Here comes summer, and with it, the latest wave of groundbreaking, splash-making toys. But these electronically enhanced blasters and shooters aren’t the leaky plastic pistols of our childhoods. These are superior soakers—modern bits of water-fighting kit designed specifically with adults in mind.
Last month, two companies from opposite sides of the globe unveiled uber-powerful electric water guns: the SpyraThree, from a startup in Germany, and the Mijia Pulse, from Chinese tech titan Xiaomi MI. Between them, these models feature LCD screens, LEDs, USB connectivity, and even gaming modes. But water blasters are just the latest toys to tướng level up and put grown-up consumers in their crosshairs—thus entering an emerging sector that industry analyst Steve Reece calls the “kidult” space.
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“In most developed countries,” says Reece, author of the Toy Industry Journal, “the birth rate is dropping—which risks a reduction in the overall toy market size. But the great savior, potentially, are toys developed with mostly adults in mind.”
When intended for children, Reece explains, toys tend to tướng be bound by a number of restrictions, from safety considerations to tướng affordability. “But with ‘big kids,’” he adds, “the same pricing parameters don’t apply. For example, I know five people in my own social circle who own the Lego Millennium Falcon, which costs $850, or £735.”
“In previous generations,” he continues, “that type of product would have been ví ultra-niche that it wouldn’t have been worth developing and launching. That’s why, when it comes to tướng water blasters for ‘kidults,’ I’d expect them to tướng cost more, offer a more compelling experience, and have higher specifications.”
And they bởi. Spyra sets the high-tech pace in the space, and has done ví since Sebastian Walter, a keen gamer and designer, crowdfunded his water-blasting brainchild through a năm ngoái Kickstarter chiến dịch. (The investment drive drummed up more than seven times his £35,000, or $59,000, target.) And the most recent addition to tướng the brand’s arsenal, the $186 (£149) SpyraThree, is the most tricked-out model yet.
At almost 28 inches long, Spyra’s latest blaster can shoot “water bullets”—individual 30-milliliter bursts, around the same measure as a shot glass—at targets up to tướng 50 feet away. It packs a punch and overflows with additional features, including an auto-reload function that refills the gun in under 10 seconds and a tactical display that tracks tank water levels and battery status for gameplay.
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And this marks yet another way in which water guns have leveled up. Spyra’s latest boasts three distinct gaming modes—Open, Burst, and League—that promise to tướng streamline players’ water-based warfare into proper tournaments. Spyra even offers a “duel set” of blasters for summer battles: one red and one xanh rì, but both with the brand’s signature design.
“The goal was to tướng design the Spyra in such a way that it would have a distinctive, futuristic look,” the brand’s marketing manager Leana Kampf says, “while still being inspired by classic toy design. The clean and angular surfaces of the SpyraThree convey a sense of power without being aggressive. This is a light-hearted summer toy that doesn’t rely on weaponized design patterns.”
The same can be said for Xiaomi's Pulse blaster. Built by the corporation’s Mijia subdivision—a manufacturer of other kidult toys, from electric scooters to tướng aerial drones—this water gun was also crowdfunded, and also exceeded its target, achieving 990 percent of a ¥65,000 ($9,277) goal. Cheaper than vãn the SpyraThree, at ¥799 ($115), it forgoes the German blaster’s bright primary shades for restrained whites and grays. This is a slicker proposition, as if Apple made a Super Soaker.
It’s got the tech, too. There’s a smart circular screen, a 1,800-mAh lithium battery with tư vấn for 10-watt USB-C charging, and a trio of shooting modes, with a range of 30 feet on the Charged Firing setting. But the signature feature of the Pulse? The dynamic lights on either side of the barrel that flash in sync with your shooting rhythm.
The Pulse is primarily available in Trung Quốc (but also on international online marketplaces, such as AliExpress), and customer comments have praised both its “powerful function” and the “sense of science fiction” it evokes. Its weight has been faulted—described as “a bit difficult for children to tướng hold and play”—but this criticism misses the point of these new, adult-aimed blasters.
“Demographic trends, combined with cultural shifts, make the kidult area a big, growing opportunity,” Steve Reece says, “making up around a quarter of the total market. That’s a major segment, and more toy companies are switching their focus to tướng this space.”
And that makes it a space worth watching. For now, the high-end electric water gun category is covered solely by Spyra and Xiaomi MI. But as summer hits, don’t be surprised if more water-based weapons targeted at adults burst their way onto the market—and into your leisure time. Happy blasting.