Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Collectible of the Week: Agent Zero M Radio Rifle (Mattel; 1964)




Back at the height of the James Bond/spy craze of the mid-sixties -- the same era that brought the world The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Get Smart and Mission: Impossible --  intrepid toymaker Mattel introduced a great and now-legendary line of espionage-centered toys: the Agent Zero M line.

Several incredibly neat toys were marketing for Zero M, including the item headlining this post, the portable "radio rifle." 

It's a (non-working) transistor radio that you can unfold and transform into a cap-firing rifle.  What's still so cool about this old toy is that the radio actually looks very real, so it's a surprise (especially to your enemies in SPECTRE, THRUSH or KAOS...) when you unfold the radio and the muzzle pops out with significant force to form a deadly weapon.

Along with the radio rifle, kids of the 1960s could also buy a "jet coder" device: a pen that shoots water and writes in code only visible with a special set of spy glasses.

Fans of the Zero M line may also remember the notorious (and ultra-cool) bazooka-like toy called the "sonic blaster."   It was a "most unusual weapon" designed for "counter-espionage" and which would shoot a "massive blast of compressed air."    Great for knocking your annoying sister off her feet, or some such thing, I guess.

Also sold by Mattel for Agent Zero M was a movie camera and camera case "undercover set."  The movie camera turns into a sub-machine gun with, once more, a dramatic pop-out muzzle.

The Zero-M toys were advertised with the ad line "for spies only" and with admonishments to "remember the password...Zero M.

And the young star of the Zero M commercials (for the sonic blast and radio rifle, anyway) was none other than Snake Plissken himself, Kurt Russell, which adds an extra element of nostalgia to this collectible.  I wasn't even born yet when these toys were first sold, but I'm still thrilled to have a Zero M radio rifle in my collection.

Check out the Mattel Zero M commercials (some starring Mr. Russell) embedded below:







3 comments:

  1. I was too young for these toys too, but my older brother used to regale me with stories about these cool toys. He had the Secret Sam attache case that shot missiles, had a working camera, and a cool gun with rubber bullets. A few years back, I bought my brother a Secret Sam toy off eBay for Christmas (in its original box). I wrapped it in retro Christmas paper and told him it got lost under the tree back in 1966.

    There was also the Monkey Division toys which looked like weapons out of Wally Wood's Total War comic. If kids carried toys like this around today, they'd probably get shot by police!

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  2. Hi Neal P.,

    I have watched the "Secret Sam attache case" commercial on Youtube, and it looks like another amazing toy from the heyday of the Bond crze. My four (almost five...) year old son really wants one!

    I bet your brother loved your time-travel Christmas present from 1966. That was a very thoughtful and very cool thing to do...

    I agree with you that today, these toys might get the attention of the police!

    Great comment


    JKM

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  3. Why can't we have cool toys like this today?

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