by Joe Saunders
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.” ♦