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Super Soaker Beats the Heat

June 28, 1991

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ It’s hot, and it’s not the weather. It’s the Super Soaker, a semiautomatic water pistol that can hit targets 60 feet away.

″It’s about the hottest item around right now,″ said Toys ″R″ Us spokeswoman Angela Bourdon.

″As a matter of fact, the customers are ripping them out of the boxes before we even get them on the shelves,″ she said from the company’s Paramus, N.J., headquarters.

Twelve-year-old Chris Lawrence has a deluxe-model.

″I like it because it squirts a lot better and it goes further so you can hide in the bushes and squirt somebody, like even through the leaves and stuff,″ he said.

″I like to hide and get my stepsister ’cause she’s 12 also so she doesn’t get mad.″

His older brothers and sisters aren’t as much fun, Lawrence said. They tend to get mad as well as wet.

When Lawrence’s hometown of Narberth, N.J., gets really hot, ″We leave the wet clothes on and stay for a while,″ he said.

The toy’s success goes beyond the hot weather, says Al Davis, executive vice president of Larami, the Philadelphia-based manufacturer of the Soaker and other toy guns and plastic building blocks.

He said it’s also big this year in areas that have been cloudy or rainy.

Bourdon said Toys ″R″ Us gets a shipment once a week and they sell out in the first day.

Davis said nationwide sales have soared into the millions and the Soaker is the biggest seller in the 32-year-old company’s history.

Soakers sell for from $7 up to $30 and come in three sizes holding up to two quarts of water. The largest can shoot 1,000 times without a refill. A special hand pump gives the guns their increased power.

Gene LaPorta, assistant principal of Plath Regional Vocational School in Milford, Conn., said the super squirters were banned at that school because they are disruptive.

Dr. Jack Jeffers, director of emergency services at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, said the high-powered Soaker could be a hazard for toddlers. Small children could easily be knocked down by the spray, causing bumps and bruises, or a close-range shot in the eye could cause inflammation, he said.

″A force like that certainly is capable of potential damage with the eye,″ Jeffers said. ″I wouldn’t want to be hit in the eye with it, let’s put it that way.″

Elaine Tyrrell, spokeswoman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission in Bethesda, Md., said the agency has no record of problems with any squirt gun.