Archive for the 'Toy Guns/Weapons' Category



1984 HG Toys Catalog: Masters of the Universe, Blue Thunder, Eagle Force, and The Last Starfighter

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I think the Masters of the Universe franchise stinks. To me, it’s just a dumbed down mash-up of D&D and Star Wars. Still, there’s no denying its overwhelming impact on the kid world at the time. Do I happen to have an awesome photo of a youngster holding the sword and shield (and wearing the belt) from one of these HG sets? I do.

There was a Blue Thunder toy line produced by Multi-Toys, for some reason, but I believe only the helicopter made it to the shelves. Leave it to HG to jump on the scraps: Blue Thunder Dress Up Helmet Set?

Eagle Force was an action figure line released by Mego in 1982, the same year G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero premiered. (I’ll delve into the two lines at some point, because it’s clear that Hasbro ripped off some of Mego’s designs). Mego shut down operations in 1982, and Eagle Force was done, so it’s curious to see the name still being used in ’84.

The Last Starfighter Target Set is so incompetent that I sort of adore it. Is that supposed to be Grig on the right? Mercy.

(Images via Parry Game Preserve)

HG Toys: Sword & Sorcery Playset (1982) and Weapon Sets (1983/1984)

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The set seems to be a rip-off of both DFC’s Dragonriders of the Styx (1981) and Miner’s Dragon Crest/Mysterious Castle (1982) Playsets. HG also made a Sword & Sorcery Castle Mountain Playset, which looks as flimsy as it is massive. The base set first appeared in 1982. Here are both sets in the 1984 HG catalog.

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HG had a Sword & Sorcery line that included weapon sets—very similar to Placo’s 1984 AD&D weapon sets. The Power Bow is listed as a new item in the catalog, so it’s possible HG beat Placo to the market. Neither line sold well.

It’s hard to believe HG managed to trademark the name “Sword and Sorcery,” a phrase coined in 1961 by Fritz Leiber to describe Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories and the genre they spawned.

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(Catalog images via Parry Game Preserve)

Mattel’s Battlestar Galactica Lasermatic Pistol (1978)

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Pulsating “Laser Flash!” No luck finding a demo.

Nintendo’s Wild Gunman (1974)

As far as I can tell, Wild Gunman is the first arcade video game to feature a replica gun used against replica people. A longer demo is here. I remember the experience with much bitterness, because the light gun was not very sensitive, and even if you drew and fired in time, the hit didn’t always register.

The flyer below shows the cabinet and the different cowboys you could duel. Shooting Trainer (1975) was the sequel. The player fired at white bottles that popped up against a Wild West backdrop.

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(Video via Shane MacDonald/YouTube; images via The Arcade Flyer Archive)

1984 Placo Toys Catalog: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Playsets

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I’ve never seen these before, but that’s not really a surprise. The mainstream expansion of D&D starting in 1983, when the action figure line and the cartoon were released, was a decadent mess. I have fond memories of both, but neither product broke new ground or had anything to do with D&D, and what’s worse, they lived in separate universes. It was a marketing disaster.

Had the cartoon featured the grittier action figure characters and Thundarr-like production and writing, D&D might have become a much different franchise.

I do get a kick out of the toy sets, and I think they’re interesting historically. Maybe I’ll be Warduke for Halloween.

You Can Have My Toy Gun When You Pry it Out of My Cold Dead 13-Year-Old Fingers

Toy Gun 1985

According to the 1985 Sun Sentinel story, the toy gun in the photo belonged to 28-year-old Maria Ocana, who “was waving the gun near an outdoor cafe and pointed the weapon straight at Officer David Herring, 23.” When she disobeyed multiple orders to drop the gun, Herring shot her. An acquaintance of Ocana insisted “she was not well in the head.”

On March 3, 1983, a 5-year-old boy holding a plastic T.J.Hooker revolver was shot and killed by the LAPD. On June 4, 1986, a Washington, D.C. mother was shot and killed when she pointed a cap gun at an armed stranger. In early 1987, a 19-year-old holding a Laser Tag gun was shot and killed by police in California. The list goes on.

Then, on August 19, 1987, a man named Gary Stollman walked onto the set of an on-air KNBC news report, pointed a gun at reporter David Horowitz, and made him read a rambling, incoherent statement about a UFO-CIA conspiracy. The gun turned out to be a BB gun. Here’s the footage.

Horowitz, a consumer advocate who had started campaigning against the sale of realistic looking weapons before the incident, led the effort to ban replica weapons statewide in 1988. The ban was passed, but steamrolled shortly thereafter by a 1989 federal law requiring only that “some part of toy guns… be made of bright orange plastic.” Senator Bob Dole snuck the language into a last minute energy bill.

Skip to December of 2010, when a Los Angeles police officer shot and paralyzed a 13-year-old boy who was playing with a pellet gun at twilight. The gun had an orange tip, but the cop didn’t see it in the dark. Last year, an 8th grader in Texas pointed a pellet gun at officers in his middle  school hallway and was shot and killed. The gun strongly resembled a real revolver and did not have any orange markings. (The 1989 law exempts BB guns and pellet guns.)

California state Senator Kevin de Leon sponsored a bill after the Texas shooting that “would have required that any BB or pellet gun sold in California be manufactured only with transparent bodies or in certain neon colors.” Under the usual rabid pressure from the NRA, Democrats in the Assembly killed it.

1984 Daisy Toys Catalog: The A-Team and Hardcastle and McCormick

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I talked about war toys. What about toy guns? We played guns a lot when I was a kid. We’d split up into teams and play in the hills, or we’d play in the house: the bad guy would hide upstairs and the good guys would try to sneak up and blast him before he blasted them. Identifying the “winner” was always problematic—“I got you, sucker. You’re toast.” “No way. I got you!”

The funniest thing about The A-Team, of course, was that tens of thousands of bullets were fired, but nobody ever died. Same with the G.I. Joe cartoon. Hardcastle and McCormick (1983 – 1986) was a small scale Mod Squad: A retired judge gets a car thief out of jail under the condition that the car thief helps the judge nail the criminals he was forced to free on technicalities.

Both shows represent a quintessential ’80s narrative: (1) the American legal system is irreparably broken, (2) traditional law enforcement is ineffective and/or corrupt, and (3) justice depends on reluctant-but-righteous vigilantes who live on the fringes of the society they are morally driven to protect.

After a number of fatal shootings, “realistic-looking” toy guns were banned in Los Angeles and New York in 1987. In 1988, Congress passed a law requiring that all toy guns “be identified with a `blaze orange’ tip over the gun’s nozzle.” The law is easily gotten around today.

More on this subject tomorrow.

(Images via eBay)


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