Updated: Mar 22, 2021
Way back in the 1930s, visionary writers of comic strips and pulp novels gave us the groundbreaking characters like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. Being in space, they obviously needed more firepower than gunpowder charged pistols, so blasters were born!
During backyard battles, you could change the function of a blaster depending upon the adventure. It could be a typical laser pistol to burn a hole in something, or it could be a plasma blaster for a blast of power. It could even become a heat ray or a sonic stun weapon. Marvin the Martian preferred a disintegration ray, but there were also death rays and shrink rays. I think my favorite part of toy blasters was the open-ended imagination it stimulated.
Mattel Major Matt Mason’s Capt Lazer
The first 1/6th scale blaster I can remember owning came molded into the hand of Captain Lazer. While mine came to me second-hand (with a broken left hand) and lacking any of the attachments, it was still fun to shoot with the flashing light and quirky electronic sound. When we played with Captain Laser figures that belonging to friends, I found out the attachments are all clear, so they magnified the light to make it even more fun.
Someplace in all the figures I have is one of the original prototypes from Captain Lazer. The designer made it from a Gilbert the Man from UNCLE Illya Kuryakin figure. They had wired in red grain-of-wheat light bulbs for eyes and made the blaster with a clear barrel. It was made using the bottom part of the Ideal Captain Action Flash Gordon ray pistol and has a cool look. The figure is still missing, but I found the blaster!
The Ideal Captain Action Space Gun has a unique look with an extra shape on top like a short scope. One of the fun parts of this gun is that the design team took the time to create a slightly different look for each side. One side has an indicator molded in to show either beam strength or power level.
The Ideal Captain Action Buck Rogers Space Gun is a simple shape but has a pin molded into the side of it. This oddity took me a while to realize that pin allowed it to snap into a hole on his belt so he could carry the gun.
The Captain Action Flash Gordon with ray pistol came in two versions. One was molded in white and painted silver while they molded the other in silver/gray. The Playing Mantis Captain Action reissue of Flash Gordon came with a ray pistol that was close to the original. It is slightly smaller and has a little better fluid design lines, but the point on the tip is smaller.
The Ideal Captain Action Captain America came with an ultrasonic pistol and laser-beam gun, but I do not know why. I never saw Captain America fight with anything else besides the shield in the comic books. However, but the parts do look pretty spiffy. They would look even better if the polystyrene pistol had not been loaded into the PVC holster so that the plasticizer in the PVC melted the details off the pistol.
Villains absolutely need blasters, and the Captain Action’s Dr. Evil is properly equipped with a laser pistol. Sadly, I do not have an Ideal version, but it was interesting to see the differences between the Playing Mantis and Round 2 versions. The Playing Mantis Dr. Evil figure looks more accurate to the original Ideal version, but the Round 2 version looks more sinister. The more sinister villain works better for backyard battles with the Playing Mantis Dr. Evils making good mindless minions. The more sinister Dr. Evil has a larger laser pistol but of the same design.
Classic Collection GI Joe
While GI Joe did not go armed into space very often, he does have a few fun blasters. The Adventures of GI Joe 2010 Intruder Defense has a techy blaster made from the Gatlin gun tooled for the Hall of Fame Rock n Roll. Since it always looked more sci-fi then modern anyway, I made it in silver but molded the revolving barrels and the projectile in a fluorescent green tint to look more like a laser blaster. This figure was originally named and positioned as “Bug Hunt,” which someone shot down, but at least we were able to slide-in the homage to vintage Joe’s final villain – the Intruders (Yes, that was intentional.)
GI Joe Adventure Team Secret of Planet Xenome was a true space warrior. However, his weapon actually came from Action Man’s weapons arsenal. If you look carefully, you can see the “AM” logo on this early test shot. Standard practice was to put a disc in the tool to make those logos into plain circles. Occasionally they would be “AT” logos. This blaster is a nicely sized weapon that shoots a red projectile and could still fit into the oversized molded gloved hands of that Joe.
Star Trek gave us many more fun blasters with Federation phasers and Klingon disrupters. Mego made the first 12” Star Trek figures for the Star Trek the Motion Picture, but I do not remember any weapons included. Although whatever pigments they used for those figures were not colorfast, so all the heads are now a different color – as if they were all shot by a blaster.
Fortunately, Playmates sold a good line of 12” Star Trek figures (all but the molded boots and rock-hard hands.) Several of The Original Series came with the Type II Phasers including Checkov.
Star Trek – the Next Generation, had a different shaped Type II Phasers which looked more like they were threatening to change your channel rather than blast you.
The Phaser Rifle carried by Lt. Warf from Star Trek: Insurrection was much more lethal looking. The Federation only issues Phaser rifles for extreme encounters, and it looks like it is built for serious action.
Data managed to find a unique blaster for Star Trek: Insurrection. The styling is unique as it attaches to the forearm. It looks like it could take you down if you do not comply with Data’s mission parameters. Sadly, I could not remember true name of that weapon as I threw away the box for that figure years ago. But one of our readers remembered it is a “Alien Race Attack Weapon”, and the weapon was called a “S’ona Rifle.”
When I started planning this post, I failed to take into account how many 1/6th blasters there are just from the major 1/6th scale lines. Therefore, expect a follow-up post with Blasters from Star Wars, Big Jim, and Action Man.
But before we end this, it is time for some shameless advertising. I always had so much fun playing with toy blasters that when I wrote my first novel, blasters played an important role in the story.
Con at the Con: The Lost Blaster Disaster is now available on Amazon.com. The story takes place at a science fiction convention and revolves around a missing blaster prop from a billion-dollar film franchise. Instead of using an existing convention like Star Wars or Star Trek, I created a fictitious epic which revolves around a blaster that shifts the balance of power in a lawless galaxy. Each chapter starts with a page describing a scene from the epic film before continuing in its modern convention setting.
The book is available at as paperback and Kindle at this link:
Han Solo had it right – there is nothing like a good blaster at your side – or on your reading table.
What is your favorite toy blaster?