Star Wars Laser Pistol and Laser Rifle
1977 - 1983
Back in the 70's and 80's, children were able to clearly establish between reality and fantasy, or rather, most of the friends we knew could. As a result we lucky kids were able to have toy guns. Be it cap guns, water guns or simply sticks that we fashioned in our minds as guns, many a child found hours of entertainment running around their parents backyards with their friends (GASP) shooting at each other. It was good clean fun, and with the exception of the occasional tripping and falling nobody got hurt.
In this era of non violent children, well, with the exception of the occasional fist fight with your "enemy" who shortly after became your best friend, Kenner lobbed at us our first real opportunity to be Han Solo or Luke Skywalker when they produced the amazing Star Wars Laser Pistol and 3 Position Laser Rifle.
What made these toy guns absolutely the best to every kid on the block who longed to play out scenes from Star Wars was the inclusion of movie accurate sound effects. No longer did we have to run around the yard shouting, "pew, pew, pew." No, sir. Now the guns did all the work for us - If you had the required "C" and "D" batteries that is.
With the success of their toy guns, when it came time for toys based on the next chapter in the Star Wars Saga, Kenner followed up with a re-release of the Laser Pistol and 3 Position Rifle.
The Laser Pistol was given a complete overhaul of the packaging, incorporating the new film's logo on not only the box, but also a sticker which was adhered to the guns, much like the original Star Wars logo was adhered via sticker to the prior releases. Sadly, the 3 Position Rifle only got an updated sticker, while the box used remained the same.
On a side note, we have seen foreign released versions of the 3 Position Laser Rifle which includes an Empire Strikes Back logo on the packaging, but to date have not seen a US released version with this type of packaging. If one exists, we don't know about it.
In addition to re-releasing the two guns above, kenner also revamped the 3 Position Laser Rifle into the newly released Electronic Laser Rifle. This gun encompassed the majority of the design of the prior released rifle, but updated the back end, and removed the stock. This made for a more movie accurate version of the gun.
With popularity still surrounding the toy guns, when Return of the Jedi was released, Kenner once again re-released the Laser Pistol, and chose to also re-release the Electronic Laser Rifle. Both were updated with Return of the Jedi packaging, and also a sticker which had the film's logo on it which was adhered to the side of the toys.
Just when all was looking well, Kenner released the step child of this particular "series" of toys.
As an adult, we can see the coolness in this gun that we so naively overlooked as kids. Source material wise, it's pretty spot on to the movies, and the inclusion of a see through scope, and sound effects - again, with the required "C" batteries - This was one hot toy that many of us missed out on actually enjoying.
Worth mentioning is that ALL the packaging for these toys is highly susceptible to crushing inward from the top and bottom. We've seen a lot of packaging that has simply warped for really no reason. As a result, it's difficult to find mint in package versions, especially of the 3 Position Laser Rifle which seems more so likely to have this bowed packaging than the others.
It's a real shame that kids these days don't have the opportunities we had to play with toy guns like we could. Back then we could run around the neighborhood pretending to shoot at each other, and nobody called the cops. Nobody brought a real gun to the game. There was no threat of violence or fear that we would turn into gun toting psychopaths. No, we just had amazing adventures as our imaginations sucked us into our worlds of play. It was really the last decades where kids could be kids in this now hurry up and grow up world.
Pretty much every reputable toy company out there got into the toy gun business. If a movie came out that was heavy on guns, toy manufacturers were there to capitalize on their popularity. Here are a few of our honorable mentions;
Rambo was a big money maker for LJN, and even though the movies weren't geared towards kids, their 1985 motorized water guns were big hits among kids. All of us had water guns growing up, but only a select few of us had motorized ones, and boy were we jealous of those kids.
LJN released both the Motorized R.P.G Rocket Water Launcher and the Motorized Water Hawk High Powered.
Mattel went ape crazy with the 1970's Tommy Burst and Ape Mask combo pack from the film Planet of the Apes. What made this gun awesome was that it made "Real Machine Gun Sounds" without the need for batteries or caps.
Does the 1991 Batman Sonic Neutralizer from the Dark Knight line look familiar? It should because it's nothing more than a repainted Electronic Laser Rifle from the above The Empire Strikes Back line. The Batman insignia at the bottom of the package was actually inserted into the barrel of the gun, and the sound effects were changed to a more high pitched...Well, sonic effect.
It's probably our least favorite of the bunch, but still pretty awesome. The Ultra Blaster from the 1988-1989 line, Robocop Ultra Police. The gun featured a rotating set of barrels, and laser like sound effects, and even came packed with a Robo-Helmet.
Did we miss any of your favorite toy guns? Let us know in the comments sections.
Join us next time when we take a look at Batman Classic TV Series!
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