|Toy guns are some of the hottest collectible toys today! Demand is very strong, for both cast iron cap guns and cowboy pistols, as well as plastic cowboy and Army toy guns of the 1950s and 1960s.|
Probably the most desirable toy guns are the famous Mattel cowboy guns
of the late 1950s known as the Fanner 50, with its incredibly realistic
Winchester Saddle gun rifle, and the subsequent "Shootin' Shell" line of
pistols, rifles, and derringers. These Mattel guns now sell from $100 and
up (see below).
Going up into the stratosphere of prices are combination sets such as the "Stagecoach" set, the "Showdown" set, and the "Buffalo Hunter" set, each of which consisted of 1 or 2 pistols, a rifle, and some accessories such as a plastic hunting knife and a bandolier of play bullets. These combo sets are EXTREMELY hard to find anymore. Prices for these sets would range between $800 to $1500 or even more, depending on set condition, and the particular bidders involved in an auction.
So let's consider some "current prices" for these gems, based on my own buying experience both in direct sales and also auctions, as well as my observations of minimum opening bids of telephone auctions (VG is "very good condition," clean, working, but used; MIB is "mint in the original box condition", never played with):
Would you like to see some pictures of those wonderful Mattel Fanner 50s and Shootin' Shell guns?
Playing cowboys and indians, or having a game of "Army" in the backyard
seemed to be the most popular activity when I was a kid. What memories!
I must have owned them all...well, almost! There were a few guns that were
out of most kids price range, such as the big Hubleys.
Would you like to see some pictures of the Hubleys?
Topper Deluxe Reading produced three beautiful rifle-and-pistol sets, as well as the famous Johnny Seven OMA (One Man Army). And when James Bond 007 became an international craze, Topper produced the Secret Sam attache case, which was similar to the special briefcase Bond used in From Russia With Love. Click here to see the 1965 mini-catalog showing the whole toy line in color!
Western cowboy gun collectors FINALLY have a fantastic reference available! Jim Schleyer of Burke, VA, who previously published a very professionally done newsletter called Toy Gun Purveyor, published a LANDMARK reference book called Backyard Buckaroos: Collecting Western Toy Guns.
What a labor of love this book is! At 8.5" x 11" and an inch and a quarter thick with 400 pages, this book is THE REFERENCE for western cap guns! If you collect western and cowboy guns, you gotta get Jim's book !!
GREAT NEWS!!! Jim's book was out of print for many years, but thanks to John M. Bracken Publishing you can once more own this "bible" of toy cap gun collecting. Order it at www.toyguns4u.com today !!!
It is very very difficult to find these guns for "direct" sale, as most dealers large and small are now quite savvy about the tremendous interest in toy guns, and thus the high prices they command at auctions.
As for recommendations on where to find these guns, I would suggest contacting George Newcomb at Plymouth Rock Toys in Plymouth, MA (phone 1-617-296-4510). You can also reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. George has an excellent reputation as a toy gun expert, and he has a large inventory of toy guns. Most items are available for direct sale. George also has a nice selection of toy gun bullets, caps, reproduction grips, and reproduction color Mattel and Hubley catalogs!
Where can a cowboy get his old broken cap guns fixed up, and maybe buy some replacement bullets and pistol grips?
Beth Alphin and Lin Clayberg, 18925 Airview Road, Hagerstown, MD
advertise that they do repairs, cleaning, replating, plus they offer reproduction parts and springs.
Herb Taylor, 134 Old Cabin Hollow Road, Dillsburg, PA 17019-9773,
offers a number of replacement grips for famous toy western cap pistols, as well as some replacement bullets.
Once a major part of any boy's toys, toy guns fell into disfavor as
the Vietnam war dragged on, and America saw JFK, his brother Bobby, and
Martin Luther King fall to assassins' bullets. Mattel for example had produced
a nearly lifesize and very realistic M-16 rifle in 1966, apparently so
kids could play "Vietnam" in the backyard.
|Pictured is a Mattel M-16 Marauder machine gun. This gun was a full-size replica of a US Army M-16 rifle. It was incredible in its ability to be cocked up to 5 times, and then generate a long and very realistic sounding burst of machine gun fire. This particular box is unusual, being olive drab. The usual box colors were red, white and blue. This gun was probably only produced for 1-2 years. Originally priced at about $10, it now sells for about $250 in very good condition.|
But as anti-war sentiment grew, it was quickly withdrawn from production. You could hardly by a toy gun by 1969. (Those large realistic Mattel M-16 toys are now very hard to find, and are quite valuable!).
Once the Vietnam war ended and we got through the 1970s, America seemed to forget the anti-gun sentiment of the late 1960s, and again fell in love with guns. Toy guns started appearing on the shelves again, and in many cases they were more realistic than ever. Today, you will still find toy guns for sale, but now they have orange caps on the barrels to help police notice they are toys and not real weapons (what good that does is clearly debatable).
Images courtesy of Toyadz.com
One very interesting line of Daisy " BB" guns was their very short-lived "Softair" series, produced briefly in 1986-1987. Daisy apparently noticed that in Japan, there were several companies producing very realistic replicas of real guns (the Japanese are rarely permitted to own real guns, and these lifesize replicas which shoot BBs are a way of satisfying public demand to handle "guns"). The generic name for these guns is Airsoft, so Daisy decided to call their line of Japanese imports Softair!
Daisy offered a product line of 4 replica sub machine guns and a shotgun:
Models 12 to 15 came boxed in a styrofoam cradle, with a glossy outer box top. The 870 came in a very authentic Remington-logo'ed long box, "just like a real one."
They also made a line of pistols:
The pistols all came packaged in a clear plastic shell, designed to hang on dealer racks.
The Maruzen Company of Japan manufactured the guns for Daisy (except for the Model 15 MP-5K, which was made by FalconToy Corp). The guns are typically marked with "ASGK" - Air Soft Gun Kumiai - a sort of Air Soft Gun Manufacturers' Association that set the performance safety standards for stock unmodified airsoft guns, much like what the Underwriters' Lab (UL) does for many common products. By the mid-90s, ASGK was replaced by JASG which was basically the same thing with a different name.
While I do not have any of the Daisy advertising material from that time, we
can get a sense of how Daisy promoted it from a quote that comes from the Violence Policy Center (www.vpc.org):
Daisy Manufacturing was one of the first to recognize this potential market. The company
introduced its paramilitary line of imported Softair guns in 1986. Softair guns are working
replicas, down to the point of expelling spent shells and firing plastic pellets. They retail for
approximately $60. "So accurate in detail you'll swear it's the real thing!...a 'must have' for
paramilitary enthusiasts of all ages," reads the catalog description for a replica of the UZI
Assault pistol. Copy for a replica of the KG9-SP (predecessor of the TEC-9) boasts that it's "an
authentic reproduction of the American-made semiautomatic defense weapon used by
anticommunist guerrillas in Angola." A replica of a Heckler & Koch weapon is described as
being "without a doubt the most exciting paramilitary airgun on the market today! Styled after
the semiautomatic firearm carried by the German police and made famous in the motion
picture, 'Rambo: First Blood, Part II,' the Model 15 has the look and feel of the real thing."
All the guns were single shot, and shot a low-power white plastic 6mm (1/4 inch) plastic ball "BB". The machine guns all have real 20-30 shot magazines, and plastic brass-colored bullets which accept a "BB" pushed into the tip. A spring-powered "firing pin" pushes the "BB" out of the barrel. All of the Softair guns have become difficult to locate. The Model 14 and 15 are extremely hard to find, especially in the original box. The Model 12 is the most common, followed by the Model 13, and then the 870 Shotgun. Daisy is not providing any response to inquiries about the history of this product line, and they have no replacement parts except for white BBs which can be obtained from any softair/airsoft source.
I would like to thank Rex A. Villarosa from Manila, Philippines for his helpful information about the manufacturers of the Softair line, and for explaining the ASGK mark.
Pictured is the Daisy Model 13 Mini-Uzi
Pictured is the Daisy Model 14 Ruger Mini-14 on the left, and the Daisy Model 870 "Wingmaster" shotgun on the right
Pictured is the Daisy Model 14 MP-5K
If you have a toy gun for sale, or you would like more information on one you own, I would enjoy hearing from you. Send me an email with a digital picture attachment, or write me a letter and please try to enclose a photograph and a description of what you have. Mail to:
The GPCC Collectors ClubThanks for checking out the toy gun page!
P.O. Box 494
Bolton, MA 01740