Back in the mid-eighties, my home town only had one, short-lived toy store. It was a typical store for the time with a moderate selection of RPGs, overpriced action figures, cool Go Bots models (recasts of Mospeda kits), and super-balls. Like so many other small toy stores at the time it would be run out of business by Toys ’R’ Us and Kay Bee in just a few years. I would stop by the place a few times a week while my mother and I ran grocery errands (this trip would also include the local drug store where I could stock up on all my favorite Marvel comics) and check if they had any new Car Wars accessories or GIJoes. These items were really of secondary interest to me, though. My primary concern was behind the counter.
It was easy to have a crush on the register girl at the toy store because she provided the ammo. Oversized, yellow plastic pellets sold in $5 baggies of 100. I remember them being more expensive than that but $5 seems right. After begging the beauty behind the counter for a break, I would pay the full price plus tax and hurry home to load the pellets into my prized Colt .45. This was the only store in my area that sold the amazing, Japanese import soft-air guns and ammo. My platoon of war pig friends and I mowed a few more lawns and constructed people’s decks just to make enough money to replenish our always low supply of pellets and maybe upgrade our sidearm.
I’m scared to death of real guns but I loved my .45. It cost under $20 which left it on the low end of the soft-air market. It was constructed all out of plastic (except for the springs) with a removable clip and a manual reloading sliding action on the barrel. The toy was a replica so it didn’t have any bright orange safety markings on the tip of the barrel that ruined so many fantasy battles but saved you from getting your head blown off by a trigger happy cop. Because of its full on plastic body and too much dry firing some hook broke and and the barrel had nothing to hold it in place anymore. I probably tried to take it apart at that point and its still disassembled in a shoebox in my parents’ basement.
Even before I broke the .45 I acquired the ultimate soft-air weapon (except for the fully automatic, air compressor powered Mac 10 that would shower your adversaries in pellets) through the trade of my life. For the cruddy (then valuable) Punisher limited series (mostly pencilled by Mike Zeck), 5 comics, I got the envy of all my war otaku friends the HK MP5 sub-machine gun. Yeah, that’s right, the same SMG that Bruce Willis wooped ass with in Die Hard. This rifle was comprised of mostly metal parts including a collapsable stock and easy action reload handle that would fire the bullets one a second (super fast by soft-air standards). The SMG’s neatest feature was its double sided easy loading banana clip, I think each side could hold around fifty shots. The kid I traded with had also took it upon himself to attach a scope to the gun for sniping fun.
This may all sound like fun and games but these little pellets stung like hell if you got hit on your bare skin or tight clothing. Once, while engaged in a firefight with my best friend at the time in my parents’ driveway, I took a wild shot over the roof of my mom’s ’72 Volvo and hit my friend in the temple. This was clearly in violation of the no head shots rule, so he got to shoot me at point blank range, though I think I cried my way out of it (I was 14). After high school I gave the MP5 to friends as a housewarming present, and it got confiscated by the police after a party got out of hand. It was my best toy gun ever and I’m sad I lost it.