The Arklon Black King is so rare it’s difficult to find photographs of it, much less the actual toy. It was produced in Japan by Ark in the 1970s, and was part of a series of six robots based on characters from the Ultraman television series.
The Black King was the only part of the series I owned. The following thumbnail shows the complete set, including the mechanical King Kong (!).
These toys were unique in several ways. First, each robot consisted of a group of interchangeable parts that could be used to construct other robots or vehicles. (An inspiration for the Transformers toy line?) But I should point out I don’t remember taking my Black King apart to construct other robots. I liked it just the way it came in the box:
Second, the toys were intricately designed and very well-made, consisting of die-cast metal and plastic parts. Finally, they featured multiple, vivid colors. Most toys of that era had a bland, single-tone color.
The Black King resembled Godzilla, or Mechagodzilla, which was probably why it appealed to me. I was a huge Godzilla fan. Near the beltline was a geared wheel that when rotated would turn his upper body. But the waist joint was fragile and easily broken. A mint-condition example with working waist joint is extremely rare, and probably very expensive. On a recent E-bay auction, a Black King with broken waist joint fetched over $200.
I don’t know what happened to my Black King. It was one of my most cherished toys, but I didn’t take good care of it. I think I just lost the parts one-by-one until the head was the only thing left. It’s the last part I can remember playing with. (It’s a pretty good testament to a toy’s quality when you’ve lost every part but one, and that last part is still an entertaining toy.)
Of all my childhood toys, the Black King is the one I would most like to recover. But it’s simply extremely difficult to find. It took several years of searching on the Internet to track down pictures of the damn thing. I don’t know if I’ll ever get a chance to buy another one, or even hold one that someone else owns.