Friday, September 23, 2011

And you thought Lawn Jarts were dangerous

File this under "Childhood: Way Too Much Fun to Be Wasted on Children."

When "Dr. No" kicked off the spy craze in the early 1960s, leading toy company Mattel pivoted effortlessly from wild-west toys (guns and rifles with "Shootin' Shells" and "Greenie Stickem Caps") to spy gear under the "Zero-M" logo.

Best of all -- meaning most ridiculously dangerous and inviting of hair-raising abuse -- was the bazooka-like Sonic Blaster, which shot a column of compressed air at whatever you pointed it at. It also produced a 157-decibel blast-sound. As the ad shows, it came with little knock-down cardboard targets, but kids knew better:  First thing every kid -- every kid -- did as soon as it was out of the box was pump that bad boy up, press the muzzle against the ear of the kid standing next to them (ideally, a younger sibling), and blast away. The resulting eardrum damage was often permanent.

Next thing you knew, screaming children, bleeding ears, upset parents, Consumer Reports, product liability, BFD, yadda, yadda, yadda, Nader, Nader, Nader, blah, blah, blah, the toy was banned, shelves were empty.

And conservatives today complain about "Sixties-era permissiveness." As if.

This ad features a very young (but still grim) Kurt Russell. The voice-over work is by William Conrad, who also played Matt Dillon on radio's "Gunsmoke" and was the breathlessly hyper narrator for Rocky & Bullwinkle adventures.

1 comment:

Doctor Beyond said...

Conrad is probably best known for the title role in the series Cannon on CBS. Despite having played Marshall Dillion on the radio show and having publicity pictures released of him in the part when the show moved to TV, it was determined that Conrad was too fat to play the part.

For me though, he will always first be the R & B narrator.