Summer may be winding down, but it looks like the heat will be sticking around.
Fortunately, toys have shown us a few ways to beat the summer heat by embracing an arsenal of water guns and slides. Some of the country’s finest minds are behind the most innovative creations designed to keep kids of all ages wet and wild. Case in point: Lonnie Johnson, an aerospace engineer with stints at NASA, the U.S. Air Force, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Johnson is such a prolific inventor that he came up with the idea for the Super Soaker water gun during an experiment in his free time at home.
However, the Super Soaker wasn’t a monster hit in 1990 when it debuted under the name Power Drencher. Thanks in part to some brilliant rebranding, the Super Soaker became a sensation in 1991 and it’s only gotten bigger ever since. The Super Soaker’s success even allowed Johnson to create his own companies and continue his scientific pursuits.
Amazingly, the Slip ‘N Slide predates the Super Soaker by 29 years. Its creator, Robert Carrier, came up with the idea of making a slide out of a long strip of Naugahyde that had holes punched in it so that water could emerge in spouts throughout the length of the material. From that modest beginning came more innovative takes on the idea, including substituting plastic for Naugahyde. Almost 60 years later, the Slip ‘N Slide remains the gold standard of backyard water slides despite a slew of would-be imitators.
For more details about the Slip ‘N Slide and the Super Soaker, check out the latest episode of SYFY WIRE’s Toy Masters!