In an era where the public was fascinated by science fiction and futurism, Buck Rogers managed to capture the imagination of everyone. The Buck Rogers franchise started from very humble beginnings as a newspaper comic strip and from there launched into radio, comics, films and TV shows, making it one of the most recognizable characters in pop culture. Then of course, came the toys.
The popularity of Buck Rogers saw no bounds, with everything from watches to pencils to roller skates bearing the image and name of the first space hero. Kids were so in love with the name that every astute toy manufacturer was rolling out products, and doing so with incredible success.
One of the unique things about Buck Rogers was that it was a very thoughtful comic. Some stories predicted machines that hadn’t been invented yet, like jet planes, walkie talkies and even satellites. It was also very imaginative with utopian visions, new species and dreamscapes of other planets and existences.
The artwork was also forward thinking, using designs that were incredibly contemporary with a modernist, psychedelic edge. Although the brand was a precursor to the space craze that brought Star Wars and other space-age creations, it was more meaningful than just another silly comic strip, and its collectors are of a different kind.
When Buck Rogers was at its height of popularity, you could find just about anything with the name and image on it. Of all the merchandise, probably the most popular were the Buck Rogers ray guns. The very first space gun, called the XZ-31 Rocket Pistol, made its debut in 1934 at the American Toy Fair. This early 9.5” gun made a distinctive “zap” sound and retailed for around $.50. As this was during the Great Depression, $.50 would have been a lot of money for a toy gun, so the success of this toy is a testament to the extreme popularity of Buck Rogers.
People who are interested in Buck Rogers’ collectibles will find a vast array of products with Buck’s name or logo. When the toys were rolling off the production line, one of the most popular items to have was the Daisy Ray Gun and remains a classic today. Other classic items to have are the early Marx rocket ships, Solar Maps, rings and buttons. The earliest and most unusual products are generally the most coveted items, but any Buck Rogers fan will find pleasure collecting all toys from that exciting time.