When a toy is yanked from store shelves after a relatively short run, it is usually for one of two reasons – it is either unpopular or unsafe. And perhaps not surprising to anyone, the unsafe ones are often pretty popular at the time they are pulled. Such was the case with the Wham-O Air Blaster, a toy with endless possibilities, some of them relatively dangerous. Let’s take a look back at this fondly-remembered toy that came and went with a bang.
From the fine folks who brought you the Frisbee and Hula Hoop, toy maker Wham-O introduced the Air Blaster in 1965. For scores of kids, it was love at first site and undoubtedly made its way onto many a Christmas wish list. A gun unlike any other, a few simply pumps of a plastic lever filled the firearm with compressed blast of invisible ammo through its funnel-shaped barrel. And in the hands of those with more diabolical imaginations, kids soon learned that there was virtually no prey unworthy of a nice surprising blast of atmospheric gas. Few were spared from its wrath, whether it be best friends, little sisters, unsuspecting family pet, or as clip below show, dad’s pipe.
And like many other playthings that now inhabit the toy graveyard, the air blaster was eventually taken from the cold hands of these sadistic youngsters, thanks to the increasingly innovative uses they found for the gun. It wasn’t enough to take aim at Rover or a fire upon a herd of birthday candles. No, some kids found entertainment value in shooting the guns in the ears of their cohorts – and the resulting hearing damage was enough to cause Wham-O to pull the plug-o on this infamous toy forever. It was yet another case of a few bad apples spoiling playtime for everyone.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that in the 90s, when Wham-O decided to re-release a line of their beloved toys from yesteryear, the Air Blaster didn’t make the final round. And while the Air Blaster remains a coveted addition to many a toy collector’s arsenal, most of us are left with fading memories of this literal blast-from-the-past.
Were you one of the lucky few that managed to get your hands on an Air Blaster before they were banned? Do you still have it? Were you one of the wholesome kids who used the gun safely, or were you one of the delinquents that got it pulled off the market? Share your memories of the Wham-O Air Blaster with all of us at Retroland as we pay our respects to a toy whose possibilities we barely got to explore.