S.J.M. Piston Robot (Horikawa)

SJM (Horikawa) Piston Robot SJM (Horikawa) Piston Robot


Name/s: Piston Robot
Brand: S.J.M.
First sighting: Mid 1980s
Origin: Taiwan
Class: Piston Robots
Height: 28cm approx.
Weight: 629g
Materials: Tin Plate and Plastic
Power: Battery operated (requires 2 C-cell batteries)

Primary Functions

  • Piston action
  • Walking

Other Features

  • Light up transparent piston engine
  • Transparent head and upper torso casing
  • Lithographed tin plate lower torso
  • Tin plate legs and feet
  • Poseable arms

History and Robot Family

This is a later copy of the piston robots produced by S.H. Horikawa in the late 1970s. Around the mid to late 1980s, SJM, a Taiwanese firm, started producing similar piston robots with the same head, body and arms moulds. SJM piston robots had longer legs made of metal or plastic, whilst the Horikawa versions had shorter plastic legs with black feet.


There are many variations of these piston robots. Some of the earliest known Horikawa versions have a dark brown background to the litho design. Later Horikawa models had angular finned ears, not circular ringed ones. The SJM versions can have metal or plastic legs and there is even evidence of Horikawa models with the longer metal legs. Confusing or what!? Take a look here to see the differences side by side. Here’s a list of known versions with their distinctive features:
  1. Horikawa, 1977: Brown background to litho patterns and exposed pistons at rear
  2. Horikawa, 1981: Gold litho, covered rear pistons
  3. Horikawa, after 1981: Finned ears (not circular ones)
  4. SJM, mid- to late 1980s: Taller metal leg design and red feet
  5. SJM, mid- to late 1980s: Taller plastic leg design and red feet
  6. Horikawa, age??: A hybrid of old and new design features – Brown litho, exposed pistons at rear, taller metal legs

Videos featuring Piston Robot

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Vintage Piston Robot Toy – Copy of SH Horikawa

Vintage Piston Robot Toy by SJM, Taiwan. A rare copy of the SH Horikawa piston action toy robot from the 1980s. This collectible vintage toy robot features a clear plastic body and an awesome lithographic design underneath. Taller than the original, this design has tin plate legs and red metal feet. I personally prefer it to the original Horikawa design. What do you think?

Five Retro Toy Robots

Take a look at 5 toy robots from my collection. In this video I showcase these awesome battery powered tin toys so you can see what they do and how they move. They walk, they shoot, the spin around with flashing lights, robot sounds and puffing smoke effects. PREPARE FOR EPIC! The five toy robots include ‘Space Evil Robot’ and ‘Piston Robot III’ made by Metal House in Japan. ‘Chief Robotman’ and ‘Chief Smoky’ are reproductions made by the Haha Toy Factory. The other Piston Robot is the oldest in the group and was manufactured in Taiwan by SJM I believe. It’s a super high quality copy of a Horikawa design but with taller metal legs (which I think looks a lot better tbh).

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