Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Atom Buster (Webb Electric Co. / 1950s / U.S.A. / 6.5 inches x 11 inches)

Big, bad, and bold: It's the Atom Buster!

This is definitely a fun toy. All barrel-shaped and covered in fins, it evokes the classic 1950s fear of atomic annihilation. Like I said, a fun toy!

The Atom Buster fires a blast of air at a tissue-paper target printed with an image of a mushroom cloud. Which begs the questions: Is it firing an atomic blast and the cloud is supposed to be the result? Is it firing a blast of air at the mushroom cloud, presumably to "bust" it, as the name suggests? But then why is it shaped like a bomb itself? And why does a gun need bomb-like fins? And why did a company called Webb Electric make a toy that's not electrical?

Frankly, we may never know. Some mysteries of the universe are never meant to be solved.

The gun was originally available in yellow, green, and red, with yellow being by far the most common. Red and green are about tied for scarcity -- I've seen a couple of each over the years. The boxes are all identical, and feature the yellow gun. However, there are three dots -- yellow, green, and red -- on the face. A circle around the dot denotes which gun goes with the box. It kind of makes you wonder if Webb Electric Co. knew that collectors, 50 years later, would want to know if they had the correct gun-box combination...

I once owned a yellow, boxed example of the Atom Buster -- it was one of the first few ray guns I bought. It wasn't a perfect piece, though. The bottom fin was missing, something neither I nor the seller realized during the auction (because the break was so clean, and I'd never seen a mint example before). So I was always looking for an upgrade...

One day, a dead-mint, boxed green example popped up on eBay. It was complete with the tissue paper target, too, and I wanted it bad. It was a buy-it-now sale only, and the price was just too high for me at the time. I let it go and figured that was that. It didn't sell, though, and a week later it appeared again -- with the price cut by a third! I stared at it longingly, but again, I had to let it go. Still, it remained unsold and a week later it appeared again, this time at half the price. Finally affordable!

Except that I'd just spent a lot of money on something else and was flat broke.

This time, the gun sold -- of course! Thus is the life of a ray gun collector.

It all worked out in the end though when I snagged this mint-in-box red one a couple years later. I like the red better, anyway, so there!

1 comment:

  1. Haha, love the way you not only talk about each item, but how you came about acquiring it. =)

    Seems to me, I've never seen a seller drop a Buy It Now price on the things I hoped I could snag for less. =( booo

    Great gun, by the way! Rocket fins and atomic bombs, can it get any better than that? =D


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