c.1953 VIA, Circus Lion In Original Box

c.1953 VIA, Circus Lion In Original Box

Superb battery operated "Circus Lion" with "magic action". Manufactured in Japan by VIA (?) and distributed by the Rock Valley Toy Company. Super scarce toy and difficult to find complete. Beautifully working near mint condition complete with awesome near mint box.

Incredibly clever toy uses a hand-held plastic "whip" to control the toys actions and a flannel carpet to initiate its movements. The toy has four actions which run through two cycles before repeating. After the batteries are inserted move the switch underneath the base to the "on" position. The lion with platform is placed onto the carpet in a specific position. The underside of the carpet has two metal ribs, which when struck with the whip, push upwards against the underside of the platform to strike one of two release levers.

Using the whip one side of the carpet is struck hitting the first lever. This causes the animal to rise on its hind legs, it then moves its front legs and paws up and down in opposite directions, the mouth then opens and closes, while simultaneously produces a loud roaring sound. These actions continue until the opposite side of the carpet is struck hitting the second lever. The toy stops growling, lowers its front legs, and lowers itself onto the platform in its original sitting position. To work properly you must use the carpet and whip. Fresh batteries are also a good idea. The overall effect is pretty amazing; very realistic, but best of all....EVERYTHING works great!

It's made of a combination of materials. The platform base is tin litho. The lions torso, arms, and legs are flocked material over a metal skeleton. The mane is composed of thick woven fibers while the face and lower jaw are most likely painted celluloid, or some type of unusual plastic.

As you can imagine a toy like this is very complex. It'll break if any of the actions are forced. Selling for $4.95 in the early 1950s it was also an expensive toy. These are all reasons why today it's a difficult toy toy to find in high grade, complete and working.

It's also a fairly fragile toy requiring several complicated, multi-fold cardboard inserts to protect it while inside the box. Thankfully, this example comes not only with its original box, but all of its original inserts. The illustrated box itself is phenomenal. One of the most colorful I've seen, and which closely simulates the old-time circus posters. The front cover shows the caged lion standing upright on its hind legs surrounded by yellow (ad) stars. A raised curtain was drawn along the top edge, while the Lion Trainers arm and whip are shown along the bottom. The two large side aprons include four color illustrations (not just schematics) accompanied by three blocks of important, yet complex, instructions. The front and rear aprons with the lion head portrait probably most closely resemble some of the old Ringling Brothers or Clyde Beatty circus posters.

One closing statement about the manufacturer. "VIA" must represent a trademark for an obscure Japanese company. I couldn't find a reference for it. Similar to the U.S. trademarks for Cragstan and Rosko, the Rock Valley Toy Company is most likely the distributor, not the manufacturer.

Size: 10" tall at rest. 12" when raised.

Sold: Jan. 2011

Price Sold: $ 371


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Subject: c.1953 VIA, Circus Lion In Original Box

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