The 90s Toys & Games

Super Soaker

Super Soaker is a line of recreational water pistols that shoot water from a reservoir with greater force and over a longer distance than traditional water pistols. It was first developed by an American inventor named Lonnie Johnson in the 1980s and has since become one of the most recognized brands of water guns in the world.

Born in 1949, Johnson obtained an B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and an M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Tuskegee University in his native Alabama. Johnson first created plans for what would become the Super Soaker in 1984; in 1989, he formed his own engineering firm and licensed his idea for a pressurized air-powered water gun to the Larami Corporation. Larami at the time was best known for its lines of dolls and action figures based on licensed TV and movie properties, including Batman and Star Trek. Larami took Johnson’s idea and developed several models of the device, which they then sold under the brand Power Drencher. In 1991, the name was changed to Super Soaker.

The first Super Soakers were different from the earlier piston-operated guns that simply sprayed water when a pump was compressed. The Super Soaker 50, the first of the line in 1990, changed the way squirt guns were made with a pressurized reservoir that was filled with air from the same piston power, but was only released when the user pulled the gun’s trigger. This allowed users to attain more power and range from each blast.

Larami was later bought by Hasbro in 2002, and their name was eventually phased out entirely. The Super Soaker was absorbed into the Nerf brand, where it has become one of the world’s most popular squirt gun lines; water guns are sometimes colloquially referred to as “super soakers” even if they are of a different brand. In 2013, Hasbro was ordered to pay Johnson US $73 million in underpaid royalties for Super Soaker products, as well as his other Nerf toys.


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Featured image via The Huffington Post

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