So many scientists insist upon wasting their time on the boring stuff – medicine, space exploration, computer circuitry. It is the select few, the ones who understand the importance of playtime, that truly make the worthwhile contributions. In the 60s, it was the tireless hours in a laboratory perfecting the Super Ball, simply so that millions of kids could have the opportunity to play with a ball that could bounce over a house. And in the 80s, one brave scientist would re-invent the whole concept of water warfare. Put away those water balloons, holster that measly water pistol – there was a new breed of aquatic artillery on the block and its name was Super Soaker. Let’s take a look at the origins of this terrific toy.
Lonnie Johnson knew how to put his education to good use. An aerospace engineer, his Linex robot won a science fair in 1968, he worked for NASA, helping to design the Galileo, Voyager, and Mars Observer space probes. He patented numerous inventions including thermostats and moisture-detecting diapers but it was his work on a water-based heat pump that would change the world forever. A light bulb went off in his head and, in 1986, he patented an invention based on that research called a pneumatic water gun.
A bit expensive to produce, it would take a couple of years of further brainstorming with the folks at Larami Toys before the idea morphed into a little toy for the summer months called the Power Drencher, which was released in 1990. This little baby could fire a blast of H2O an astounding 50 feet and, as a result, water fights would never be the same. A few years later the name was changed to the Super Soaker and soon kids everywhere were armed with these portable weapons in pools and backyards across America, drenching anything and everything that dare step into their path.
Now produced by Hasbro under their NERF line of toys, over 250 million Super Soakers have been sold since their introduction. Additional models have been introduced over the years to ensure that, no matter what aquatic firepower one should require, there is a Super Soaker that can get the job done. There are the standard issue Soakers or, for those with a thirst for something much bigger, the mother of all waterguns – the CPS-3000. Equipped with a water-storing backpack and pulsating jet stream, it provides all the firepower necessary to completely drench an army of enemies or the poor, unsuspecting passerby who is just begging to be assaulted by its fire hose-esque potential.
The Super Soaker is a testament to the possibilities that exist when the greatest minds put their intellect to good use. Forget finding a cure for cancer or developing alternative forms of energy. What the public really wants is the ability to drench their enemies with an onslaught of water pressure that is sure to send them fleeing in delighted terror, a philosophy proven with every sale of the Super Soaker.
If you sported a super soaker in the summers of your youth, we welcome your memories in our comments section. Tell us about your victims, or perhaps about being the victim as we pay tribute to one of the most quenching toys in existence, here at Retroland.