Post-WW2 was the ‘atomic age’ for children’s toys in America. Shockingly, the ‘Atomic Energy Kit’ came with tiny amounts of uranium and ‘uranium chemical’ as well as a piece of paper imbued with a low concentration of radium. Along with the kit was an instruction manual that taught kids all about the fascinating subject of radioactivity. The short-lived Atomic Energy Lab from Gilbert Toys allowed kids to carry out simple experiments with a handful of materials like uranium ore, a cloud chamber and a Geiger counter. This against a background of ‘Duck and Cover’ – the well-known film distributed throughout schools in America to warn children to do just that in the event of a nuclear attack.
Of course, American children (whose parents were rich enough) were able to respond to the threat of nuclear attack personally. One of the largest ‘atomic’ toys was the iconic Murray ‘Atomic Missile’ pedal car, a chain-drive tricycle with a fibreglass and metal body. You can certainly imagine 1950s kids who were lucky enough to find one under the christmas tree heading off outside to show those Russkies a thing or too…
1950s Murray Chain-Drive Atomic Missile
Murray’s Atomic Missile was built between 1955 and 1963. This example is an older restoration, whose paint is now somewhat faded. It’s missing its chainguard, the top of one of its gearsticks, and its pedals and rear wheels are replacements.
At nearly 4ft long, any Murray Atomic Missile is a very impressive toy. In fact it was such an icon of its era that Hallmark recently brought out a small model of the Murray Atomic Missile. With the price of a good full-size original unrestored 1950s Murray Atomic Missile now over US $4000 you can understand why.
MURRAY ATOMIC MISSILE AFTERMARKET DECALS
HALLMARK ‘KIDDIE CAR’ CLASSICS