As we've got a major cat-shitty garden problem at the moment, my thoughts have been increasingly turning toward supersoakers. As a kid, I fucking loved supersoakers. Me and my brother used the "stopping cats from shitting in the yard" pretext to obtain many hours of damp summer fun. We, and the neighbor kids used to swarm around the overgrown alleyways and bomb-sites round the back of our house, soaking each other with a variety of odd implements. The only-child from the top of the road had a massive super soaker 150, while some of the other kids we played football with favored simpler stirrup-pump like plastic things (powerful, decent range, ran out of water fast). The fat kid preferred to lurk round corners with a bucket (not very subtle, but effective).
Me and my brother favored the Supersoaker 50, the klashnikov rifle of the water-pistol world; cheap and reliable. It wasn't hugely powerful, but it was surprisingly accurate over quite long distances. The bottles it used were a standard size and used the same screw threads as coke bottles (which meant you could carry spares in your belt, filled with water and ready to go).
It was also good for use on the cats that tried to shit in our yard and eat our guinea pigs (we didn't have very exciting pets as children) -- it got them wet enough to make them run away, but not so wet that you felt like you were being mean.
Last night I flipped open the gigantic copy of the argos catalog we've got in the house and turned, by muscle memory alone, to the supersoaker section. Instead of the range of fearsome water cannons, however, I found only strange pink things with flowers and such on ("urr! gurls toys!", cried the sticky fat kid in my head). I figured it was silly to think that they'd keep the supersoakers on the same page that they were on when I was a kid (I mean, there's whole sections in the catalog that weren't there when I was wee small, like the array of mobile phones). I looked though the whole thing, though, and I found nothing.
A quick search of the internet revealed that they do still exist, but that they've gotten much more complicated since their inventor first pitched them to larami. They've now got all sorts of cosmetic doodads, non-detachable tanks, and other such gumpf. I also discovered that there's a whole internet subculture devoted to grown men who play with water pistols.
They take it very seriously.
I find this a little sad.I mean, don't get me wrong, when I was a kid I took the whole business seriously, but, you know, there came a time when I did genuinely only ever use the thing for chasing away cats.
Some of their home-made designs look pretty awesome though... might have to get me some plumbing supplies.