Here a while back, I was invited to do a concert at the Parker County Cowboy Church, out west of ‘ol Ft. Worth. Real nice folks, and afterwards I got to talking with a super family, Bob & Johnie and their three grown kids. I kinda got the feeling that we’d met before.
Well, turns out that they occasionally have a vendor booth at various events and set up their Western toy store , and I’d met them in Abilene, TX at the Western Heritage Classic a few years back. I had even bought a cap pistol from them.
“Oh yeah,” I replied, “I remember now!” I went on to exclaim how much I enjoyed cap guns, and that they are a kid’s icon that seemed to be “going the way of the buffalo” and getting harder to find; the good quality diecast metal one’s anyway.
Well, that’s when they told me that they were the last, and one and only maker of “Made in the U.S.A.” American toy cap pistols left, and would we like to come out for a tour?
Like a chorus, the Hampton’s replied, “You bet!” in unison.
The Wild West Toys folks went on to tell us that the family makes all the guns themselves and that the molds they were using had been rescued from the scrap heap and had once belonged to the vast Gene Autry empire! Needless to say, this got my attention and was topped only by their invitation to let the two boys build their own cap pistols.
That’s when I informed them to count heads again, that there were three boys — not just two!
Next afternoon found the four of us at their self-built 1860’s style, Texas log home. We visited and drank coffee while I threw my neck out of joint looking at what amounted to a wall to wall, floor to ceiling, western museum. There were toy guns, a wonderland of Western toys, saddles, movie posters, vintage hats and boots. I could have looked forever except for the fact that my sons were chomping at the bits to get out to the shop and see where the real magic happens.
We soon found ourselves in the heart of Wild West Toys, picking out the model cap pistols we were going to build. We guys selected the Bronco 44, while Lisa chose the Maverick. Both designs are made of heavy Zinc and are finely engraved and etched.
These toy pistols have the heft, feel, and workmanship of that by-gone age when toys were made to last, and there was pride felt by both maker and owner.
We watched and (of course) helped out with the assemblage of precision pieces,
the finish work, then mounting of cylinder,
hammer, and trigger assemblies, followed by the heavy springs, arms, and levers.
For the final touch, all four of us kids individualized our weapons in the hand grip department.
Out of a huge selection of different styles and colors, I chose a classic Ivory set with raised Longhorn steer heads.
The wow factor was about as high as it gets, but went even higher when Bob handed us each our own supply of caps then said, “It’s time to load em up, make some smoke and noise!”
And so we did.
Call it magic if you will, but in that short time I had gone from a responsible, middle-aged man, who had carved out a respectable place in the Western entertainment world, to a gun-toting ten-year-old, just waiting for anyone to draw down on me.
As we stood quiet for a moment, letting our barrels cool and the smoke clear, Johnie looked up at the low, dark clouds saying she thought they could use another rain, but that it didn’t seem like it was gonna turn loose anytime soon.
At that I swaggered out into the open, pulled my brand spankin’ new Bronco 44 pistola out and emptied it into the Texas sky proclaiming that “Some well-placed holes in the clouds would do just the trick!”
I was ten-feet-tall as we walked back to the house, my shirt soaked from the rain, my powder smoke drifting away in the breeze.
This is by no means an endorsement and I’m not getting paid, but if you want more information on Wild West Toys American Made toy cap guns or their store please visit their website at www.wildwesttoys.com and tell them “Sherriff Dubbya and his posse” said “Howdy!”