History of Nerf Guns

The History of Nerf Guns | The Origin of Nerf Gun Industry

The colourful and thrilling history of nerf guns is something NERFers would at some point want to learn about. Maybe out of curiosity or due to a school assignment where you’re more likely to talk about your favourite activity.

Clearly, a nerf enthusiast has several reasons to look behind and know how this fascinating toy that so many people love became a thing and its whole story. Now to start it, just know this gun has been around for a good amount of time. There were many generations we have left behind that were in total love with nerfing. And that is why so many families choose to stick with nerf gun matches during gatherings and picnics.

Nerf Gun Summary

Toy nameNerf gun
Producer/owned byHasbro
officially started1989
country (where stated)United States
Product TypeToy weapon
Tagline“It’s Nerf or Nothin’!”

It might not be possible to cover every little thing about the nerf gun history but let’s talk about the highlighting parts today. Keep on Reading…

Starting the History of Nerf Guns with The Slang “Nerf” Explanation

The off-roading sport was the activity that cover the slang word “Nerf”. And so, you can already tell the story behind the name is actually pretty simple. There’s a foam padding that this sport uses. And to describe it, people use slang. The support bars come with “non-expandable recreation foam” AKA NERF wrapping all around. It basically was there to make sure, no damage to cars can take place. And that is from where NERF became a real thing to exist.

Nerf Brand to Hasbro To Super Soaker

Apart from the invention and evolution of nerf gun, its brand drama was also interesting. With the introduction of nerf ball, the parker brothers were the initial establisher of Nerf Brand. And then in 1991, Kenner products bought the Nerf while later, Hasbro being a toy giant took control over Kenner. And this means the complete right to sell the product line of Nerf was for Hasbro.

The American inventor Lonnie Johnson caught a big fish of gaining millions in 2013 by winning a lawsuit against Hasbro. Their super successful and popular super soaker came to market in 1989 by Larami, a massive toy company. While later in 1995, Hasbro was able to take control of Larami and become the owner of Super Soaker. Lonnie filled many patents for water gun technology and that was before super soaker entered the market. And so, many think the Nerf gun had several contributions from the ideas of Lonnie. While there are other theories too that are pretty popular in NERF gun invention discussion. And that’s something we will be talking about in the next segment.

Before the Gun, The Ball Was Invented – Starting Stage of Nerfing

To be honest, the internet is a messy place with several stories that tell you different things about the nerf gun’s invention. People have different thoughts and concepts today about Nerf gun’s first appearance. And it’s clearly hard to determine which one is stating real facts. But from what most people believe, here’s how the story of a successful Nerf Gun Official started in 1989. So we understand that nerf gun was officially started in 1989, Literally nineteen years after the invention of nerf ball.

The first thing that was made out of spongy synthetic soft foam was not a nerf gun. In fact, it was not anything that was able to shoot. It was just a ball that could bounce.

An American inventor, Reyn Guyer was the first one who was behind the whole concept of soft foam balls in the late 1960s. And after that, he came in contact with the Parker Brothers. So, it was officially a thing to enter the market in 1969. Making the very first appearance of Nerf Brand.

The ball was a super hit due to its soft fun foam feature that causes zero risks to children with any sort of personal damage or injury. By the end of the year, the brand was enjoying 4 million units sold making it a huge success. Then came the bigger version, Super Nerf Ball. It came along with the strap-on basketball hoop, Nerfoop.

And with that, Reyn Guyer basically set a firm foundation for Nerf Gun twenty years after. One of the key reasons why the majority of people in NERFing community consider him the inventor of Nerf Gun!

Arrow and Missile blasters

Nerf arrows were introduced in 1990 with the release of Bow ‘n’ Arrow which got huge popularity. Then nerf relaunch upgrade version in the market includes Sonic Stinger Bow ‘n’ Arrow and the Big Bad Bow.

On the other hand, nerf missile got a huge flop in the market. Most of the reviews were negative. That’s why it could not survive in the market.

With Blast-a-Ball & Blast-a-Matic, Nerf Gun for The First Time Was Officially a Thing!

Working as a key inventor, Guyer was able to do amazing things for a long time with Hasbro. Being inducted into the Hall of fame in 1986, he was enjoying pretty good notes. Then in 1989, the first nerf gun or blaster came in limelight. And it was the Blast-a-Ball.

This single fireball blaster was a huge hit with its ability to fire one ballistic ball each couple of seconds. Then the more superior blaster that was able to serve several balls prior to reloading came on the market, it was the Nerf Blast-a-Matic. Both of the blasters were crazy successful and officially left the market in 1993 after constantly selling for 4-5 years.

With Darts Instead of Foam Balls, Then Enters Nerf Sharpshooter

The legendary sharpshooter was the first one to use darts instead of foam balls. With its release in 1992, the starting Sharpshooter Darts was officially on the market and this spring-powered blaster was able to grab a lot of attention for this reason. Later the progress invited Mega Darts.

A different side of sharpshooter that you won’t see in today’s blaster is having fins. The company worked very hard to make designs as urbane as possible. And at the same time, their goal was to create darts that show some excellent shooting capabilities.

In 1995, the successor to its previous version, Nerf Sharpshooter II was ready to enter the arena and its popularity was also pretty insane. And that was due to its easy modification benefit.

Replacing the foam balls with darts was a sure success move. And it started to become mainstream just like that. Foam balls, however, made a strong comeback in 2015 with another popular series, Rival. And this time it was about high-impact rounds.  

Setting Foot in The Laser Tag Market

And when the craziness of darts and balls was still there, NERF’s decision to make it even bigger by including laser tags is praiseworthy. They went for breaking into the laser tag market with some of the fabulously hit models such as Lazer Tag Augmented Reality (LTAR). And guess what? The quality sets were able to grab them more fame and reliability.

From 2006 to 2012, the market was kind of dominated by Nerf laser guns line with Nerf lovers completely getting fond of the available sets. The Phoenix LTX has a high reputation for being one of the most perfect home laser tag sets.

And this is a pure fact straight from when it was released back then in 2008. On the other hand, with LTAR set Hasbro came up with a plan to get along with the smartphone laser tag market. And for your information, this market is surely one of the most competitive ones that evolve around many fascinating smartphone technologies.

The NERF “Mod Market”

As the product design manager of Nerf from 2002, Brian Jablonski was known for being the watchman of childhood memories for so many American generations. He believed the blaster to be the most thrilling item that was able to deliver pure satisfaction and fun.

For each and every designer a wonderful team of 15 needs to work together. And this squad involves engineers, artists, designers as well as developers. The brand’s iconic look was basically shaped by the brilliant work of Jablonski. And that made him a guardian of the reputation.

In 2012, Jablonski was facing a huge challenge. And this was due to the fact that Nerf lovers have been highly demanding two factors. These are having better ammo capacity as well as the ability to travel more distance.

This demand very quick was at a peak and that basically encouraged a mod market. Talented teenage boys were working and making some fabulous home attachments as well as showing brilliant adjustments to the spring-loaded system. Nerf Mod became a massive thing.

And suddenly Jablonski with his team were facing competition from its own passionate consumers. This horrible situation even needed a severe federal safety rule balancing for coping with market demands.

The situation threw a bunch of mandatory tasks for team Jablonski. And those were extending the blasters range. As well as working on dart capacity increase. Darts need to reach a distance of 75 feet whereas the record was barely 25 feet. While capacity needs to jump from 35 to 50. And those were huge challenges.

The New NERF N-Strike Elite

After three years of working hard, Jablonski managed to bring the new and better N-Strike Elite line. Almost all blaster in this series was able to fire up to 75 feet. The concept of multiple clips was also visible in the new line.

And so, even without increasing the drum, the dart capacity benchmark was able to meet. The design was super friendly for small kids even with such fascinating high features, making NERF guns so much loved and preferable nowadays.

Nerf Story Will Get Even Better in Near Future!

One powerhouse brand, Nerf is now extremely popular and known for being super at profit-making since 2011. Both the Elite & Rival series were crazy popular. And there’s no doubt that it is going to collect a lot more success stories one by one.

New territories are something Nerf is not afraid of trying. And that shows in the creepy but cool-looking ranges such as Zombie Strike that are definitely way unique than how typical blasters look.

The same goes for functions that are uniquely fantastic. The nerf community is speedily growing, with so many beautiful designs and functions regularly entering this fascinating shooting world.

And so, after looking at the grand history of nerf guns, it’s not hard to say that the future of Nerf is going to be even bigger and spectacular in all sorts of ways.

Related Resources:

Was this article helpful?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *