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Johnny Seven OMA

Johnny Seven The best selling boys' toy of 1964 was one that probably wouldn't go over so well with parents these days; but then, 1964 was shortly before the war in Vietnam started being recognized as a fiasco and public opinion started turning against such wide-scale violence.

The Johnny Seven O.M.A. (One Man Army) gun was produced by Topper Toys, and in 1964 over 1.6 million units were sold. The toy's great sales gimmick - as well as its One Man Army designation - came from the fact that it was several guns in one: machine gun, grenade launcher, rocket launcher, tripod-mounted rifle, and even a detachable pistol. Kids could assemble and disassemble the thing for whatever role their mission called for.

It was also impressive-looking - not only because of its size, which had to be above-average in order to accommodate all that functionality. With its sites, tripod legs, detachable stock, and several other doohickeys hanging off of it, it was just the sort of weapon that gadget-crazed boys wanted; this was especially true at that time, as the James Bond craze was cranking into gear and every kid wanted even more hi-tech lethal weaponry than had his predecessors. The thing was over three feet long; its main stock was green molded plastic, with some of the smaller parts being brown or black. (It also made toy machine-gun noises when used in that mode.)

The next year Topper introduced the Johnny Seven Mircohelmet Phone Set, which was a plastic helmet with a tinted visor, and headphones built inside, with a walkie-talkie attachment. Topper was a subsidiary of Deluxe Reading, which tended to market to grocery store chains and other 'alternative' toy outlets. Boys forced to go shopping with their mothers could hardly resist the large, colorful packages with exciting graphics staring down at them; in addition, advertisements were constantly in rotation on TV to push the various product lines.

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