Have manufacturers given up?

Discussions of all varieties of stock water guns and water blasters.
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SSCBen
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Have manufacturers given up?

Postby SSCBen » Thu May 18, 2017 7:55 pm

http://isoaker.com/Info/2017/05/2017051 ... dscape.php

Important quote:

Without a significant change in general consumer behavior or significant improvement in manufacturing technology, it will require a dramatic change improving water blaster technology to get consumers to notice and once again seek out better quality, higher performance water blasters. Improvements in mass-manufacturing techniques may help slow the further deterioration of water blaster quality, but unless the $15 USD price point ceiling can be raised, the likelihood of a higher output performance water blaster being released in retail stores is extremely low for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, for those of us seeking better performance, we shall need to find alternate, creative paths to acquire or attain the soaking capabilities we seek.


While I don't have all the information, here's what I do know:

I don't see risk taking from manufacturers. How about they try releasing a higher performance blaster to see how the market responds? If retailers won't take these blasters, Kickstarter seems low risk to figure out what sort of blasters might sell. If the price is high, that's okay, just say so! You don't know if it will sell until you try.

Further, I don't see manufacturers looking for new markets. Selling to retail outlets as has been done since the 1990s no longer seems viable. So why focus primarily on that? Manufacturers need to try something else. Selling directly to consumers would be a start. I can't even buy the Drench Force because the blaster appears only in some regional stores. It might be that most people who might want the Drench Force can't buy it! Selling online would largely avoid the shelf space issues that have been discussed at length as well.

Given the mentioned points, it's hard for me to not come to the conclusion that manufacturers have given up. Ultimately, there's little we can do to influence manufacturers aside from post complaints like this. It seems to me that our path forward is better homemade water guns. The community can't grown much until we solve the blaster sourcing problem.

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marauder
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Re: Have manufacturers given up?

Postby marauder » Fri May 19, 2017 9:55 am

Wow. What an interesting article. It only serves to confirm what I've seen in stores. I only just, last night, saw Nerf Super Soakers in Target - and here we are half way through May! Wal Mart has plenty of off generic brands that could possibly be just as good as the Nerf waterguns. If Wal Mart is not selling Nerf, that really tells you something. The profit margins on the nerf super soakers must be much smaller than the generic blasters and the nerf/super soaker name must not carry enough name to move them in bulk to such a point to offset the smaller profit margins. I am going to have to check out K Mart for the new Water Warriors. Unfortunately it doesn't sound like they have any of the good ones. Now I'm really glad I grabbed 4 Python 2s from Toys R Us last September!

You are spot on with selling directly to consumers. Why doesn't Alex Brands just sell from their website. Even if they only moved, say, 500 units, it can't be that difficult to do - right? Are we really misunderstanding how these business models work to that extent? Could they not simply ship 100 of each unit to their company HQ and then ship from there? Rob set up his own LLC to sell blasters and get discounts on shipping. It can't be that difficult, can it?

What iSoaker is not mentioning is that so many of our old guns are finally breaking down. We talked about it and worried about it for a long long time, but then we, or I, dismissed it, because CPS seemed like they were lasting forever. Well, things are starting to fall apart. How many people have working CPS 2000s on this board anymore? My 2000 broke in 2013 and I fixed it. Then something else broke in 2015, which I also fixed. Last year at Soakermore the firing valve broke, and I have not been able to fix it. Out of Rob's 5 2000s I think 2? are functional. Danny's 1000 also broke, and I'm working on my MXL. So, my only working CPS ATM are my 600 and my Gargantua.

We could keep buying from ebay but I'm worried that those blasters will fail pretty quickly as well.

Going back to the original topic, I have to wonder why water blasters are not selling anymore. I mean, stores have these giant summer water toys sections, just like they always have, but not waterguns. We were at Michaels last night, freaking Michaels, an arts and crafts store, and they had this giant summer water section full of water balloons and floats and crappy squirt pistols. I guess those are selling, but I never see anyone using them. The kids in my neighborhood love playing outside, but I never see them having watergun fights or even nerf fights. I have been playing basketball with them recently and this summer we played some manhunt. Several of the kids have become pretty good friends with Tony and Danny. We've got a good age range from 9 to college and I think I'm going to try to hold some sort of casual water war this summer and get their feedback on things.
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DX
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Re: Have manufacturers given up?

Postby DX » Fri May 19, 2017 2:13 pm

Two words: Legal issues. Manufacturers like Hasbro and Alex Brands are technically wholesalers. Most big retailers require them to sign contracts that forbid direct sales to consumers. You can't have a deal with say, Walmart or Target, and still offer the same products direct. Also, keep in mind that the sale price on a store shelf is not what Buzz Bee is making, that's what the store chain is making. Standard wholesale rates are around 50% of what MSRP would be, so your revenue on a $10 item is around $5. Toymakers like this survive on sheer volume.

I wouldn't say they have "given up" so much as "pursued items with higher profit margins". Nerf's top end items are now in the $60-80 dollar range, as they've poured their energy into that market. With the current business paradigm of squeezing every penny of profit, they probably don't even see a reason to bother with the super soaker line. Putting all their resources into Nerf is more money in their pockets. That, and any good, separate pressure design would require paying more royalties to Lonnie Johnson. You've already seen how stingy Hasbro has become with royalties, basically taking the "sue me" approach rather than pay up.

Until the macro business paradigm returns to a "good quality at a fair price" paradigm, I don't expect to see quality water guns return regularly. "Sqeeze every penny" just doesn't allow for resources to be "wasted" on improving quality. Minimum effort for maximum profit is the order of the day. The only thing I see changing is perhaps, new company/line disruption. Mattel's BoomCo line tried to do that to Nerf, but Mattel also has a lot of muscle to flex that Alex Brands doesn't.
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Re: Have manufacturers given up?

Postby marauder » Fri May 19, 2017 3:53 pm

That certainly sheds a new light on things.

So, perhaps it's not so much that people aren't as interested as the profit margins just aren't there.

Speaking of interest... another thing I just thought of is how we are much less susceptible to advertising these days.

I read an article comparing decades that emphasized how in the 90s companies would spend exorbitant amounts of money advertising to children. Commercials and print advertising and articles were much much more pervasive.

How do you know that you want a bigger more powerful blaster if you've never seen someone using an SS 50 getting hosed down by a 2000? It used to be impossible to ignore the advertisements and commercials. These days you would have to actively seek out that information on social media. Even if the information is there, what percentage of people are going to actively research what is essentially just a summer toy prior to purchasing? I imagine nerfers are more likely to hit social media than people purchasing a water gun. Although what we do here is rather extreme and can be technical at times we all got into waterguns from the basic summer soakfest. Unless you are going to a special event and really want to hose someone down there's really not much of a reason to go do research.

So, my point is, people probably don't even know what is or what could be (more power) out there.

*edit*

Shit, my mind is blown thinking about this. Not necessarily because of super soakers, but because of what that really says about society. On the one hand, it's beautiful. It's privacy. If I don't want you forcing yourself into my space trying to sell me something then I can block you out. On the other hand, we are so skeptical of the information presented and can essentially go out and find whatever info we are looking for that confirms the view we already have.
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Re: Have manufacturers given up?

Postby SSCBen » Fri May 19, 2017 11:09 pm

DX wrote:Two words: Legal issues. Manufacturers like Hasbro and Alex Brands are technically wholesalers. Most big retailers require them to sign contracts that forbid direct sales to consumers. You can't have a deal with say, Walmart or Target, and still offer the same products direct.


Very interesting. I did not know this at all. I'd be interested in hearing some confirmation from iSoaker about whether BBT has such an agreement, and any details it involves.

At this point, though, we're talking about the Drench Force being unavailable outside of some regional stores I never heard of. Seems like a bad deal if those stores would prevent Alex Brands from selling online. I even asked Alex Brands and all they told me was which stores had it. The easiest way to get it might be to get a free sample for review!

DX wrote:I wouldn't say they have "given up" so much as "pursued items with higher profit margins". Nerf's top end items are now in the $60-80 dollar range, as they've poured their energy into that market. With the current business paradigm of squeezing every penny of profit, they probably don't even see a reason to bother with the super soaker line. Putting all their resources into Nerf is more money in their pockets.


However it's phrased, the end result is that we don't see good water guns. If water guns indeed don't sell as well as is claimed, then I'd agree focusing on more profitable items is better for them.

I might be willing to put my money where my mouth is if I learn more about manufacturing. Perhaps after my PhD ends...

marauder wrote:How do you know that you want a bigger more powerful blaster if you've never seen someone using an SS 50 getting hosed down by a 2000? It used to be impossible to ignore the advertisements and commercials. These days you would have to actively seek out that information on social media. Even if the information is there, what percentage of people are going to actively research what is essentially just a summer toy prior to purchasing? I imagine nerfers are more likely to hit social media than people purchasing a water gun. Although what we do here is rather extreme and can be technical at times we all got into waterguns from the basic summer soakfest. Unless you are going to a special event and really want to hose someone down there's really not much of a reason to go do research.


Excellent point. I know I see much less advertising now than I did before, given that I use ad blockers, don't watch TV, and don't use social media. So I don't even get the "personalized" ads most people will see.

I suppose this means that we need to cast a wide net ourselves. Advertising on Maker blogs, r/Nerf, iSoaker, etc., needs to become a more regular thing. It's somewhat targeted, but also much more diffuse than the small number of people here at WWN.

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Re: Have manufacturers given up?

Postby Drenchenator » Sun May 21, 2017 10:15 am

This article seems to be spot-on from my point of view. In the back of my mind I was hoping there would be a resurgence once the CPS patents expired, but it seems that the opposite has happened. Manufacturers know they don't have to put in any effort and the newest disposable thing will sell again and again each year. At this point, it might be worthwhile to organize a campaign to push for better options from the manufacturers, but if legally they can't wholesale it might be all for nothing.

I might be willing to put my money where my mouth is if I learn more about manufacturing. Perhaps after my PhD ends...

I was thinking of the same thing, actually! I'd really wish things were more in the water-war-arms-race category than not-even-scraping-by category, because water gunning was one of the biggest reasons I got interested in what I'm working on for my PhD. But since the manufacturers don't seem to be competing against each other, an "arms race" won't happen in the current market.
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Re: Have manufacturers given up?

Postby TylerK » Sun May 21, 2017 12:01 pm

The state things are in saddens me. The only thing that has been advanced water war in my opinion is the dad who came up with the quick fill water balloons (now sold by Zuru), I think he initially did a kick-starter to get the design out there.
Now if someone would design a CPS gun that was easily reproduced and kickstarted it and got it out on social media..... since the patent is expired.

Good news is we may host our church's annual water day/war this summer. Oh, and I just fixed 3 CPS soakers that were broken that I picked up off of ebay last winter.

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Re: Have manufacturers given up?

Postby marauder » Mon May 22, 2017 8:35 am

FWIW, when Tony and Danny lived in Conn the neighbor kids used to complain that their CPS 2100s were too OP. The kids would be using generic blasters and nerf super soakers and Tony and Danny would just wipe the floor with them. I have heard some people complain about how much you have to pump, but I don't think the whole "kids are just lazy now" excuse is affecting things too much. It's gotta be all about money and the lack of demand for more powerful blasters because people just don't know about them.


TylerK wrote:Good news is we may host our church's annual water day/war this summer. Oh, and I just fixed 3 CPS soakers that were broken that I picked up off of ebay last winter.


Great news on both. What was broken? You should share some pictures!
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Re: Have manufacturers given up?

Postby TylerK » Mon May 22, 2017 11:04 am

Oh let me see. A 2500 pump-shot, so needed the rubber washer epoxy back on in the valve. A 1200 had a missing/broken pump, made a new one. And a 1000 had a crack on it's valve which leaked, again marine epoxy to the rescue. Did take any pictures, all these repairs are pretty well documented at sscentral.


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