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ray guns
Atomic Box
Pyrotomic Disintegrator

Pyro Plastics , 1953
United States

Well, here they are, the fabled Pyrotomic Disintegrator pistols. Rarer than a Martian on Venus, these toys stand as perhaps the ultimate expression of "ray gun." The Platonic ideal, if you will. And believe me, once you see one of these things up close, you will. Want to have one, that is. Need to have one. Sell off all extra organs to raise the money to have one.

Beautifully sculpted, these toys capture everything good about space-age design, from fins to rings to fancy lightning bolts underlining the word "Disintegrator" (and, on the other side, "Pyrotomic").

Evidence, in the form of a "Rights Reserved" symbol, suggests that the metallic version arrived after the candy colored one, which is symbol-less. Also, many of the metallic ray guns appeared later in the Fifties, as manufacturers realized that the spacier they made the toy, the more money they'd make from the toy.

There are a few different versions of the Pyrotomic Disintegrator pistol. Besides the two pictured here, there's also one with the blue and yellow parts reversed; one featuring turqoise instead of blue; and a red, black and yellow version, of which there's only one known to exist. (The others aren't exactly common, either—less than four or five each of the colored versions are extant, and maybe 12-15 of the copper and silver. Yeah, it's freakin' rare.)

The Pyrotomic's action is simple but creative: pulling the trigger causes the barrel and upper assembly to move back and forth in a reciprocating motion. It's not the most complex of mechanisms, but the subtle understatement only adds to the toy's refined nature.

The company also made the Pyrotomic rifle—also in both copper/silver and candy colors—that's perhaps rarer than some of the pistols. In Doc's opinion, it's not nearly as perfect a design as the pistol, however—he thinks it's a bit clunky and under-detailed back towards the stock. However, many collectors—most?—disagree, and will gladly throw down in their efforts at defending the rifle's honor. Like it or love it (because Doc certainly doesn't hate it!), getting one is a task worthy of the greatest of space adventurers. Deep pockets'll get the job done, too. (If you can even find one for sale.)

Sadly, not many of these guns survived the years. They were cheaply made with brittle plastic, and one drop can cause one to practically explode. Of the known examples of this gun, many are broken—missing barrels or under-barrel bars being the most common ailments. Often, the reciprocating mechanism doesn't work. Still, considering the toy's absolute scarcity, many collectors settle for an incomplete example while they wait for a mint one to come along. For some, it's a very long wait. But well worth the time.