This rocket toy is quite a famous one. It was produced in Japan by Nomura a few years before the first moon landing, in 1966.
The rocket is made of lithographed tin with some plastic parts, and contains some electronics inside. The bottom part of the rocket contains a compartment for one battery, that runs a bump-and-go motor, flashing lights (in the nose cone and the afterburner), siren and also some kind of “foot” or lever that rises the rocket as if it was about to take off. The wings also extend or fold depending on if its moving or taking off.
This interesting mechanism has made the Nomura rocket a very sought-after toy. One of these working and in good condition can go over 300 or 400 US$, especially if it comes with the box.
Unfortunately many used models can be found with a broken mechanism or rust in some parts of its body. Batteries in the 60s and the 70s were not as good as they are now, and if they were forgotten inside of toys, they might end up exploding and releasing corrosive acid that would destroy tin. In the toy you see here there is a small defect on the lower part of the toy.
My model is only missing a small black plastic cap. It was intended to protect the nose cone while in the box.
The model (produced in 1966 or 1968, depending on the source), seem to be inspired by the Thunderbird 1, a rocket that appeared in the TV series “The Thunderbirds” by Gerry Anderson (from 1965). As a matter of fact, the toy was designed with a big number one, but it was pulled out of production because of the copyrighted design of the Thunderbird 1. Then it was produced with numbers 7 (second version) or 8. The version with the “8” is a later version with a new lithography design and a new box. This later model features a NASA logo.
Here can be seen some catalogue (1971) images of the Solar-X “8” rocket as well of images of a similar rocket that was equipped with a friction motor instead of an electric one, the Lunar-7.
Here a Nomura catalogue from 1969:
FACTS AND FIGURES:
- Name: SOLAR-X “7”
- Year: 1966
- Company: Nomura (Japan)
- Size: Around 45 cm.