Friday, February 19, 2010

Space Rocket Gun (U.S. Plastics / U.S. / 1953 / 3.5 x 5 inches)

You want space-age style? Fine. Here's your space-age style!

I bought this ray gun when I first began collecting, after falling in love with a picture of it in the book Ray Gun, by Eugene Metcalf. I couldn't get over the wildly designed front site; the rings at the end of the barrel; the embossed planets, stars, and rockets; and all the other little details that helped give the gun such a strong sense of movement. I mean, this thing screamed "Space Gun," positively bellowed it from the top of the mountain.

But there were two details that the photo in Metcalf's book failed to convey. First, the gun is actually made of two different colored halves. It can be found in a wide combination of colors, including -- in no particular pairing -- red, yellow, blue, green, black, and white. I'm pretty sure I've seen silver, and possibly a mottled, marbled kind of color. It's a nice touch that adds even more playfulness to the gun's design.

The second omission is more my fault than the book's. See, Metcalf was kind enough to include some raw data on each toy, including manufacturer, date (when known), country of origin, material, and size. The thing is, I didn't pay too much attention to these details when I first got the book. And the photos, well, let's just say they didn't convey scale very well.

So you can imagine my surprise when I opened the package containing this gun and discovered that somehow U.S. Plastics managed to cram so much detail onto a toy that's only five inches long. Yep, this here space blaster is teeny-tiny. A hold-out gun, the kind of thing you keep secreted away in your boot cuff until you can see the whites, pinks, greens, and yellows of the Venusian's 36 eyes. Then you whip it out and blast him!

I've got to say, though, I really like the gun's small size. It makes all the embossing that much more impressive. It's like a miniature work of art; like scrimshaw for the junior spaceman. Any larger and the Space Clicker would probably just look garish.

This simple clicker gun is pretty easy to find on eBay, and usually doesn't sell for too much money. Often, though, the trigger is broken and swings freely. Also, the small bit sticking out from the top of the gun, directly above the trigger, is commonly missing. If you're trying to add one to your collection, play it smart and hold out for a mint example -- you won't be waiting long, and you won't pay very much.

A simple, inexpensive, cheaply made little toy, one that was sold out of bins at the front of toy stores -- who would have guessed that today it'd be considered a classic?


  1. WANT! Where's the petition to get the re-pros rolling off the assembly line?!!!

  2. I don't know... This is one toy I'd rather not see reproduced. It'd be so easy to copy it exactly, it'd become an easy tool for scammers.

    More than that, I think reproducing this toy would kill some of its magic. Part of what makes these old toys so special is that they don't come up every day. We see repros all the time, and familiarity leads to jaded dismissal, more often than not.

    I'm not inherently against reproductions -- I started off collecting them -- but I do think that some care needs to be taken so as not to dilute the power of the originals.

    Anyway, in this case, none of that matters too much. it's not hard to find this gun online for under $35. It's definitely a toy that's easy to add to one's shelves.


Doc Atomic wants to hear from you!