Friday, December 26, 2008

Nerf: From sports to military training tools

Toys have changed a lot since I was a kid growing up in the ’70s. Back then Nerf toys were soft foam basketballs and footballs designed for safe, indoor play.
Today, Nerf is about weaponry – guns that shoot foam bullets and darts. Some look like guns Arnold Schwarzenegger might have used in one of his testosterone-fueled action movies.
Take the Nerf N-Strike Vulcan EBF-25, which has a list price of $43. Toy maker Hasbro describes it as “the ultimate in battery-powered blasting.” Fully automatic, the Nerf gun holds up to 25 darts and can fire up to three darts per second. You can buy extra 25-dart ammo belts so you don’t run out of ammunition to shoot at your friends.
Hasbro carpet-bombed the newspaper circulars with ads for its Nerf weaponry, which runs from handguns to missile launchers. Sure, they only fire spongy projectiles, but I can’t help but think that we could be training the next generation of soldiers with these toys, designed for ages 6 and up.
The tech toys for kids today also are pretty cool. I especially like the spy gear.
With the EyeClops Night Vision Infrared Stealth Goggles, kids can reenact the climactic scene from “The Silence of the Lambs.” On second thought, that’s a bad idea.
With the night vision goggles from Jakks Pacific, kids can see up to 50 feet in complete darkness. The product lists for $79.99, but was selling for $59.99 at Toys “R” Us on Christmas Eve.

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