In 1982, NASA engineer Lonnie Johnson accidentally invented a pressurized water gun that went on to become one of the coolest summer toys for years. Now, Hasbro’s bringing back three of the original Super Soakers with that initial air-pressure system — and I’m pretty tempted to buy the one I never got back when parents controlled my cash.
While it’s pretty clear Hasbro isn’t using the same exact molds, the new $17.99 Super Soaker XP100, $12.99 XP30, and $7.99 XP20 look close enough to the originals to trigger my nostalgia in a big way. And changes aren’t necessarily bad: they give me reason to hope they’ll be more durable than the original Super Soaker 100, Super Soaker 30, and Super Soaker 20. They had a bit of a reputation for breaking, particularly when their plastics got brittle after being left out in the sun for a few days.
For instance, the new Super Soaker 30 looks like it’s got a heftier forward-slung charging handle. The original wound up pinching my pinky quite a few times when I held it too far back. On the other hand, the Super Soaker 100 originally held 1.5 liters of water and will now only carry 1.26 liters, and Hasbro isn’t yet saying if any specs have improved.
If you want to give these nostalgia bombs a try, know that they’ll each be exclusive to Target in the US.
I’m not sure if Hasbro’s decision to rework and rerelease these blasters has anything to do with celebrating Lonnie Johnson’s contributions during Black History Month — I would think they’d have said so — but I’ll leave you with a video all about those. I highly recommend this oral history of the Super Soaker, too.