The Balloons of Summer!

Scott Tripp

Every summer, the shelves that hold the seasonal items in department stores explode with pool floats, waterguns, Slip and Slides, and outdoor toys. Tucked in between swimming flippers and SuperSoakers, you can find some cool balloon treasures. A lot of them are technically “water balloons”, but they can still find a home in you twisting apron!

Party Like Crazy!

Target department store has some really unique Chinese balloons that they’re selling under the Party Like Crazy! name brand. The first ones are these HUGE 19-inch round balloons that are decorated with white and yellow splotches. These take a lot of effort to blow up by mouth, so you might not want to use them in a line situation. But, combined with a handful of 350s and two 5-inch eyeball prints, they make a gigantic Don Caldwell octopus hat!

Funsational Camouflage Water Bombs

I was pretty excited when I first saw these. I think I first saw them in Walgreens. They were packaged as a “Fun Kit”, including an ammo belt with pockets, a water balloon slingshot, a sink adapter for filling the balloons, and 36 camouflage water balloons. Attached to the back, via a strip of double-sided tape, was a bag of 100 more camouflage balloons. They measure about 5″ when inflated, and are produced by Pioneer Worldwide. I was able to find larger camouflage balloons, probably 9″, at a party store. I thought these two sizes could be used together to make some cool stuff. I was thinking of making a column of the 5″ balloons, topped by a big 9″ camouflage balloon. I do a lot of work around the Fort Campbell army base, so I was excited about the possibilities.

I was disappointed. When blown up, the balloons look awful. The camouflage print washes out, and you’re left with what looks like a muddy balloon (above, right). I’ll save one unopened bag for my collection, but otherwise, they have no place in my apron at all.

Funsational Cherry Water Bombs, Cannonballs, Groovy Soakers, and Party Like Crazy! 12-Inch Fireworks Prints

Okay, so the camouflage balloons were a bomb (pun probably intended), but Funsational has a few other entries in the summer balloon line-up. Funsational Cherry Water Bombs are a 5-inch round red balloon that is actually cherry scented. I’m a sucker for gimmicks, so I was attracted to these right away. The cherry smell is very faint, but that’s okay, it’s all about the novelty. These are the only scented balloons I’ve ever heard of. It gives you something to talk to your customers about while you use them to make Don Caldwell ladybugs.

I didn’t even bother to buy the Funsational Cannonballs. They were literally just a bag of 5-inch round black balloons. Nothing more, nothing less. I’ll just stick to Qualatex for my plain 5″ round balloon needs. Next up we have Groovy Soakers. These can actually be found year-round at Wal-Mart, and even at T. Myers. Groovy Soakers are a 5-inchish round balloon, with a random tie-dyed pattern. When inflated, the pattern mostly washes out, much like the camouflage balloons above. Although the coloration doesn’t hold up, I, as well as many twisters out there, still use Groovy Soaker balloons. Now we come to the second offering from the Target department store’s Party Like Crazy! Line. The 12-inch fireworks print balloons look good, and would also be great for making Don Caldwell octopus hats, the tops of fairy-type wands or hats for patriotic holidays, and they could probably even be used in columns or arches. The only complaint I really have for the Party Like Crazy! printed balloons is that the pattern coverage on the balloons is heavy at the top, but doesn’t reach all the way down to the nozzle. Not a really big deal on the fireworks print, but kind of sloppy looking on the 19-inch dot pattern balloons. They also taste a bit funky when you blow them up.

Pirate Printed Balloons and Funsational Squiggly Shapes Balloons

I found these pirate balloons at a party store. They are packaged in bags of 8, and were selling for $2.59. I think the price was a bit inflated (pun certainly intended), and probably reflects the quality of the party store in which I visited. The balloons are 12-inches when inflated, and come in assorted colors. The prints are skull and crossbone prints in white ink, and should be a big hit right now with the popularity of Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Use them in hats, wands, bracelets, and whatever you can think of to make those scurvy dogs happy all summer long.

Funsational has a variety bag of 12 squiggly shaped balloons that contains bumpies, spirals, and bird-shaped balloons. The bird balloons are kind of like a skinny version of a Betallatex swan balloon. One of my favorite things to do with the Betallatex swan balloons is to braid three 260s together, and twist the braid into a loop to make a nest. Then blow up the swan balloon and tuck it into the middle of the nest, securing it in place by wrapping the knot around the junction of the balloons in the back of the nest. This is a quick balloon to make, but it goes over really well. It’s big, and it uses a very interesting balloon as the centerpiece. Sometimes I use this in my restaurants when I have repeat customers who have “seen it all”. I tried making this with one of the Funsational bird-shaped balloons, but the results weren’t so great. The sculpture with the Betallatex balloon is below on the left, with the Funsational balloon below on the right. Although Funsational balloons are made by Pioneer, and are in the Qualatex family, I found these balloons to be kind of thin and oily feeling, and not have too much similarity to Qualatex balloons as we know them.

Unique Water Rocket Balloons

Last year, an unopened bag of these sold for $25 at a balloon auction of This year, I’m finding them for $1.99 per bag at Party City. They’re kind of like a gray 321 apple balloon with a red tip. I kind of like these balloons, even though I’m not sure what to use them for. I played around with some to see what I could come up with, and I wound up using two of them for the rocket pack on this space man. The flames are tulip-twisted into the bottoms of the water rockets, and a few gluedots help hold the pack on his back. The body is a Betallatex small bear head, and the arms and hat base are 260 balloons. The head is a printed 5-inch round stuffed into a clear 5-inch round, the middle of the flag is a white 5-inch round with a little Sharpie work, and everything else is made from 160 balloons. The hat stands fairly tall, and I’m sure it will be an attention-getter. If you have any problems putting it together, e-mail me and I’ll walk you through it.

I hope you try out some of these balloons this summer, and who knows, maybe some of them will find a permanent spot in your balloon apron!