January 20, 2014

A Response to Blaster Labs' Opinion on "What Hath Hasbro Wrought?"

The folks over at Blaster Labs wrote an interesting article concerning my earlier essay/complaint, "What Hath Hasbro Wrought?" and offered some good thoughts on the matter. Naturally, I have to respond in kind.


Who needs Nerf when you can use this? :P
More seriously, I'd like to contribute thoughts on the matter. More after the jump.

Note that I'm speaking from the point of view of someone who actively modifies blasters. If I was simply a fan of Nerf blasters, I would probably be less upset over some (but not all) of these issues.

I have no disagreement that Hasbro has had a major influence on our hobby, considering its status as one of the (or to be more precise, THE) largest blaster manufacturers in the world, both for darts and water. But that doesn't mean it's the same company that it was in the beginning.

It may have been Hasbro the corporation who had the foresight to acquire companies like Kenner, Larami, and others. But that is not equivalent to the people of Hasbro contributing all these innovations over the years. That's akin to being grateful to Republicans for ending slavery.


I know, you just had that look of astonishment that I'm bringing politics into this. Trust me, I'm not trying to make this political. I'm just attempting to use a history lesson as an analogy to my argument.

The Republican brand was established in US Congressional races in 1858, then by the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln. It arose primarily as the party of abolition, making it the liberal party of that time (slavery was THE issue, not just an issue). At the turn of the 20th century, Progressives had an influence on the political parties, but more so on the Democrats; the liberal tilt continued by FDR and the New Deal (as well as the Civil Rights Movement) eventually drove conservatives to the Republican Party. This voter realignment was solidified by Nixon's Southern Strategy, leading to the political party ideologies of today.

The point of this paragraph? The Republican Party may be over 150 years old, but the political makeup of the party has changed, making claims of "The Party of Lincoln" nothing more than a nice sound bite in today's world.
Lincoln laughs at your puny blasters.

In a similar fashion, it's hard to credit Hasbro for so many Nerf blasters and innovations over the years, simply because it's not the same group of people. If you peruse the various blaster patents online, you can see a clear division in the people designing the blasters, occurring at the start of the new millennium. This is also the time period in which Kenner, then Larami, were shut down as subsidiaries of Hasbro, and blaster shells started being stamped with Hasbro trademarks. In the case of Larami, the makers of Super Soakers as well as many blasters like the Supermaxx series, most of the staff was let go at the end of Hasbro's 7 year owner/partnership with them, when the Larami name was dropped. This, by the way, is the reason Buzz Bee Toys exists - many of those former employees moved down the street and started a new company for designing blasters.

I don't want to deny that Hasbro in its current form has contributed nothing - they've made Nerf wildly popular, even if many of their blasters give me a case of déjà vu. Likewise, I can't let nostalgia cloud my judgement of the old Hasbro - they and their subsidiaries made mistakes. However, I would contend that classic Nerf created far more interesting and fun blasters, and their mistakes arose from creative design and experimentation, not design stagnation. Meanwhile, current Hasbro has become so stuck in the tacticool trend that once they find something popular, they don't innovate very far from that unless there's a good business reason (Rebelle after research concerning girls and Nerf, the Elite series when the community overwhelmingly wanted longer ranges, Zombie Strike because...well, the Walking Dead is still on, isn't it?).

Besides, if Daryl Dixon uses Nerf blasters, they've got to be effective against zombies!

Meanwhile, the Super Soaker line has greatly diminished from its heyday - the originals ushered in the end of the era of electric pump and piston blasters, but now those blasters are back on shelves! Now only Buzz Bee ("Larami 2") makes large numbers of air pressure blasters with decent performance.


  1. Good post, Buffdaddy. Not surprisingly, we don't necessarily agree... saying the current Nerf designs (under Brian Jablonski's team) are stagnant ignores innovations and standardizations like the clip system, tactical rails, slam-fire, the Acceleration trigger, phone cradles, interchangeable shoulder stocks and barrels, ammo drums, Lumitron, Vortex discs, multi-shot, hundred-foot ranges, smart barrel dart detection and on and on.

    Sure, it's possible some of the things listed above were inspired by others (including modders like you), but the current group at Nerf brought them to market. And yes, we also recognize a re-shell when we see one, and there are a lot of those in the current Nerf line-up. But to pine for the "good old days" of Larami and Kenner fails to recognize just how crappy some of those ball blasters really were compared to what we have today.

    We'll grant you that the early pioneers in the category can be credited with a lot of the innovation Nerf is building on today. But even in those cases, it was still largely under the Hasbro tent that these things were created and made available to consumers in the first place. So while the names may have changed, we think Hasbro still deserves credit for making the category what it is today. And we believe they are still coming up with some pretty cool stuff!

  2. ----In a similar fashion, it's hard to credit Hasbro for so many Nerf blasters and innovations over ----the years, simply because it's not the same group of people.
    It's irrelevant that's it's the same people. It's Hasbro. Period.

    ----However, I would contend that classic Nerf created far more interesting and fun blasters, --------and their mistakes arose from creative design and experimentation
    Are you arguing that a master blaster is more innovative or interesting than, say, a rapidstrike. Sorry, not by a long shot.

  3. oh yes wonderful people like LBJ who only signed the CRA after being pretty much forced to and bragged 'that will keep the n****** voting democrat for the next 200 years' a bill written and passed almost entirely with republican pressure and republican party grassroots support for the ideal that every man is to be judged on their own actions and the idea of individual rights and responsibilities.

    and lets not forget which party had a KKK GRAND KLEAGLE as speaker of the house and sitting in national government till the mid 2000's

    whilst your point about Hasbro not being responsible for the innovation is fair your political commentary makes you look woefully poorly educated and shows you get all your knowledge from trite soundbites.