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A type of toy that shoots or is made of foam or a foam-like material. Originally developed by the Parker Brothers, it started as a 4-inch polyurethane ball, it was marketed as the "world's first indoor ball." "Throw it indoors; you can't damage lamps or break windows. You can't hurt babies or old people." Eventually, the company switched to Kenner and then to Hasbro through the acquisition of the Tonka Corporation. Besides creating NERF balls and blasters, in recent years, NERF has focused on life-like replicas (well, semi-realistic, but you get the point), such as the Vulcan, a chain gun replica which shoots automatically; the Longshot, a gun modeled after a sniper rifle [1], and the N-Strike Raider CS-35, which uses a 35-round drum magazine.

The brand's association for safe play from normally dangerous things means the brand is the Trope Namer for the gaming terms Nerf and Nerf Arm. The toys are sometimes used in kids' shows as stand-ins for real guns.

On the VH-1 special I Love Toys, Nerf was ranked the #23 toy out of 100. They've occasionally made special controllers for video games, as well as three games of their own: Nerf N-Strike (a Wii lightgun shooter game, bundled with the Switch Shot EX-3), Nerf N-Strike Elite bundled with a slightly updated version of the aforementioned Switch Shot, and Nerf Arena Blast (an Unreal Tournament reskin[2]). Nerf guns are also used in the live-action tag game Humans vs. Zombies.

Recently, Nerf and Super Soaker have finally realised they're under the same brand and joined forces, producing a new range of Super Soakers compatible with Nerf tactical rail accessories. Fun will be had! A new toyline of Disc Launchers, the Vortex line of blasters, have also been released. They're notable for having nearly twice the range of normal darts, though they go slower and can easily curve if the blaster is tilted slightly.

It is sometimes joked that NERF stands for Non-Expanding Recreational Foam, though company officials have denied this claim.

The various Nerf toys provide examples of the following tropes:

  • An Axe to Grind: The N-Force Warlock
  • The Archer: The Big Bad Bow.
  • Awesome but Impractical: A lot of the accessories, and some of the cooler guns. But they're toys, dammit.
  • BFG - Specific mention goes to the Longstrike CS-6 (one whole inch longer than the Longshot), the Vulcan EBF-25 (biggest full-auto blaster, with 25-round ammo-belt), and the Unity Strike System (the main body of which is advertised as a missile launcher). The Titan rocket launcher (which is part of the Unity Strike System) and Big Bad Bow are also pretty sizeable. Later guns use a "Tactical Rails System", which basically means you can mix and match their parts to create even larger guns. Especially prominent in this category is the aforementioned Titan; In addition to already being huge, the Titan ITSELF can function as a Tactical Rail accessory. This can effectively transform any user into the Nerf version of a Walking Armory.
  • BFS: The N-Force Marauder
  • Bifurcated Weapon: The Longshot, along with some much older guns, can be split into two smaller guns.
    • Played straight and inverted with the Unity Strike System. The complete unit consists of the Titan rocket launcher; the Hornet, a six-shot blaster; and the Scout Blaster, with one standard shot. The inversion comes from the Scout Blaster's design: the attachment to the rocket launcher is done via Tactical Rail, allowing almost any other gun in the N-Strike line to attach to the Titan in its place.
    • The Strikefire Dart Tag blaster has an inverted Tactical Rail socket that lets it mount as an Tactical Rail Accessory. Fancy integrating spare 1-shot blasters above- and below-barrel on your bigger blasters?
    • The Vendetta sword.
  • Briefcase Blaster: The Deploy CS-6, which can be folded down to half of its full size, and sprung open again with the push of a button. Perfect for surprise attacks. And by "Surprise" we mean it's still bright yellow and looks like a folded up Nerf gun.
  • Cherry Tapping: The Atom Blaster: fires balls with abysmal range (5 feet, 10 if you're lucky) and velocity - and it's considered one of the most humiliating ways of being eliminated in a Nerf war.
  • Color Coded for Your Convenience Several guns come in store-exclusive, extremely-rare variant colors, making it easier to tell apart ownership, or even teams in battle. Also a pastime of customizers.
    • Taken to an extreme with the "Clear Series" blasters; it's exactly what you think it is.
    • The Sonic Series uses a similar idea to the Clear, but in neon green.
    • The Gear Up line is going with orange recolors, while the upcoming Vortex series is going with a more militaristic camo-green.
    • Wal-Mart, around mid-August 2011, is the exclusive carrier of the Whiteout line.
  • Cool Sword: Nerf also makes swords, although they tend not to be as fancy as the guns. There is probably more than one bayonet rifle mod out there somewhere using these swords.
  • Double Weapon: The upcoming N-Force Vendetta
  • Emergency Weapon: The Secret Strike is a teensy one-shot gun that clips onto your belt, plus with a secret shot compartment in the handle, a la James bond.
    • And the Nerf Reflex, which is pretty much the brand's Derringer pistol.
    • And the built-in detachable one-shot pistol on the nose of the Longshot.
    • The new N-Strike Jolt joins the ranks of ultra-compact pistol blasters, being much slimmer than the Reflex, and barely bigger than the Secret Strike.
      • However, the jolt can shoot an actually respectable distance. The only problem is low accuracy and surprising recoil.
  • ~Everything's Deader With Zombies~: Nerf blasters are the Weapon of Choice in the live-action game Humans vs. Zombies.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The N-Strike models are all given alphanumeric deignations, the numeric part of which explains how many darts the gun can hold (Firefly REV-8, Recon/Longshot CS-6, Vulcan EBF-25, etc.) and the letters tell you how it holds darts. (CS = Clip System, REV = Revolver, EBF = Electronic Belt Fed).
  • Fan Convention: The dealers' room of the role-playing convention GenCon was once the scene of a massive Nerf battle between employees of TSR and several competing game companies.
  • Flechette Storm: Many of the air-powered full-auto guns approach this.
  • Fridge Brilliance: The new Vortex blasters are green
    • Storing extra clips inside the stock, or somewhere else in the blaster, seems to be just a simple gimmick. Until you realize it's a children's toy that has a convenient feature that real firearms, airsoft/BB guns, and paintball guns don't even have. (ignoring that airsoft is justified in that they store batteries instead of ammo in the space.)
  • Gatling Good: Seriously, a Nerf chain gun.
  • Guilty Pleasure: The blasters are so cool, but they're for kids, but they're so cool...
    • They say the same about cartoons, but since when have we let that stop us?
    • It's curious to note that, while marketed at children, the guns themselves are clearly designed with adult hand sizes in mind...
  • Gun Accessories: Lots of them. Some guns come packed with shoulder stocks, laser dot sights and target reticules, then there's Tactical Rail hardware, quick-flip magazine clamps for faster reloads, ammo bandoliers, Tactical Vests, 35-dart (and 18-dart) drum magazines, and the Vulcan's (as well as the Stampede's) tripod(s). The Barrel Break IX-2 even has a shotgun-type dart rack for holding ammo, and the Stampede also has a mountable ballistic shield. Most coincidentally, real RIS accessories can be mounted on Nerf Tactical Rails with a minimum of blaster modding/sanding down. By far the most impressive is the Recon, which comes with a full set of red-light sights, barrel extension, and stock, much like a SOPMOD kit for actual assault rifles and submachine guns.
    • The newest blaster, the CS-18 Rayven, not only accepts tac-rail accessories and barrel extensions, it even comes with an all-new 18-dart magazine that can "charge up" glow-in-the-dark darts.
    • As a case of recursive mod-friendliness, some of the accessories themselves have more tactical rail mounts. Some notable ones include the Longstrike and Recon barrel extensions, the red-light scopes that come with said Recons, and even the two scopes that are part of the Elements EX-6 gift kit. Scope, on top of Scope, on top of Scope.
    • The closely-related Super Soaker water blasters of the latest product line possess Tactical Rails, as do the new Vortex disc blasters. The Nitron even has an all-new scope, all the better to take aim with.
  • Guns Akimbo: The Barricade is a semi-automatic revolver. You just know that people are going to buy two and use this to the max.
    • Strong people have also done this with a pair of Vulcans or Stampedes, the Nerf version of dual-wielding chainguns or assault rifles.
    • The new Rayven CS-18 lends itself well to this trope as well, given its electrical flywheel and it's relatively compact size.
  • Gun Twirling: The proportions of the Maverick make this ridiculously easy. Did we mention that this is their biggest seller?
  • Hand Cannon: Nerf pistols tend to be huge compared to their real counterparts, due to the size of the darts.
  • Happy Fun Ball
  • IKEA Weaponry: The Recon CS-6 can be used on its own, but is quite a sight fully assembled.
    • Not to mention the fact that the entire N-Strike line is designed with Tactical Rails, allowing interchanging of parts with most accessories.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Most blasters, simply for their sheer size, though the N-Force Battlemaster Mace falls somewhere between Batter Up and Epic Flail.
  • Insistent Terminology: Hasbro calls them Nerf Blasters and Clips, not guns and magazines so as to try and distance them from real firearms.
    • The Vortex line, however, uses the term "magazine" suddenly. "Blaster" is still used.
  • Laser Sight: More like a little red light, but with the right customizing skills and a laser pointer...
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: The N-Force Stonewall Shield, as well as the Stampede's mountable ballistic shield.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Rapid Fire AS-20, as the alphanumeric designation implies, holds 20 rounds at a time. They can all be fired simultaneously.
  • More Dakka: Nerf seems to be obsessed with just how much Dakka they can get a plastic gun to shoot. Their current masterpiece? 25 darts in 7 seconds.
  • Nerf: inverted; Hard-core users customize the guns to make them shoot farther and/or look cooler. The most common mods are removals of air restrictors, installations of stronger springs, and barrel upgrades for better range/accuracy.
    • N-Strike magazines, drums and even ammo belts are often rebuilt to handle more ammo.
    • Electrically-powered blasters, like the Stampede, the Vulcan, the Barricade, the Vortex Nitron, and the new Rayven, are often subject to over-volting by modders for even more dakka. Of course, going overboard will melt the blaster from the intense heat, or, in the case of the Stampede, cause a mechanical malfunction that may make the blaster shoot uncontrollably.
    • There are also other nifty mods, such giving most of the Clip System blasters shotgun-style pump-action, integrating one-shot blasters into the Tactical Rails for mounting as backup firepower, and the barrel extensions that let you turn a one-shot blaster into a 19-dart scattergun.
    • A group known as Orange Mod Works has released pre-fabricated modkits for beefing up some of the N-Strike Blasters, easily almost-doubling their power.
    • On a more disturbing note, someone successfully weaponized a Rev-6 revolver by turning it into a Taser.
    • Further inverted by the upcoming N-Strike Elite series, which is claimed to have a stock range of 75 feet.
  • No Export for You: Nerf guns are difficult to find outside the US, and their accessories are as rare as hen's teeth.
    • Values Dissonance: This could be because many other countries take much more negative stances on the use of guns and on the depiction of violence.
      • Australians, due to firearms laws which even requier bb/airsoft/paintball guns to be registered and used only by liscenced persons [which is extremely hard to get and if you are doing it you may as well take up competitive target shooting or hunting], are on the hieght of homemade dart design and have made darts that contain no metal and have a rubber tip. this is a extreme way to distance themselves from firearms.
    • Short Run in Peru: On the other hand, the Raider came out early in Australia. Australia. Toy shipments have been known to reach Proxima Centauri before they get to Australia. And Singapore seems to be getting them before they hit the US, too.
  • Power Glows: The old Firefly REV-8 revolver had a built-in light that simulated muzzle flashes and lit up fluroscent darts. The Vortex Lumitron and the Rayven CS-18 have mags available that can charge up similar fluroscent ammo.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: The Maverick, which is also a Hand Cannon and their best seller.
    • Also the Spectre REV-5, which holds one dart less then the Maverick but is more reliable and powerful. And it also has a silencer as well as a foldable stock.
    • The new Barricade REV-10 is a semi-automatic 10-shooter. It produces an amazing Ominous Hummmm while switched on.
    • There is also the classic Dart Tag Furyfire Blaster, a pump-action 10-shooter.
  • Rule of Cool: making guns safe for kids to play with!
    • Slow dart projectile speeds allows for Nerf players to actually dodge bullets.
    • N-Strike blasters tend towards impressively realistic mechanisms and mods, just like actual firearms, while Vortex disc blasters adopt a more fancy sci-fi feel with their orange-red muzzles, oblong barrels, and green bodies.
  • Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: Although two N-Strike blasters are modeled after sniper rifles, their range is the same as any other blaster. Averted by most modified Longshots. One of the simplest mods is to put a heavy-duty spring around the plunger, which drastically increases range and velocity.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: The Raider's "slam-fire" pump lets you put a lot of darts out there really fast. Your accuracy drops to nil, but who needs that when you can fill an area with darts?
    • The Barrel Break IX-2 fires, as the numerical designation suggests, two shots at once and resembles a Sawed-Off Shotgun. It also comes with a dart-holding accessory, like real shotguns.
    • The Alpha Trooper CS-18 also features the slam-fire of its Raider predecessor, and is lighter, slimmer, and more reliable, striking the balance between firepower and size with its 18-dart drum magazine.
    • The new Quick 16 blaster from the latest Dart Tag series has an integrated banana magazine and is designed to permit on-the-fly reloading. Oh, and like the Raider and Alpha Trooper, it has slam-fire.
    • While the new Vortex Praxis lacks slam-fire in its pump-action mechanism, it packs the range and accuracy to make up for it, as well as an impressive 10-disc magazine.
  • Shur Fine Guns: Once in a while, unlucky people buy Nerf blasters with factory defects that make them jam easily. The Maverick in particular suffers from a reputation of being easily-jammed due to occasional bad production runs resulting in poor-tolerance blasters only good for spare parts for repairing functional Mavericks.
  • Sniper Pistol: Mostly inverted; the sniper rifle-esque Longshot and Longstrike shoot no farther than any other gun. Played straight with the Nite Finder, a single-shot pistol with among the best ranges for any N-Strike blaster.
    • The new Vortex Proton and Vigilon pistols also play this trope straight, with excellent range on their disc ammo that easily outperforms most unmodified dart blasters.
    • The upcoming N-Strike Jolt ultra-compact pistol looks to be capable of matching the Nitefinder in performance, easily making it the most powerful and long-ranged ultra-compact pistol blaster.
  • Sniper Rifle: the aforementioned Longstrike.
  • Steampunk: A popular theme among customizers, especially with the Maverick.
  • Sugar Apocalypse: People have made deadly serious war videos using happy, bright-colored toy guns.
  • Trigger Happy: Half the fun is being able to shoot others in the groin without worry of much pain.
    • For the not-so-truly-daring, the Maverick and Spectre (being revolvers) can be used for a non-deadly game of Russian Roulette.
  • Unbreakable Weapons/BreakableWeapons: The Nerf foam itself is incredibly tough to break. The mechanism used to shoot? Incredibly easy.
    • Taken to extremes with some comedians. Jerry Seinfeld once said that cars should be made of Nerf foam to avoid collision injuries, and Robot Chicken once featured a joke about "Nerf doors and stairs", for a husband and wife, the latter of which came into the office looking rather beaten.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Rather than the classic darts, the upcoming Vortex series loads and fires XLR Discs. (That's eXtra Long Range, not extra large rounds.)
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Vortex discs fly very poorly when wet.
  1. Recently joined by the even more realistic-looking longstrike
  2. it's similar enough that you can import Unreal and UT maps into it, though making them fully playable requires some minor modifications - Arena Blast's characters are slightly taller than UT's.
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