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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Focusing Disintegrator Ray

"You do not know of the focusing disintegrator ray?"

Ad art featuring the gun's deadly blast.
Live from the white snowy desert of Boulder, CO, I bring you a word about about one of my favorite movie props: the Focusing Disintegrator Ray.

Referenced in the Mars Attacks! cards, and subsequently in the 1996 film of the same name, the famous ray gun that turns people into skeletons was both influential and memorable.

"It projects an isolated beam which separates the molecules of living
material in chain reaction. all but the solids: the skeletal braces."

The true Focusing Disintegrator Ray, unfortunately, is less than memorable. The gun was, in reality, a Hubley Atomic Disintegrator, a die-cast dime-store toy manufactured in the mid-fifties and purchased for a few cents by Tom Graeff.

A mirror was attached to the front of the gun, and a light was flashed towards the mirror, creating the gun's shining "ray," an ingenious practical effect that worked remarkably well, and far more realistic than many of the hokey effects used at the time.

Bryan Pearson with the Focusing Disintegrator Ray

Unfortunately, other aspects of the gun's design were not so well planned: the Hubley's label is clearly shown in many shots, as is the gun's die-cast seam.

A collector's Atomic Disintegrator.

The Atomic Disintegrator, a now-rare collector's favorite, was first manufactured in 1954 by Hubley Manufacturing Company, and featured iron with a zinc coating, as well as fire-engine red plastic accents and handle. While the company made many toy guns, the Atomic Disintegrator was Hubley's only ray gun.

Hubley, founded in 1894, in Manchester Township, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, by John Hubley, was the creator of many famous cast-iron toys,

"including various horse-drawn vehicles, guns, household appliances and the like.
By the 1920s, cars, trucks and other transportation became their primary focus.
In the 1930s, Hubley switched from cast-iron to zinc die casting. In 1965, the
company was purchased by Gabriel Industries."1

Since 1965 the company and the rights to its products has changed names numerous times, with most of its models being discontinued by the 90's. Currently Atomic Disintegrator reproductions are sold by Herb Deeks, and come with stunning reproduction boxes featuring authentic box art.

  1. http://www.joesherlock.com/Geezer-Stuff.html


  • http://www.manheimtownship.org/edits/h16Hubley.htm
  • http://www.joesherlock.com/Geezer-Stuff.html
  • http://www.swapsale.com/reproductions.htm

3 gargon specimens:

Charles G said...

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KiTT said...
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