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Nerf

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NERF
Nerf logo.svg
TypeToy weapons, foam balls
Inventor(s)
Company
CountryUnited States
Availability1969–present
MaterialsFoam, plastic, rubber
Slogan
  • "There's only one Nerf." (classic)
  • "Get Real. Get Nerf." (classic 2)
  • "Play Your Game." (2003)
  • "It's Nerf or Nothin'!" (current)
  • "Accept No Substitutes" (current 2)
  • "Enlist, Engage, Enforce" (N-Strike)
  • "Bend the rules of Battle" (Vortex)
  • "The Wetter the Better" (Super Soaker)
  • "Light It Up!" (Light It Up)
Official website

Nerf (trademarked in capitals as NERF) is a toy brand formed by the Parker Brothers and currently owned by Hasbro. Most of the toys are a variety of foam-based weaponry, with other Nerf products including balls for sports like American football, basketball and baseball. The most notable of the toys are their dart guns (referred to by Hasbro as "blasters") that shoot ammunition made from Nerf foam. Since many such items were released during the 1970s, Nerf products often feature bright neon colors and soft textures similar to the flagship Nerf ball. Their slogan, which has been frequently used since advertising in the 1990s, is "It's Nerf or Nothin'!". Annual revenues under the Nerf brand are approximately US$400 million.[1]

History[edit]

Original Nerf (styled NeRF) logo (1969–1990)

Parker Brothers originally developed Nerf, beginning with a 4-inch (100 mm) polyurethane foam ball. In 1969, Reyn Guyer, a Minnesota-based games inventor, came to the company with a football 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.[2] 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."[3] 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.[4] The four-inch (102 mm) ball was followed by a large version called the "Super Nerf Ball". Shortly after, in 1972, a basketball game called "Nerfoop" and the Nerf football (developed by longtime NFL kicker Fred Cox[5][6]) joined the family, with the latter quickly becoming Nerf's most popular ball.[7]

The company continued to add to the Nerf line until they handed control to Kenner Products, a sister company, in 1991,[8] when Hasbro acquired the Nerf line through the acquisition of the Tonka Corporation.[9] Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the Nerf brand served under the subsidiaries OddzOn and Larami before Hasbro took full control of the brand.[10]

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.[11]

In February 2013, Hasbro announced the release of its "Rebelle" line, a sub-line aimed at girls, with its first products released in fall of 2013.[12]

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.[13][14]

In 2015, the Rival line of blasters was first released. The first products released were the Rival Apollo XV-700 and the Rival Zeus MXV-1200. These blasters fire a new type of ammunition, known as "High Impact Rounds", which are small foam balls that can reach a higher velocity than foam darts. The Rival line is targeted towards an older audience, with each product listing the age of 14+ on the box.[citation needed]

Products[edit]

Nerf Sports[edit]

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 the American Ketchum grenade allowing it to fly greater distances.[15]

Nerf Blasters[edit]

Nerf's most popular product type are Nerf blasters,[16] which are toy plastic guns that shoot foam darts. These darts have different-style tips, including Velcro-tipped in order to stick to Nerf vests (typically shipped with Dart Tag blasters), suction cup darts designed to stick to smooth surfaces, streamlined darts to fit into magazines (referred to as clips by Nerf), some able to whistle in flight, Darts may also have different colors, such as colors that reflect certain sub-lines, camouflage, and glow in the dark. Most Nerf blasters also have rails, known as tactical rails, which can accommodate different attachments, as well as special adapters such barrel and stock adapters. The "N-strike" sub-line was launched in 2004, and is styled more like a real weapon than previous Nerf products.[16] It was updated in 2012 as N-Strike Elite.[17]

Nerf Elite darts

N-Strike/N-Strike Elite[edit]

The N-Strike line was launched in 2003. Most blasters of the N-Strike line feature a yellow and black color scheme, although some blasters feature a red and gray or an all-over blue color scheme. The series was succeeded in 2012 by the N-Strike Elite line, featuring upgraded internal mechanisms for better performance, updated darts known as Elite darts, and a new blue and white color scheme.

Dart Tag[edit]

The Dart Tag line was launched in 2004 marketed as a competitive game-style line. Many of these Dart Tag blasters were included with eye protection, targets, and vests in order for the included velcro-tipped darts to stick to them. The series was discontinued in 2013.

Vortex[edit]

In September 2011, Hasbro launched the Vortex series, featuring blasters that fire small foam discs made of soft plastic covered in foam. In May 2018, Nerf re-released the series as Vortex VTX, featuring the same projectiles but in green and blue to match the new color schemes of its updated blasters. The Vortex blasters have a firing range up to 60 feet.[18]

Rebelle[edit]

Rebelle was predominantly aimed at the female demographic, sporting pink, purple and teal colors.[19] The latest Rebelle blaster was released in 2017, suggesting that the Rebelle line may have been discontinued.

Zombie Strike[edit]

The Zombie Strike line was launched in 2013, and is geared for fans of Humans vs. Zombies games.[20] All blasters have a distinct zombie apocalypse theme, with newer blasters featuring a DIY aesthetic.

Doomlands 2169[edit]

Doomlands 2169, commonly shortened to Doomlands, is a series of Nerf blasters that was released on August 1, 2015.

The Doomlands 2169 series is themed after a post-apoctalyptic future set in the year 2169, hence the name. The official plot explains that, after Earth was hit by a deadly asteroid, life and civilization begins anew, and survivors must fend off raiders and new monstrous creatures. Its blasters feature a more modern and futuristic design, with clear parts (similar to the Clear Series) that show the firing mechanisms of the blasters.

The series also has a YouTube mini-series that follow the story the products represent, revolving around a main protagonist named "the Doomlander".

It currently has 11 blasters.

Modulus[edit]

The Nerf Modulus series is a sub-line of the N-Strike Elite series, featuring heavily customizable blasters and a number of accessories. These blasters are typically white, gray and green.

Rival[edit]

Nerf Rival blasters (branded as RIVAL) fire small foam balls referred to by Nerf as "High Impact Rounds", but usually referred to as “Rival Balls” by the nerfing community. Nerf Rival blasters are targeted towards an older target market than Nerf's better known dart blasters. Nerf Rival blasters come in three colors, white, red, and blue, and are engineered to fire further and more precisely than blasters featured in other Nerf lines. Within this series is a subseries called "Phantom Corps", which was first released in spring 2017. In Phantom Corps, the series has its own Nerf blasters, but also sports white reshells of some of the original red and blue blasters, which are altered slightly but are still recognizable as the originals. The Phantom Corps subline includes removable colored banners with the blasters so that the user can switch teams without having to buy a new blaster. A new series in 2019 will be the Nerf Rival Edge series, featuring a seemingly greater emphasis on the “bolt-action sniper” aesthetic and demographic

Nitro[edit]

In 2017, Hasbro released the Nerf Nitro line, which consists of blasters that fire foam cars into obstacles and stunt ramps.[21]

Alpha Strike[edit]

Introduced in August 2019, Nerf Alpha Strike is a blaster line priced lower than the standard N-Strike Elite line.[22]

Ultra[edit]

Released in September 2019, Nerf Ultra (branded as ULTRA) blasters fire a new, propriety dart design that is marketed as "THE FARTHEST FLYING DART. EVER. UP TO 120 FT."[23] The new Ultra darts are constructed from a lightweight foam that is notably different than traditional darts in that they are made with closed cell, rather than open cell foam. This construction allows for fins to be molded into the rear of the darts. Size-wise, Ultra darts are between N-Strike Elite darts and Mega darts in diameter, but shorter than both in length. They cannot be fired from any previous Nerf line or off-brand compatible blasters, nor can any other lines' darts be fired from Ultra blasters. This design was created in response to the growing number of third-party darts, including exact knockoffs from China, available for N-Strike Elite blasters at a much lower cost than Nerf-brand darts.[24]

The first blaster in the Ultra line was the Nerf Ultra One, a drum-fed (25-dart capacity), flywheel design with integral (non-detachable) stock and fixed barrel with no N-Strike barrel attachments. It is compatible with rail-mounted Nerf attachments via two tactical rails on top. The blaster is painted in a white, black and orange color scheme with a distinctive raised gold "ULTRA" label on the right side (the raised logo is repeated on the left side, but in white, rather than gold). The second blaster was the Ultra Two, which is a 6-round capacity flywheel system revolver, which loads from the back of the blaster, as there is no open place in front. Like the One, the Two comes in the same white, black and orange color scheme, and the "ULTRA'" label on the side. It is also the first electronic revolver-style blaster since the 2012 N-Strike Elite Stockade.

Nerf N-Force[edit]

The N-Force line consisted of foam swords and melee weapons. The swords can fit into the back sheath of the Nerf N-Strike tactical vest and the Nerf N-Strike bandolier kit.[25]

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,[26] 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.

In 2013, Hasbro released the Snake Eyes Blade of Justice for the film G.I. Joe: Retaliation.[27]

Super Soaker[edit]

Originally owned and marketed by Larami, Super Soaker is a popular line of water guns. Recently, Hasbro has released a line of Nerf-branded Super Soaker blasters.[28]

Lazer Tag[edit]

Lazer Tag, a popular laser tag toy line from the mid-1980s, is also currently part of the Nerf banner.[29] The current generation of Lazer Tag blasters attach to iPhones or iPod Touch units for enhanced playability.[30]

Nerf Dog[edit]

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.[31][32]

Based in Secaucus, N.J., Gramercy Products, Inc. is the manufacturer of Nerf Dog products.[33]

The Nerf Dog toy line launch included a long distance ball thrower that can propel a toy up to 250 feet and will feature extra tough Nylon construction and stitching that is three times as strong as traditional dog toys. The entire range will include toys made of rubber, nylon and Thermo Plastic Rubber (TPR) ranging from $5 to $15.[34]

The Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Blaster mimics traditional Nerf gun designs and shoots a ball up to 50 feet in the air. The toy uses special softer balls to reduce the risk of injury.[35]

Video games[edit]

Nerf has also produced video game accessories for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo DSi, DS Lite, 3DS and the Wii.[36] 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[37] 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.[38] In June 2019, Raw Thrills released Nerf Arcade redemption game.[39]

Awards[edit]

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.[40]

In 2014, the Nerf Zombie Strike Crossfire Bow won the award for "Best Action Toy" at the 2014 U.K. Toy Fair.[41]

Legal issues[edit]

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.[42] In November of that year, Hasbro won its patent case against Buzz Bee with the latter banned from producing certain water guns.[43]

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.[44] 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.[45]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]