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, with other Nerf products including balls for sports like American football, basketball and baseball. 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 during 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 are approximately US$400 million.
|Type||Toy weapons, foam balls|
|Materials||Foam, plastic, rubber|
According to most enthusiasts and the general public, Nerf stands for "non-expanding recreational foam". This is supported by the fact that the darts are 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. However, there is no such acronym listed on any of the patents for the blasters and/or other products in the Nerf product line, so this urban legend has long been proven false; it is instead a backronym.
Parker Brothers originally developed Nerf, beginning with a 4 in (100 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 the "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.
In 2015, the Rival line of blasters was first released. The first product released was the Nerf Rival Apollo XV-700. These blasters fired Nerf's new ammunition, their "Rival High Impact Rounds." These are small foam balls that can reach a higher velocity than foam darts. The Rival blasters are targeted towards an older audience, with the age listed as 14+ on the box.
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 Elite, which was first launched in 2004 as “N-Strike” with a yellow color scheme and updated in 2012 as its current name, upgraded ranges, and a blue, orange and white color scheme.
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. Nerf re-released the series in May 2018, with the same projectiles in green and blue to match the new color schemes of the updated vigilon, praxis, and pyragon. The Vortex blasters have a firing range up to 60 feet.
The Nerf Modulus blaster line includes a number of accessories and accessory kits. The blasters are typically white, grey and green.
Rebelle is aimed at the female demographic, sporting pink, purple and teal colors.
In 2017, Hasbro released the Nerf Nitro line, which consists of Blasters that fire foam cars into obstacles and stunt ramps.
Nerf Rival blasters 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.
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 of 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.
Based in Secaucus, N.J., Gramercy Products, Inc. is the manufacturer of Nerf Dog products.
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.
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.
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 Crossfire Bow 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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