Today we've got one of the many space guns whose names are, alas, lost in the mists of time. "Bell-Barreled" is more of a description than an actual appellation, something to help the gun stand out amidst what I'm sure will one day be hordes of simply named "Space Guns." Still and all, she's quite the doozy!
I really love candy-colored guns. There's a whimsical ridiculousness to their design, an innocence that belies the weapons' intent. Many early guns were produced in these colors -- in case you haven't already noticed -- in part because these were the shade of plastic that manufacturers had on hand. Remember, before making space guns, most of these companies (Renwal, Park, Palmer, Pyro, Marx, and all the rest) were making more common toys for children. Bright colors equal fun. It wasn't until science fiction proved itself as a marketable genre that a lot of these companies switched to metallic plastics. (Some were doing so by the early Fifties, but most silver, bronze, or gold guns don't seem to show up until midway through the decade, at least.)
This particular ray gun doesn't do a whole heck of a lot. It clicks -- because they pretty much all click -- and it has a neat "whoosh" whistle in the back that you can blow to make a siren sound. Perfect for calling in reinforcements when you realize that those rampaging aliens aren't dropping dead no matter how madly you click the trigger. (Hopefully your buddies will be armed with something a bit more effective, though the truth is, they'll probably show up with water guns!)
Even though I don't know much -- okay, anything -- about this toy, I feel pretty confident with the 1950s date. Besides the colors, which were used a lot during the period, there's also the really thin, really cheap plastic. Nothing feels quite like early styrene, and even by the Sixties, quality was markedly improved. Lastly, there's the complete lack of markings, including country of origin. Most space guns from the Sixties were manufactured in Hong Kong, and are clearly marked as such. American guns from the Fifties, on the other hand, often weren't marked with anything.
Of course, this is all speculation -- for all I know, this one was made in the Eighties. (Though I seriously doubt it.) Regardless, it's a great space gun with bright, fun colors and a nifty shape that's ready for action.