Review date: 22 September 2003.
Last modified 15-Jul-2015.


Toys that shoot something are cool. Toys that shoot something hard enough to cause real havoc are cooler. Toys that also shoot something that you can find anywhere, rather than special darts or balls or whatever that you can't help but lose, are cooler yet.

The slingshot qualifies in all three categories - serious slingshotters use standardised commercial ammunition, but a pebble will do.

If you'd rather have a weapon that won't see you explaining yourself in court if you shoot it at another human, though, then the Airzooka could well be for you.


Yes, it looks like a bucket with a handle. It's bucket sized, too; almost 28cm (11 inches) wide at the big end, and about the same size nose to tail. This is not a concealable weapon.

Rear view

It's also not a stealthy weapon. You fire it by reaching into the back of the bucket, grabbing the knob in the middle of the clear plastic approximate-cone that covers the back, and pulling the plastic out.


This elastic cord's looped through the knob, on the inside of the Airzooka; you pull it tight when you pull the knob back.

Then, you let go of the knob, like firing a slingshot. The elastic cord snaps back, the plastic goes with it, and with a loud WHAP sound, your Airzooka fires.

What it fires is a vortex of air - not an actual collection of air molecules moving across the room, but a swirling air-wave, like a smoke ring, which transfers energy across the room without moving any particular bit of air very much at all.

Regular readers will remember my recent review of the Zero Blaster, a much smaller and more subtle vortex gun, which shoots smoke rings.

(The Airzooka, by the way, is also sold by Zero Toys, makers of the Zero Blaster - but it's not actually their product. The Airzooka's from Can You Imagine .)

The difference between the Zero Blaster and the Airzooka is one of scale and finesse. The Zero Blaster doesn't actually have much "blast" power at all; at maximum power, it can just about extinguish a birthday cake candle an inch from its muzzle, if you shoot it over and over.

The Airzooka, in contrast, can blow out a candle six metres away with no trouble at all. At zero range, it'd blow the icing off the cake.

(Plastic cups are no match for the Airzooka at all, as the little video clips on UK gadgethaus Firebox's page here prove. Firebox also deserve credit for coming up with an excellent description of the Airzooka's effect - it is, indeed, "like being punched by a ghost".)

When you fire the Airzooka, the plastic membrane whips from a convex cone to a concave one in a small fraction of a second, and that causes a pulse of at least four and a half litres (around 1.2 gallons) of air to shoot out of the hole in the business end of the Airzooka, kicking off the vortex. The Zero Blaster, in contrast, has an air pulse of only a few cubic centimetres, at most. It also has a membrane that pops back to flatness after the pulse, which is essential for a well-formed smoke-ring vortex; the Airzooka's membrane doesn't bounce back. It just throws a bunch of air out and lets it figure stuff out for itself.

The Airzooka box says its range is "up to 20 feet", and it's not kidding. Actually, indoors, it can mess up hair even further away, if you manage to aim it right. You don't have to wait long for the pulse to get to the target, either; it travels at an easy ten metres per second.

The hair-messing-up, by the way, is a big Airzooka feature, since its target market appears to be small boys with older sisters. Look at the box:

Box shot

There's nothing at all stopping adults from playing with this thing, though. It is well-suited to office warfare. And yes, it is likely to scare the heck out of household pets, though they may not be too bothered when you're not actually holding it.

As a smoke ring gun, the Airzooka is a miserable failure. Fill it with smoke and take a shot and the smoke just sprays out randomly as the air-bullet races away. But who needs smoke when you've just blown the cigarette out of someone's mouth?


The Airzooka handle is big enough for adult hands. That means it's too big for little kids; the box says it's for ages six and up, but small children won't be able to fire it at full power. They'll also have serious accuracy problems; the draw weight of the Airzooka is such that even adults will have a hard time aiming it straight when it's cocked and ready.


To help with aiming, there's this nifty flip-up sight, which you line up with a notch sight moulded into the back of the Airzooka...

Sighting so.

The sight genuinely does help, but at ranges of more than a few metres you'll probably still need to shoot a few times to hit a target the size of a human head.

It costs nothing but muscle power to take as many shots as you like, of course.


The assembled Airzooka would need a shipping carton big enough for, well, a bucket, so it comes in this collapsed form instead. An excellent instruction sheet's included, and the assembly process is quite simple, but kids will probably need an adult to help them.

You extend the three-part body, clip the handle on the bottom, clip another plate on the top, and then you retain the handle with three twist fasteners; it's not a complex task. But you need to push pretty hard to get the plates to click into place. They look as if they're not going to line up right, but brute force carries the day.

Apparently there was an earlier version of the Airzooka that lacked the twist fasteners to hold the handle on. Now, presumably after a few people got hit in the head by the bucket when the handle popped off while they were pulling the knob back, there's this extra safety feature.

This model of Airzooka's solid enough to stand rough play. And provided you don't tear the plastic membrane loose from the back, anybody who does manage to break their Airzooka should be able to fix it with epoxy.

Buying one

Backyard Artillery provided my review Airzooka. They sell Airzookas (and Zero Blasters) on this page.

UPDATE: This review is more than ten years old now, and Backyard Artillery seems to be in a semi-functional state.

Never mind - you can still easily find an Airzooka on Amazon or on eBay!

I got a visible-from-space yellow one for review, in a box that said it was green. Well, it is greenish under UV light; it fluoresces very brightly. In normal illumination, though, it's bright yellow. Backyard Artillery also sell blue and black models.

The complexity of the above links may have tipped you off to the fact that I've signed up with an affiliate program that means I get a cut if you follow my links and then buy stuff. So I've got a vested interest in talking you into buying from Backyard Artillery, but fortunately they aren't actually charging lousy prices for Airzookas.

The Airzooka is a pretty cheap toy, no matter where you buy it. It lists for $US15.95 or so, and lots of places sell it for less. Since it comes in a good-sized box (even collapsed), you'll want to keep an eye on the shipping fees if you're buying one mail order. People who can't find a dealer in their country are likely to have to pay at least the sticker price again for delivery.

Backyard Artillery sell the Airzooka for $US14.99 plus $US6.45 delivery for the contiguous USA, or more for other destinations. You can look up their shipping fees by putting an Airzooka in your shopping cart on this page and then using the Shipping To menu on the resultant cart page; this isn't one of those shopping carts that requires you to create an account or enter credit card details before you can see what the shipping costs are.

The fee for delivery of one Airzooka to Australia $US24.75, which makes the total price around $AU59. This actually isn't too bad compared with buying an Airzooka locally. A few places here in Australia are selling Airzookas, for around $AU40; including local postage you're talking $AU45 or so.

Since Backyard Artillery's shipping fee for two Airzookas is only $US4.50 higher than the fee for one, any Aussies planning to buy at least a duelling pair (or bulk out their order with more toys or trebuchet or mangonel paraphernalia...) will actually do better to buy from the other side of the world.


This is an excellent toy. It lacks the ooh-ah value of the Zero Blaster, and it's a lot less mellow, but it truly is a worthy successor to the late lamented Wham-O Air Blaster. It's more unwieldy than the Air Blaster, but it's also safer, and it's quite cheap, and it's unreasonably fun.

Highly recommended.

Click here to buy an Airzooka from Backyard Artillery!

UPDATE: This review is more than ten years old now, and Backyard Artillery seems to be in a semi-functional state.

Never mind - you can still easily find an Airzooka on Amazon or on eBay!

Other toy shooty things

Zero Blaster

This is another vortex gun, but it makes the vortex visible.


And this is about as cool as it looks.

And then...

Zero Blaster

...there's this. Another vortex gun, but one that makes the vortex visible.


And this. It's about as cool as it looks.


Give Dan some money!
(and no-one gets hurt)