In 1969, a games inventor by the name of Reyn Guyer approached Parker Brothers, a toy company known for creating board games such as Monopoly and Clue, with an indoor volleyball game. After reviewing the product, the Parker Brothers decided to scrap the game and produce the four-inch foam ball; they created the Nerf brand under their company name. This ball was sold as the Nerf Ball in 1970 and was advertised that players can “Throw it indoors; you can’t damage lamps or break windows. You can’t hurt babies or old people.” The product was a hit and sold more than four million units by the end of the year.
Following the Nerf Ball’s success, Nerf released a larger version of the ball called the Super Nerf Ball in the same year. In 1972, the Nerfoop was created, which allowed people to play a pseudo-game of basketball in their own homes. In the same year, the first Nerf football product was released, which quickly became the most popular form of Nerf ball.
In 1991, Nerf was merged with Kenner Products, a toy company known for action figures. However, shortly after, Hasbro purchased Kenner Products and gained the rights to sell all Nerf products. During this time, Larami Toys was also allowed to produce Nerf products and had a focus on the SuperMAXX series of blasters.
In 2002 , Hasbro purchased out the Super Soaker series and merged it with Nerf.
In 2011, Nerf won the awards for “Boy Toy of the Year” with the Stampede ECS and the “Outdoor Toy of Year” with the Shot Blast from the 11th Annual Toy of the Year Awards, held at the American International Toy Fair held in New York City.
In 2010, Hasbro sued its rival companies Lanard Toys and Buzz Bee Toys for patent violation for Super Soakers and Nerf-brand blasters. Hasbro accused Lanard’s Total X-Stream Air Fire Shot, Total X-Stream Air Ring Accelerator, and Air Zone Ring Accelerator products of infringing two patents licensed to Hasbro. Lanard also infringed the N-Strike Disk Shot set, while Buzz Bee infringed on various Super Soaker blasters.
Hasbro won the lawsuit against Buzz Bee, who was banned from producing any sort of water blaster.
The lawsuit between Hasbro and Lanard was settled after an agreement where Hasbro would drop charges if Lanard would stop producing and selling the patent-violating products.
Nerf blaster history
The first Nerf blaster was made in 1989, nineteen years after the creation of the Nerf Ball. The Blast-a-Ball fired balls by pumping the carrying handle forwards. Nerf packaged two of these blasters together, knowing that their products sold well as a form of game or sport. The product was a success; Nerf released a sequel blaster in the next year, which held more balls than the Blast-a-Ball. Ball blasters became a staple of the Nerf arsenal at that point in time; in more recent times, they would be phased out almost completely.
Arrow and missile blasters
Arrows were introduced in 1990 with the release of the Bow ‘n’ Arrow. The blaster was a huge success. Nerf made a few successors to the popular Bow ‘n’ Arrow over the years, including the Sonic Stinger Bow ‘n’ Arrow and the Big Bad Bow. Other arrow-firing blasters would include the Arrowstorm, Triple Torch, and the fan-favorite Crossbow.
Missiles had less of an impact on the company. Very few blasters, such as the Missilestorm, NB-1 Missile Blaster, and the 1994 Nerf Action Switchfire, were compatible with missiles. The majority of these blasters received very negative reviews, possibly leading to their demise and shelving in favor of arrow-firing blasters.
The first Nerf blaster to use a form of dart was the Sharpshooter, which fired foam darts that had small fins on its ends. Released in 1992, it proved to be incredibly popular and began Nerf’s production of dart blasters.
Over time, new dart types were introduced. Following the Mega Darts packaged with the Sharpshooter were Micro Darts, which were smaller and ended up being the most well-known kind of dart. Even then, other forms of Micro Darts were released, such as the Whistler Dart and the Tagger Micro Dart.
Streamline Darts were introduced with the Longshot CS-6 as the first clip system blaster. These would become incredibly popular with the N-Strike series. These darts featured no suction cup, making them much different than Micro Darts.
In 2012, Hasbro released N-Strike Elite, a series featuring upgraded version of N-Strike blasters. Along with the upgraded blasters, the Streamline Dart was given an upgrade as well in the form of the Elite Dart. The Elite Dart is meant to serve as a universal dart for all current Nerf N-Strike blasters, as well as a replacement for the Streamline Dart, Whistler and Micro Dart.
Disc blasters were first introduced with the SuperMAXX Disc Shooter in 1998. The blaster was poorly received, which caused Nerf to drop the idea of disc blasters. However, 2011 saw the re-emergence of disc blasters with the Vortex series.