In the late 1960s, toy inventor Reyn Guyer approached Parker Brothers with the idea of a volleyball game that would use foam balls. Though the manufacturer was unimpressed by the game itself, executives saw potential in the soft balls that could safely be played with inside the house. In 1969, therefore, the first Nerf ball made its debut. Balls continued to dominate the brand's product line for almost two decades--with Nerf footballs being a huge hit among kids--but it was the introduction of the first Nerf blaster in 1989 that would cement its legacy among a new generation of children.
The original Nerf blasters fired off balls and arrows, but the first dart blaster hit the toy scene in 1992. Darts proved to be the ammo of choice among brand aficionados, and the last 20-plus years of Nerf history have essentially revolved around various dart guns. Nerf merged with Kenner Products in 1991 and was then acquired by Hasbro (which continues to maintain ownership of the brand). When Hasbro bought Super Soaker in 2002, it merged the division with Nerf and started to manufacture Nerf brand water guns in addition to blasters. Nerf products have won several toy awards through the years, and the popular brand brings in more than $400 million in revenue annually.
Nerf blasters continue to get more and more complex over time--especially as "Nerf wars" have become popular pastimes among both kids and adults. Many of these blasters include magazines that can hold several darts at once for easy firing. Some are even motorized to increase launch range. Blasters range from small pistols that can be held in one hand to much larger guns with more power. Darts are available in a range of different sizes, and they might have soft foam tips or suction cups at the ends. You can also find darts that whistle in flight and options in various colors. Some blasters shoot foam discs instead of darts for a different experience.
In its Super Soaker division, Nerf offers water guns that also range in size and power. Blaster styles emit forceful streams while smaller soakers are designed for casual water fights. Nerf also continues to manufacture products in the tradition of its original sports balls. You can find products like footballs and basketballs, as well as hoops to shoot through. Nerf also makes flying discs that are popular among kids and dogs alike.
The focus of the Nerf brand certainly took a major turn with the advent of its line of blasters, and it essentially reestablished itself in a new niche. Since then, Nerf guns and Nerf wars have grown in popularity, to the delight of many. Still, some parents are concerned about their children playing with these blasters because of their resemblance to real guns and the potential for injury. Make sure that you supervise children when they first start to play with these toys to minimize risks. Whether your kids prefer sports balls, blasters, or Super Soakers, Nerf toys can be lots of fun, which is why we give the brand 4.5 stars out of 5.
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