Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rocket Jet Space Gun (U.S. Plastics / 1953 / U.S. / 4.5 x 5.5 inches); Space Gun (Plast-Trix / 1950s / U.S. / 4 x 4.5 inches)

It's been a while since I've written about ray guns, so today I'm featuring two. Talk about... wait for it... bang for your buck! (That pun's for you, Andy!)

I really love these little guns. They're simple toys, and do what you expect a squirt gun to do: squirt water. Bu their looks -- now that's something special! The smooth, metallic finish looks nearly liquid in the right light, like the toy was made out of mercury or something. Pretty darn striking.

The Rocket Jet has a few variations. This one's all silver, but the toy's also often found with a bright, orange trigger. The tip, which is concave like the front of an old-school jet engine, is also sometimes orange. There's another version out there with a translucent red trigger. However, I've got to say, the pure silver version's my favorite.

The trigger guard is often missing on the Rocket Jet. It's usually a clean break, and you often can't tell anything was supposed to be there.

The other gun, which, as far as I know, has no special name, is a little less common than the Rocket Jet. Honestly, I don't know a whole lot about it. I'm going to assume there are variations out there, but I couldn't tell you what they look like.

Those swoopy looking marks on the gun -- under the back fin, under the front of the decorative side piece -- are actually part of the plastic. This "marbling" is common in metallic plastic, and many collectors (myself included) look for it specifically.

Regardless of my feelings about the all-silver Rocket Jet, I really love the red trigger and stopper on this gun. The colors pop like fireworks.

Like I said, these are your standard water pistols: fill 'em up and piss off the cat. It's hard to tell in the photos, but the tip of the un-named gun is a white, hexagonal piece of plastic. Many, many water pistols from the 1950s had these types of tips, and they're a surefire way to tell whether a gun is modern or not. In most cases, this tip will be brass colored (or, actually made from brass). Again, a great way to ID an older water pistol.

U.S. Plastics used an incredibly thin material when making the Rocket Jet. If you shine a light through it, you can see the water pistol mechanism.

U.S. Plastics, who mad the Rocket Jet, also produced a number of Space Patrol ray guns. I don't know much about Plas-Trix, but they've got a pretty funky name and the company was based out of Brooklyn, NY, so they've gotta be at least kind of cool, right? Right.

I was actually pretty dismissive of water pistols when I first began collecting. There are so many of the translucent, plastic ones floating around, and it seemed like most were produced in Hong Kong during the latter half of the Twentieth century. Heck, I grew up with the things. They're still produced today! Pshaw!

But then I started to give them a closer look, and I realized I was being a kind of dumb. Many of the greatest plastic ray guns from the 1950s and early Sixties happened to be water pistols, and by ignoring them I was denying myself some amazing additions to my collection. So I hired a thug to knock some sense into me. Too bad I didn't know that his cough syrup addiction made him meaner than your average roustabout, because that beating went on a little longer than I'd have liked. But it must have worked, because before I could say, "Hey, I've still got one tooth left!" I was logged into eBay and bidding on water pistols. I haven't looked back since. (Mostly because I can't really turn my head too far in either direction anymore.)

So let my pain be a lesson for you: Don't get all snooty about your collection, don't limit yourself, and don't hire a thug with a wicked addiction to cough syrup.


  1. Doc, these little liquid hurlers are, pardon the pun, just what the doctor ordered -- especially when filled with chicken broth or vitamin C in the form of orange juice -- Just make sure it's pulp-free.
    Thanks, Doc!!

  2. Ogdorg:
    If I ever win a water pistol that smells like chicken, I'll know who originally owned it as a kid!

  3. "roustabout"

    I've only heard two other people use this word in my life, okay maybe three...

    Great story, it's always the stuff you dismiss at first that seems to haunt you in your collecting, LOL.

  4. Wow, these are fantastic! I agree with chunky B about the brilliant way you dropped "roustabout" in there.


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