Bazookas and Johnny Reb Cannons — Now THOSE Were Boy Toys


Some kids liked to play cards or board games in the sixties.

The games came with a lot of rules.  And when kids played them, they were quiet. 

Worse, there was never any bloodshed. What a colossal waste of time.  

When I was a kid in the sixties, we only played games that would hurt or maim you. Otherwise, I mean really, what was the point of being a boy?

My best friend Steve Madden and I would stage huge battles in my bedroom and the hallway when our parents were in the kitchen playing Wahoo. 

My personal weapon of choice, when I was 8 or 9, was a Johnny Reb Civil War cannon.  It was awesome.

canon 2

Internet photo canon fodder 

Steve liked my three-and-a-half-foot-long bazooka.


Internet bazooka rocket gun photo

The bazooka was cool. You looked like you were fighting in World War II, and you got to wear my Army helmet with camo netting!

The Johnny Reb Cannon was Civil War-ish, which was somewhat lacking in the cool department.

But the cannon balls were made of really hard plastic.

canon balls

Internet cannon balls

You had to push them down the barrel with a loader thingee about as long as a baseball bat.  This compressed the super strong spring and armed what became Nebraska Street’s earliest weapon of mass destruction.

But, while my cannon was tops in firepower, 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 because he could  reload way faster.

bazooka bombs

Internet bazooka bombs

Technically, he probably made more “kill shots” — when the blue plastic bazooka bombs touched me (rebounds off the wall allowed).

But the bazooka bombs were made of limp plastic. They did not hurt at all.  I mean, you could shoot yourself right in the head at point black range, and it still wouldn’t hurt.  (Not that I ever did that.)

But the Johnny Reb cannon balls were hard as rocks. They wouldn’t make you bleed, but they’d make an excellent bruise if you hit bone. 

When I got the shot exactly right — perfectly figuring windage and elevation as Steve stormed my fort — I could catch him bad.  Sometimes right between the eyes.

That would sound like a cue ball bouncing off a brick wall.  It was beautiful thing, man.

Under the Geneva and Nebraska Street Conventions, Steve was not allowed to cry.  He was, however, allowed to yell out in pain, really loud. 

Loud enough so that his Dad, sitting in our kitchen, would scream:


And my Dad, would yell:


And all warfare had to immediately cease. 

For about a minute.  At which point we would exchange weapons and begin World War III all over again.

Best. Boy. Toys. Ever.


Internet photo.

(Editor’s note:  Yes, you can still watch the amazingly un-PC television commercial for the Johnny Reb Cannon. I highly recommend it.



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

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