Confessions of a Martian Ray Gun Dealer:
"HIT THE FLOOR OR I'LL BLOW YOUR *%# HEAD OFF?"
About five years ago toy dealer George Newcomb was relaxing with friends in his room at the Radisson Airport Inn in Newark, New Jersey. Waiting for "early buyers" who would come to his room before the opening of the toy show, George had propped open his door so that passersby in the hallway could see his wares. Kenton Bullseye Cap Pistols, Marx Thundergun Rifles, Hubley Atomic Disintegrators, Kilgore Frontier Six Shooters, and Daisy Pop Pistols were piled high on the bed. Billy the Kid Targets, plastic army helmets, and double holster sets festooned the walls. George's room was a veritable arsenal of toy firearms.
Suddenly the serenity of the room exploded. Heavily armed men burst through the door screaming for George and his friends to "hit the floor or I'll blow your #*%* head off." Toys were tossed in the air. George and his friends were thrown to the rug, then rudely handcuffed and dragged to their feet. It was only when their captives were safely secured that one of the members of the SWAT team took a closer look at George's arsenal. "Looks like toys," he sheepishly said.
Cartoon in Antique Toy World
THE MAKING OF A TOY ARMS DEALER
George Newcomb's life wasn't always so exciting. Before he became a notorious arms dealer, George ran an art gallery, worked for an industrial film company, and sold Electrolux vacuum cleaners. After receiving his BA in anthropology, he attended graduate school in museum studies and worked, for many years, as a costumed interpreter at Plimoth Plantation. During this time George also bought and sold antiques at flea markets and antique shows. I bought and sold everything," he recalls, " glass, furniture
By the mid 1980s, when George began to buy and sell full time, his interest had turned primarily to toys, and in the next years he began to specialize in toy guns, both western and space. At the time, there were few collectors for these toys and not much was known about them, which was one of the things that made them attractive to George. "No one paid much attention to them," he says, "Not much was known and you had to learn about them."
And learn about them George did. Scouring used book stores and searching through old magazines, he collected old toy catalogues and advertisements which identified and helped date the toy guns he now bought and sold in increasing numbers. George soon became an expert, and his research has helped correct some of the mistaken information in circulation about toy guns. "I have to chuckle every time that I see the Hubley Atomic Disintegrator cap pistol described with dates ranging anywhere from 1930 to 1950," George has written. "I have most of the Hubley catalogs from 1949 to 1966. The Atomic Disintegrator does not appear until the 1954 catalog."
A TERRORIST WITH AN ATOMIC DISINTEGRATOR?
Yet knowing a lot about Atomic Disintegrators has not always stood George in good stead. While flying from Boston to Dallas for a toy show a
"Excuse me sir. Could you step over here please?"
George obliged, and was not reassured when he noticed that one of the guards had his hand on his pistol.
"Will you please open this?" said one of the guards pointing to George's briefcase.
Nervously, and moving slowly so he made no rapid movements, George opened his carry-on. If his hands were moving in slow motion, his mouth was working overtime. "I'm a toy dealer from Massachusetts you know," he sputtered. "There's nothing in here but some old toys like Mickey Mouse watches. They aren't timing mechanisms for bombs!"
By now George had his case open. He stopped and stared. There, nestled between a 1934 Mickey Mouse Wristwatch and a Corgi Batmobile, was a Hubley Atomic Disintegrator, mint in its original box.
A guard looked carefully at the gun, and then at George. "Why would you want to bring a replica firearm on board the airplane?" he asked.
George was nervous and worried about missing his plane. "A replica firearm? A replica?" he said. "Sir, this is a replica of a firearm only used on the planet Mongo!"
George had a lot of time to reflect on his reply as he sat in holding, a barren room with two chairs, a table, and harsh, overhead light. Later, after the head of airport security escorted him to his plane, George decided that the next time flew to a toy show he would see that his toy guns were shipped separately.
GEORGE NEWCOMB: MR. RAYGUN
Over the years, George has not only acquired and sold virtually every known toy space gun, he has also discovered a number of them. One of the first dealers to buy and sell the wonderful aluminum Spinray Blast Pistol or the remarkably designed Atom-matic Water Rocket Pistol, he has helped identify and popularize many toy space guns. George's Toy Gun List, issued a number of times each year by his company Plymouth Rock Toys, reads like an archive of toy rayguns and is one of the most accurate indicators of the market for these toys.
There are few people who know more about toy space guns than George Newcomb. If you would like to talk toys, order the toy gun list, or find out what guns George has on hand, give him a call on weekdays from 12:00 pm to 1l:00 pm (EDT) (508-746-2842). His email (which he checks regularly) is firstname.lastname@example.org. On weekends George is frequently on the road driving to and from one of the 40 to 50 toy shows he does each year. As George knows, when you are an arms dealer it is a good idea to keep moving!
George Newcomb and Plymouth Rock Toy Company are not affiliated with this website. The quotes, and some of the information, presented here are taken from an interview with George and from his article "Confessions of a Martian Ray Gun Dealer" which appeared in the June, 1994, Toy Collector and Price Guide.
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