Guns vs Sloth: The Appeal of Nerf

Which is more upsetting: Your child glued to a TV screen for hours on end, or your child actively playing… with a toy gun?
Hasbro, the longtime providers of all things gun (as an aside, the term “gun” is avoided within the company, where they substitute the word “shooter”) has placed its bets behind our horror of young American couch potatoes.

The Wall Street journal describes how Nerf has progressed beyond your basic party-favor water gun to elaborate launchers of water, paper, and foam. What caught our eye, however, is the growth of the Dart Tag league. Hasbro turned Dart Tag into a sport based on and named after one of its most popular models in 2008, and will now recruit young players (of both sexes) nationally to participate in the first-ever championship game held in Orlando, FL this August.

Let’s do a quick rundown: Engaging consumers? Check. Benefitting youth? Check. Increasing sales? Judging by the 2010 reported 8% sales increase of outdoor toys in a wholly unremarkable toy retail market—check. While the mom in many of us cringes at the thought of children shooting each other with anything, that same side cheers for an activity that can peel our kids off the couch. In fact, the appeal has us justifying our approval (“It’s really only water/paper/Nerf”). Well played, Hasbro.

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May 23, 2024
by Mary Lou Quinlan

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