Note: This is an editorial – I’ll buy a few of these on the off chance that I’m wrong. But claimed 9′ ranges don’t inspire confidence.
As per press releases last year, Hasbro partnered with Wowwee Toys last year to license the Super Soaker brand for various toys. We saw several items in stores, ranging from the Storm Ball Wrist Rocket Launcher to the RoboBlaster (while not my cup of tea, it’s a very cool idea). This year, they’re partnering for more products, including some with Hasbro Gaming themes.
Behind the scenes, though, there are more than just those products being made. Be it at Dollar General, Ross Dress for Less, or other stores, I’m seeing Wowwee Toys make actual soakers, with the Super Soaker name slapped on them. Considering the lack of regular Hasbro soakers (two tiny Minecraft models, and two others that aren’t on many store shelves), the sheer number of blasters I’ve seen makes it look like Hasbro is just farming out the brand. And between their feel and self-proclaimed performance, it doesn’t look like a good idea.
How Cheaply Can We Make This?
Anyone who’s been in the blasting hobby for a while knows what I’m talking about. Dollar store blasters often are made with thinner plastic, or different feeling plastic altogether, than blasters we know from Nerf, Buzz Bee, or other brands. That plastic feels flexible and, well, off. Somehow, now that Wowwee Toys is making these blasters, official Super Soaker products now feel the exact same way.
So far, I’ve counted six different models – one Dollar General actually had all of the display boxes out on shelves! For the moment, let’s ignore the clear difference in feel and construction and just look at the specs for the price.
The “flagship” blaster, with the highest capacity, is the Aquastream, going for $18 and holding 52 fl. oz. of water. That part is fine. However, there’s clearly something wrong when the stated range is only 10′! This is also, annoyingly, a pinch trigger blaster, limiting the pressure it can actually hold – but even then, models as recent as the XP 100 revival could get above 30′ in range. Another pinch trigger model, the Stormspray, holds 20 fl. oz. but only fires 9′! You can find small pump-to-fire blasters for the same price or less that fire triple that range.
Actually, scratch that. Check the title image. That particular Stormspray claims an entirely different capacity and firing range! How is that even possible? That makes this situation even worse, since clearly one of them is wrong.
The other blasters feature plenty of odd combinations of price, capacity, and performance. The Stormstream goes for $15 and fires 23′ away, but only holds 28fl. oz. The Waverider holds 10fl. oz. and fires 20′, but two dollars more nearly quadruples capacity if you get the Lightening Splasher instead. The tiny syringe-trigger pistol, the Storm Shot, at least only costs $3 and has similar capacity to other soakers of that size and type. Even then, though, some blasters from Xshot or Buzz Bee in that class can shoot at least 10′ farther, while feeling and looking better.
Speaking of other brands, products on the same shelves are more appealing for the price. The Buzz Bee Waterlord (formerly “Pulsar”) holds 59oz, fires 32′, and has a fun reciprocating barrel gimmick, all for cheaper than the Aquastream. The classic Steady Stream platform holds 32oz, fires 38ft, and is still $10. Prime Time Toys has blasters like the Hydro Burst/Typhoon Burst, with high capacity, large shot volumes, and a low price.
Even Xshot has plenty to offer; while most of their blasters are pump-to-fire, they’re low in price and high in capacity for their size. And the debut of the Skins blasters means a refresh for the soaker line in addition to their previous Fast-Fill offerings.
Whatever the reasoning for farming out Super Soaker production, it appears that doing so has left us with a product line less appealing than before. I know the heyday of soakers is long gone (when high powered models were the rage, and former Larami employees at Buzz Bee did their best to offer compelling competition). But even then, this seems like a new low. It’s no wonder Xshot is on so many store shelves these days.