Synopsis of Toy
“The world’s first indoor ball!”
It started with a dream—a dream of breaking one of the biggest no-no’s in the world: No playing ball in the house. Inventor Reynolds Guyer (creator of Twister) had a means to attain that dream, and that means was polyurethane. From that synthetic foam came the first Nerf ball, and from that first Nerf ball came a line of balls, bows, bats and more that continues to expand today.
Guyer’s first Nerf ball rolled out to the public in 1969. With the promise that “You can’t damage lamps or break windows. You can’t hurt babies or old people” (and no, that’s not a challenge), Nerf was safe enough for indoor play, but its squishy portability made it an ideal take-anywhere toy. By the end of its first year on the market, over 4 million Nerf balls had been sold, and a new toy superstar was born.
In the wake of the space race and moon madness, Nerf was nearly dubbed the “Moon Ball” by its inventor. In retrospect, the made-up word “Nerf” was a much better idea. The original ball would likely have been a success either way, but Nerf had bigger and better things in store than a single, smallish “Moon Ball.”
Throughout the 1970’s, the Nerf line expanded through nearly every sport involving a ball—soccer, golf, ping pong, baseball, basketball (the ever-popular Nerfoop)—and even a few with no ball relationship whatsoever (Frisbee, darts, etc.). But the jewel in the Nerf crown was clearly the Nerf Football. Debuting in 1972, this oblong mass of foam soon came to dominate backyard tackle ball, street ball, kill the man with the ball, and intramural flag football games everywhere.
Cheaper and softer than leather or pigskin, the Nerf Football was perfect training for wannabe Roger Staubachs, Terry Bradshaws, Joe Montanas, Dan Marinos, John Elways, or whomever you happened to idolize. Not only were Nerf Footballs more popular than the real thing, they were one of the most popular toys of the 1970’s, and they maintained their popularity over the ensuing decades with improvements like the spiraling Turbos and jet-inspired Vortexes.
Nerf balls and other toys were omnipresent throughout the 70’s and 80’s, but the 90’s brought a new wave that carried Nerf to new levels of popularity: Nerf Blasters. Starting with 1990’s Blast-a-Ball, Nerf unleashed an assortment of toys that fired soft, safe projectiles at unsuspecting friends or family members. The Nerf Bow and Arrow was an early favorite, and the line has grown to encompass everything from Crossbows to gatling-like rotating guns to the motorized “Ballzooka.”
The Blasters were kiddie favorites, but they also popped up in college dorms and corporate offices, where impromptu games of search and destroy made the perfect stressbuster. Between the Blasters, the ever-evolving sports line and the classic footballs, soccer balls and Nerfoops (now dubbed “Nerf Hoop”), Nerf continues bring squishy sport fun to the young and old. And though we wouldn’t recommend hurling the Vortex Mega Howler anywhere near mom or her favorite lamp, most Nerf products still follow in the safe, soft footsteps of “the world’s first indoor ball.”
Release History of Toy1969 - Nerf Ball
1972 - Nerf Football
1990 - Nerf Blasters
Sub Categories of Toysgames