Founder: Hugh Robinson
Date Established: June 27, 1986
Date Closed: 2006
Number of Locations: 10
Hugh Robinson, Co-founder
Bill Twiss, Co-founder
Barry Robinson (Hugh's twin brother)
First Facility: 229 Tuam Street, Christchurch, New Zealand
Equipment: Details regarding the equipment coming soon.
History: Hugh Robinson, co-founder of Laser Strike was originally looking for a business investment to start and operate in New Zealand. While researching the aspects of the paintball industry when he came across a news article about Photon.
He and his partners then created the Laser Strike equipment after much trial and error and ultimately had 10 locations in both Australia and New Zealand operating with the equipment.
Laser Strike served as the inspiration for Vada, Phasor Strike and Delta Strike. VaadaForce was used in the first Laser Quest and Laser Quest served as inspiration to at least 6 different laser tag systems. Phaser Strike became Zone Laser Tag and served as inspiration to a number of different laser tag companies.
No other company has been as pivatol as Laser Strike for the laser tag industry. Photon started the laser tag experience but more laser tag systems can be traced back to Laser Strike than any other brand.
From The Curator: The origins of Laser Strike had been one of the most elusive stories for our team to track. Doug Willems of Delta Strike was able to provide some information that got the ball rolling in our research. That information led us to Mr. Jonny Burt, the General Manager of Laser Strike in Christchurch.
The current owner of Laser Strike in Christchurch is now the 4th owner of the business and the original Laser Strike equipment has not been used at the facility for over a decade. No one seemed to know the founder's name and after several month's, it looked like the origins would never be known.
An email from Jonny Burt in late April 2013 changed everything. Jonny had taken up the challenge to find the Laser Strike founder and spent a few months on the task. He was incredibly diligent and was able to track down Mr. Hugh Robinson who operated a business just a few blocks away from Laser Strike in Christchurch.
Jonny was able to provide the Laser Tag Museum with Hugh's email and phone number. I called Hugh and we had an incredible conversation. Hugh was able to recall many details of the start up of Laser Strike and you could hear the nearly 30 years fade away during the conversation.
The Laser Tag Museum is indebted to the many ways that Doug Willems of Delta Strike has supported the museum. Further, Laser Strike would be lost in the fog of time without Jonny's efforts and persistence. We thank both gentlemen for volunteering their time and knowledge to tracking down Laser Strike's founder, Hugh Robinson.
Update on May 5, 2013 - Laser Strike's co-founder Hugh Robinson sent an email detailing many aspects of the start up of Laser Strike.
Here are highlights from his email:
"Myself and Bill Twiss had 50% of the shares and then my twin brother, Barry Robinson, Tom Mills, John Timoney, Kevin Williams and Stuart Poole shared the other 50% in various percentages.
We had originally wanted to set up a paintball operation to provide cash-flow to fund a forestry partnership most of us were involved in. However in the middle of our planning Photon hit the news and we saw a newspaper article on that and decided that made more sense given the variables of the new Zealand climate.
We commissioned a small (now defunct) electronics company called Axiom Electronics to develop a prototype system for us. Once we had proved the concept to be sound Axiom then produced our first set of 20 packs and we set up our arena at 229 Tuam Street in Christchurch.
Media interest was enormous once we opened the venue and we were swamped with demand for gear so we went to a larger, more established electronics company called Wormald International who produced the next four sets of gear for us. However maintenance issues were enormous and Wormalds ended up going bust so the remaining 9 sets of equipment we had manufactured were made by Van den Berg Industries Ltd who also struggled with reliability and also ended up going bust.
Centres were opened up in:
Dunedin, Invercargill, Wanganui, Palmerston North and Napier in New Zealand (all company owned). Also licensed centres opened in; Porirua, Mt Maunganui, Auckland (2), Hamilton."
Update on August 28, 2013 -
Simply stated, other than Photon, no other laser tag system has been more influential than Laser Strike, based out of Christ Church, New Zealand.
The creator of Laser Strike, Hugh Robinson, sat down with me on August 28, over a tasty meal served at the local Denny's. Hugh had already provided most of the history of Laser Strike in several emails back in April 2013. There really wasn't much to ask him since he had already been so forthcoming and detailed in his prior emails.
We chatted about the development of the laser tag industry and how advanced laser tag is today by the mid-1980's standards. He was keen and curious to see how far the industry had come.
He discussed the difficulties of maintaining the equipment since the hardware was simply not durable enough for the use of the product. He and his partners kept Laser Strike going, finally selling their Christchurch location in 1996.
Hugh left the laser tag industry and thought the "fad" of laser games had run its course like many of the early pioneers. He is pleasantly surprised out how mature the industry has become and the worldwide acceptance of the activity.
Oh, why is Laser Strike the most important system other than Photon? Because Laser Strike served as the inspiration for VadaForce which then inspired Laser Quest which was the inspiration for DarkLight, Intersphere, Reflex, LaserMaxx, Pulsar, Laser Force UK, Solaris Leisure, Veqtor, Actual Reality and many others. Laser Strike was also the direct inspiration for Phaser Strike (later known as Zone Laser Tag) which then was the inspiration for Laser Blast and Galaxy Laser Games. Lasertron (NZ) also was inspired from Laser Strike. All trace their roots back to Laser Strike. And Laser Strike was inspired by Photon.