ABOVE : The Wheeling-based Stone & Thomas stores of West Virginia included the Smoking Space Man as the single robot in its selection of boy's toys. Copy went so far as to identify the brand name of the toy, Linemar. In the 1950s through the early 1960s Japanese toys were generally only described as "Imported" but the close association with the Marx name gave Linemar an edge over the competition. Smaller department stores such as Stone & Thomas utilized the services of a buying office in New York in order to be able to present a high-quality Christmas catalog. The buying office would oversee all aspects of the catalog including selection of the merchandise and negotiating the best price possible with the vendors as well as the executing the design and printing of the catalog. Stores that were part of the buying group would then purchase copies of the catalogs at a nominal fee and have the luxury of ordering the merchandise in only the quantities they were comfortable they could sell rather than in the massive lots which would otherwise be needed to justify the expense of the catalog. This same catalog would have been available to any of the stores utilizing the buying offices of the Dayton Company (later Dayton-Hudson) group as well as any stores that were wholly-owned subsidiaries.


The extremely large pen wielded by the toy buyers working for Montgomery Ward meant a lower wholesale and sharper retail than most of the competition could offer. The "made of realistically colored metal" description used by Wards for their "Walking, Smoking Spaceman" provides an important clue regarding color availability which is the subject of much optimistic but generally unfounded speculation today. Wards illustration clearly shows that the robot underwent a major design change between the time early samples were shown and volume production started. The series of four tab covers running from the top of the shoulder to the very tip of the claw on each arm were dropped in favor crimping the parts together which made the well-built toy sturdier and greatly streamlined the final assembly process which was all done by hand. These tab covers can clearly be seen on the robot in the Stone & Thomas, Western Auto, and Sears catalogs as well.



ABOVE: At $4.88 Western Auto came in with one of the highest advertised prices for the "Walking-Smoking Spaceman" in 1960. Before malls were commonplace, many towns too small to have a department store relied on Western Auto for general merchandise needs as well as auto parts.



ABOVE: With the exact same artwork, copy, and price, Sears presented the Smoking Spaceman in the big Sears 1960 Christmas Book as well in the 1960 and 1961 supplemental Sears Toy Catalogs. Sears price of $3.77 was one of the lowest advertised for the toy.   BELOW: A brief overview of the Linemar Company.