Classic Toy Museum Ray Gun Display

214 California Drive
Burlingame, California 94010

Celebrating the
100th Anniversary
of the Ray Gun!

New Exhibit - Summer 2016

Steampunk Ray Gun

I have always loved looking at pictures of what the future might look like.

Jet packs, robots, flying cars.

Growing up in the 1960's, I always watched Star Trek, Lost in Space, the Jetsons and an afternoon kid's show called "Captain Satellite." Shown on San Francisco's KTVU, it featured real kids on a set that looked like the inside of a space ship.

As curator of the Classic Toy Museum, I wanted to create a new exhibit that featured toys of a possible future.

In my mind, one toy fit perfectly - the ray gun.

In my research for this new exhibit, I discovered that the ray gun is about to celebrate it's 100th anniversary. ZZZAP!

Star Trek Phaser (1966)

According to "The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction", the very first time the phrase "ray gun" was ever used, was in a book called "The Messiah of the Cylinder", written by Victor Rousseau, and published in 1917.

"... and there a blast from a ray gun found them, and the steel entrance doors fell on them.... "

If you combine Woody Allen's "Sleeper" (1973) with "The Matrix" (1999) and add a little "Star Wars" (1977), you have "The Messiah of the Cylinder."

The story begins 100 years ago. Our hero, Arnold Pennell, is tricked into getting inside a large metal cylinder that will ultimately keep him asleep for 100 years. He wakes up around 2016 and finds a dystopian future where science has replaced religion, and his world is ruled by two evil men. Arnold is declared the Messiah - and with his leadership, evil will be defeated. This novel also includes solar power and ends with a big air battle with flying ships and the destruction of the bad guy's main power source. Our hero saves the world and gets the girl.

The first appearance of a hand held ray gun in a movie was in the 1934 serial "The Vanishing Shadow."

Shown in 12 installments, almost every device from science fiction is shown - robots, invisibility belts and TWO ray guns - a death ray gun and an electric ray gun capable of cutting through steel.

Hollywood Special Effects pioneer Ken Strickfaden worked on this film.

He is best known for creating Dr. Frankstein's laboratory equipment and fashioning the ray gun for Buck Rogers.

The Vanishing Shadow (1934) - Ray Guns

Buck Rogers Rocket Pistol XZ-35 (1934)

Buck Rogers Atomic Pistol U-235 (1946)

The first toy ray gun is the BUCK ROGERS Rocket Pistol made by Daisy Manufacturing.

This toy is made of steel and makes a loud POP when the trigger is pulled.

After World War II, Daisy released the U-235 Atomic Pistol. The name reflected the public's fascination with atomic energy.

The U-235 also produced a loud "POP" when the trigger was pulled, plus a burst of sparks appeared in the side windows.


Buck Rogers first appeared in the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories in 1928.

Buck is a veteran of World War I. While working in an abandoned coal mine, he is trapped in a cave-in and is exposed to radioactive gas. He falls into a state of suspended animation, and wakes up in the year 2419.

In 1929, a Buck Rogers comic strip debuted. In 1932, a Buck Rogers radio program first aired. And in 1939, Universal Pictures released a 12 part Buck Rogers serial.

George Lucas has credit Buck Rogers as one of the inspirations for "Star Wars."

In 1979, Buck Rogers returned in a prime time television series for NBC. This series ran for two years.

Now on Display at the Classic Toy Museum

Hubley Atomic Disintegrator (1954)

Nu-Age Smoke Ring Gun (1954)

Pez Space Gun (1979)

H.Y. Mfg. Razer Ray Gun (1970)

Nu-Matic Paper Popper (1937)

Yonezawa Tin Friction Space Sparkling Gun (R)

COTC Friction Astroray Gun (1966)

ELECTRA Clicker Space Gun (1950s)

LEGO Weapon Ray Gun (2010)

Geyper Ray Gun - Spain (1964)

Pez Space Gun (1956)

Daiya Astronaut Rocket Gun (1950s)
Notes, Links and References
Not a Ray Gun - A "Heat-Ray" is featured in H. G. Wells' novel "The War of the Worlds", written in 1898. It is not a hand held ray gun.

Not a Ray Gun - An "Automatic Gun" is seen in the 1930 futuristic musical comedy "Just Imagine." It never shoots - it could just be an automatic pistol.

Not a Ray Gun - The Intrigue, released by Paramount Pictures in 1916 features a "death ray" machine that is not hand held.

Just Image - YouTube link

The Vanishing Shadow - YouTube link

The Messiah of the Cylinder - Read the book HERE

Kenneth Strickfaden, Dr. Frankenstein's Electrician by Harry Goldman, Ed Angell

ZAP - Ray Gun Classics by Leslie Singer

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214 California Drive
Burlingame, California 94010
Tues-Sat 10:30-5:30
(650) 347-2301