For over 80 years, kids have been enthralled by the many adventures of a masked man known simply as The Lone Ranger. In the 30s, they sat transfixed to radio broadcasts, reliving the thrilling days of yesteryear and by the 50s, they were able to watch their favorite hero and his trusty companion, Tonto, keeping the west safe each week on television. And as was to be expected, more than a fair share of masks, cowboy hats and toy guns were sold to kids so that they could step into the shoes of the beloved lawman. But the real playtime fun came almost twenty years later, when Gabriel Toys released an extensive line of Lone Ranger action figures and accessories – thereby proving that, while a fad may only last a year or two, a legend lives forever.
In 1973, action figures were all the rage and it seemed only natural for The Lone Ranger to get a little representation. There were six action figures to choose from in the line, from the Lone Ranger and Tonto, to Dan Reid (the big guy’s nephew,) and his blood brother, Little Bear. Of course, what fun would it be if there were no bad guys? Therefore, villains Butch Cavendish and Red Sleeves were also available for purchase, just to keep the universe in its proper balance. Each 9” tall action figure was adorned with the appropriate western or Native American attire and a few nifty accessories.
Of course, the Lone Ranger would be nothing without his trusty steed, Silver, who was available, complete with plastic display stand. Each of the other figures were given horses of their own – including Tonto’s Scout, Butch Cavendish’s Smoke, and Dan Reid’s Banjo. Each articulated plastic horse came with detailed saddles and bridles to comfortably carry their owners across the great plains of the backyards and bedrooms of America.
Of course, if a little more convincing backdrop was desired, Gabriel Toys were ready with a number of detailed playsets, eleven in all, each complete with all the accessories one might need in the Wild West, including everything from tents and tee-pees to boots and pickaxes. These well-crafted scenarios included a Carson City Bank Robbery set, a Landslide Adventure, and a tribal Powwow, allowing for endless hours of imaginary adventure.
Not only were the Lone Ranger toys popular in the States, but they also did surprisingly well abroad, where they were distributed by Marx Toys. Besides the American line of toys, lucky Europeans were also treated to two new action figures, El Lobo and Ted Dawson, as well as an additional nine playsets!
In 1979, Gabriel added an additional line of toys called The Lone Ranger Rides Again and three years later, introduced smaller 3” figures to coincide with the release of the film, The Legend of the Lone Ranger. Even more recently, the re-introduced Captain Action figure from the 60s has included the Lone Ranger in their lineup as well.
The Lone Ranger toys remain popular with collectors everywhere for their attention to detail and fine craftsmanship, serving as a reminder that a true legend never really dies, they are simply immortalized in molded plastic. If you have fond memories of taming the wild west alongside the Lone Ranger via these memorable toys, we’d love for you to share your memories in our comments section.