The Copycats -- Part 2: The Brad Nelson Story
A little child who could not have been more than 10 or 11 years old strolled up to Brads table. "How much is it???" $50.00 Said Brad. The little kid went over to a neighboring table where apparently his mother was browsing. He tugged at her skirt and whispered in her ear. The lady then produced a crisp new $50.00 bill and Brad's first sale was made. $50.00 was a lot of money in those days. This author was only about 14 years old at that time, and only had about $12.00 on him and that usually went pretty far. But subsequently much, much, later I begged & borrowed and am happy to say that I do have one in my collection.
As the year progressed, Brad would come to about every other show with his new wonder toy. Therefore it was inevitable that sooner or later the "convention guests" (i.e. the stars) would see his phaser. George Takei (Sulu) happened by and was quite impressed, so much so that he bought one for himself, As did Deforest Kelley (Dr. McCoy) ...after all a doctor needs some kind of protection, you never know, he might have had to make a house call on Talos 4.
In fact Mr. Kelley liked it so much that in a 1976 appearance on the "Tomorrow" television show with Tom Snyder, he brought it along and briefly demonstrated it for the cameras. Thanks to the ubiquity of the Internet, the whole episode of "Tomorrow" is available on YouTube in 5 parts. Part 1 here (there are links to all 5 parts from "Related Videos" section). Part 5 has the Phaser demonstration at about 5:39.
Sometimes Brad let a friend demonstrate and sell when he was unavailable for a particular show. This friend then related a time when William Shatner was a guest. He supposedly asked if he could bring the phaser up on stage when he spoke. "No problem" said Brad's friend. So up to the stage went our beloved Captain Kirk, and future T. J. Hooker to recall all the delightful anecdotes, memories and experiences of the good old Trek days.
At the end, Brad's friend asked Mr. Shatner if he was interested in buying it. "Sorry" said Shatner," maybe some other time." Apparently Starfleet's pension plan does not allow for fun money.