Toys are nerdy, that’s true. Entire geek cultures have sprung up around Lego, collectible card games, Transformers and yes, My Little Pony. It’s surprising exactly how intense people can get over Nerf guns though.
If you’re unfamiliar, Nerf guns are a division of Hasbro who specialise in a variety of ranged weapons that fire rubber-tipped foam darts along with a variety of other non-harmful projectiles that are only a particular threat to breakable items in the area and friendships. Most injuries sustained are from diving for cover with too much enthusiasm, unfortunate shots to the eyes, or from non-standard projectiles like those with the hard plastic heads, or worse. They’re primarily designed for children, but as our aims improved, so did the desire for more. Some of the more recent models seem impossible for an eight-year-old to wield with any accuracy, but those of us in our twenties aren’t so concerned with them.
Ranging from one-shot pistols to belt-fed gatling guns, all the way to grenade launchers and thrown projectile dart-bombs, the nerf range is more than just a little comprehensive on its own, without extending your reach into the competitors market. Most dart guns can be loaded with suction-cup darts that stick to flat surfaces, and whistlers to add an edge of terror. Some nerf ranges even dispense spinning discs or foam balls, increasing the possibilities yet further, not even touching upon the super-soaker range, or the nerf swords!
With the vast array of options it’s little wonder that these toy guns have such a dedicated customer group, who still buy the latest and improved guns. Dedicated forums test new guns and rate them against their collection based on accuracy, power, reloading speed, ease of use and the like. If you’re looking at what to invest in, you can do far worse than by checking out the opinions of the die hard fans first.
Nerf guns make excellent props for cosplay, working as a base to start from for many sci-fi or steampunk based cosplays. A simple paint-job can make a toy look surprisingly realistic, but enough tweaks, props, additions or even the odd removal, and you can create something dramatically different and completely convention safe. But those aren’t the only modifications that are common.
Being toy weapons, they are unsurprisingly subject to upgrades that make them far less toy-like and more into weapons of pain. Stronger springs, more powerful motors, barrel modifications and heavier darts can all build a vastly more powerful, accurate and painful nerf gun, and instructions are readily available. While many of these still keep the nerf guns safe (if more than a little excessive), but some people aren’t content with safe, and add harmful modifications. Nerf guns don’t kill people, lunatics with screwdrivers and compressed air kill people.
But despite the inherent danger of putting childrens toys in the hands of adults, they help bring the FPS out of the screen and into the living room, putting no more at risk than feelings and lamps. As someone who has only just begun his collection (a demolisher with all-too-necessary nose art for the rockets) I will be looking forward to owning some of this year’s new releases. It’s just one more thing for me to spend money on, but it’s better exercise than Magic: the Gathering.