In 1915, amidst the backdrop of World War I, the “Big Dick” Machine Gun made its debut. This toy was a fascinating blend of playful imagination and the stark realities of its time. While it might seem strange today to have a machine gun as a toy, back then, it was simply reflecting the world the children saw around them.
The “Big Dick” wasn’t just any toy gun, it was designed to impress. It sported a smooth-bore barrel made of wood, a sturdy iron tripod, and even a canvas ammo belt. The toy came equipped with 36 wooden bullets. Lost some in the heat of indoor battle? No problem! For just 25 cents, you could replenish your arsenal with 25 fresh rounds.
Despite its intimidating appearance, the “Big Dick” was a far cry from a real machine gun. It didn’t use gunpowder or metal cartridges. Instead, it was a spring-action toy that fired wooden bullet-shaped slugs. So while it might have looked like the real deal, it was all in good, safe fun.
The toy’s inspiration came from a serious place. In 1914, machine guns were dramatically reshaping warfare. German forces had 12,000 machine guns that caused immense damage, notably during the Somme offensive in 1916. It’s chilling to think that the efficiency of these real-life weapons was reflected in a child’s toy, but such was the world of the 1910s.
It would be a year before the U.S. entered the war, but Milton Bradley was ahead of the curve. The “Big Dick” Machine Gun toy was a testament to the company’s ability to tap into contemporary culture. While it might seem like a peculiar toy to us now, back then, it was a hit among the boys who got a thrill from mimicking the heroes they heard about in the news.