Super Soakers

Super Soakers

Synopsis of Toy

“Wetter is Better.”

Remember the old days, when, if you wanted to get somebody wet, there were just leaky plastic squirt guns and water balloons available to you? Well, forget the old days, because there’s heavy artillery now. There is weaponry for the gnarliest of water-fighters. There are toys that can turn a giggly neighborhood water fight into an all out, hour-long, douse-your-enemy-like-the-dog-he-is war.

Alabama native Lonnie Johnson earned degrees in mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering. He was an aerospace engineer in Los Angeles. In 1968, he won a science fair with his remote-controlled Linex robot, which he built with batteries, compressed air, and tape reels. He worked on the Voyager, the Mars Observer, and the Galileo probes for NASA. He has dozens and dozens of patents—a thermostat, hair-drying rollers and a wet diaper detector among them. But in the early 1980’s, while he was dabbling in his free time on a new type of heat pump that would run on water instead of Freon, he connected one of his pump prototypes to his bathtub, and quickly realized what he had in his hands would make one heck of a water gun. That was in his free time. For most of us, free time just involves the quest for decent TV reception, but for Johnson, it was a chance to add to another patent certificate to the wall.

Johnson named his first prototype the Pneumatic Water Gun, and he patented it in 1986. Because it proved so expensive to make, the gun’s manufacture would wait a few years until he sat down with executives from the Larami toy company. The newly named and slightly altered Power Drencher was patented in 1988, and in 1990, the water gun that was capable of firing up to fifty feet away hit the shelves. Three years later, the Drencher was re-named the Super Soaker, and this was the name that stuck. A nation-wide marketing campaign ensued, and that was all the support the Soaker needed. From here on out, this little number sold itself. Today, more than 250 million Super Soakers have been sold—they’re a permanent part of pool game lore, they’re a fixture in backyard water brawls. Quite simply, they’re just the best way, short of a really long hose, to get your enemy wet.

There are versions that run a few dollars, and then there are the big guns—literally—models like the CPS-3000 that include a water-tank backpack and a pulsating jet stream. Over the years, there have been modifications that increase shooting distance and water pressure and tank capacity, and decrease overall weight and necessary fill-up time. All the Soakers are brightly-colored, heavily logo-ized, outrageously-shaped contraptions, and just a quick glance in their general direction will tell you that the days of the see-through plastic guns, with the white plugs that always went missing and the white triggers that you could just never pump fast or frequently enough…those antediluvian days have passed.

Release History of Toy

1988 - Power Drencher
1991 - Super Soaker

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