer space, or perhaps like the car was built by these futuristic robots. Using the information found on the box he tracked down the import company (the robots were made in Japan).
Here we can see that Jim even put a robot inside the car sitting on the cocktail table in the rear.
Jim got in contact with the import company and asked about the possibility of buying two dozen of the robots at whole sale price. It was only possible to buy a whole case for a special discount. Jim forgot how many there were in a case, but there were a Lot. Jim decided to go for it. He bought the case and started to display these amazing robots with the car. Most of the Robots Jim used are the regular black version, but he also had one or two of the now rare silver version. To further enhance the display he added angle hair around the car, giving it the impression like it was floating. The whole display looked like it was a science fiction movie set, as if the Golden Sahara II with its robot creators had just landed. We have to remember this was 1958.
The audience absolutely loved it. They pointed at the robots all the time, took their kids by the hand, giving them an opportunity to check out the GSII display thoroughly. Jim Street used the robots for many years, while having the GSII at the show circuit. He gave away many of these robots to people he knew from the shows, or who helped him in any other way.
The Golden Sahara II was created by the Delphos machine & Tool Shop together with Bob Metz and master mind Henry Meyer.
Show card that was prodiced by Car Craft magazine. Most likely the photo was taken at a show where Jim displayed the car with the Robots.
Today this Mechanized Robby Robot is a collectable toy. And if you happen to find one in its original box, you really have something special. Jim, of course, had no idea his little helpers would become a sought after collectable 50+ years after he bought a case of them.
The actual Robby Robot and its original box.
About the Robot
Nomura – Mechanized Robby Robot
Build in 1957 by Nomura in Japan. This is for sure THE robot icon that everybody knows: ROBBY THE ROBOT in its purest form. Build as an exact copy of the robot in the film Forbidden Planet. There were many variations made of this legendary robot. The actions are of course walking ( in a circle ), flashing lights, spinning ears and the famous pumping pistons in his head. His arm swing around while he walks. Not like other robots, robby carries the batteries in his legs.
From Vintage Space Toys
8 thoughts on “Golden Sahara II display Robots”
Rik..cool story! when it comes from Jim, its always something wild! i can imagine how it must have bin seing this in 58!
The same robot was later used in the TV show “Lost in Space”!
Jim Skonzakes was a genius. have always been amazed by this car!
Jim has always been way ahead of his time,if the Sahara and Kookies car came out today,they would still be in style after 50 yrs.What an imagination he has.
I met a Russ George back in ’77 while I was working for Jim at his burglar alarm company in West Carrollton. Could that Russ have been your dad?
Hi Lee,yes I’m a Jr. and dad was best friends and traveled with Jim a few times.He also worked at the alarm company a short time.We lost dad in 1982 to cancer.
I’m sorry to hear about your dad. I liked him alot. That damn cancer.
He fixed up a 70’s Plymouth Duster for your mom. But your mom didn’t like the non-power steering so he let me make payments on it. That car was nimble! Drove it out to California and back (but I returned to California). Jim gave Fuzzbusters to all his employees at Christmas in 77. I still have mine (yes I’m a hoarder).
We all (including your dad) went to a Christmas dinner at a converted barn in Kentucky. We all got deathly ill (what else would you expect at a barn?).
We went away on holidays about 4 years ago and asked our elderly neighbours to collect our mail whilst we were away. On arrival home, there on our doorstep, neatly in a box, was our mail. I turned the box over and it was the same box as the one above. It was in PERFECT CONDITION. My heart skipped a beat. I ran over to our neighbours to thank them for collecting our mail . . . .and ask where was the bloody robot!!!!!. “Oh , I threw it in the bin last week, the kids never played with it. You can keep the box though.”
I could have cried. A friend who is a robot collector later bought the box alone for $500. About the same time he had a rare tinplate robot that he sold for $25k. Same one sold at a Sotherby’s auction for nearly $50k True Story. . . and my wife complains that I $pend too much on my cars.
I am 99% sure this is the same robot listed in my JC Penny Christmas catalogue from the 60’s or early 70’s.