When you are a kid, there was no feeling more powerful than the weight of a NERF gun in your hands with the business end pointed at your best friend. A NERF gun in the ’90s was as iconic as a Colt Peacemaker tucked into the belt of a gunslinger in the Wild West. With a long, very colorful history starting in the late ’60s, these guys have been supplying kids—and dudes at irreverent tech startups—with guns loaded with foam-rubber ammunition, and they’re still going strong.
Here are some things you might not know about the masterminds who truly understand what it means to be a kid. Or an adult.
1. NERF has some cool commercials. Staring Seth Green!
We can see Devon Sawa, Seth Green, and ever hear the Monkees! It’s a summer night sky with the amount of stars up here.
2. Hasbro has testing facilities where everyone can shoot each other
True story or total pipe dream? Seriously, this is a thing. There is a large warehouse facility that allows the team to test different NERF prototypes in environments where people would typically play with NERF blasters, including basements, bedrooms, cubicles, or dorm rooms.
3. Some NERF guns can shoot darts up to 55 mph
Most NERF guns hit around 30 mph, but the NERF N-Strike Elite Hail-Fire Blaster can shoot out darts at the staggering speed of 50 mph. That’s quite literally as fast an adult lion or a reasonably sick Mexican free-tailed bat.
4. NERF’s highest sustained firing rate is 151 darts in 30 seconds
By the venerable Hail-Fire, the same one that can hit 50 mph out of the muzzle. It has eight magazines with 18 darts each, giving it a total of 144 darts. Thanks to electricity, it can fire off all 144 in under 30 seconds.
5. It all started with big balls
In 1970, the NERF ball was introduced as the “world’s first official indoor ball.” It was marketed as a 4-inch ball that one can, “throw indoors, [but] can’t damage lamps or break windows, [or] hurt babies or old people.”
6. It took 21 years before the introduction of the NERF gun
NERF’s wheelhouse was all about sports for a very long time. Surely you remember the basketball hoop? In 1991, the screaming football called the Vortex debuted alongside the NERF bow and arrow. It wasn’t until the following year that the NERF Sharpshooter became the very first NERF dart blaster.
7. There’s a line of high-powered blasters geared towards “adults” coming soon
We’re using the word “adult” lightly here as NERF apparently considers anyone over the age of 14 able to handle the the all-new “NERF Rival” brand of blasters an adult. These guys can shoot ammunition up to speeds of 75 mph, which is a hell of a lot faster than those regular darts you’re getting shot at your face. We should see them sometime this fall.
8. NERF material is kinda magic
It’s made out of some pretty wild stuff: a polyester resin that reacts with another compound in the presence of CO2, which then becomes a freakishly light polyurethane material. This means that a NERF dart won’t puncture the skin or, like, kill someone if you shoot them in the face.
9. Over 445,000,000 darts are produced ever year
Enough NERF darts have been sold in the past five years alone to circle the earth four times. Some complete nut did the math and found the staggering, complete number of darts NERF has ever made. 4,007,500,000 since the dawn of darts. Wow.
10. NERF is in partners with Super Soaker
Did you know Hasbro, NERF’s parent company, also owns Super Soaker? (Which were originally called Power Drencher!) It’s like NERF has a monopoly over fun—which is interesting, because Hasbro owns the game Monopoly.
11. NERF is both a word and an acronym
According to the Internet, NERF is a slang term for the foam padding used in off-road racing. The foam-covered bars, often called “NERF bars,” were placed at the front of the trucks used to push racers to the starting line to prevent damage to the cars. We’re not sure if this is an acronym or a backronym, but it also stands for Non-Expanding Recreational Foam.
12. They’ve gone through a many catchphrases
The classic NERF catchphrase “It’s NERF or Nothin’!” ended up being an ideology I closely followed until I learned of the power of a swift backhand. However, NERF has had almost ten slogans, including: “There’s Only One NERF,” “Get Real. Get NERF,” “It’s NERF Or Nothin’!” “Accept No Substitutes,” “Enlist, Engage, Enforce,” “Bend The Rules Of Battle,” “The Wetter The Better,” and “Light It Up!”
13. George Clooney loves the NERF
Stories from the set of Up in the Air report Ol’ George as a huge prankster, reportedly “playing with NERF balls on set” and throwing them at normal-woman-in-child’s-body, Anna Kendrick. Ryan Gosling recounts a similar experience during the shooting of Ides of March when he said, “There was a certain point we had a NERF gun behind the camera and if he didn’t like a take, he’d shoot.” Clooney’s got good taste in tequila and toy guns.
14. They make more than guns and balls
Way more. They make NERF balls, frisbees, thunderbows, drones, footballs, battle axes, and hopefully one day the much-needed NERF Nuke.
15. Their most expensive products go for over $500
Expensive? Sure, but don’t act like you wouldn’t spend your hard-earned paycheck on this sick NERF N-Strike Vulcan (with 25 dart belt and 25 sonic micro darts) or the NERF N-Strike Longstrike CS-6 Dart Blaster with can shoot at a range of over 35 feet.