Friday, March 10, 2006

Red Ryder

It didn’t take a village to remind me that another, classic American “weapon system” is still going – but it did take a cousin, Joel Sabel. He sent the above photo and swears it’s real. (Thanks and a tip of the Hatlo hat but see PS below.)

The Daisy story's got everything: advertising, licensing, adventure and real shooty things. The memories are rosy. My Daisy BB guns were among my most treasured possessions back when.

Maybe yours, too. It was definitely a boy thing in those days. Girls had cooties. You had your Schwinn, you had your Red Ryder and you were set to go. And we did go…all over Atlanta it seemed like, up and down Peachtree Creek, over to Piedmont Park, out to Chastain. There were never enough Yankees, never enough Indians.

Those really were the thrilling days of yesteryear. You could feel it in the ads. Daisy co-opted the Red Ryder cartoon character, a match made in heaven for kids growing up with Johnny Mack Brown, Bob Steele and Lash LaRue. (Can hardly believe I thought the The King of the Bullwhip was so cool.)

I still recall Daisy’s ads: you can see them here. I had that very one, the famous Red Ryder 1000-shot Western-style carbine. I also had the pump-action model that looked about as close to a Model 1897 Winchester shotgun as a BB gun could get – and about as much imagination material as a kid could handle.

The Red Ryder was one of the most successful licensing arrangements ever. According to Daisy, “By 1949 it had become so popular that more than one million units were sold in a single year.”

Daisy Outdoor Products is alive and well and living in Rogers, Arkansas. The company turned 120 this year. Today it’s the world’s oldest and largest manufacturer of airguns, ammo, and accessories. Every year, the company manufactures more than 5 million items. Most of those are airguns, the firm’s specialty.

But don’t read Signalwriter about BB guns. Click right here. Spend a little time with a few old friends…and with some of the advertising that made you absolutely have to have a Daisy BB gun.

If only to hear the words from your own Momma that were on every American mother’s lips: “You watch – he’ll put somebody’s eye out with that thing!”

PS: The billboard is a fake. The photo is from Its search engine is disabled and I can’t source the board. Please help identify the computer artist.


Anonymous said...

Hi Richard. This is terrific. Thanks for sharing this wonderful memory of the well I remember and loved my "Red Ryder"!!! Sandy

Anonymous said...

A Daisy bb gun was definitely a coming of age milestone for me. Chuck