December 8, 2012

Reminiscing about Super Soakers

Reminiscing about Super Soakers 

 I come from an era where boom-boxes were common, we had velcro sneakers, Super Nintendos, Sega Genesis's, Nintendo 64's, Playstations, and who can forget those moon bounce shoes? but what I love the most from my childhood- right after my video games, would be super soakers.

Well I can't remember the history of Super Soakers anymore- so let's consult the internet. This information is from wikipedia, paraphrased. A gentleman by the name of Lonnie Johnson was messing around with some plumbing when he discovered he could make a toy water gun out of the experiment. Gotta love when things are discovered by accident (Slurpees and Viagra were discovered by accident, but I digress).

Originally, Larami (the manufacturer of original super soakers) sold the SS-50 model, which was a small yellow water gun with a green bottle that served a a reservoir. It was a very basic air pressure water gun based on the original prototype designed by Johnson. He took his idea to Larami and cashed in. One thing that irritated me in my younger days were two facts: #1 is that people thought these "toys" weren't for anyone over the age of 10, and #2 a super soaker was a squirt gun. Now that I am older and more tame about it, I still assert that a squirt gun and a water gun are two completely different things. One denotes a type of water shooting apparatus that "squirts" small streams of water out. A super soaker, or more conventional water gun, pumps out larger volumes of water than a simple squirt.

Authoritarian/Parental Attitudes Towards Perceived "Children's Toys"

But let's talk about my parent's attitude toward these things when I was a kid. My mother didn't have a big problem with them, but my dad hated them. He thought a 14 year old had no business "playing with a children's toy". Often I would get criticized, ridiculed and put down for the hobby. I would often be told to be quiet when I talked about water guns, and that the only authority I should be listening to was their [parental] authority.

I kept going and managed to have a fun time with the time I had. In a more retro sense, old school super soakers are a kind of "blast from the past", and are a fun sight at parties, especially to folks who remember them.

CPS Technology 

A Nerf "CLIP system" water gun. Asshats, it's a MAGAZINE.
In the mid 1990s, Larami experimented with CPS technology, which stood for "Constant Pressure System". Instead of a stream of pressurized water, these water guns would compress the water into a bladder, hold the contents, and release them with a pull of the trigger. Larami acquired a patent on the technology and had a virtual monopoly on water guns, releasing many powerful water guns until about the year 2002. Hasbro Takeover Larami was purchased by Hasbro, who began ceasing production of CPS water guns in favor of smaller, cheaper air pressure pistols. Theories from the time said that stores, as well as parents- complained that the blasters were too large, too expensive and took up too much shelf space (heh, look at toys of today- parents are shelling out well over $50 for electronics and other toy sets).

Hasbro listened to the complaints and began producing severely sub-par water guns. That, essentially was the end of the era.

Revitalization Attempts
A toy company by the name of Buzz Bee Toys released a very nice lineup of water guns that operated on the same principles as CPS technology, and were then sued by Hasbro for doing so. Since Hasbro has not released anything substantial with CPS technology in well over five to ten years, I would immediately label Hasbro, Inc. a patent troll.

Every day that passes by I slowly forget old memories. That is why I feel it is important to write stuff down now so that it can be preserved for a later time. I will remember the fun I had playing capture the fort, king of the hill, and most commonly- a straight up soak fest where everyone and everything would have fun shooting each other with high powered water guns. It was a fun time that has passed by, and now that I have a small stash of these things in our basement- it's my hope that they survive another 10 years to be brought out again.

Did I mention my CPS 2500 can clean a car with two 20x shots? My original broke sometime in the 2000s, but I do have a second replacement that has seen maybe a year of use. I keep it as a display piece in my room for a time long passed. It isn't going anywhere, and reminds me of the struggles, and more importantly- the tons of fun I had with original super soakers.

They really do not make them like they used to anymore. What do I think of Hasbro's integration of super soakers into nerf guns? I think it's f****** dumb.


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