Collectible of the Week: Agent Zero M Radio Rifle (Mattel; 1964)
Back at the height of the James Bond/spy craze of the mid-sixties — the same era that brought the world The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Get Smart
and Mission: Impossible —
intrepid toymaker Mattel introduced a great and now-legendary line of espionage-centered toys: the Agent Zero M line.
Several incredibly neat toys were marketing for Zero M, including the item headlining this post, the portable “radio rifle.”
It’s a (non-working) transistor radio that you can unfold and transform into a cap-firing rifle. What’s still so cool about this old toy is that the radio actually looks very real, so it’s a surprise (especially to your enemies in SPECTRE, THRUSH or KAOS…) when you unfold the radio and the muzzle pops out with significant force to form a deadly weapon.
Along with the radio rifle, kids of the 1960s could also buy a “jet coder” device: a pen that shoots water and writes in code only visible with a special set of spy glasses.
Fans of the Zero M line may also remember the notorious (and ultra-cool) bazooka-like toy called the “sonic blaster.” It was a “most unusual weapon” designed for “counter-espionage” and which would shoot a “massive blast of compressed air.” Great for knocking your annoying sister off her feet, or some such thing, I guess.
Also sold by Mattel for Agent Zero M was a movie camera and camera case “undercover set.” The movie camera turns into a sub-machine gun with, once more, a dramatic pop-out muzzle.
The Zero-M toys were advertised with the ad line “for spies only
” and with admonishments to “remember the password…Zero M.
And the young star of the Zero M commercials (for the sonic blast and radio rifle, anyway) was none other than Snake Plissken himself, Kurt Russell, which adds an extra element of nostalgia to this collectible. I wasn’t even born yet when these toys were first sold, but I’m still thrilled to have a Zero M radio rifle in my collection.
Check out the Mattel Zero M commercials (some starring Mr. Russell) embedded below: