It almost seems as if their popularity has been completely wiped out in
recent years. I suppose it's not all that surprising really since you've got
all these "Xtreme" activities nowadays such as paintball, jet skiing,
and uh... BattleBots. Still, water guns were a big part of childhood fun and
shouldn't be ignored. With that in mind, I'd like to take some time to look
at how water guns have changed over the decades.
All the way up until the
80's, your average water gun wasn't really going drench anyone. While they
may have looked neat with designs such as the infamous "Space Gun", they could only shoot a
few thin streams of water a very short distance. With limitations like that
and the fact that you had to refill them constantly,
your best bet was to aim for the eyes of your enemy and make a quick getaway. Still,
these little squirt guns were a lot of fun to use and were pretty affordable.
Another nice thing about the older, more basic guns is because they had
limited firing range and water capacity, toy companies experimented with new
designs. My particular favorite improvement on water guns was when they
started creating hideously contorted creatures and famous character guns.
Believe it or not, that's
supposed to be a frog. It's as if some illegal genetic mutation experiment had gone
horribly wrong. And there were many, many water squirters just like this one.
Tortured parrots, twisted fish, mangled snakes... pretty much anything that
you would normally expect to only see in a carnival freak show could be
found in a water gun format. Hell, they even got to
You actually had to pour
the water into Popeye's asshole - that's what you get for eating your
spinach kids. But the toy companies
weren't satisfied with simply mauling mother nature's creatures and tarnishing the
memories of our
favorite childhood icons. They also started making water guns from just
about anything that was popular at the time. Take Star Trek for example...
Yep, they made water guns
that looked just like phasers and the U.S.S. Enterprise from Star Trek.
Believe it or not, I've seen those suckers go for over $200 these days. For
a while, if there was a popular TV show, you could bet your bottom dollar
that there was a water gun based on it. They even started incorporating
water guns into regular toy lines (ex: "Blazer"
from the Robo Force series.)
When the 80's finally did
come around, however, water guns were in for quite a few major changes. I went
through a huge water-gun collecting phase in the mid-80's, where no matter
what it was, if it shot water, I had to own it. My friends and I would
actually have huge neighborhood meetings where we would gather up all the
water guns we could find and drag them to the nearby football field for
water gun battles that lasted entire afternoons. They were damned fun times
and I accredit it all to one company: Entertech.
Entertech introduced the
motorized water guns in the 80's, and by god, at the time these things were
extremely badass. Even their slogan was pretty badass... "THE LOOK. THE
FEEL. THE SOUND. SO REAL. ENTERTECH!" Besides looking like real guns,
the Entertech toy line also boasted a rapid-firing range up to a whopping
30-feet. Compared to the 10-foot range (at best) that most squirt guns had,
this was an enormous improvement and everybody wanted one of these new guns.
They even came with refillable water clips so you wouldn't have to run to
the nearest spigot all the time.
Entertech also ventured
into "Water Balloon Warfare" and made some nice improvements to them by
including a portable pump so you could load your balloons while on the move.
Then they really sunk their claws into the psyches of impressionable kids
with the release of motorized Rambo guns!
The guns themselves weren't
any different than the regular Entertech guns, but they had the words
RAMBO written on the sides and even came with a Rambo Headband.
Throw in a friggin'
BAZOOKA and kids were buying these things faster than they could make 'em.
There really is no greater feeling than running around the neighborhood with
a Rambo headband and a bazooka on your shoulders while screaming at the top
of your lungs. If you've never experienced the sensation, I suggest you all
do so in the near future.
As fun as the motorized
water guns were, Entertech wouldn't be on top for long. Besides costing more
money than basic water guns, you had to constantly change batteries for
these things, which of course meant more money. The other problem was,
Entertech's guns looked a little too real.
I mean just look at those
things. They're near perfect replicas of an uzi and a machine gun. If you
were to walk up to a cop with one of these, you could pretty much kiss your
ass goodbye. There were actual cases where kids were being shot by police because of
how realistic these guns looked. I don't think anybody ever had that kind
problem with the Popeye water pistol. Sadly, due to some law changes, Entertech had to
look of their guns to hideous multi-colored neon atrocities. By that time,
sales were dropping and the company appeared to be pretty desperate because
they were releasing basic water toys such as the
Freddy Fright Squirter and
the Super Mario Bros. Squirter.
Oh how the mighty had fallen.
While they're not
technically a water guns, here's a short-lived series that some of
you may remember. Zap-It guns were pretty popular around 1988.
Instead of shooting water, these basic guns were made specifically for the
prankster in all of us. They were loaded with blue or red disappearing ink
for you to piss off friends, parents, and school teachers with. I swear,
everybody in my school had one of these things, and every last one of us got
sent to detention at least once for using them during class. Good times.
Lonnie Johnson - inventor of the Super Soaker
Anyway, the true "nail in
the coffin" for Entertech wasn't because some kids got shot by cops... it
was because of Lonnie Johnson's creation of "Super Soakers" (originally
named "Power Drenchers"). Released in 1990
and still being produced today, the Super Soakers revolutionized water guns
forever by using compressed air to shoot out powerful blasts of water. They
could hold much more water, could shoot it farther, and didn't require any
batteries. Quite simply, if you got shot by one of these, you were drenched
in water from head to toe pretty damned fast.
In the past decade, the
Super Soakers have continued to evolve into things that look like they're
more suited for battling invaders from Mars than getting your pals soaking
wet. As cool as these Super Soakers
were, I always thought they took all the sport out of water gun battles. It was no longer
about who was the best shot, it was now simply about who's mom bought him the most
expensive insano-powerful water blaster on the market. You weren't carrying
around water pistols that needed refills here 'n there anymore... you were
now carrying friggin' aquariums. And what chance did the kids who didn't
have one of these new portable water cannons stand? They only had one hope
(note: big thanks to
for letting me use his kickass photo of the water gun in
the title graphic for this page. Be sure to check out his site for more
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE ORIGINAL
ENTERTECH WATER GUN COMMERCIAL!
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