Minutiæ



Giving11.12

The Right to Wear Arms

by

Edward Pillnus doesn't look like an arms dealer. He's fifty-two years old, 5'6”, and a hundred and eighty pounds. He wears wire-rim glasses when driving and gets his hair cut once a week at the same barbershop he's frequented since 1992. That said, if you look at the numbers, he's one of the biggest gun-runners in the world and his products are fired at crowds of innocent bystanders several times a day. And the bystanders? They want it.

This is because Pillnus is the CEO of Fun Time Ventures, the world's largest manufacturer of the SL-73 pressurized air cannon, also known as the “t-shirt gun.” In stadiums and sports arenas across the globe, the SL-73 is used to propel promotional apparel high into the packed stands.

“People think we're just t-shirt guns,” Pillnus says as he walks me through the company's headquarters in Snellville, Georgia. “But we have our fingers in every aspect of the apparel projection business.” He leads me to a place that Fun Time's competitors would pay dearly to see for themselves: the New Products Lab.

First up is the Pants Slingshot, which can fire a pair of trousers up to four hundred feet. “Slacks only though. No jeans. They're too stiff,” explains Daniel Wakler, Fun Time's lead designer. “At least for now. We're working on some ideas.” Next is the Flip-Flop Pistol: handheld revolver that comes with its own leather hip holster. “This is a very exciting product,” Pillnus tells me. “Unfortunately, we can only shoot very small flip-flops with it. Basically, flip-flops the size of peanuts. Only babies wants those.”

After that, we come across the product that brought Fun Time a fair amount of trouble recently: the Blazer Bazooka. The bazooka's ammunition is a “bullet” of ten tightly wrapped, vacuum-sealed suit blazers. When fired, the bullet breaks apart, spraying its audience with extra-large navy blazers. Last August, Fun Town was in the press after a man in South Florida held up several convenience stores using a prototype Blazer Bazooka. The crime wave reached its zenith when the suspect fired the weapon at a store clerk at close range, instantly dressing him in a Burger Land-branded sport coat and severing his arms and legs from his torso. The bazooka has since been pulled from Fun Time's website and is currently awaiting a “reimagining.”

And lastly, there's Pillnus's pet project. The product he says will lead Fun Time into the next century of apparel projection. He calls it the “Derby Drone.” “All of the research tells us the derby hat, also known as a bowler, is going to make a huge comeback in the next couple years, especially with inner city teens,” Pillnus says. The drone is a remote-controlled flying robot that will be able to make “surgical strikes” of derby hats across tens of thousands of spectators at a time. He's developing the technology in conjunction with the military research division of DRA Avionics.

“From my front row seat on the forty yard line, I'll be able to pick out a fan anywhere in the Georgia Dome, call in a strike to the drone command center back at Fun Times HQ, and get a special Moe's Burrito Cantina-branded promotional derby tactically delivered to that fan's head,” Pillnus explains as he shows me the blueprints in his office. “This is going to change the entire industry. My children will never have to work a day in their lives,” he says with determination as he slams his fist on the wall.

Pillnus gets misty-eyed whenever his children come up. There is a photo on his desk of his eight year-old triplets, all holding mini versions of the classic SL-73. “It's all for them,” he says. “Anyway, let me show you a little something we're working on called ”˜Watch-Palm.' It's basically napalm… but with watches.” ♦