(For today’s “I Had That”, I’m reposting part of a blog post from two years ago today which is perfect for this feature.)
Not long ago, during a busy work day, I posted this picture:
I wanted to say more about it then, but I just didn’t have time. I’ll tell you about it now.
It’s a little (about 2″ tall) robot toy I bought when I was a kid. It’s die-cast except for the head and arms, and it has little wheels on the bottom. The head and arms are articulated. I got it at Barker’s, which was a department store on Jefferson Highway at Folse street, and is now a Winn-Dixie. It was called “Qonto” and I knew nothing about it other than it looked cool. They had a bigger one with all sorts of features which I coveted but never got. I’ve lost or gotten rid of a lot of toys over the years, but I still have Qonto. It wasn’t until a while back that I decided to look up what the heck he was.
Here’s what I’ve found out. In 1978 Japan answered the call of Star Wars with its own space opera, Message From Space (the cast includes Sonny Chiba, Vic Morrow, and, according to IMDB, Chris Isaak.) I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it, though it did get a US release. It was spun off into a Japanese TV series called Message from Space: Galactic Wars. It’s there that the robot “Tonto” makes its appearance. Bandai created toys and brought the robot to the US, renaming him “Qonto” for obvious reasons.
Qonto featured heavily into my playtime once I got him. He’s scaled pretty well with Kenner Star Wars figures and became a sidekick to my Doctor Who analogue character.
When did I get it? I’m not sure. Sources list these as coming out in 1978, which seems about right.
Do I still have it? Yep! That’s mine in the photo.