The Toy that Became
a TV Star on
Lost In Space
By Richard A. Coyle
The cult favorite "Lost in Space" got off to a good start in the first year it ran. This was known as the "black and white" year where the shows were more darker and serious, even "noirish." Personally, I was dismayed when the show took a turn toward more colorful (pun intended) story lines the next year by adding (what else?) color and silly plots. My preference is toward a more serious style of science fiction, so the irreverent joke stories pulled down the show in my eyes. Of course, other fans may differ with me on this.
I endured the general public's view of sci-fi as being "that silly stuff with carrot people" for what seemed like forever. One benefit of the show was that so many people were exposed to science fiction who may not have otherwise ventured into a cinema or read a book. Then, possibly due to the laughs, they found it more enjoyable than expected. It helped the show to succeed while seeming to parody itself at times. And helped opened the door for other Science Fiction shows.
But, enough lamenting, let's take a look at the raygun used in the show. The pistol used in the first year of "Lost in Space" was a mixture of the plausible - and the not very.
For a start it was your basic black - which worked because a darkish weapon looks like it means business. Next, it had a realistic gun "look" which, to me, was a seven inch barrel, a trigger guard, hand grips and a nice ribbed main body.
But, on the down side, there was a blunderbuss tip, an apple coring ring in gold or bronze just behind the tip and worst of all, silly sights in the form of a gold square window thing with a target post foresight just two ribs away - merely an inch apart; you could not possibly sight with these. Then, to put a cherry on top, if you looked closely at the front of the barrel you will find a redundant blade sight just behind the apple coring ring. Three sights?
The next fact may have foreshadowed the direction to come in the following year. To make this raygun, the propmakers used a Remco toy gun. They made only a few alterations to produce an intelligent weapon for the crew of the Jupiter Two to carry.
This toy was a confused hand gun. It was boxie and rectangular like an automatic weapon but had no ammo clip, distinguishable slide marked out in the body or even an ejector port to throw the spent shells (if there were any).
The barrel had a fore stock, giving this viewer from the States a nostalgic twinge for the old Colt cap and ball pistols of the civil war, or a Walker 45. To increase the likeness to a revolver, it even had a small rod under the barrel on the front of the fore stock like the cylinder pin used in revolvers. It was a hodgepodge of details - but perfect for a futuristic raygun.
Starting with the tip, the blunderbuss tip is stock as it came with the original toy. The propmakers added the apple coring ring to the front. Moving back, we come to an instrument lamp lens and holder. This was added to the top of the gun about 1/8 of an inch behind the part where the barrel joins the main body.
Slightly back on the original toy gun
body were a few nondescript lines. These lines were located
where, on an automatic pistol, a slide action might separate from
the main frame. And these lines were not a complete demarcation;
they did not draw out this parting line, suggested it only. These
mock slide lines seem to be perfect indicators for a place to
make your cut if you want to add some realistic detailing, make
it look more "rayguny". From studying the photos and
stills of the show, I believe this is exactly what they did; for
this area is where they added the ribbed rectangle part.
One of the best "Gun" shows would be "One of our dogs is missing." This is the one were Doctor Smith disassembles all the guns as he cleans them. The "stunt" props field strip rather nicely, but Doctor Smith can tear down but as useable can not build up again. Will has to return and reassemble the guns.
The Toy that became a TV star on Lost in Space.