Major Mars’ Rocket Ring from the Joe Lowe Corporation (1952)

“Not just a toy, but a scientifically developed secret photo reproducer!”

In the 1950s, the Joe Lowe Corporation — steward of the Popsicle brand of ice pops — offered a premium with a cosmic backstory: the Major Mars’ Rocket Ring.

Mars was a fictional character tasked with protecting the galaxy, a task made that much easier thanks to his trusty Rocket Ring. Children could receive their own Rocket Ring by filling out a mail-in coupon and sending it with $0.25 + a specially marked bag to a designated PO Box in New York City.

Rocket Ring offered its wearers an array of features, including:

  • A shank made of mouldable, soft plastic, allowing it to be sized to various finger sizes.
  • A detachable key chain that converted the ring into a key fob and could be attached to an article of clothing.
  • A hole in the front of the rocket-shaped design that doubled as a “supersonic whistle” capable of signalling other “space scouts”.
  • A “4X Intensifier” that used a convex lens on top of the ring to magnify photos up to four times their original size.
  • A hidden compartment to store pictures and secret messages.
  • A luminous Astro-Navigation map to navigate by stars and planets.
  • A photo printer that used light-sensitive paper to “print” images via exposure to light.

Rocket Ring also came with four negatives of space scenes titled Major Mars, The Venutians, F80 Shooting Star, and Flying Wing that could be viewed using the ring and a strip of light-sensitive paper. Additional space scenes and paper refills were sold separately.

Rocket Ring continues to be a hit with collectors. A complete set, especially one with the 12 perforated pieces of photo paper intact, commands a hefty price on the secondary market.