In 1946 Talley Nichols and Lewis W. Nichols started a cap gun company called Nichols Industries, inc. in Pasadena, Texas, which eventually became one of the world's largest cap gun manufacturing companies. World War II had just ended, and they wanted to manufacture something. After several ideas they decided to make toys, specifically toy cap guns. The primary choice was a cap pistol that resembled a 19th century version of the famous Colt Peacemaker in some way, as that was an extremely popular revolver.
Their first gun, the Silver Pony, was made and orders were brisk. The success of this initial offering led to the Mustang (later called the Silver Mustang) and the Silver Colt. But these were somewhat ordinary cap guns and being small they ventured out and created a large cap gun called the Stallion 45. In 1950 the Stallion 45 was introduced at the New York Toy Fair and became a sensation. It was declared the 'Toy of the Year.' Besides its large size, which was essentially the same size as its namesake, it featured individual 2-piece bullets, which would hold a single cap and when the gun was fired, the cylinder revolved, the bullet fired, and smoke came out of the end of the barrel.
The success of this gun was overwhelming and thus a dynasty of smaller and different versions of Stallions were also created: the Stallion 38, Stallion 32, Stallion 22, Stallion .41-40 and Stallion Model 61. Though the Stallion 300 Saddle Gun also had the name Stallion, it was a rifle that looked like a .30-30 Winchester.
In 1954 the company moved to Jacksonville, Texas and officially opened in 1955. The entire county basically turned out for the gala event and their manufacturing capabilities were greatly expanded. Many new models were created with several variations of each. In 1957 the Stallion 45 MK-II was created, which many cap gun collectors have declared to be the 'King of the Die-Cast Cap Guns.' The magazine, American Rifleman even ran a featured article on cap guns and featured this gun.
By 1962 the matinee idols like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, The Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy and many others were gradually making fewer movies and television shows, and children's interest in cap guns began waning. Nichols Industries sold out to Kusan in 1965 which continued many of the cap gun models. Eventually cap guns began to fade from the scene and even Kusan and many other famous companies like George Schmidt, Kilgore, Hubley, Mattel, Esquire, Wyandotte, Stevens, etc., were forced to cut back or sell out completely. Thus ended the 'Glory Days' of the cap guns.
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What's your Nichols worth? Take a look at this list of Nichols price guide: sold listings for a value indication.