Zero M Sonic Blaster - Perforating Eardrums The Fun Way For Over 40 Years
Blame it on the cold war, blame it on James Bond, blame it on the Bossa Nova... say what you will, but the 60's were the birthplace of some of the coolest secret agent toys. Hideously dangerous, life-threatening toys. One of the secret agent toys that put the "boom" in "baby boomer" is the Agent Zero M Sonic Blaster. When looking back on their violent boyhood years, a majority of my boomer-aged friends have vivid memories of the Sonic Blaster. Nearly each one raised their voices to say something like, "FOOOOM!
Who can blame them? The pump-action gun fires a powerful column of air toward distant targets. With the Sonic Blaster, we can set our sights on cardboard target buildings that hate America, and a pile of leaves that undoubtedly hides a dirty communist. Ideally, these foes are dispatched with little actual damage. Yet each of my friends remembers harnessing the powerful poof of air to propel dirt, rocks, and in one case ladies' cocktail skirts at one of his parent's parties (at a distance of over 30 feet). Check out the unrelentingly bleak commercial voiced by William Conrad (also narrator of "Bullwinkle" around the same time).I'm fascinated by the somber closing image of the lone 10 year old agent standing vigil over the quiet valley; with only his wits and giant toy bazooka to make his way in this crazy world.
The Sonic Blaster survived war-torn toy store shelves for years despite the danger posed by such a powerful air cannon, but it was also really loud. Poking around for info online I found several boomers claiming to still suffer hearing loss because of their favorite toy, but the most damning words were from Consumer Reports magazine:
"The Mattel Agent Zero M Sonic Blaster 5530 fires compressed air with a deafening blast. Our measurements top out at 157 dB–above a level that can do permanent damage to the hearing of an adult. We rate the toy Not Acceptable."
It goes without saying that this kind of toy would have a hard time making it to market today. As cool as it is (and I'm sure that the guys from Mythbusters will build a butane powered one out of PVC within minutes of reading this), it poses way too many hazards to be in the hands of children - or most adults. Besides, why in the heck is it a "Sonic" Blaster? Does "Pneumatic" Blaster simply not pack enough propagandist punch?
Deep pocketed Retro Thing readers have a chance to pick up an incredibly rare unused Sonic Blaster on. This was the kind of toy that boys beat up, and many Blasters simply broke apart with play. Here's an Ebay Buy It Now sale on the Sonic Blaster still in its original packaging. This particular gun changed hands at one of the famous Hake's toy auctions in the early 90's for over $3000, which is what the current owner is looking for today. Good luck, agents, and please plug your ears when blowing over the terrorist headquarters disguised as backyard wind chimes.