Saturday, June 22, 2013

Trigger Warning! Toy Gun Commercials of the 1960s

There was a line of toys based on The Rifleman TV series including this cap gun. 

Is it nature or nurture, our society's love for mayhem? Those stodgy experts who love to find fault in our popular culture point towards violent video games and easy access to firearms as the reason for so much day-in day-out carnage. But before video games it was TV they blamed, before that comic books. So what do they know?

Roy Rogers Toy Guns on TVWhen did this all start? Perhaps at the very beginning of recorded history - the nifty fifties. Cowboys like Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy and The Lone Ranger were the hottest properties on television, after watching these programs all afternoon kids naturally wanted to play shoot-em-up at home.

Not a problem, since all of the television cowpokes and dimestore detectives had their own line of realistic-looking toy firearms for sale at the nearest dime store. And best of all - no pesky background checks! The most popular western cap gun sets of the '50s were Mattel's Fanner 50 realistic Winchester rifle, Buc'N Bronco, and the Hubley pistols.

Mattel's Tommy Burst set - because every detective needs a sub-machine gun:

Toy Guns based on TV showsWhen western wranglers and pistol-waving cops started to lose favor in the early-'60s, toy gun lines lost their key salespersons and innovative products had to be created from scratch.

Is that a Suicide Vest you're wearing Sonny, or are you just mad to see me?

Products with catchy names like the TommyBurst submachine gun, Remco's Monkey Division (for "jungle warfare" with two-way wrist radios), Secret Sam, and the Fan-O-matic (with Greenie Stick-M caps for ammo) burst onto the market.

Let's hope the terrorists don't get their hands on this!
Johnny Seven OMA (One Man Army) by Topper was the ultimate killing machine and much sought after - with seven actions, including a grenade launcher, anti-tank weapon, anti-bunker missile, armor-piercing shell, and a detachable pistol with the rat-a-tat-tat sound.