This past weekend, while digging through a storage unit filled with toy packaging that our company has designed over the past three decades, I came across the package I designed for the original Super Soaker water gun while employed as Art Director for Larami toys back in 1989. Finding this packaging brought me right back to a wonderful time in the toy industry when product development was driven by innovation and play pattern – not by the latest, hottest licensed property du jour.
I remember holding the original prototype for the air pressure-powered water gun in my hands, marveling at how it was constructed, and even more so with how it performed. Invented by former NASA engineer and inventor, Lonnie Johnson, it was made from PVC pipes, a handful of valves and a 2-liter soda bottle. I also vividly remember the day I was tasked with developing the packaging for this amazing, new product (originally named Power Drencher), and learning that I had 3 days to have it completed and ready for printing (a schedule all too familiar to those of us who have paid our dues in the toy industry back then), and a shoe-string budget with which to make it happen.
Those 72 hours were an absolute blur. A brand identity, photography, illustrations, marketing copy, instructional insets, and the package design for what would become one of the most iconic toys of our lifetime, all came together somehow – on time – and without the benefit of digital technology, I might add! Truthfully, I’m more proud of having been part of its development than I am of the outcome. The package design was mediocre at best, even for 1989. Fortunately, the Super Soaker was so incredible that it would’ve been a retail sensation even if it were packaged in a blank white box.
The rest, as we all know, is history.
- What are your thoughts on the Super Soaker, how it has evolved, and how it revolutionized the entire water gun category?
- What other toy products can you think of that have had a similar impact on their respective categories? Can you remember their original packaging?
- If you’re a designer, marketer or brand manager, and you’re proud to have been associated with the development and launch of a particular brand or product, please share your story.