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This is a guest post written by my buddy, CASES4CASES:

Every so often I come across a toy that I wish I had as a kid. Hell, there are many toys I didn’t have growing up that I wish I had today as an adult! But there are certain toys that, when you look at them as an adult, you just know would have made your childhood a few notches cooler . . .

Case-in-point; the 1966 Mattel M-16 Marauder.

Sure, it has a hilariously large magazine and mag well to match. But what kid cared about (or even noticed) that when…

“It doesn’t need any caps!”

“You never reload!”

“No batteries either!”

And almost a minute-long blast of “BRAAP! BRRA-A-A-AP! BRAP! BRAP!” I’m quite pleased with their appropriate application of onomatopoeia.

Clearly, “It’s the greatest!” The fact that it didn’t require an orange muzzle cover makes it a shoe-in anyway, right?


Even more clearly, those of us born before, let’s say, the ‘90s will never forget the awesomely realistic shoot-‘em-up toys that our kids will never have the chance to run around the neighborhood with like we all did.

You youngsters don’t believe this stuff actually existed? TTAG’s own Brad Kozak detailed his childhood experience with the Mattel M16 Marauder back in 2010. Lucky guy…

And you thought Mattel only made Hot Wheels and Barbie Dolls.


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  1. One Christmas (early ’60s) I got a Tommy gun, helmet, hand grenade, and Lugar all in one kit. It was great. The Tommy made a few seconds of noise when the bolt was pulled back.

    • I didn’t have the M16. I did have the Tommy Burst.

      It was way cool. I also had the lever action rifle that shot the reusable plastic bullets and used greenie stickem caps. My parent were great when it came to toy guns, and later with real ones.

      Then again, this was in Wyoming in the 1960s. Nobody called the cops if they saw a kid with a toy gun.

      • I fondly remember my Mattel lever action AND six-shooter with the Shootin’ Shells ™ and Greenie Stickem Caps. They were great! Also had a nice cap-firing Springfield ’03-A3.

        • Dick Tracy snub-nose .38. Had it. I had ’em all. Name the war or period of American history and I had the guns to play the game.

          Some of the kids on my block had real guns (disabled). One guy had a real German Luger his father gave him. Another guy had an M1 with the bolt and op rod removed. Even so, when you’re 8 years old it weighs a ton.

        • Yes the M16is cool… I personally would have rather had the Airfix FN Rifle. In fact I think I kind of want one still right now…

      • I grew up in Missouri in the 60’s. Nobody called the cops when they saw a kid with a real gun. I had my own 22LR auto rifle at 8 or 10. No idea who made it, bought it at a farm sale for $5.00. Everyone stopped bidding when they saw a kid was bidding for it. Loved that rifle and took it out all the time by myself. We did live on a small farm about 5 miles outside of a town of 10,000.

    • Now that I think about it, I can remember the actual M-16 being referred to as “the Mattel Sound of Power,” early in its deployment when it was having problems.

    • Way back in the ’50s and ’60s in suburban Chicago we had a large open field behind the house owned by the railroad where we would go and play for hours. I also had a Tommy gun, but mine was a full-size detailed replica made of wood that my Uncle found somewhere. It didn’t make any noise itself, but that was hardly a problem for a ten year old kid with strong lungs.

      When I was feeling more like a sniper role I had a WW II surplus Springfield ’03 complete with a ceramic bayonet. This was the U.S. Army training model that looked and felt exactly like a real ’03 except it had no barrel (just a tube sticking out the far end of the stock) and could not be loaded with even dummy rounds. It was just something the ‘cruits could carry around to familiarize themselves with the concept of always having a rifle at their side while all the real rifles were going to combat. I spent many long hours lugging that rifle around in the fields and even carried it on a bus to a Boy Scout meeting one time for show and tell.

      Today I would probably have ben SWATed before the bus ever showed up.

  2. Hey kid, if you keep holding it like that, some asshole in 30 years will think thats what pistol grips are for.

  3. I never had the Mattel version, but I did have a noisemaker shaped like an M-16 from some other toy company. Or maybe it was an AR-10, I do remember it had the trigger style charging handle located in the carry handle.

  4. I had one of those! In fact, it’s responsible for a now-cherished family photo, where my 4 year old self stuck barrel of said M16 in my Uncle John’s (freshly returned from a Southeast Asian adventure) back and pulled the trigger right as my grandfather snapped the picture of all the adults in attendance. My Uncle’s expression was one of shall we say “Extreme surprise”!

  5. Society is so gross and everything so codified, regimented and authoritarian…

    I used to ride my bike around with my friends with bb rifles running all over the place and only had to be home by dark. This was when I was 10 years old.

    I remember the sea change in police, government and social sentiment concerning individual liberty and government restraint. It really started creeping in around the time Bush 1 was elected and has continued unabated (even accelerating drastically during Bush II).

    We really should do something about it. We should be unashamed to publicly and loudly chastise bureaucrats, police, schools and politicians every time a child is shot for playing in a park, expelled from school for 0 tolerance type policies, families harassed and taken to court for letting their kids ride bikes to school or play in public parks in the neighborhood.

    We should live very intentionally against asking authorities for permission for anything or even allowing authority at all. Unless it can justify itself it needs to be dismantled. We have super complex bureaucracies composed of nothing but authorities who attempt to regulate every aspect of existence. Cameras, militarized police, prying ears and eyes and witch trials galore. Its so gross and so petty and so orwellian and creepy….

    We have at least 2 generations of adults now that have no idea how to be self reliant or function as a free thinking, feeling or acting, autonomous being with full agency. and a few generations of of their children are not far behind.

    • When diversity started creeping in society become more atomized and less trusting. In response to the social problems and crimes created by this the police became more militarized. I grew up in the ’90s and while the crime rate in the ghettoes was bad it was still mostly contained to those areas. Now the crap seeps out everywhere. Many parts of this country are turning into Brazil right before our very eyes. Notice the similarities: militarized police, low trust and social cohesion, diversity, and corruption.

  6. Me and my friends had an early ’80s, Cold War inspired, green colored versions of this toy with which we would play “Army” around the neighborhood. Nowadays, that would warrant a SWAT response.

  7. My sister and I both had vz61 Scorpion battery-powered full-auto water guns. I still have hers — it came with a black muzzle instead of the red one I had.

    My childhood buddy and I both got Italian made cap guns that looked like Beretta 92s. They had “wood” grips and you could eject the magazine and load strip caps. We spent the day chasing each other through the woods firing extra loud caps at each other.

    No realistic guns, but my boys have just as much fun with their Nerf guns and duct-taped sticks.

  8. I had a cool battery operated m16, a few cap guns, a small pile of dart guns, and a neat mp5 that made a brraap sound. my dad made my friends and I M16s out of wood that held up much better than the plastic guns. i think my prized possession was a 1911 that shot rubber .45 slugs.

    I upgraded to paint ball and Airsoft when i got my first summer job. now that i live in a friendly state i shoot real guns, but i do miss the fun of “storming Omaha”

  9. Agreed.
    I was a child in the ’70’s.
    my grandmother lived with us.
    Before I started school, she would wake me up. Give me clean clothes, make breakfast then send me outside to play until she called me in for lunch. After lunch she gave me a couple of chores, then said go play until I call you for dinner.
    My friends and I didn’t have to be supervised constantly and none of use were ever killed or seriously injured.
    Now you’re given to think that a child without an adult’s attention laser-focused on them will immediately suffer crippling injury or a horrible death.

  10. We had really realistic toy guns in the 70s. I had cap guns with swing out cylinders that were so real you would swear they were the real deal

    • I recently bought a S&W 36 because it reminded me of my cap guns as a kid. Actually there are several guns I own because I had a toy that looked like them growing up.

    • Do they still make cap guns??
      I had paper-roll cap guns, ring cap guns, and a Daniel Boone musket that fired cork balls with a cap as the propellant. With matching pistol, of course.
      Oh yeah! And an ’03-A3 that didn’t use caps, but made a loud pop when you pulled the trigger. When you worked the bolt, there was a gold-painted wooden bullet in there.

  11. My stepmom recently posted a picture of me on FB pointing one of these at the camera on Christmas morning back when I was seven or eight. I vaguely remember it.

  12. I had one, and a cannon that fired hard plastic balls about the size of billiard balls. The balls had a hole down the center that and you loaded it with a plunger pushing against a stiff spring.

    Up close it could hurt a bit to get hit with it .

  13. I had a cap gun that was full-sized replica of a colt revovler – there was a swing-to-the-side door (fake cylinder side) where you loaded the red paper strip caps. The caps would feed as you pulled the trigger, so you could pop of +/-50 caps before you needed to reload.

  14. I had so many toy guns when I was a kid I acted as the local armorer for our neighborhood wars.

    I think I had an 80’s version of that toy gun. Pull back a side charging handle and then pressing the trigger let out a hellacious “brrraaaaaapppph” sound.

    I now wish I kept all those guns

  15. I had an Uzi CO2 powered BB gun. It looked very real and was a favorite when we played “toy guns”(internals had given out). The funny thing is taking toy guns away from kids doesn’t mean kids won’t find ways to make them. I once made a Lego broom handle mauser with Lego window scope cross hairs.

    • “The funny thing is taking toy guns away from kids doesn’t mean kids won’t find ways to make them.”

      A standard hand with a finger for a barrel and a thumb for the hammer works quite well…

    • That’s for sure… or find/make suitable subs, I would pull the suction cups off the arrows of my “bow and arrows” set and sharpen them on the sidewalk!

  16. BITD (early 80s) I had some motorized squirt guns that were all black; an Uzi, an M16, my buddy had the AK, all sans orange muzzle tip. They were life-sized, heavy, and very realistic looking.
    But we didn’t really play with them; instead, I used a real Arisaka last-ditch rifle that my grandfather gave me (missing the mag follower & firing pin), and my best friend had a demilled SMLE, along with real milsurp WW2 TA-50.

  17. I don’t remember who made it, but I had a Tommy gun that I guess had a spinning weight or something that would click/pop about 4 or 5 times per trigger pull. To a kid it sounded like the real thing, but you had to keep pulling the trigger for full auto instead of burst fire.

  18. In the 1950’s I had a Browning M2 on a tripod that shot plastic pellets. It was advertised as an antiaircraft gun! My parents were aghast that I wanted it for my birthday so I could out gun all the other kids. I wish I had saved it.

    • The first REAL gun I fired was a NC National Guard M2 firing blanks……. in the parking lot of Greensboro Coliseum during opening celebration in 1959. I was 9. I still have the certificate from going off the “jump tower” they erected for kids. I could not count the number of toy six-guns, rifles and BB guns that passed through our house. And yet, I must still be alive!

  19. Child of the sixties, bb / pellet guns slung on our backs in the woods within whistle ~(mom’s air raid siren) distance of our house.
    Acorn firing sling shots, dirt bombs and lots of m 80s for effect.
    My kids don’t know that kind of youthful joy.
    But they do get the stories and range time with much bigger gear than i had.

    • I received a Marauder for Christmas 1966, and I loved the thing… It was very realistic looking. The reason the magazine was so big was that was were the mechanical “speaker” was located. It was some sort of hard membrane with a mechanical slapper that made the sound, which was quite good for a toy gun.

      Unfortunately, mine didn’t last too long. About a month after getting it, we were out playing a game of foreign military intervention(war), and Bill Dalton came up behind me and grabbed the stock and the barrel, and pulled it against me, and broke it right at the delta ring.

      There were lots of things in the mid sixties that hadn’t been invented yet, and one of them was any decent sort of glue that would mend my beloved rifle, though my Dad, who was a mechanical engineer, tried several fixes. I ended up with an NBR (No Barreled Rifle), which was no fun. We bought a new house in November of ’67, and I think my parents took the opportunity to dispose of it during the move.

      I think the Mattel M16 Marauder was one of the reasons that added to the urban legend that Mattel was making stocks and forends for the real deal.

      • Mine also cracked at the delta ring, but did not break all the way through. Dad, who was re-fiberglassing his wooden cabin cruiser at the time, screwed in a metal bracket, and then wrapped the delta ring in fiberglass cloth and resin. With some black paint, it was as good as new.

  20. Yep, had one of these. Remember my dad telling me, on the day President Nixon came to town, “you might want to leave that gun inside, looks pretty real from a distance”.

  21. I had this really cool Daisy lever action rifle that made a pretty convincing pop sound (just made noise, no BB’s) and an AWESOME life size 1911 replica that made a ricochet sound when you pulled the trigger. That ricochet sound lasted almost as long as they last in the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns. Pure grade A fun.

  22. I got a battery powered M14 for Christmas in the early sixties. A piece of spring steel in the magazine beat against a diaphragm to make a deep, loud report. Another neat feature (however unrealistic) was the reciprocating flash suppressor.

    I felt too cool for words among my many friends. And we all had really neat toy weapons. Military brats all.

  23. Johnny Eagle ‘Lieutenant’, M14/M1911 twofer. Shot little plastic bullets from plastic casings that could put yer eye out.

  24. Every 1960s. Eight or more of us would play WAR!. I have a photo my dad took of us with our weapons. The older kids had the fake M1s and Tommy guns, etc. I was the youngest so I had a Luger. We played all day. We had a four block area of Toledo Ohio as our battlefield. Hid in trees, bushes, garage rooftops, front and back porches. We took prisoners, etc. No one got hurt or arrested. Occaisionaly got yelled at. Get off my lawn, etc. I learned a lot about stealth in those days. Wish I could still do that. No way, though. The only kid in the neighborhood that didn’t join in was the son of a post WW2 German immigrant.

    • Sounds like MY neighborhood Coolbreeze! But I guess it was like a lot of places in the 60’s(mine was Kankakee,Illinois). WE had the Mattel Tommy gun/shiny revolver set for Christmas. And I distinctly remember getting army stuff(and a periscope) for my 9th birthday party(the last party with all the local kids). Funny but we also had German immigrants/refugees in the ‘hood. My parents helped sponsor them. I don’t remember anyone not playing war. All this pre-1965. Long ago and far away…

  25. Yeah when I was a kid in the 70’s and early 80s they had a company out that made some excellent hi Firearms They were almost As good as that. They had removable magazines That you loaded the magazine with the special type of little barrel caps I’m sure somebody out there remembers. They also had a 12 gauge or 16 gauge shotgun that was a breakdown that actually took shotgun shells that you loaded caps and 2 Freaking amazing before all the political correctness and left Extremist Took away our right to actually play. Somewhere in the early 90’s I believe I think it was a dream if I remember correctly.

  26. That got garbled The end of that statement was supposed to say It’s almost like we’re in a dream world now Where no Toy guns exist And the ones that do are like fluorescent yellow and pink and all this other stuff They taking America way from the American children and then blamed it on a mallet same time its for your own safety give me a fucking break.

    • They make some realistic toys still, Academy has some nice ones, Sure they come with an orange tip but they are reasonably realistic…
      I was born and raised in the Netherlands and I had a toy M16 similar to the Marauder, Funny enough they are now a felony to possess under the replica firearms laws, Apparently too many criminals were using them to knock over stores but the socialist state of the Netherlands also didn’t like the fact that they could be used to potentially repel bad guys according to the wording of the law…I’m glad I’m in the US where we have relative freedom…Airsoft still is very realistic and after you buy them you can legally remove the orange tip in many parts of the country, They are very popular nowadays with young adults and even some older children.

      • “Airsoft still is very realistic and after you buy them you can legally remove the orange tip in many parts of the country, They are very popular nowadays with young adults and even some older children.”

        There is still hope for Europe. (Northern Europe, anyways…) 🙂

  27. As used in the John Wayne movie Green Berets. It’s what he smashed against the tree late in the movie after a dramatic death of one of the squadmates. The real M16 wouldn’t break.

    They even appeared downunder. Back in the 70s I remember one of my neighbours had one.

  28. Had one of these (well, pretty similar) as well as a forest green Uzi back in the 80s. I think we picked them up when dad was stationed in Korea, probably from the PX.

  29. Lucky kids. When I was 8-9 yo my old man gave me a break action shotgun and shells and pointed to the fields and told me he wanted rabbit or squirrel for supper.

    I guess child labor laws hadn’t been invented yet.

  30. I had the Mattel M16 and before that I had the Johnny 7 One Man Army and the Man from Uncle brief case gun system too. That stuff was cool. I was a wee tyke when I hefted my first AR15. It felt like it weighed a ton compared to the Mattel toy. That was damn near 50 years ago as the Mattel M16 came out in ’67.

    • Oh yeah! The Johnny 7 OMA was very cool. I remember the advertisements for it. They starred Kurt Russell. Man From Uncle guns were cool. Also, anyone remember Johnny Reb and Mighty Mo cannons? We got those for Christmas some time around 1963 or so. They shot some sort of plastic ball that flew a good 20 feet or so. Another good toy was the Sonic Blaster. It was built like a bazooka. You pumped a lever on the top, mounted it on your shoulder and fired. The “projectile” was a ball of air.

      Very cool stuff. Very cool memories.

      • My mistake. Kurt Russell did the Sonic Blaster advertisement. Kid in J7-OMA ad looks like it could be him, but the Sonic Blaster was definitely Russell.

        It is amazing what toy companies could put out there. Guns that actually fired projectiles would be considered death traps today.

        Good times.

  31. I was raised in NJ in the 90’s, an absolute breeding ground of statism. Two sane parents and one awesome grandpa prevented the anti-gun mindset from ever taking hold. Had enough toy firearms to outfit a small country and a large back yard that never got old. My collection largely consisted of Single Action Army clones that took paper roll caps and every last one broke. I knew very few kids who were allowed to have toy guns, especially after Columbine, but the fact that I had them never caused drama with other parents. I realize now that I was blessed to have such a free childhood given the circumstances.

  32. Anyone remember when Revell or one of the big model companies prior to the 80s made model guns you could build and fired plastic bullets? I had a Colt Calvary. It was just as fun to put together as run around playing cops and robbers or cowboys an Indians

  33. I got one of these for Christmas back in like 88. Me and my cousins. Got the full load out with camo and Vietnam helmet. It may very well have been the best Christmas ever. You pull the trigger and it rattles off a ton of popping noises like a thing is spinning. Just great.

  34. Wanted one of those, but we were poor, had to make do with a stick for a rifle and rocks for grenades.

  35. Last year I saw in a Dollar General, toy MP5K for sale, wish I bought one. Growing up in the early 90s I had a toy Tommy gun and toy UZI.

  36. I was born too late to buy anything that cool.

    I’d go on the hunt for guns at the dollar store. You were more likely to find an anatomically correct weapon there, even if it had a silly camo paintjob and was slightly smaller. I had a few MP5A3s I scored from the Dollar Tree. I also found countless handguns from there.

    The best place was the State Fair. For a couple years, they’d sell these smaller, made-in-china CARs for $8. Pull back the charging handle (Generically poking out of the side) and you had a few seconds of automatic fire lol. Only problem with those was they were extremely fragile, and I’d break them quickly.

    What never broke, though, was my Barrett M82. Er… an aluminum crutch the neighbor threw out.

  37. And you thought Mattel only made Hot Wheels and Barbie Dolls and M16’s!

    I remember playing “Tag” while at school. Using those guns that shot the rubber bb’s. I took a pump model and sawed the stock off……..AT SCHOOL……. Where were the “Mom’s” then!!! OMG!!! Also loved the “disc” guns awsome!

  38. Rifles Shmifles.
    As a kid in the 60’s, I remember having a canon. A frigin’ canon. Don’t remember who made it, but it was molded in olive drab. Similar to a howitzer style. You’d load a round ‘shell’ into the muzzle and compress this immense spring with a plunger of some type, seating the shell and locking it into the barrel. Fire this thing and it would travel quite a distance.

    I clearly remember playing with a friend, and, after loading it, I started down range to retrieve the soon-to-be-launched projectile. The friend discharged the ‘weapon’ early. The round caught me in the side of the head and I believe to this day that I saw stars from the impact.

    We both laughed.

    Then I made certain he would have no children.

    • A group of us set up an ambush on the school grounds with this same cannon hidden in some bushes. You are right, it had some range.

  39. looked for years on evilbay for a replacement for my sister’s thunderburp gun. finally got her one in time for xday this past year.
    mine was a multi pistol 09. and some early transformer type things that looked like radios but popped out into pistols or rifles.

  40. I had the M14 rifle and the Colt 1911. Both had moving slide and bolt, detaching magazines and fired the projectile from the case. Rifle is long gone, but the 1911 is still around. It’s amazing that it’s full size and looks real.

  41. God, this brings back memories of the 60’s when Mattel was unabashedly into making realistic and fun toys that kept us outdoors for hours getting exercise and generally staying out of trouble. TV was great as well with Star Trek, Wild Wild West, Lost In Space, The Man From Uncle and Have Gun Will Travel just to name a few. Imaginations naturally ran wild. Our fathers had just won WW2 not too long before and anything was possible. So much has been lost since; a shame.

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