When was the last time a toy made you laugh uncontrollably…and I don’t mean imitating Tickle Me Elmo? Or when was the last time you engaged in the mainly sport of duck hunting? For those afraid that Dick Chaney might be lurking around, Interactive Toy’s Duck Hunter Launch and Load will give you all the “shooting eye” practice you can ask for. Just without the real shooting. This ain’t a toy you have to assemble, so relax. Take the duck and blow off the contact points on its bottom (or do a quick swipe with a dry washcloth). Do the same to the contact points on the top end of the rifle — yes it has an orange end so being on the front yard shouldn’t get you arrested. Or use it inside as long as you’ve the room and a high-enough ceiling. But since this ducky ain’t invulnerable, I think the wide open spaces of a park might be the safest place to try it out. It worked when I used to fly rockets, so there.
Now rather than shells, you load in 3 “AAA” batteries — this supplies the power to charge the duck as well as enacting a sound when you pull back on the reload pump and pull the trigger.
The duck can be programmed to fly in two manners using a small control tab on its body to make it fly more centered or to the left or right. Duckie-boy is charged by being put on the top of the rifle (after it’s been turned on and the reload pump has been pulled back). You press and hold in on the trigger as a green LED lights up and wait about 20 seconds. Aim the rifle off towards the horizon and press the launch button at the front left of the barrel. The duck takes off with wings flapping. Pull back on the reload pump to chamber a “round” and fire at the duck. If you hit it with the infrared beam (which you can’t see), it’ll falter before continuing on its way. Plink it three times and the duck will stop flapping, “die” and drop to the ground. Which is yet another reason that being in the park is good. Especially since you only get the one duck.
So I decide to first test it on my balcony — it’s in the midst of being cleaned for painting and so is basically an enclosed concrete box that shouldn’t let anything disappear over the edge. I pulled the “action” back and inserted the duck in the channel on on the top of the barrel and have slid it into the contact point. I’m holding the trigger down now so that the green LED is glowing and the duck is charging up.
Okay, I’ve waited 20 seconds and am holding the rifle so that I can reach the tab release near the front that will launch the duck. Once I do, I had better cock the reload quickly and start shooting, since it’ll take three “hits” to down the little fellow. Fortunately, as you can see in the video, the duck is hugging the wall — giving me more than enough time to shoot it dead.
Having a bit more confidence, I transfer my location outside where there’s not too many obstructions and repeat the process. It’s a lot harder to hit the duck now that it can move completely free. But it IS fun to try. And I can see how the duck can be busted if there’s any sharp edged obstructions that it might hit — I’ll be making sure it only files in “safe” environments moving forward.
I remember seeing the prototype of this being demo’d at a Consumer Electronics Show a few years back — the company was at one side of a hall predominantly filled with aftermarket automobile tech and attractive young women beckoning you over to look more closely. That I was lured in by a flying duck says more about me that we’ll go into. But it’s certainly fun actually being able to do this, rather than watching some engineer coddling a prototype like it was his kid.
Bottom line: For under $30, Duck Hunter Launch and Load gives you the chance to shoot down a moving target. One that’s not hovering around to give you the best shot. Forget video games, this is the best eye-to-hand coordination you can ask for.
- The duck actually flies
- No predetermined pattern to bore you after a few shooting “sessions”
- Only one duck supplied
- Duck is somewhat fragile
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.