Sunday, December 15, 2013

M&L Toy Co. Atomic Ball Gun

We've covered a lot of vintage space ship toys here on Toys and Stuff but haven't even scratched the surface with space men, space related playsets, and space guns. I s'pose now is as good a time as any to start covering something other than space ships (although there's still plenty to post) so why not begin with space guns, or ray guns, whichever you prefer.  Growing up in the '50s my toys tended to center around cowboy & western, and little green Army men stuff, but I did like space and sci-fi movies. It's just that my toy guns were mostly Roy Rogers type cap pistols or Civil War muskets HOWEVER I do remember having a plastic space gun which shot spring loaded flying discs or flying saucers. After some searching around I found out those were made by the U.S. Plastic Co. in the 1950s.

Space/ray guns have been around since at least the days of the earliest comic strips and Buck Rogers yielded futuristic looking weapons in the late 1920s. On screen they appeared in the world's first talkie sci-fi flick Just Imagine from 1930 (see below). The weapons they're carrying is an unusual over the fingers design and the props themselves would be re-utilized in later Flash Gordon serials.

Here you see a ray gun in action in the first Flash Gordon serial, starring Buster Crabbe, in 1936

Here, Buster Crabbe, America's Greatest Action Hero, stars as Buck Rogers. The pistol shown here would be released as a cap firing toy in the 1930s by the  Daisy Manufacturing Co. There were several different models that all now command premium prices

Which brings us to the subject of today's post: the M&L Toy Co. Atomic Ball Gun. M&L (Morris and Louis - brothers) of Union City, New Jersey started I believe in 1946 (or '48). Other than that I know little of their output but some years back I got an Atomic Ball Gun as part of an eBay lot. I wasn't really interested in space guns, preferring to stick with space ships, and I subsequently sold it but you can at least check it out here. I would imagine they came in a variety of colors. Mine was yellow and the box below shows a red gun and it was common at the time to make any given toy in a rainbow of color selections.

Replica box seen below can be ordered through Toy Tent:



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