Nerf - A Love Letter
Who's saying what
Calling a personal pursuit 'the nerf renaissance' is somewhere between arrogant and fatuous, given that not only did Nerf go away, but that it has been getting more complex and nuanced over the years than I ever thought possible. To be honest, this is more a passionate clarion call. A wailing, gnashing love letter from a man with a full heart and a now empty wallet. Nerf. It's like packaging pringles. In gun form.
When I was a kid, my parents weren't particularly flushed, but one Christmas they baffled all and sundry by purchasing three of these numbers.
My younger brother and sister warmed to them pretty quickly, but I had an emotional boner the moment I laid eyes on the still-wrapped box. Imagine it: a young geek, obsessed with Green Arrow, being given a bow and arrow set that wouldn't land him in the slammer. My siblings broke theirs after a few weeks, but I maintained mine with the sort of unsettling devotion shown by Vincent Dinofrio in Full Metal Jacket. I was a pretty decent shot, too. Although I should add parenthetically that whilst hitting your staffordshire bull terrier square in the left eyeball with a nerf arrow might feel vaguely satisfying, the ensuing stitches will not.
Flash forward about fifteen years. I'm at a bar in Sydney with some comedian friends, and one of them happens to ask if I'm into Nerf. I mention that a few years back, I purchased a Nerf Maverick on ebay after spotting a particularly pithy installment of Penny Arcade.
He then proceeds to tell me the following things. Firstly, that the Nerf movement is really big. Secondly, that the range of Nerf guns is both imposing and, frankly, arousing. And finally, he told me that this October, Sydney Uni would be hosting an event called Humans Vs. Zombies, in which several hundred people armed with Nerf guns would have to survive a zombie outbreak until midnight. A NERF ZOMBIE WAR. I almost choked on my deep-fried mac and cheese balls.Naturally, I registered. But I decided to take it one step further. You see, summer in Melbourne (where I live) is a glorious thing, and nothing is more enjoyable than heading to Carlton Gardens on a sunny weekend with friends, some gin and tonics, and... oh, wait. You know what would make that idyllic tableau even better? NERF GUNS. So we're going to be playing games of Nerf capture the flag and king of the hill. I'm calling it GUN AND TONIC. You should totally do the same.
But first, I want to introduce you to some of my ladies. And when I say ladies, I do of course mean Nerf guns.
That's Vera. She's a Longstrike, a Nerf sniper rifle. I'll be modding her insides to double the range, which is a weird thing to say now that I've given her a fetching name and all.
This is my speedswarm, Maria. She's good for running-and-gunning. Or, if you're soused, running and ginning. No? No. Anyway, she's automatic and scares the hell out of people on the opposing team. And finally?
Say hello to my automatic chain-fed gattling gun. I haven't given her a name yet, but I'm leaning towards something with a snappy Eastern European flavour. I can, and will, accept suggestions. Incidentally, Nerf is the kind of hobby that takes up an unbeleivable amount of space. As a gamer, I generally buy games digitally, meaning a library is now in the clouds. With Nerf guns, however, I've literally reached the point where my industrial designer girlfriend (who owns a Speedload, by the way) is talking about building me a gun rack. An actual gun rack.
I also have a slew of handguns. The moral of the story here? Nerf is frigging tastycakes, and if you see a bunch of hipsters shooting each other in a Melbourne park this summer, I'll be the one screaming like a viking on steroids whilst unloading my as of yet unnamed revolving mistress. Which actually sounds like something that might not sound so good in court, so I guess I'll wrap things up.
See you on the fairway./Paul