|Type||Toy weapons, foam balls|
|Materials||Foam, plastic, rubber|
Nerf (trademarked in capitals as NERF) is a toy brand created by Parker Brothers and currently owned by Hasbro. Most of the toys are a variety of foam-based weaponry, but there are also several different types of Nerf toys, such as balls for sports like football, basketball, baseball, and others. The most notable of the toys are the dart guns (referred to by Hasbro as "blasters") that shoot ammunition made from Nerf foam. Since many such items were released throughout the 1970s, Nerf products often feature bright neon colors and soft textures similar to the flagship Nerf ball. The slogan, which has been frequently used since advertising in the 1990s, is "It's Nerf or Nothin'!". Annual revenues under the Nerf brand is approximately US$400 million.
Nerf foam is made from a solid, spongy cellular material. To produce it, polyester resin reacts with another compound in the presence of CO2 from another reaction. It is this gas that creates open pockets within the polyurethane that, in turn, make the material soft and light.
Parker Brothers originally developed Nerf, beginning with a four-inch (102 mm) polyurethane foam ball. In 1969, Reyn Guyer, a Minnesota-based games inventor, came to the company with a volleyball game that was safe for indoor play, and after studying it carefully, Parker Brothers decided to eliminate everything but the foam ball. In 1970, the Nerf ball was introduced as the "world's first official indoor ball", the name "Nerf" being a slang term for the foam padding used in off-road racing. Marketing slogans promised that one can "Throw it indoors; you can't damage lamps or break windows. You can't hurt babies or old people." Some of the first TV commercials for the balls were joint promotions with General Foods' Kool-Aid drink mix, with Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Michael Nesmith of the Monkees playing with the balls on a living room soundstage (Kool-Aid sponsored the 1969-70 Saturday morning reruns of the Monkees' 1966-67 TV series). The ball filled a strong consumer need and by the year's end, more than four million Nerf balls had been sold. The four-inch (102 mm) ball was followed by a large version called "Super Nerf Ball". Shortly after, in 1972, a basketball game called "Nerfoop" and the Nerf football joined the family, with the latter quickly becoming Nerf's most popular ball.
The company continued to add to the Nerf line until they handed control to Kenner Products, a sister company, in 1991, when Hasbro acquired the Nerf line through the acquisition of the Tonka Corporation. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the Nerf brand served under the subsidiaries OddzOn and Larami before Hasbro took full control of the brand.
Over the years, Nerf has continued to expand the line, adding new looks to existing products, with later lines of Nerf products ranging from sport balls and foam dart blasters to video games and accessories.
In February 2013, Hasbro announced the release of "Nerf Rebelle", a sub-line aimed at girls. The first product, the Heartbreaker bow, was released in Fall 2013. In November 2013, POW! Books published The Ultimate Nerf Blaster Book. Written by Nathaniel Marunas, the book highlights the history of Nerf and provides details on every N-Strike, Dart Tag, and Vortex blaster produced at the time of the book's release.
The Nerf Sports (or N-Sports) line is a wide range of foam balls that resemble real sports balls. They are designed with different color schemes and features, with some of their footballs featuring color schemes and logos of the NFL. In addition, the tail-fins characteristic of Nerf Sports' Vortex sub-line (not to be confused with the blaster sub-line of the same name) cause the foam footballs of which it is comprised to resemble torpedoes and fly greater distances.
Nerf's most popular products are Nerf Blasters, which are toy plastic guns that shoot foam darts, which are, among other things: Velcro-tipped in order to stick to Nerf vests, tipped with suction cups designed to stick to smooth surfaces, streamlined to fit in magazines, some able to whistle in flight, or a color variation, such as camouflage, color swap, and glow in the dark. Most Nerf blasters have tactical rails that accommodate different attachments, but there are also some that attach through special adapters like barrel extensions and stocks. The main sub-line of Nerf blasters is N-Strike, which was first launched in 2004 and updated in 2012 as N-Strike Elite.
In September 2011, Hasbro introduced a third sub-line of Nerf blasters called Nerf Vortex. The line's blasters fire small green, bright orange or white glow-in-the-dark discs made of soft plastic covered in foam. The Vortex blasters have a firing range up to 60 feet.
Zombie Strike and Rebelle
In 2013, Hasbro unveiled two new Nerf blaster sub-lines: Zombie Strike and Rebelle. Zombie Strike is geared for fans of Humans vs. Zombies games, while Rebelle is aimed at the female demographic.
The N-Force line consisted of foam swords and melee weapons. The swords fit into the back sheath of the Nerf N-Strike tactical vest and the Nerf N-Strike bandolier kit.
In 2011, Hasbro released special edition N-Force weapons to promote the Marvel Comics/Paramount Pictures film Thor. This line consists of Thor's Hammer, Thor's Sword and Odin's Sword. The Armor of Asgard Thor Battle Hammer was re-released alongside a new, electronic version called Thor Thunder Clash Hammer for The Avengers film in 2012.
Lazer Tag, a popular laser tag toy line from the mid-1980s, is also currently part of the Nerf banner. The current generation Lazer Tag blasters attach to iPhones or iPod Touch units for enhanced playability.
In June 2013, Hasbro and Grammercy Products unveiled Nerf Dog, a line of Nerf-inspired canine retrieving toys made of rubber, nylon and plastic. Nerf Dog was launched at Walmart stores, and debuted at pet specialty stores in Fall 2013.
Nerf has also produced video game accessories for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo DSi, DS Lite, 3DS and the Wii. Visionary Media, Inc. released the first-person shooter Nerf Arena Blast (or NAB, sometimes Arena Blast) in 1999. EA Games, in association with Hasbro, released the 2008 video game Nerf N-Strike and its 2009 sequel Nerf N-Strike Elite. Both games feature the Switch Shot EX-3, which doubles as a functional dart blaster and a Wii Remote accessory.
In 2011, the Nerf N-Strike Stampede ECS was awarded "Boy Toy of the Year" and the Nerf Super Soaker Shot Blast won "Outdoor Toy of the Year" at the 11th Annual Toy of the Year Awards, which is held at the American International Toy Fair in New York City.
In 2014, the Nerf Zombie Strike Crossbow won the award for "Best Action Toy" at the 2014 U.K. Toy Fair.
In June 2010, Hasbro sued Buzz Bee Toys and Lanard Toys for patent violation of its Nerf and Super Soaker brands. The lawsuit stated that Buzz Bee and Lanard infringed two U.S. patents for the Nerf N-Strike Disc Shot blaster, while Buzz Bee infringed on a Super Soaker patent. In November of that year, Hasbro won its patent case against Buzz Bee with the latter banned from producing certain water guns.
In April 2012, Hasbro contacted the Australia-based fan blog "Urban Taggers" for leaking information on unreleased Nerf products found on the Chinese marketplace website Taobao. Hasbro allegedly tricked one of the bloggers into disclosing his home address for their lawyers to mail him a cease and desist letter. The incident resulted in fans setting up a campaign on Facebook boycotting Hasbro.
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