Photon: The Ultimate Game on Planet Earth Ad and Commercials (1986)

Photon Ad 1986

There were four major reasons original laser tag was a short-lived fad, with both Photon and Lazer Tag ending production in less than 5 years. First, Lazer Tag, the more popular brand by far, came out in November 1986, and the units were drastically underproduced when demand was highest. Second, the technology may have been cleaner than paintball, but it was much less effective. Nothing pisses off a kid more than a hit that doesn’t register. Third, the units were expensive (about $50 in 1986) and playing alone was boring, so you and a friend (or, better yet, friends) had to convince the respective parental units to shell out. Four, there were very few official arenas to support team play and provide the futuristic atmosphere the game required (as played up in the commercials). By Christmas 1987, we had moved on to something much bigger and better: the NES.

One last thing. Laser tag wasn’t immune to the biggest toy gun problem of all. In 1987, a group of teenage boys was playing Lazer Tag at night in a California elementary school. A neighbor called the police, and when a sheriff’s deputy arrived, one of the kids, thinking the deputy was a player, jumped out and “tagged” him. The cop shot twice, and the kid died.

(Ad image via X-Entertainment)

7 Responses to “<em>Photon: The Ultimate Game on Planet Earth</em> Ad and Commercials (1986)”


  1. 1 Fractalbat September 24, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    I had the Lazer Tag rifle and it was awesome. We used it when we played Star Wars or whatever sci-fi war game we were playing.

    We rarely played actual Lazer Tag though. It was very cool, but the problems with a chest sensor were legion. People shooting with their chests covered by a tree, you can’t shoot them from behind. They had the hats and helmets but they were tiny and it sucked if you had a hat and they had a chest sensor.

    One time a friend and I were in a grappling match with the pistols, trying to shoot each other’s chest sensor. It’s cool to do that once.

    I loved the Photon commercials.

  2. 2 Jay September 25, 2014 at 4:26 am

    I had Lazer Tag, too (in fact, I think it’s still hanging around somewhere). We kind of solved the sensor-being-covered issue by making a rule that you couldn’t shoot from a covered position (basically, you had to come out of hiding to shoot – no sniping); that didn’t stop me from setting my opponents gun to the narrow setting, though.

    We also would play a kind of hunter-type game; one person wore both sensors, leaving with a 10 second head start & the goal of getting to ‘home’ while two other people with the blasters would hunt the quarry down. Fun, if not a little warped.

  3. 5 2W2N September 25, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    I think I only played once, and it was Photon. I just remember being frustrated. Nerf has laser tag guns now, and I bet the tech is amazing compared to the original. Would love to try it.


  1. 1 Target Toy Ads, 1985/1986 | 2 Warps to Neptune Trackback on December 11, 2015 at 3:48 pm
  2. 2 Photon Instructional Video, 1986 Trackback on July 11, 2017 at 1:43 pm

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