Bazookas and Johnny Reb Cannons — Now THOSE Were Boy Toys

I do not “get” children of today.

And by “children of today”, I mean Junior and his Chinese cousins.

And by “today”, I mean 15 years ago. Because that’s how my mind works.

When Junior and his cousins got together, they invariably started playing with Pokemons or some stupid board game involving 10 billion little figurines, that had to be painted, and came with lots of rules and cards.

And when they played, they were usually quiet. QUIET!

And there was never bloodshed. NEVER!

When I was that age, play time involved things that would hurt you. Otherwise, I mean really, what was the point of being a boy?

My personal weapon of choice, when I was maybe 8, was a Johnny Reb Civil War cannon. It was awesome.

canon 2

Internet photo


I would use it when Steve Madden and I battled in my hallway. About 10,000 times every day.

Steve was armed with my three-and-a-half-foot-long bazooka.



Internet photo


The bazooka was cooler. I mean, it looked totally like you were fighting in World War II. Whereas my cannon was Civil War-ish, which was sadly lacking in the cool department.

The cannon was my weapon of choice because of the serious munitions.


canon balls

Internet canon balls

The cannon balls were made of really hard plastic.

You had to load them one at a time, and push them down the barrel with a loader thing that was about as long as a baseball bat.

This awesome design, and the fact that the cannon had a more powerful spring, meant the Johnny Reb made up in raw firepower what it lacked in mobility.

But Steve and the bazooka were the essence of a mobile army.

He could crouch on his belly and slide down my hallway, ducking in and out of bedroom doorways, ripping off bazooka shots at will. It was way easier to reload the bazooka.

bazooka bombs

Internet bazooka bombs

Technically, he got in a lot more “kill shots”, e.g. when the blue plastic bazooka bombs touched me (rebounds off the wall allowed).

But, and here’s the thing, the bazooka bombs were made of limp plastic. They did not hurt. You could shoot yourself right in the head at point black range, and it still did not hurt. (Not that I ever did that.)

In short, the bazooka bombs were lame-o.

But the cannon balls were little mothers.

So when I got it exactly right — I perfectly figured the windage, elevation, Steve’s zigging and zagging, and exactly when he was “storming my fort” — I could catch him right between the eyes.

It sounded like bouncing a cue ball right off a brick wall. It was beautiful, man.

Steve would never cry. But if I got him really good, he would yell out loud enough so that his Dad, sitting in our kitchen, would scream:


And my Dad, would immediately yell:


And we would have to go to ground. Dead silent. For about a minute.

At which point we would exchange weapons and begin World War III again.

I seem to recall that a cannon ball did actually draw blood once when Steve — how I hated that guy — shot me right in my big, fat forehead as I was charging his fort.

I think he got me with the perfect ricochet-off-the-bunk-bed shot that he had perfected over many battles.

Which was my point at the top of this blog post.

If there is no risk of loss of life, or at least bloodshed, what is the point of boys playing?

How could any boy prefer painting little, tiny figures to killing your best friend with a Johnny Reb cannon?


Internet photo.

Which was actually on television with this awesome ad!!!

I highly recommend that you watch it.

And after you watch it, you should join me in not understanding today’s kids.


Note: It’s probably a good thing the cannon got lost. If I had it when Junior was little, and managed to peg him right between the eyes, I would be dead.



4 Responses to “Bazookas and Johnny Reb Cannons — Now THOSE Were Boy Toys”

  1. Bernadette says:

    Do you still have the cannon or know where I can get one?

    • hams says:

      Hah, sorry, no to both questions. If I still had my Johnny Reb cannon, I’d probably be in the paddock shooting at cows, since boys never grow up. No idea whether they are still made. Maybe you could source a used one on Ebay? Good luck!

  2. Andrew Honey says:

    Really enjoyed this write up! I have the bazooka but havent got my hands on a johnny reb yet…very cool toys.

    • Mike Dreisbach says:

      I can hook you up complete with the Box let me know I’d like to get rid of it before I break it it was mine when I was a kid too if interested I’ll send you pictures

Leave a Reply