The History of our Bronco 44 is interesting and incredible. The Bronco 44 started out in about 1950 as a Gene Autry cap pistol manufactured under license by the Leslie Henry toy company of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In the late 1940s and the early 1950s the Leslie-Henry toy company claimed to be the largest manufacturer of western toys. They manufactured many different models of toy cap pistols and rifles.
The competition in the cap gun industry was pretty stiff. The toys had to be great quality because the cap pistol became the king of toys through the 50s and 60s because of all the westerns on TV. The 44 model pistol was Leslie Henry’s top of the line pistol. Leslie Henry sold to large stores like Sears, Roebuck and Company. In the early 1950s the Leslie Henry 44 holster sets were Sears top of the line western toy guns and holsters. This was quite the accomplishment with all the other toy cap gun manufactures out there at the time. The mold that casts the 44 cap pistol is made of steel and weighs around 1000 pounds.
The name plates that are in the mold can be changed out so after the Gene Autry endorsement was finished the names were changed for other endorsements. The 44 has been a toy endorsement for several TV westerns. Wild Bill Hickok, U.S. Marshal, Wagon Train, Texas Ranger and Bonanza. When the westerns started fading away from the television, the western toy industry began declining as well.
In the mid 1960s several toy cap gun companies sold out to other companies. For example Nichols cap guns of Texas sold out to Kusan and Leslie Henry sold to Roth American. Roth American ran the 44 with just a blank space where the names had been. Then about 20 Years later many of those companies sold out to other companies as well. Roth American it seems went out of business in the mid to late 1980s. Parris Manufacturing bought many of the toy molds and then in the year 2000 sold the 44 mold to Wild West Toys.
This toy mold has likely made millions of 44s. Here at Wild West Toys we decided since the 44 had never said Bronco before that would be a good name. We have also manufactured a limited amount under license that say Hopalong Cassidy. So children born in the late 1930s all the way to now have been enjoying this magnificent toy cap gun pistol which is a mechanical work of art. When the trigger is squeezed the cap pusher is activated to move the caps in position. Also the hammer cocks and the cylinder rotating arm is activated to spin the cylinder. Designed to use paper roll caps the toy bullets just load in and out of the toy just for fun.
Many of the toy molds that manufactured toy cap guns were scrapped so the toys they had the ability to produce is lost forever. It takes a lot of people to make a Bronco 44. The diecasting is done in Jacksonville Texas, The plastic grip mold is ran in Durant Oklahoma, The springs are made in Selmer Tennessee, The metal stamp pieces are done in Barron New York and the screws come from all over the world. It is incredible that the 44 mold still exists and we at Wild West Toys are very blessed to own it. There are photos below of some more vintage 44 cap gun pistol toys that were manufactured in the 1950s and 1960s by the Leslie Henry toy company.