The secret behind the beloved toy
Water guns have always been awesome, but it wasn’t until the Super Soaker hit the streets that we realized just how awesome they could be. The massive water weapon took the toy market by storm and fueled countless moisture-based massacres all summer long.
Did you ever wonder how the Super Soaker came to be? What mad genius came up with the toy that dominated so many of our childhood summers?
Business Insider tweeted out a video in which Lonnie Johnson, the genius behind the gun, explained how he came up with the idea.
Meet the man who invented the Super Soaker — one of the best-selling toys of all time pic.twitter.com/6knDxkoHTl
— Business Insider (@businessinsider) December 30, 2017
Lonnie is an engineer and an inventor, so it wasn’t necessarily a happy accident, or a story of some fun dad creating something for his kids. But still. He was as blindsided by the toy’s ascension to the #1 bestselling toy in the world as you were when your brother jumped out from behind the bushes soaked your crotch that one time. Fine, that two times.
The dude has a hell of a resume, having won a science fair by inventing a robot in college, then working as a research engineer focused on nuclear reactors, then as an engineer for the Air Force, working on “advanced spacecraft” because he’s a literal genius.
He had the idea for the Super Soaker while working on the Galileo Spacecraft at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, applying his engineering skills to the creation of a high-powered water-gun. He was working on another invention, a water pump, when he realized that the high-pressure technique he’d created would work well for a water-gun, so he took his idea to the Toy Fair in NYC, where he met Larami, the gun’s eventual manufacturers.
The most important part of the video comes near the end, and no, it’s not when we learn the product was originally called “The Drencher,” which, thank god they changed it. No, it’s when he downplays the luck aspect of his success and explains that I took more than that to changed water gun fights forever.
“It’s just a lot of hard work. It took ten years from the idea to major success.”
Johnson has taken the money he’s made from the Super Soaker and reinvested it into the research company he started in its aftermath, via which he uses his skills as a nuclear engineer to develop advanced energy technology, including a new type of engine that converts heat into electricity.
Kind of sounds like there might be a Super Stun Gun hitting the markets soon!
Oh and by the way, he also developed a superior dart gun technology that Hasbro ended up licensing for Nerf.
All hail the king of toy guns.