I remember Laser Tag as an exciting but fairly brief blip in 1980’s pop culture. A lot of the kids I knew got excited about these commercials, a lot of us asked earnestly for Laser Tag guns Christmas, and … none of us got them. (Our parents seemed unanimous that they were too expensive.)
Ah, well. The subsequent buzz around my neighborhood was that our parents were probably wise, anyway — we heard later that the guns hardly worked, making the product nowhere near as cool as the commercials depicted. (I am linking below to Kevin Noonan’s Youtube Channel, by the way.)
And then the fad faded — all the hubbub around Laser Tag (and Photon, its cheaper competitor) just kinda went away. It sort of makes sense. Paintball was alive and well as an edgier, more subversive, and more exciting sport; I can’t imagine how these gaudy electronic products could compete with that.
The Wikipedia entry for Laser Tag had a couple of surprises for me. For starters, the technology for the products’ infrared light guns and sensors was developed by the United States Army in the 1970’s — I guess it was an Ender’s Game-type scenario. And the first game system using the technology was South Bend’s Star Trek Electronic Phaser Guns in 1979. (Those toys were released in conjunction with the premiere of that year’s “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”)
Didn’t see that one coming. I’ll bet those toys fetch a nice price among collectors.
Anyway, there was another Laser Tag commercial that everybody talked about back in the day … it depicted American and Russian teams competing in a dystopian-future tournament, in which the Statue of Liberty was the trophy. It’s smile-inducing. I couldn’t find a really decent copy of it to link to here, but you can find it on Youtube.