Lazer Tag in Pop Culture: Shooting People with Lasers in the Comfort of Your Own Home

LazerTagLogo

These days Laser Tag seems more or less regulated to team building office outings in warehouses filled with fog machines, but back in the 1980s the idea of combat with lasers took a hold of pop culture in a serious way.

There were two main companies vying for that hot laser tag dollar, Lazer Tag by Worlds of Wonder and Photon by Entertech, which is worthy of its own post. I came into possession of the basic Lazer Tag Set through a Christmas gift from my out of state Grandparents. Every year I’d get one gift from them that was pretty big AND I got to open it on Christmas Eve (so it was a double dose of awesome, since the rest of the good stuff came on Christmas morning). Anyway, the downside to getting Lazer Tag at the time what that I was from a very small town and nobody else had a gun and target. Basically I could set the target down and shoot at it, and that was about it. While I got other Lazer Tag stuff mostly through clearance, I never had anyone to play with! However, the gun itself looked so cool and it had lights and sounds that it made an excellent pretend laser gun… still… it would have been nice to have someone shoot back at me.

While doing some research into this post I stepped into a Lazer tag rabbit hole where I found bizarre things like this picture of Karem Abdul-Jabbar with a Lazer Tag rifle:

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Source: The Retroist

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Or maybe this is a little crazier, TSR (the original makers of Dungeons and Dragons) published a Lazer Tag rule book? And a tournament guide?? This ad for the Lazer Tag rule book was in almost every comic book in the 1980s.

Source: The Retroist

That wasn’t all, Lazer Tag had it’s own cartoon series called Lazer Tag Academy. It seemed like they were just giving away cartoons to any license that would have one in the 1980s.

Laser Tag comic book Ad

Anyone find it a tad odd that the dog is talking in that above Lazer Tag comic book ad? I guess in the world of Lazer Tag animals that speak perfect English are NBD.

I never saw Lazer Tag Academy when I was a kid, even though I liked the idea of the show. I had a big problem with getting up on time to catch my favorite cartoons. Watching the intro now reveals just how crazy the series was. A Lazer Tag champion has some magic powers until a villain from the past comes back and he has the power too. And not only that, but he travels in time and she has to stop him. Insanity!

One common theme for Lazer Tag that ran through their cartoon and commercials, that in the future everyone would be playing Lazer Tag brand laser tag in huge tournaments to determine the fate of the world. Clearly the marketing department was looking at the big picture.

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When I was a kid I thought that the dramatic television series Thirtyomething was about old people (Speaking of Thirtysomething, talk about falling into a pop-culural abyss. Anyone remember that show?). Now that I’m 30 something. Ugh.  Anyway, Lazer Tag made a prominent appearance in that show.

In my searching I realized I had too much stuff, so I had to split it up into at least two posts. Keep a look out for my look at Lazer Tag gear!

Lazer_Tag_Gear

Source: Retroist

If you want to explore the world of Lazer Tag a bit more, there’s a really long web page detailing the history of the game, or should I say, lifestyle.

Note: Lazer Tag is still in use by Hasbro, but I’m talking about the real deal Lazer Tag, Lazer Tag from 1986 to about 1991.


  • Lamar the Revenger

    Ah the GOOD Laser Tag. The one where you needed 6 AA batteries in each gun.. I always wanted to get a bunch of these & have a match at my former employer. Offices were off limits, but the main areas were PERFECT for Laser Tag.

  • Chad B.

    I had the basic Photon set as a kid, and never knew anyone else with it. So I spent plenty of time shooting the target and using the gun as a toy.

  • Yup, you and me both. I had the Lazer Tag base station that was supposed to shoot back, but certainly not as fun as it would have been with another kid.

  • I wonder how many people have these sets still. Maybe I’ll wear one to a con.