Hit Me with Your Stretch Shot
“DANGER! This rubber band gun … is capable of
inflicting 1st and 2nd degree welts, contusions, and
bruises on the supple flesh of its targets,” reads the
packaging on the Rubber Bandit. “For the lady or
gentleman that knows better than to grow up.”
Its creator, 21-year-old Andy Mangold, never did
learn. He built his first rubber band gun in middle
school out in the garage of his Pennsylvania home.
“I made an arsenal of them that included a Gatling
that could fire 40 rubber bands as fast as you
could turn the crank. You had to reload for like
20 minutes, but it was worth it for that moment
Photograph by Andy Mangold
“When he shot the Gatling, everyone took cover,”
says Andy’s mom, Linda. Opposed to buying toy
guns, she couldn’t really complain once he started
making his own. “The way I looked at it was at least
he had to use creativity.”
Mangold shot one too many bands at his sister,
though, and was forced into early retirement.
But Mangold’s boyhood playtime would later
become his silver bullet. Now a respectable intern
at Shaw Jelveh Design in Baltimore and a junior at
the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) majoring in graphic design with a concentration in book
arts, Mangold knew just what to do when a class
assignment called on students to design, manufacture, and package a toy from scratch. His sure-fire
secret weapon: the good ol’ rubber band gun.
After building a plywood dummy, he cut and
carved the final product from exotic curly maple
and bloodwood. Without using springs, instead just
the forces of the rubber bands and wooden gears,
his latest gun holds five bands and fires one at a
time without having to reload, and it comes with
interchangeable barrels (longer ones shoot harder).
The packaging incorporates bookboard and newsprint for a vintage, faded look.
His sister knows he’s back at it. “She saw it,”
Mangold says. “It brought back some nightmares.
She has a little post-traumatic stress.”
—Megan Mansell Williams
>> The Rubber Bandit: andymangold.com/the-rubber-bandit