Entertech ‘Water Weapons’ and Zap-It Commercials (1986/1987)

The commercials are slightly different and highlight different weapons (pump-action shotgun, water grenade set), but the catchy tagline is the same: “The look… the feel… the sound… so real. En-ter-tech.” The cadence and music are unmistakably military, and the letters of Entertech appear on the screen in time to the rattle of a machine gun.

Zap-It was another Entertech gun line, the gimmick being that the “ammo” was disappearing ink. The first commercial is from 1987, before enactment of the orange tip law. Watch the kid pop out from behind the door and shoot the pleasantly bemused postman! (There were 18 postal killing incidents in the U.S. between 1983 and 1997. The first use of the phrase “going postal” in the media seems to date to 1993.)

The second commercial, from the early ’90s, features guns decked out in all the colors of the rainbow. The Death Wish fantasies of the Reagan era gave way to Clintonian sax appeal and Vanilla Ice brand hip-hop.

8 Responses to “Entertech ‘Water Weapons’ and Zap-It Commercials (1986/1987)”

  1. 1 Don Gates September 23, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Weird. I grew up in the 80’s and played “guns” and “war” all the time and never thought twice about it. Had a lot of fun, too. But now at 40 when I look at these commercials, I feel creepy about the whole thing. The shot of the kid “cowering” from the water balloon grenade “explosions” was particularly eerie to me, for some reason.

  2. 2 Fractalbat September 23, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    I had some Entertech guns, or their knock-offs. They were a lot of fun. I had cap guns whose major selling point was their realism too. My favorite was a Luger.

    Yeah… probably best we don’t have toy guns like that anymore.

  3. 3 2W2N September 23, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    I agree that it’s eerie, and I think it’s because, in retrospect, we know how many kids died clutching these things, and we no longer think war is anything but a hell beyond imagining. Just a guess.

    • 4 Don Gates September 23, 2014 at 10:05 pm

      There’s a difference between simple play emulation and glorification. These are definitely the latter.

      • 5 2W2N September 23, 2014 at 10:23 pm

        True. And it’s so happy and innocent, like the G.I. Joe cartoon! I’m not sure how violence got so cartoon-y in the ’80s, especially after the gritty ’70s (Peckinpah, Scorsese, etc.). I think the election of Reagan was just a collective collapse of exhaustion: “We know he’s a deluded fantasy, but fuck it, we’re too tired for reality. Give us big hair and music we can dance to.”

  4. 6 narvo September 24, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Man. I remember those Entertech commercials all too well, but that was just a few years past my “wargaming” prime, which would’ve been ’80–’83.

    Playing “guns” or “war” was one of my favorite activities with my friends from 4th to 7th grade. Even beforehand, in the ’70s, I would go on my own solo recon missions around my yard and neighborhood with my favorite gun—a full-auto M16 which looked convincingly real except for a red tip on the front which moved back and forth when fired (I guess to simulate muzzle flash…awful).

    But that’s all a sign of the times. If you look at the older ’50s and ’60 commercials, their toy guns were even more realistic! I guess us Gen-Xers were (luckily) the last ones to experience that kind of realistic play combat.

    We live in an entirely different world today. I play Nerf gun battles with my son (8 yrs. old) all the time these days, but the “fun” colors of the weapons already takes away from the sense of real battle. Every time I look at the guns I wish I could paint them and make them look real, but obviously that wouldn’t be a wise choice in this day and age.

    Thanks, by the way, for providing us with this great entertainment. With all the crap that’s been circulating around on the internet and all the back and forth commenting on this and that, I’ve just about given up on today’s current events and would rather not hear about ’em.

    • 7 2W2N September 24, 2014 at 11:14 pm

      We used to go out in “the hills” and have team battles, and fight over who got to carry the best (i.e. most realistic) guns. I think the ’80s marked the high point in toy gun production and realistic looking weapons, because gun culture was on the rise, war was popular again with kids (Vietnam was fading from memory), vigilantes were socially acceptable, and “patriots” like Wally George were cool.

      • 8 narvo September 24, 2014 at 11:48 pm

        Never realized how prevalent gun culture was in ’80s culture until now. Wow. The whole Death Wish series, even…and Clint Eastwood with the “Go ahead, make my day” line…man, all kinds of stuff!

        I’ll never forget my buddy’s gun in 7th Grade; he had an MP-40 “Grease Gun” scale replica his dad made from wood and metal (his pop was a woodworker with all kinds of shop equipment including a lathe in his garage). It was even spray painted flat black for effect. He was the hero of the whole wargaming crowd (all 5 of us, lol). I wonder if he still has it. If he does, I’ll send pics.

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