Invented in the early 1980s by Lonnie Johnson — a mechanical and nuclear engineer who happened to have helped develop the stealth bomber program and worked for NASA — and first sold in 1989 by now-defunct Larami, the Super Soaker is a line of water guns that works through manually-pressurized air to shoot water. It is now sold by Hasbro, under the Nerf brand — which is another fascinating product and story altogether. The Super Soaker is an amazingly popular toy — fans include Michael Jackson and Leonard DiCaprio — and its multi-patented engineering makes for amazingly complex and fast-shooting water guns. Earlier this year, the Super Soaker introduced a new logo and packaging designed by San Diego, CA-based Soup Group.
When judging design for mainstream American toys you have to get into a whole other mindset and points of reference; specifically when it comes to what look like alien weaponry you have to think like a 10-yeard-old boy who vehemently believes girls have cooties. The previous logo was fine; a little stumpy and awkward around some parts and perhaps a bit flat. The new logo takes the basic shapes of the original letterforms and turns on the warp speed to put the type on a curve with some fancy inner shading and better dimensionality along with a thick, unapologetic swoosh. This may not be what we all think of high-class design but it’s damn effective and appropriate.
For me, the above is the coolest part of this project: the rendering of the names of the different guns. Not only are the names out of control ridiculous (yet awesome) but they are now rendered in gushing splashes of water and in an almost Art Deco typeface that make the whole presentation a little mind-blowing (as in “who comes up with this shit?”).
The new packaging brings all the elements together quite nicely, with the exception of the requisite photos of children playing with the toy — they kind of break the mood, especially compared to some of the illustrations Soup Group did that would have looked neat on the boxes. Overall, the 37-year-old me kinda hates all of it, but the 10-year-old in me is ready to order ten of these things on Amazon right now.