Friday, April 9, 2010

Space Pilot Nuclear Missile Gun (Merit / U.K. / 1950s / 6 x 9 inches)

It's sometimes hard to believe that these toys were made for children. Take, for instance, the Space Pilot Nuclear Missile Gun, which has a handle suitable for any adult hand. It's like they anticipated the collector market; either that, or whoever owned Merit saw in this gun an opportunity to live out his own space adventure fantasies. And who can blame him?

The Space Pilot Nuclear Missile Gun is really an insane concept. Consider it: A pistol that fired some sort of nuclear missile! It's yet another example of the awesome mixed signals -- "Fun toys fire nuclear missiles!" -- that popped from the collective mind of a civilization living at the dawn of the atomic age.

Regardless, this British toy is fantastic. The wonderful, fluid lines; the shiny silver plastic; the dials; the compass. I tell ya, every space gun should have a compass. Every space toy should have a compass. "Hey, see that space compass over there, the one you wear on your wrist? It'd be even cooler if had a tiny compass attached to it." I love compasses.

The Space Pilot Nuclear Missile Gun was loosely designed around the mechanism found previously in both the Space Patrol and Dan Dare Rocket Guns. It's similar in size and fires the same type of darts.

Both dials turn. The green one is an "Interplanetary Selector," with settings for Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The red one is the "Velocity Control," and ranges from 1,000 to 14,000. Yes, yes, they're just free-spinning knobs that don't control anything, but it's fun to imagine sending a nuclear missile screaming towards Saturn at a velocity of 14,000... um... somethings. On the other hand, am I the only one who's disturbed that the gun has an Earth setting?

As far as I know, the only variations have to do with the knob and cap colors; besides red and green, I've also seen blue. No color is scarcer than any other.

This is a pretty rare gun, especially in complete condition. It's almost always missing the little cap on the back, as well as that compass. The knobs can fall out, too. Despite the toy's scarcity, I recommend holding out for as complete an example as possible -- they do show up, all you need is patience.


  1. I think they wanted to demystify the whole fear factor around the nuclear/atomic scare back then. If kids could control the nuclear bombs themselves, it must not be *too* bad, right?

    Oh and the Earth setting must have been for those bad Reds in the Cold War lol...

    Fantastic toy!

  2. Reminds me of the old 'Giles' cartoons, which always featured 'The Family' at Christmas in department store toy sections, in the background would be a big box of pointy-ended stuff with a sign hanging off saying "Merry Festive Death Rays'. Also in - I think - an old issue of OMNI, (but it may well have been Mayfair!!!) there was a memorable cartoon in which at a (the same?) department store, three boxes, the 1st box is signed Fluffy Teddies, 2nd; Machine Guns...the 3rd; Fluffy Teddies with Machine Guns!!!


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