Super Soakers remain summer's top gun


Last summer, Antonio Kelly's younger brother Sergio regularly ambushed him with a Super Soaker 30, a water gun capable of sending a stream of water across a room.

But for his 11th birthday in May, Antonio received a Super Soaker 200. It holds more than twice as much water as the Super Soaker 30.

Of course, plenty of water guns on the market can wash the Super Soaker 200 away. So there's plenty of room for the escalation at the Kelly house to continue.

Three years after the original Super Soaker flooded the marketplace in 1990, high-powered water guns are easily the summer toy generating the most demand, toy store workers say.

Beyond water guns, the hottest toys this summer are dinosaurs -- especially "Jurassic Park" dinosaurs -- and hand-held video games.

"Jurassic Park" has brought a lot of attention to dinosaurs, of course," says Pauline O'Keefe, a national spokeswoman for Kay-Bee Toys in Dayton, Ohio. "But everything from Godzilla to Barney is doing well."

Ms. O'Keefe says hand-held video games -- such as Gameboy from Nintendo, Lynx by Atari and Game Gear from Sega -- are in demand.

Most of the basic game units cost from about $80 to $120, and game cartridges, which carry the programming for games that can be played on the units, range from $20 to $45.

Among other popular toys are guns and bows that shoot soft foam rubber projectiles ($10 to $35), sand-handling systems such as Sand Works from Playskool (about $20), and sprinklers and water slides ranging from about $7 to $25.

"Super Soakers are still very hot," says Curt Woodie, a Toys R Us store manager. "We sell quite a few of the bigger ones to adults, too."

Toy stores generally have a good supply of various brands of high-capacity water guns these days. The Super Soaker 300 -- the top of the line at about $40 -- holds two gallons of water and weighs 16 pounds when fully loaded.

High-powered water guns have prospered despite criticism and controversy.

Most public parks and swimming pools discourage the use of the guns because they often are a nuisance and can be dangerous.

Beside the problems caused by hitting someone in the face with a high-pressure stream of water, water guns can make walkways slippery and increase the probability of falls.

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