Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dan Dare Cosmic Ray Gun (Palitoy / 1954 / U.K. / 5 x 6 inches)

When Dan Dare arrived in the pages of Eagle magazine in 1950, children in the U.K. finally had their own Buck Rogers. And with him came a level of merchandizing that'd do ol' Buck proud! Rockets, costumes, plastic figures, space phones, pop-up books, and, of course, an armory's worth of ray guns. While all these guns were spectacular, it's safe to say that the Cosmic Ray Gun with Tri-Color Beam was light years ahead of the pack.

The toy's designers managed to cram an enormous amount of play value into this ornate, but small package. Pulling the trigger provides the ubiquitous clicking noise while at the same time firing a (flashlight) beam of light. Turning one of two knobs located just above the reflector flips either a red or yellowish-green gel in front of the light bulb, changing the beam's color. The gun also has not one but two compartments for secret messages, one located under a yellow cap in the back, and one in a hidden panel in the butt of the gun's handle. 

The red gel in the retracted position. Note the flashlight bulb on the right.

The red gel covering the flashlight bulb. The retracted green gel can be seen over along the right edge.

The green gel flipped down to cover the flashlight bulb.

The cap removed from the back of the gun. 

This is one of my favorite space guns, and I'd been searching for it ever since I first saw a picture in the book Ray Gun, by Eugene Metcalf. So much detail went into the toy's design -- the futuristic rings and swoops, the giant reflecting lens, the wire-frame handle. But this is a rare space gun, and wanting one doesn't equal getting one. Especially if you're like me, and really wanted the fantastic display box. 

I love how the designers took the time to consider what each part of the gun would actually do were the weapon real. It's complete gibberish, of course, but how great are labels like "Atomic Charging Port" and "Static Condenser"? It's just a brilliant way to show off the toy. 

The gun's fairly rare, but it does come up from time to time. Sadly, I never had the money, and I had to let two or three of them slip past me. Finally, though, not too long ago, this one appeared on eBay with a surprisingly low starting bid. I figured it would increase by another 50 percent by auction's end. Still, I placed a bid, not really expecting to win. So imagine my surprise when the auction ended and no one else bid? Not only did I score a dream toy, but I managed to save a bundle on it. 

A nice example of how patience -- whether voluntary or enforced by the gods of eBay and collecting -- can pay off nicely. 


  1. Sweet get. I have a weakness for these old school ray guns.

  2. Yeah, they're really fantastic. I'm hopelessly addicted to them. Which is bad for my wallet, but then again, when the alien hordes invade our planet, what's going to help you more? A fat bank account, or enough disintegration technology to arm the neighborhood resistance fighters?

    I'll definitely be posting more ray guns as I move forward with the Attic.

  3. Hi Doc, great site! Not my scene but very interesting, I'm researching vintage toy company products. DCMT and Crescent are the same company: DCMT called the toy production part of their business operations The Crescent Toy Company and it was run like a separate business.

  4. @Anonymous:
    Thanks for the info! It's interesting then that DCMT sometimes labeled their toys as such, and sometimes labeled them as Crescent. (At least, they did with some toy guns.) Any idea why they'd do this -- why one, why the other? Would love to learn more.

  5. Hi, I have just acquired a genuine Dan Dare cosmic Ray gun and Dan Dare rocket gun. Both are mint in gorgeous boxes! They're not really my thing. Any idea what they may be worth and the best watt to sell on?

    Many thanks


  6. Hi. Email me and I'd be happy to discuss it with you.

    Stillman (dot) Brian (at) gmail (dot) com

  7. i have original dan dare cosmic ray gun box only . in fair condition but without inner display card.does it have any value ? .

  8. It's value depends greatly on its condition. I don't generally like to discuss prices on the blog, but if you'd like to email me privately, feel free to do so. Just click on the EMAIL DOC ATOMIC button at the top right section of the blog.

    Otherwise, I'd put it on eBay with as many quality photos as you can provide, showing any flaws or issues. Start the price at about $25 and let the market determine the price. I imagine it'll do pretty well, though.

  9. Hi Doc. I have a DD cosmic ray gun in perfect condition and complete with the original box. What might it's value be and what is the best way to sell? I also have the DD rocket gun boxed and would ask the same question.

    Many thanks


  10. Odd that I never saw this comment... Anyway, I don't generally like to discuss prices on this blog. However, you're free to email me using the EMAIL ME button at the top right corner of the page. I'd be happy to discuss it with you.

  11. I was thinking about this with the new Daniel Craig film. When I was a kid I was a Dan Dare fan and had one of these - although I remember the body being yellow. My friends were still into cowboys and refused to die when I zapped them with my ray gun as it didn't make much noise. Maybe if I'd had the space pistol which fired caps I would have done better.

    Would love to use your photo of it for a blog (with full credit of course)

    Old Dan Dare fan from England

  12. Hi. Nice story. The Dan Dare gun was, in fact, also released in yellow, so your memory is correct!

    Feel free to use any of my photos with a credit to this blog. Also, if you could just let me know when/where you used it, I'd appreciate it.


  13. Thanks Doc Atomic

    Here's the link to my blog post

  14. Glad the picture helped. All the best!


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