Water Rockets

Kids have long held a fascination for rockets and toy stores have long offered an ample supply of plastic replicas. But if you wanted to actually fly one in the 70s, you had two choices – either take up the involved hobby of model rocketry, or just buy a cheap water rocket. Fill it up, give it a few pumps, fire it skyward and hope it returns. Simple.

Water rockets first came on the market during the previous decade. They were inexpensive, easy to operate and relatively safe if used according to the directions. Constructed from sturdy plastic, each rocket was packaged with a pump that looked like something you might repair a flat tire with, and a funnel.

Turning the rocket upside down revealed a small hole. Simply insert the funnel and fill with water. Next, attach the pump, which clamped to the underside. Carefully read the packaging to see how many pumps it recommended, then add a few more. Once all of this was accomplished, pull the trigger and watch your beloved toy fly up to 100 feet in the air.


Of course, the question became, where would it land? If you used it in a park or other grassy field, you would likely recover your rocket, no worse for the wear. If you fired it from your yard in a suburban neighborhood like most of us did, you might not want to get too attached to your toy. Hard to say how many landed on the roof of a cranky neighbor, destined to stay there forever.

And even if it cleared all the surrounding homes, it just might land in the street. With no recovery parachute, these hard landings often cracked the indestructible plastic, meaning that fun time was over. Thankfully, water rockets weren’t expensive, and they were available just about anywhere that sold toys. You just had to convince someone to buy you another, this time promising to be more careful.

Millions of water rockets were sold during the decade, especially during those hot summer months, when any toy that released a large spray of water was especially welcome. They are still sold today, both online and in a number of toy aisles, and still bringing smiles to countless young faces.

Did you ever play with these projectiles during the summer. Did you ever aim one at something other than the sky? I’d love to hear all of your memories of this classic toy in our comments section below, as we pay tribute to another wonderful part of our collective childhood, here at Long Island 70s Kid.

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8 Responses

  1. Danny Marone says:

    I aimed one straight up in 79 and it landed right in the down spout of my friends house!

  2. Colin says:

    Thx for posting, I had one of these in 1976, when I was 6. I always wanted to find one and buy it for my Son.

  3. Bob says:

    Great memories for me from a 10 y/o birthday party gift to a friend back in 1972!


  4. Anonymous says:

    I remember these from back in the early 70s. Thank you for the cool memory 🙂

  5. deelio says:

    I had these growing up. They even made a two stage rocket that was comically large, with the second stage activated by a spring. I never got that one to work, though.

  6. Dawn Ricci says:

    Where can I find the original space rocket toy? My husband would be so thrilled if I got him one

    • 70sKid says:

      Wal-Mart actually sells a few that are pretty close. I don’t know anyone selling the original unfortunately.

  7. Douglas P Choy says:

    I had the red/white one that was common, then later a really large green one that went higher and held more water. My cousin and I would spend hours shooting it above our heads in the park and screaming as it rained down on us. Between that, the balsa wood airplanes and home-made kites, we spent many summers together. My cousin passed away a few months ago, and these are some of the memories I will never forger.

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