Nerf Super Soaker: What’s Happening? Part TwoMay 19, 2023
At the end of last month, I noticed the large numbers of Nerf-branded (but not Hasbro-made) soakers hitting shelves. Naturally, it may have been easy to test the basic performance, but the weather meant not having any actual play scenarios. Neighborhood kids are a valuable resource, after all.
Now, after some testing, I am both surprised and disappointed. The blasters, by the metrics, perform better than advertised (even if the labels all claim different things). Durability, though, is questionable at best. I’d stay clear of these blasters if you want toys that last more than a season, let alone a weekend.
First, we have to note a few things. For my testing, I chose the two air-powered models: The Aquastream, and the Stormspray. Both are pinch trigger blasters; after pumping air into the reservoir to pressurize it, pulling the trigger releases a pinched section of tube. This allows the water to be pushed out the nozzle at the front. At least in theory, I can pump these up and they’ll have consistent ranges compared to pump-driven blasters.
There’s also another reason: these two blasters have been seen with different ratings on them! I don’t know how you let this happen, but Dollar General and the like had absurdly low range numbers on them (nine or ten feet) while blasters elsewhere (Ross Dress for Less, Macy’s, etc.) had more generous numbers. For the Stormspray in particular, the stated volume was also in dispute (479mL, or 590mL?). So these things needed to be tested.
Testing the Volume
One extra note: being an American with a primarily American audience, things usually get measured in feet, gallons, and the like on here. But for things like water volume…you can’t beat using metric. 1mL of water is 1g? That’s so easy! It’s almost like the system was designed to make sense!
Anyway, we had to resolve the actual volume of the Stormspray, so I weighed both samples after nearly completely filling the reservoirs. Under battle conditions, this means little room for pressurized air and a small shot time at first. But that’s a matter of practical water warfare, not plain old tank volume.
In this case, the tanks measured 588mL each, so if you even included the neck of the screw-on reservoir, 590mL is your number. So the Dollar General one has the right capacity listed…but what about range?
Now we had to test the blasters outside, with some help of course. I stood 25′ away from the fence, pumped up the Aquastream and Stormspray blasters, and fired at an angle. In both cases, I was hitting the fence. So the Stormspray from Macy’s had the correct range on it. Meanwhile, the Aquastreams that listed 10′ and 14.8’+ ranges were far off). So far, so good, right?
Here’s the catch. The construction quality is terrible. The Aquastream has thin plastic, and the pump handle barely interfaces with the track. So a good 15 minutes of use meant it was already off kilter and feeling cheaper. A few stress marks showed up.
Meanwhile, the Stormspray fared even worse. The plastic forming the pump shaft is thin and weak, and liable to bend or break. After short use, one was bent, and the other actually broke! Yes, it’s relatively cheap at $8. But slightly more buys far more solid, higher performance blasters from other companies on the same shelf! Why would Hasbro even allow something like this to have their brand name on it?
Pinch triggers do wear out over time, due to the plastic fatigue. But that’s expected. An $8 blaster shouldn’t be breaking or about to break after 15 minutes of play!
I might buy one of the pump-to-shoot blasters in this group just for science. But given these samples (bought with my own money), it would seem that Hasbro, in their deal with Wowwee Toys, simply farmed out the Nerf Super Soaker name for money, quality be damned.