Two factions face off

The Rubber Band War Awakens

Geek Culture

Two factions face off

One of my many fond childhood memories is of my brothers and me setting up our 3.75″ Star Wars action figures in three bases across from each other in our playroom, and then engaging in epic rubber band wars. Often, finding a good-sized rubber band, or a stash of reasonably sized rubber bands would be the catalyst for a good battle. A few years ago I introduced my children to the fun by giving them stocking-stuffers of a few 3.75″ Star Wars figures, a bag of rubber bands, and little booklets with “the rules,” as I remembered them from the childhood game:

Rubber Band War Rules

  1. Each player receives an equal number of roughly equally-sized figures.
  2. Players set up their figures as they wish. If terrain or forts are used those are set up now.
  3. Figures must be free-standing, no wedging in-between things to prevent them from falling down. At least a few figures must be exposed.
  4. At the beginning of each round, each figure may be moved a few inches. Figures may not be moved again until all shooting has finished for the round.
  5. Each player takes a turn firing. There must be an exposed figure with line-of-sight to fire upon an enemy. You must fire from behind your figure.
  6. A figure must completely fall over to be considered out.
  7. Return to step #3.
  8. After the last figure on your team is eliminated you get a “dying-shot.”

My kids chose to alter these rules so that turns are not included. Instead, we fire as rapidly as we wish. This was probably the result of the abundance of rubber bands available, since they had received a couple dozen each. Being rich in rubber band supply, a free-for-all hail-of-fire is possible. In my youth, again, our games were based off of finding a good rubber band or two, we had no rubber-band-arms-dealing parent and thus taking turns was a necessity.

3.75" Stormtroopers stand ready for battle.
Three Stormtroopers stand ready for battle. Picture by my 10-year old.
Two bases ready to fight
Two bases ready to fight. You can see my son’s firing windows designed to provide line of sight while protecting the figure from fire. Picture by Ryan Hiller.

With all the new Force Awakens 3.75″ action figures available, it got my kids and I yearning for another epic fight. My band of choice is a 3 1/2″ x 1/4″ rubber band. This size band provides accuracy with enough force to send a soldier flying, but not so much force as to completely destroy the terrain or forts built. Younger children may prefer a band with an easier pull like a 1/8″ rubber band.

1/2" vs 1/8" band
Here you see a 3 1/2″ x 1/4″ band compared to a 4″ x 1/8″ band. The 1/8″ band has a much easier pull, but hits with less force. Photo by Ryan Hiller.

There are many methods to shoot the rubber bands. There’s the pistol method where the shooter launches from the tip of the index finger, wrapping the band around the thumb, with the pinky acting as a trigger finger.

Rubber band method 1
This method is slow to load so I have not used it extensively in rubber band war. Photo by my 10-year old.

Another method is to launch from the tip of the index finger, with the opposite hand pulling back and acting as a trigger.

Rubber band method 2
I find that this method collapses my index finger from the force of the 1/4″ band. This may be a better method with the easier pull of a 1/8″ band.

My favored launch method is to mount the rubber band on my thumb, using my opposite hand’s index finger and thumb to pull and release.

Rubber band method 3
The thumb is better able to handle the pull of the 1/4″ band with this style, even when you really stretch the band to its fullest.

There are of course launching mechanisms, such as wooden rubber band pistols, but I prefer the speed and control of a manual launch. Beware though, the rubber band often strikes a part of the launcher’s hand on release, not only can this cause some inaccuracy, but after many repeated shots, the stricken area can become sore and start to bleed. Further, it is not recommended to sight down the drawn rubber band as the bands will eventually break and recoil back at the launcher. Do you have another preferred way to launch a rubber band? If so, let us know in the comments.

Bobba Fett is hit
Bobba Fett takes a hit! It’s ok though, vintage Fett was pretty jealous of modern Bobba Fett’s super-articulated limbs. Photo by Ryan Hiller.

Our Star Wars action figures don’t get to have all the fun as many of our Playmobil warriors have perished defending their castles in numerous rubber band wars. This game can, of course, be played with most any action figure such as any size G.I. Joe, Barbie, or even Smurfs. I wouldn’t recommend this for LEGO, however, as the pieces would be blown all over the place!

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