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Corey Wolfe

Need help identifying this gun (Double Action Automatic Paper Gun)

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Corey Wolfe

Picked up what I think is a really rare gun. The person who sold it to me got her info from this website: http://www.marxmuseum.com/raretoys/paperpoppers.html

This isn't quite a ray gun, but a paper popper, but if it's actually from 1933 (made for the world's fair) because of the Buck Rogers craze, it could very well be the 2nd or 3rd 'Space' gun ever. Any comments would be appreciated.

Follows is what the website says:

Back in 1933, the theme of the Chicago World’s Fair was “A Century of Progress.” To set the stage, the first Buck Rogers movie premiered at this Fair. What an awesome experience that must have been to be present at the ushering in of the Sci-Fi / Atomic Space Age!

To commemorate the event, local Chicago toy company – Langson Mfg Co (LMCO) created a spectacular toy for the Fair – the Double Action Automatic Paper Gun. It’s Space Age design is sure to light the fire in any atomic disintegrator lover’s heart – pure Buck Rogers style joy! A very RARE find today. Here are the particulars:

DETAILS:
Maker: LMCO – Langson Mfg Co., 1933

Model: Double Action Automatic Paper Gun

Description: Paper popper toy gun, manufactured especially for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair – “A Century of Progress”. 8.5 inches in length.

post-1930-0-98652000-1392076627_thumb.jp

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dratomic

I've seen pics of these before, haven't seen one up close. It's a neat toy.

Actually, if it IS considered a space gun, it'd be the FIRST space gun we know of. Generally, the XZ-31 Rocket Pistol (Daisy) is seen to hold that honor. It was sold in 1934. For a brief time, I wondered if the maybe Wyandotte's 33 Repeater preceded it, but the earliest listing we've uncovered is from 1935, and the text read as if it was debuting the toy.

As far as this paper popper goes, I guess it depends on how one interprets "space gun." Personally, I don't think this is one... But that's just me. My thinking:

I don't know if the intent was there... for whatever that's worth. It's not directly associated with Buck Rogers, despite Buck's presence at the fair. There's no mark or name indicating it's a space gun. And the design, while definitely cool and full of retro-futuristic flair, could simply be an example of the prevailing aesthetics. Machine age design was EVERYWHERE -- a toy train, despite the sleek, swooping lines, wasn't considered a toy "space train;" a toy vacuum -- if they had those -- wasn't a "space vacuum." That's just what things looked like at the time.

That said... In cases like this, I think it's in the eye of the beholder. If someone considers it a space gun... why not? Consensus will determine whether it's listed as the first ray gun or not.

No matter what, it's a nice, nice pick up. Great condition -- better than others I've seen. Congrats. :)

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Nick Danger

I've been lurking on this site for about a year, and I find it extremely helpful and informative for my budding collection of steel space guns from the 1930s.  I haven't bothered to post because, frankly, I never had anything useful to add until now.

 

The LMCO 1933 World's Fair paper popper was high on my list, and I finally scored one last week (just in time for Christmas).  As a bonus, the box is included, and I notice that the listing in the archive asks for an example of the box, so I thought I would contribute a photo.  I am considering having the box professionally restored, and as I am very new to this hobby, I wouldn't mind some advice on that front.

 

As a side note, the name of this toy, as depicted on the box, is literally, "Double Action Automatic Paper Gun."  I don't know if there's any value in changing the listing in the archive.

 

Thanks,

Nick

DAAPG-01.jpeg.4d9261ab065b2ceb1c6310c8873acbfe.jpegDAAPG-02.jpeg.9857677d373f82338438b01d5c74a82b.jpegDAAPG-03.jpeg.a992e1ac3afc26b69118e28fc6b1f5dd.jpeg

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Tinplate6

That is the cleanest example I have ever seen, however, for my personal tastes, it's not spacey enough to be a space gun.

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Nick Danger

I suspect your opinion represents the majority (it certainly agrees with Dr. Atomic), and I don't necessarily disagree with it.  But if I may play devil's advocate...

 

Mr. Wolfe has already pointed out this gun's associations with the 1933 World's Fair, with all its own associations with futurism.  Prior to that, as far as a I can tell, LMCO's paper-popper designs were canes and cannons (even an anti-aircraft gun!).  In the 1950s, they made at least one that looks like a cowboy gun.  Despite the "Double Action Automatic Paper Gun" being called a "gun" on the packaging, it certainly doesn't look like any gun I've seen (it doesn't even have a trigger), and in my opinion, would have looked great on the cover of AMAZING STORIES in the hands of some adventurer, blasting a robot or an alien.

 

Secondly, just three years later, LMCO started its Nu-Matic line, which seems to have more acceptance as a "space gun" among collectors, despite not having any space reference in the name or packaging.  I can easily see displaying the DAAPG next to the Nu-Matics, whenever I get around to collecting them.

 

Of course, this is all subjective, but I think it's fair to call this toy a "proto-space-gun" or some such.  If nothing else, it certainly doesn't seem out of place on my mantel, along with the rest of my small but mighty collection.

 

In a related question...Does anyone have an example of one of these that actually functions?  Mine slides just fine and even advances the paper through the mechanism, but it doesn't actually pop the paper.  I notice that there's a pin missing on my example, and I was wondering if it was holding a critical part that's also missing.

 

mantel.jpeg.241dc207044df5ca7ab795487d8a5d9f.jpeg

 

 

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Joe K.

Here's a link to the Langson Manufacturing Co.:

https://langson.wixsite.com/lmco/food

 

This Marx Toy Museum site:

http://www.marxmuseum.com/raretoys.html

describes how these paper popper guns function:

"It operates on the same principle as all the toys IE: when you pull the trigger, the paper advances, the plunger retracts, the sear is released and at the same time, a rubber gasket contacts the paper and a short blast of air explodes the entrapped paper."

Nick, does your example have this rubber gasket? If not, it might explain why it doesn't pop the paper.

 

 

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Nick Danger

 

Joe:  Shining a flashlight inside the barrel (from the handle-side), uncovered a tiny brass nozzle, but no gasket.  BUT, after carefully unspooling the paper from the mechanism, I opened the slide, and lo, and behold, there it is.  Frankly, I'm surprised there's anything left after over 80 years.  It looks like it's in good shape, but I wouldn't be shocked if it's not airtight.  Looks like it will come out with a little prying, but I don't want to monkey with it, just yet.  Should I even bother trying to replace it?

 

Also, to Corey or anyone else who has one of these...What's the deal with the missing pin/bolt on the barrel (just behind the front handle)?  Does the bolt simply pass all the way through to help keep the gun together, or is it supposed to be holding another component of the mechanism?

 

gasket.jpeg.a1cfbc698a8aa55dbbba84cd77b10117.jpeg

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Nick Danger

I finally got around to doing simple repairs to the box, including re-attaching the flap.  Thanks, Phil, for your advice in this area.  Also, thanks in general for the threads regarding flattening boxes using an iron and a cotton shirt.  That worked wonders for returning this box to something close to its original shape.

 

I notice that the entry for this toy was removed from the database.  Was it simply decided that it no longer qualifies as a "space toy?"

 

1076558053_DAAPGandbox01.jpeg.7db35794b660bfe9335aa40ef27e7ce3.jpeg

 

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Brian..

The database dictator just realised it's gone AWOL. I think I went on a purge after too much malt. 

 

Personally I can't see anything spacey about this though I'll concede that it's an interesting and unusual shape. The picture of the box tended to confirm my feeling that it's not a space gun.  I have the same problem with most of the paper poppers and bazookas, unless they carry explicit space references or artwork. There are quite a few guns on Justin's old site that I didn't add for the same reason. The English Limit gun is one example. But my opinion is utterly subjective and good luck to anyone who puts it any category they choose. 

 

You'll notice that I haven't added any electronic guns, though there are hundreds of candidates. Many of them are popular collectables and each year improves their claim to be vintage. Still I can't bring myself to add them.  It's such a convenient watershed between past and the present.  If anyone wants to create their own category then I'm ready to set up a gallery for them. 

 

 

 

 

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Nick Danger

I understand your reluctance to  include items like this in the database, and I agree, it's not particularly "spacey" in design, name, nor box art.  However, keep in mind that there's a difference between this toy and toys like the English Limit.  The DAAPG predates the Buck Rogers XZ-31 by a year, and it is that toy and its successor, the XZ-38, that defined what a "space gun" should look like.  Toys like the Nu-Matic and the 33 Repeater (both from the mid-to-late 30s) are categorized as "space guns" despite not having spacey names nor box art, precisely because they borrow so much from the Buck Rogers aesthetic.

 

Everybody on this forum collects for different reasons.  For me, I'm interested in the 1930s because so much was happening in science fiction literature.  That's why I like to use the term "proto-space-gun" for toys like this and the Jack Armstrong Shooting Plane (which I'm happy to say, I managed to tick off my checklist only last week).  When the Jack Armstrong Shooting Plane was offered as a premium for two Wheaties boxtops in 1933, they received over 400,000 orders.  I realize that Jack Armstrong never went into space (although he certainly had adventures involving ray guns), but I can't help but think that the success of that premium (and the DAAPG at the World's Fair) influenced Daisy's decision to release the Buck Rogers gun a year later.  Such a decision may seem like an obvious money-maker in hindsight, but at the height of the Great Depression, it must have been terrifying to dive into a whole new classification of toy.

 

In the absence of space guns in 1933, toys like the DAAPG and the JASP gave kids the opportunity to reenact what they were reading in AMAZING STORIES without pressing their cowboy guns into clumsy service.

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Brian..

An interesting perspective, Nick. I've not explored pulp science-fiction of the early 20th century in enough detail to be able to work out the development of the spacey components of a spacegun/raygun. I'm sure they didn't just appear one day, and must have slowly acquired those characteristics that we all love - bulbous guns, ribbed designs and lot of rings. 

 

Still, those Nu-Matics don't seem to have much about them that makes me think of space adventure.  The box art is as utilitarian as you can get and there's not even a sniff of the word "space" or a glimpse of a Martian to suggest that they were targeting the Buck Rogers space phenomenon.

 

 

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Nick Danger

I have to disagree about the 1936 Nu-Matic; I think the vertical lines and overall industrial look steal a page from the XZ-38 (Disintegrator) from 1935.  In any case, it would be hard not to categorize the 33 Repeater as a space gun (what with its bulbous muzzle), and it also doesn't have a spacey name nor box art.  Again, I think we need to put this in context.  The Buck Rogers guns sparked off a whole new category of product, and Daisy was the 300-pound-gorilla of toy manufacturers.  I'm sure that smaller companies like Langson and Wyandotte wanted to cash in on the "Buck Rogers craze," but were scared to death of litigation.  This whole area of toy manufacture was so new, I can imagine there was a lot of uncertainty as to whether using the word, "space," in the product name or printing a spaceman on the box might infringe upon Daisy's patent.  The only other 1930s space guns with "spacey" art (as far as I'm aware of) were the Flash Gordon Radio Repeater and the Signal Gun, both of which were manufactured by Marx, ANOTHER 300-pound-gorilla that actually had the resources to go toe-to-toe with Daisy, in the event of a lawsuit.  This is mostly speculation, but I've been wondering why there were so few space gun competitors prior to World War II, despite the stratospheric success of the Buck Rogers guns, and I think this might help explain that.  In any case, I think the Langson Nu-Matics were absolutely trying to reach that same market.

 

We seem to have gone pretty far astray from the original topic, but I don't mind at all.  This is a really fun discussion.

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Nick Danger

I came across this toy on eBay--the Whoopee Bird--which has the same distinctive handle as the World's Fair gun.  I did a little research, and while collectors agree it's probably from the 1930s, nobody knows who made it.  I guess Langson recycled their leftover parts, or they sold the parts to another toy manufacturer.

 

1989656823_whoopeebird.jpeg.df8e917fecd196d45ed6cbbf0dac6b34.jpeg

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Bill Cermak

Nick Danger, I came across your " Whoopee Bird" toy post and I just wanted to say that you are correct! I can definitively tell you that Langson Mfg. Co. did invent and make The Whoopee Bird, and I have attached a page from their US Patent for it, for your reference. It was issued to Otto A. Langos who was the founder of Langson Mfg. Co., and also my Great Grandfather.  I did do a side-by-side comparison to the handle on 1933 World's fair toy and I can definitely say it is the exact same one, so good call on that also! I will soon be adding this toy to my website honoring Langson Mfg. Co. at https://langson.wixsite.com/lmco .  

 

Happy toy hunting!

Regards,

Bill Cermak

817174873_1936-2058241.jpg.e82eac4a0ae58bd024ee3f0191b2506b.jpg

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tikidoc

I recently picked up a DAAPG I had too.  This popped into my mind. CHICAGO Worlds Fair. G-MEN, AL CAPONE. The DAAPG in my head reminds me of the Thompson sub machine gun, with 2 pistol grips and no stock. G-men and gangsters big part of 1920s and 30s Chicago history and toy history as well. I absolutely love the DAAPG don't get me wrong the design is fresh and sleek, but, like I said in my head it reminds me of the Thompson sub machine gun. Also remember the G man rifles made by Marx morphed into the Space Cadet and Rex Mars rifles. I can picture myself as a kid holding the DAAPG in my hands and what would I be thinking? Probably I was a cop blasting the bad guys with my pump action paper popper machine gun that shoots as fast as you can pump. BAM BAM BAM! The DAAPG could have been the design that helped morph into the space poppers as I call them. These is just my my thoughts.

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