All Original Toy Concepts, Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
I spent a good part of my 1940s childhood, waiting for the mailman to arrive. Sooner or later, usually a lot later than expected, he would bring me a precious radio premium. Many of these were tied to the Lone Ranger Radio Show. I spent many an anxiety filled afternoon, in front of the radio, clutching a pencil in my hand, ready to write down every minute detail of the address and particulars of the latest premium offering, while the William Tell Overture imprinted itself indelibly on my brain.
This was the Golden age of Radio Premiums, and I was exactly the right age to eagerly send away for all of them. The usual waiting time was an incredible six weeks, which seemed like an eternity to a ten year old kid. Six weeks from the time I taped a dime to a box top from some cereal I then felt obliged to eat, and sent it in, a plain brown box would finally arrive. The contents were usually a disappointment. Nonetheless, hope burned eternal, and there was always another trinket on its way to my mailbox, at all times. Among the best of these, were the Lone Ranger rings.
The classic premium of all time was the Lone Ranger Atomic Bomb Ring. An authentic artifact from the days of the Old West. Absurd as it may seem, this modern weapon of the Second World War was associated with the Lone Ranger, advertised on the show, and according to an entry on the internet, even worked into the plot of one of the episodes.
When one removed the red plastic tailpiece of this atomic silver bullet, mounted on a golden ring, they could put the bomb part up to their eye and see atomic fusion taking place inside. I sat in the hall closet for hours staring into mine, and never saw a thing. Even today, whenever I meet someone who tells me that theirs worked fantastically, I feel a poignant twinge of loss and jealousy.
Here is the newspaper ad, that captured the imagination of the Nation, circa 1947, two years after a full sized version had wreaked havoc on Japan, and saved the USA. I longed to "See Genuine Atoms Split to Smithereens!"
This painting by my friend John Fawcett pays homage to this icon of American ingenuity in defense of liberty.
Two other Lone Ranger rings that I remember were, in my opinion, even better. One being The Lone Ranger Gun Ring. This thing had a flint inside and actually shot sparks! The six shooter itself stuck up, at least an inch above the wearer’s hand, and required constant vigilance, to prevent it from catching on everything. Even putting your hand in your pocket was a challenge.
The third Lone Ranger ring that influenced me in conceiving the product you’re about to see, was the Signal Light Ring. Who knew that there was, not only atom bombs, but also electricity in the Old West? This ring sported a sizeable flashlight bulb that actually lit up, thanks to an electric battery, hidden from view, in the wearers hand.
This leads us to the logic and practicality of “Ring Blasters.” They were inspired by all of the above, brought up to date. Rising majestically above the wearer’s hand could be any number of oversized objects, all of which did something amazing, usually sonic, thanks to what was hidden up the wearer's sleeve, and attached to the ring by a secret wire underneath.
The basic unit is a miniature megaphone in the form of a ring. It delivers a powerful sonic punch. The battery powered amplifier and speaker are worn on the user’s wrist. The microphone is in the ring. These diagrams seem quite complex, but, upon study, they explain everything. There are also variations, in which no mike is necessary. These just make startling sounds, or play music. The electronics for everything are all in the wrist unit. In another variation, a tiny speaker can be housed in the ring itself. This concept is not that different from the Lone Ranger Signal Light ring, in which the battery is a separate hidden unit.
This is an electronic version of the Lone Ranger Gun Ring, an idea which would be forbidden in this day and age. Things have changed, since I drew this.
Somehow, I don’t think there’s much chance of doing a hand grenade ring. One would be taking their life in their hands wearing one of these.
This series has an automotive theme. Lots of cool sounds are possible, from revving motors to police sirens.
A keyboard, a boom box, and a microphone, this was music in ye olden days!
Looking at this concept now, it seem, ridiculously complex, awkward, and unwieldy. But back in the days when KISCOM and I began, this didn’t seem that out of it. It was just a variation on a product line that proved to be an early success for us, called “Sound Wear.” I found some of the finished products. I suppose, as they have not been seen for years, that's another item I should add here.
This final drawing represents a group of Monster Blasters, all the old favorite characters are here, ready to grunt, bellow, scream, and growl, this time, really loud! Opening their mouths, by pressing the lever on their necks, triggers the sound .