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Exhibitions Playing Cowboy

Holster Sets and Cap Guns

B-Westerns of the late 1940s through the mid-1950s drove the market for toy fancy holster sets and cap guns like those carried by Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, and the Lone Ranger.

When “Matt Dillon,” “Bronco Lane,” and “Rowdy Yates” changed to plain holsters, toy makers responded with less fancy models after 1955. Saddle makers began making holsters from scraps but manufacturers could not meet the demand. In the first quarter of each year toy manufacturers informed large retailers such as Sears and Montgomery Ward that they were sold out for the year. Leslie Henry, Hubley, Nichols, and many others made toy cap guns. In the late 1950s Mattel launched its “Fanners” and “Shootin’ Shell” models with heavy TV advertising campaigns and took the market by storm. “Fanners” popped its paper caps by pulling back and letting the hammer go. “Shootin’ Shell” models “fired” a low-velocity plastic projectile and ejected a plastic shell casing. Rubber band, toy rubber dart, and “clicker” guns also comprised a large part of the toy gun market.

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