From the Vault - featured items from our collection

Daisy XZ-35 Buck Rogers Rocket Wilma Pistol (PH88.24.36)

Daisy XZ-35 Buck Rogers Rocket Wilma Pistol

     This particular item may raise a few eyebrows and even more guesses as to its identification. While it was produced by the Daisy Manufacturing Company, the makers of the famed Red Ryder , it is not a BB gun. In fact it is one of the first ray guns ever made! Following the success of Buck Rogers in text, comics, movies and radio the Daisy company began production of Earth’s first ever ray guns.

     Similar to the original XZ-31 ‘Rocket Pistol’ this particular item, the XZ-35, was known as the ‘Wilma Pistol’ and was named after the heroine of the Buck Roger series, Wilma Deering. The pistol was released in 1935 and cost a full 25¢ which during the Great Depression was a fair bit of money for a toy. The ray gun measures 19cm long and is about 5cm shorter than its earlier XZ-31 counterpart. The body is made out of ‘blued’ steel but was also available in a non-blued version. A distinguishing feature of the XZ-35 is the solid barrel right to the tip of the nose without a collar at the end. The XZ-35 does have less detail than the XZ-31 but is still sought by collectors. A possible reason for the smaller size and reduced detail was that Daisy could not purchase enough steel or cardboard to meet the demand for the original XZ-31 in 1934.

     To operate the ray gun the grip was pushed forward and back to cock it and then operating the trigger mechanism would release the spring inside to give the ‘ray gun’ sound. While it is not visible in the image the inscription on the grip reads, “BUCK ROGERS 25th CENTURY TRADE MARK REGISTER”. The slide reads, “BUCK ROGERS 25th Century”. The level reads, “DAISY MANUFACTURING CO.  PLYMOUTH, MICH.  U.S.A. PATENTS 1466.131-1.633.03F 1,666,771-1.779,8.92 OTHERSPENDING D51748”.

     This ray gun was given to a very lucky young boy in The Pas back in the 1930’s. His mother donated the item to the Museum and it was accession into the collection in 1988.

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Added: May, 2013

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