Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rant: Super Soaker.. I want you back

Water guns these days are considered to be the projectile blaster's poor cousin but the funny thing was it wasn't always the case- you could almost say it was the other way around.  Water guns used to be very popular and probably the 'ammo' of choice for most outdoor battle enthusiasts. While the lightweight casual user would just annoy the popular girl in school with his 2 buck squirt pistol bought at a newsagency, whenever there was a water fight to be had, it was like an arms race to get the biggest, highest capacity, furthest shooting blaster one could find. Any dart guns normally were single shot and weren't that exciting.

And while, things are very different now, there's still a part of me that wonders- what happened and can we ever bring back the epic water fight to it's former glory?

When it comes to toy blasters, what originally got me into them in the first place WAS the water gun. Water fights had always been the thing you do in Summer, whether it be in the school yard, back yard, beach, family gathering or whatever, and the water gun was the staple weapon of choice for any person wanting to upgrade from the milk carton or plastic cup. Water fights had universal appeal- you get someone wet, the natural response is they want to return the favour, so it was something that anyone, whether it was boys, girls, mums, dads, old, young- it didn't matter- everyone could get into it.  Water fights also had something over any other type of battling, and that was the water bomb- yup when you water fight, you have grenades:D
The Entertech AK Centrefire from the 80s. Motorised pew pew

Growing up in the glory days of water fights in the late 80s and 90s had me witness some absolute masterpieces in H20 battle technology, mostly coming from under the iconic brand of Super Soaker. Before this, the cool 'thing' were motorised battery powered water guns from the likes of Entertech in the mid 80s, but it really was the air pressure system from the original Super Soaker 50 that was an absolute game changer in the water fight arena. 20 pumps and your water tank was pressurised, shooting thick unbroken streams like a hose. There was nothing else like it.

And then, just when you thought you couldn't get any better, the game changed again with the release of the absolutely dominating Constant Pressure System (CPS) blasters of the mid to late 90s, resulting in pint-of-water-a-second soakage and huge tank capacities. So what would come next that could topple such power?

CPS 2000. Now THAT was a cannon.
Nothing. And there has never been anything quite like them since.

Because of this era, Super Soaker managed to be synonymous with absolute water fight dominance. We say "It's Nerf or Nothing" but in those days, Super Soaker was it- even blasters that weren't Super Soakers were still referred to AS Super Soakers- every second competitor tried to create knock offs of the design but to no avail- Super Soaker was basically, the shiz. But then... something happened?

The Super Soaker began to decline in the past decade- some say it was when Larami was bought out by Hasbro and the original staff moved on, or some even suggest global warming- in Australia, we had major droughts and massive water restrictions, thus putting the water fight out of favour. Some believe it was a safety factor as laws became stricter and the rumours of taking out eyeballs with a stream of water began to scare the hell out of parents. In any case, we stopped seeing those awesome blasters on the shelves and water guns were reduced to pretty ordinary fares, mostly just variations of the worst kind of water gun ever- the piston/syringe style blaster with it's lack of functional trigger.

How the story goes- Larami employees- the original Super Soaker manufacturers before they sold out to Hasbro, left/were let go from the company and formed Buzz Bee. It is true many of the Water Warriors range of blasters that have come out from Buzz Bee share a similar pedigree to the Super Soakers of old, but they haven't been able to really establish themselves as the water gun kings because to the average joe in the street, the brand 'Super Soaker' stands for the best water blaster there is. And that's unfortunately the problem. Buzzbee has never really had the rep to claim top dog rights, even though anyone in the know would suggest they deserve it.

Flash forward to now, and the revamping of the Super Soaker brand in the past few years has aesthetically been fantastic. From the moment we got word of the Thunderstorm, the majority of new Super Soakers that have hit the market have looked amazing; massive props to the designers of the shells of those babies- gone are the weird looking bubble-and-pipe style gaudy fluoro colour schemed guns, replaced by some very schmick looking kit. They even make a fantastic starting point for amazing aesthetic mods.

That being said, when it comes to water guns, almost everyone who gets into them will say functionality and performance is so much more important than appearances. And these new Super Soakers share nothing with the original blasters than the name. They don't shoot far enough. They don't soak enough. They don't have the storage capacity. And while there are a few scattered blasters like the Point Break with an air pump, or the Hydro Cannon with a sort of CPS/flashflood action, we can definitely see that Super Soakers these days are no where near able to exert any form of dominance in a water fight.

3 out of the 4 upcoming blasters are missing a trigger..
The final real blow to the Super Soaker name is in looking at the new range, the majority of the new blasters might look incredible, but they seem to be lacking the all important functional trigger. I'm really surprised that after all this time, so many toy companies still have not worked out that when you design and produce a toy blaster, you'll more likely to make sales if your blaster- has a working trigger. Piston based water guns are HORRIBLE- they lack accuracy due to the constant pumping back and forth and aren't fun to use. It's the biggest beef out of any enthusiast of the water gun, casual or veteran. And yet Hasbro STILL insist on pumping them out.  Taking the name of older air pressure blasters such as the Arctic Shock and slapping it onto a very good looking but what will likely be a poor performing piston based blaster is almost an insult:(

The original Arctic shock. 
Motorised battery powered water guns are fun from a novelty factor, but their tiny apertures, annoying noise and relatively low capacity can be easily out classed by the squeeze of a full detergent bottle from an opponent. They were considered fun in the 80s, but once the air pressure systems of the original Super Soaker came out, there was a new standard, and thin stream squirts just didn't cut it any more. But we still have the Thunderstorm, Lightning Storm and Electrostorm. Aesthetically awesome. Novel to use. Easily outclassed.

This is one area where Hasbro could do well by popping out repaints of old blasters. Bring out some CPS blasters in a new colour scheme and watch water fight fans, both veterans and casual players rejoice. Even better- take the tech that they already own, and work on it to develop some new and improved kit that's more than just for show. They had it spot on right in the 90s- they can do it again.

Or has the market moved on? Do we not water fight anymore?

For me, it's scouring the internet for those selling the old CPS blasters on eBay and the like but really, I'm kinda hoping for the day where there's a resurgence in water blaster technology. I'd love to see Super Soaker be the iconic brand it used to be, but until then I'll be waving the flag of the old school kit, and knowing I will almost certainly win any local current day water fight arms race where challenged:D


  1. I used to take the three way tip off of a super soaker 200, it made a 1/4th inch stream capable of hitting 50 feet and just drenched the hell out of anyone. My next one was what I called "The Shaft of Justice. Which was a 18 inch Stream Machine bored out to 3/4ths of an inch. Designed it as a close range instant soak weapon, Got a good 40 feet with it, more powerful (instantaneously) that a hose, oh old times!

  2. I remember being a little kid in the late 90's wanting nothing more than a Super Soaker Monster CPSXXXX. There was no way I could have carried one of those things for more than a few minutes, but it was still awesome. I too agree that the good old CPS water blasters need a comeback.

  3. The market is there, but no one wants to throw down $300 on a vintage CPS and no one wants to pay anything at all for a water gun that has less power than someone's drool. I can't even water my plants with my lightning storm, it's so pathetic!

  4. My birthday is in the summer, so growing up I naturally got a Super Soaker every year to use in the neighborhood water gun fights. The day I got the CPS 2000, I was SO excited! I had some trouble carrying it around because I was just a kid at the time, but I didn't care. That thing was a monster, and the only way the other kids could match me is if they used a hose.

  5. Soakers now a day just get your opponents wet. When I was a kid they soaked ya, stung like hell, and left red streaks. They went from holy shit to shitty fizzle.

  6. I almost wonder if there isn't some new regulation that keeps them from making more power super soakers now.

  7. I don't think we do water fight anymore. I think, simply, kids have sort of...moved on, as it were. And Nerf blasters certainly haven't helped. You're right to say that Super Soakers were in their heyday in the 1990's. But look at what else did exist then: Nerf was made up of single shot blasters, nothing special, often frustrating. Hell, it wasn't until the Wildfire came out using that Super Soaker CPS technology that Nerf was really put on the map. Super Soaker was as close to "real" as it got for a kid; firepower on command. So long as you had a full tank, you can use that trigger to fire as long or as short as you want. But the Clip System suddenly gave Nerf the ability to claim that as well. Plus with the popularity of paintball and airsoft, it sort of gave kids something else to work with similar to those sports.

    I don't know. I'd kill for a re-release of the CPS2000, but I don't think kids today will be all into it. They've sort of dismissed water warfare altogether, and I'm not sure what it would take to bring it back.

  8. I would love to get a hold of the people at Nerf and talk to them about this. These motorized blasters can't be cheaper to make. You know a Thunderstorm has to cost more to construct than an XP 70, and an XP 70 like gun with a reimagined shell would have to sell like crazy. It doesn't even make business sense to push out these battery powered guns.

    For all water fight enthusiasts, please join us over at . We have a water warfare league that battles through out the year, we trade guns, talk about blasters, discuss modding and repairs.

    Hydrowar webmaster

  9. My kids are just hitting that age (4,5) where they LOVE water pistols and it sucks that we still have the market dominance of crud from Hasbro. I got my kids a Water Warriors blaster each, which perform ok, but have nothing on the old CPS Super Soakers. They had some $8 1990s SS knock offs at Kmart the other day and parents my age were snapping them up during this recent Melbourne heatwave. The market is ripe - people still remember the old Super Soaker look and Hasbro is definitely missing an opportunity here.

  10. As a kid the only water blasters worthy of my household were stream machines. And I mean the big ones from the early 90's. They would crush any super soaker, water pistol, hose, fire hydrant, etc... If the Super Soaker CPSxxxx would get you soaked, the stream machine was more like a torrential downpour. Easy and waaay quick to reload, and probably the quickest way to throw a gallon of water at your opponent. Those were the good ol' days.

  11. Just picked up a cps 2700 today at goodwill for 2.50$--
    Are those worth anything? It works awesome--instant soakage.

    1. You could have done better, certainly, but any CPS blaster for under 10$ is a screaming deal. Granted, the CPS 2700 may not be as valuable or as popular as some others; but they are pretty uncommon. It's one of the biggest, baddest CPS out there that you can still get for a low price (again, if you can find one). It's a great water gun; there truly is nothing else out there like it. Great find! Join WWN!

  12. i being 10, live in a world where the dart rules and the water sucks. My favorite current SS is the scatterblast, but it sucks to pump that thing CONSTANTLY and get only an ok range. I've used a thunderstorm before, and its quick, but i can pee further than it can shoot and its stream is something where your opponent goes, I think its starrting to drizzle. Bottom line,a new Super Soaker Sucks (S.S.S.) I wish i had a CPS in my life.

  13. I like the convenience of new super soakers, but they do lack in firepower. I think Hasbro should take the designs of the cps blasters, then convert them into clip system, more modern super soaker with rails, clips, and attachments. That would be the ultimate super soaker.