In memory of the recent passing of Leonard Nimoy I present my favourite Star Trek memory. Actually it isn’t about the show at all. When we were kids (probably Grades 5 or 6) we got these Star Trek guns that shot tiny disks and we spent hour upon hour pelting each other and ourselves with them. One of the good things about 3 boys all within a year or two of each other. It was war and there were no unfair advantages, there was only cunning and the killer instinct.
I had started this post almost two years ago when something reminded me of those guns but I didn’t look too hard and just saved it as a draft for later. The final death of Spock reminded me I had it in the to-do pile so I dug it up and started anew. Googling didn’t bring up much (even in Wikipedia there was hardly anything), but I did come across this blog post that sums up a lot of my feelings:
One of the best memories of my young childhood was playing a game that we simply called “guns.” The battlefield was the whole suburban neighborhood … every yard, half-built new house, vacant lot and wooded lot … and we’d play for hours at a time. Liberals and other peace nits are going to send me hate mail now. Yes, I grew up playing with toy guns, pretending to “kill” my friends and … surprise! I’ve never shot or killed anyone in real life, I’ve never robbed a liquor store with a toy gun and I don’t have the urge to wail and cry my heart out over a tree that’s just been cut down so I believe that I grew up (reasonably) normal.
The Tracer Gun was a simple though novel idea, load a toy gun with twenty flat aerodynamic plastic discs, squeeze the trigger and a spring loaded flicker arm (kind of like a clay pigeon thrower) would be pulled back to a certain point and then released with a violence all of its own. This flicker arm would be flung forward striking the first plastic aerodynamic disc off the top of the spring loaded 20 disc magazine. When the spring arm made contact with the aerodynamic disc, it would send it spinning down the flat tracks inside the round barrel. The aerodynamic disc was basically an air foil and would leave the barrel like a Frisbee, buzzing towards your intended target and floating through the air at a speed that was, generally, a little faster than any but the fastest kids could outrun or dodge. Fat kids went down without a hitch and you didn’t have to lead them as much as you did the quicker, more agile skinny kids.
Man, we must of killed each other a bajillion times with those things. Until I did some research for this post I hadn’t ever realized there were non-Star Trek versions, so to me, the basement slaughters have always been associated with the TV show. There was even a rifle version. And (as I recall) it was a self-cleaning toy, as you needed to collect all the disks so you had more ammo for more mayhem. No mess for Mom.
I guess a lot of the Star Trek purists might be mildly appalled that Star Trek to me is about guns and slaughter, but then I was always a Kirk boy; I never could understand why they gave Picard a ship. 🙂
There are still some of these guns around — toy collectors and such — many, as you can see from the pictures, still in their original packaging. Not ours. Ours were well loved and well-abused. And we never did put anyone’s eye out.