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Captain Space Solar Scout Rifle

Marx , 1957
United States

Marx got it right with this rifle, which looks like it was designed by E.C. Comics artist Wally Wood. Liquid, organic curves combine with ready-for-action hardware to make a toy that's ultra-futuristic and frighteningly clear in its intent. Captain Space fights to win, and he makes damn sure his Solar Scouts have the tools to get the job done.

The Solar Scout rifle doesn't just look nice—it's got lots of lights and buzzers to drive parents nuts. For most toys, the light-up tip and buzzer would be enough, but this space gun also features a flashlight that uses ingenious technology to change the light's color. Unfortunately, like most cutting edge tech, it doesn't work for squat.

Inside the flashlight are two tiny, colored, spring-loaded cups. Flipping the switch on the side of the gun swings these pieces of red and green plastic up in front of the flashlight bulb. In theory, the light shines on these cups and reflects back onto the flashlight's mirror and then bounces back out the front. It's a Rube Goldberg invention if there ever was one, and it's hard not to wonder why Marx didn't just let the light shine thought colored gels (as they do on a few other toys with similar mechanisms).

However, the technology's absurdism is part of it's charm, and shows just how far these toys company went in their efforts to outdo each other.

The Captain Space Solar Scout rifle came in a number of colors, including maroon, blue, silver, gold, and white. Tips have been found in blue, green, white, and red, and seemed to be used randomly on the different guns.

When shopping for a Solar Scout rifle, be aware that it doesn't use standard flashlight parts—you can't use an old EverReady to replace the internal mirror or the sculpted from lens. Make sure your toy's complete. On the other hand, the toy company attached the tip with a common screw and nut, meaning that it's easy to replace a blown bulb. Also, don't worry if the speaker on the gun's stock looks like it's missing a grill—the toy came this way.