The Mattel Fanners and Shootin' Shell Guns

The Mattel Toy Company really locked up the western toy gun market with the introduction of its Fanner 50 pistol in 1958. The company aggressively developed the Fanner line, which led to the development of the Shootin' Shell line of western guns. Fanner 50s were being produced even into the late 1960s, including a "Planet of the Apes" Fanner 50!

Pictured is a Mattel Deputy set, consisting of a standard Fanner 50
pistol with a real leather "junior" holster, with only 4 bullet loops.
The holster was made from real leather! This was something of an
"economy" set. Now valued at $300 MIB.

Pictured is a Mattel Fanner 50 cap pistol. Just your basic pistol.
You asked Mom for this one when you lost or broke a Fanner from
your Deputy, Plainsman, Marshall, or Twin-Fanner set!
Fanner 50s came in two types: one where the bullet cylinder rotated
and one where it did not, but contained the cap-roll chamber instead.
Valued at about $200 mint in box.

Pictured is a Mattel Shootin' Shell Fanner 50 set with holster.
Shootin' Shell guns fired gray plastic bullets from a brass bullet
case, which was spring-loaded. A Greenie Stickem cap was stuck to the
end of the case, acting like an actual primer! The Shootin' Shell
line was introduced around 1960, and all of the guns were scaled down
to fit smaller hands (the early Fanners must have been too hefty!>
Valued at $250-350 mint in box.

Pictured is a Mattel Shootin' Shell Twin Fanner 50 set with holster.
The holsters are beautiful, made of real leather with rawhide strips
to adjust the belt sizes. The twin Fanner sets of all types are very
very difficult to find anymore, especially in the original box.
Note that older and larger non-Shootin' Shell bullets were also
included, for the purpose of filling the bullet loops on the holster
belt. 24 Shootin' Shell bullets were also included with the set.
Valued at $400-600 mint in box, if you can even find a set like that.

Pictured is a Mattel Winchester Saddle Gun.
This rifle was just a work of art, let me tell you. The original
Saddle Gun was made around 1958, and was a good 33 inches long.
It looked and felt like the real thing. Play bullets could be
loaded into the trap door and then ejected from the receiver just like a real Winchester rifle.

The rifle was produced in two subtle models, the later model differing
from the earlier in having a Rifleman-inspired "secret trigger" on the
cocking lever which fired the trigger automatically as you pumped the lever.
This was THE top gun to own, in my opinion. A work of art
that toy makers could simply not be bothered with anymore, sadly.
The Saddle Gun was packaged with a Fanner 50 holster set and a plastic
knife in a special set called The Buffalo Hunter. You want one?
Bring money, LOTS of it, and be prepared to wait a lifetime to find one.
Note that there was a Shootin' Shell Winchester, but it was a poor
cousin to the Saddle Gun, because it was scaled down to about 26"
and it also lacked the sophisticated loading and ejection system.
Valued at $300-400 mint in box, hard to find.

Pictured is an assortment of Mattel play bullets and caps.
The green box on the right contains Greenie Stickem caps, which
were adhesive individual cap "rounds" applied to the base of a
Shootin' Shell cartridge. The early original Fanners did not fire
bullets, but instead took a roll of caps placed inside the bullet
cylinder by opening a hinged swing-down door.
Value of bullet packs and Greenie caps run about $15-20 a pack/box.

Photos from E.H. Smith Auction Gallery, February 1996 edition

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