A Copywriter’s Blog
The Sidearm of Creativity

I have tried for the better part of a year to write this post. It’s very, very important to me. It’s about Nerf.

Nerf guns back in the day were pretty cool. They were guns. They shot foam darts. Since I had a younger brother, such devices were invaluable. They weren’t perfect- the darts, arrows, and balls often fell short, and the suction cup ammo never stuck to anything really. But the fact is that they were weapons whose very purpose was to deploy bright, foamy death at range. Like I said- pretty cool.

Fast forward about ten years.

Your standard Nerf firearm is the Maverick: a 6-shot, single-action revolver that fires over 30 feet with enough force to adhere a suction dart onto anything from a painted wall to your co-worker’s shiny forehead. The Maverick’s cousin is the Recon. The box will tell you it’s cool cause you can customize it by adding a barrel, a light, and a stock. Which I guess is cool. If you’re a girl. The Recon is really cool because it’s the foam-firing equivalent of a machine pistol. Single-action, clip-loading death. Oh, and they make this thing called the Vulcan. It’s a 25-round machine gun. The ammo comes on a belt. You can wear it as a bandolier.

I’m talking about toys here people. Toy makers, take note: if I have to use the nomenclature of an arms dealer to describe your product, you are doing something right.

I don’t remember exactly when I rediscovered Nerf. It was sort of like discovering the girl you shared cookies and milk with in kindergarten but haven’t seen since has grown up to become a playboy centerfold and she just moved back into town and totally remembers you from Mrs. DiMattio’s class and thinks the two of you should go out some time. (Best metaphor I’ve ever written? Or best metaphor EVER?)

The point was, I had grown up, and so had Nerf guns. Particularly pleasing to me was the fact that, somewhere along the way, the Nerf Maverick had become the sidearm of creativity.

This isn’t really new. I remember being ten years old and watching some stupid “meet the animator” interview on Cartoon Network. This guy is standing there with an old school Nerf Bow and Arrow. And he looks right in the camera and says “I wanted a job where I never had to wear a tie, and I felt like I was playing all day”. Then a dart whizzed by his head and he dove for cover under a desk. At dinner that night I told my parents I was going to be an animator.

It’s still true today. Nerf shows up everywhere. Comic creators use them. Game developers and animators leave them on their desks during interviews. And then there’s these guys.

They’re in agencies too. I think every creative person understands that there are times we will become stuck. Or we’ll take ourselves too seriously. Or – heaven forbid- we might have a moment where we feel like we’re growing up. And that’s why we keep Nerf around. I know of no faster, more foolproof way to fix all of those problems then a neon foam dart between the eyes of a co-worker. It works every time.

But just to be safe, I’ll plug them with the remaining five darts too.

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One Response to “The Sidearm of Creativity”

  1.   Gannon Says:

    I love that the Youtube clip for the Bow and Arrow has Commandos fighting off ninjas in the jungle. Was there a World War that they are just not teaching us about in History class?