In 1996, Bruce Lund's company came up with the Tickle Me Elmo doll, a plush Sesame Street doll that chuckled when squeezed. Today, he's developing a gas-powered, potentially lethal bean bag cannon for the Pentagon. An obvious progression! (No, really.) UPDATED

There story goes something like this: Lund & Co Inventions doesn't sell toys directly, instead researching and developing them for larger toy companies, like Tyco. A request from a company like that might read like this:

Make us a doll that behaves as if it responds to tickling, without it being too creepy. Thanks!

Right! So Lund makes the doll, and it sells millions. Likewise, when toy rocket company Estes asked for help, Lund's company answered the call. Here's what they came up with:


And here's how it works:

Ordinary tap water is broken down into Hydrogen and Oxygen gases, which recombines to be H2O and releases energy instantaneously. Expanding gases propel the rocket upwards – over 200 feet in the air.

This tech is remarkably good for throwing plastic rockets toward the sky. It's also very easy to adjust on the fly, which brings us to Lund's Variable Velocity Weapon System, nicknamed "The Big Hurt."


The rationale behind this real-life video game power up, from PopMech:

The problem with existing weapons firing rubber bullets, beanbags and other crowd-control rounds is their velocity. Anything that is effective at 50 yards may be lethal at 5 yards; anything that is safe at 5 yards won't be fast enough to be effective at 50. Lund's solution is a weapon that automatically measures the range to the target and varies the muzzle velocity accordingly.

The Pentagon is pretty keen on this! They're also keen on Lund including a manual override function, which would let a user switch to a full velocity mode, which could actually make the projectiles lethal. (As well as a handful of other operational changes, detailed here.)

So there you have it! Your complete guide for going from making harmless toys to liquefying protesters' internal organs, in just two steps!

UPDATE: Previously covered here. [Popular Mechanics]