By THAM YING HUI, CAROLYN HAI, V. VISHNU and SHAHRIMAN SHAHRUL
All those years of playing Call Of Duty, finally paying off. That’s how some of us BRATs felt as we were getting prepped for our very first Nerf Dart Tag tournament.
We were huddled in a corner, loading the velcro-tipped Nerf foam darts into the brightly coloured blasters, and putting on our velcro-patched blue jerseys.
By 2pm, we were all geared up and ready to go, waiting for the wail of the siren to signal the start of our opening match.
Welcome to Hasbro Malaysia’s first official Nerf Dart Tag Tournament, held last weekend at the Allrounder Indoor Soccer futsal centre, Petaling Jaya.
Organized by Outpost Events, the agency appointed by Hasbro Malaysia, the competition featured two categories – one for kids aged eight to 13, and another for those above 14.
You will be surprised at how popular Nerf toys are getting around here. Nerf started out as a furniture-friendly four-inch polyurethane foam ball in 1969. It soon became a hit by being ‘the world’s first indoor ball’, as it allowed children to go wild with the soft, spongy ball without causing any damage in the house.
Following the runaway success of the product, Nerf creator Reyn Guyer, backed by Parker Brothers, set out to realise the array of foam games he had envisioned. The outcome is what we see in stores today, though the brand was later bought over by Hasbro.
Nerf is now well-known for its array of safe, foam projectile-shooting weapons.
Call it a child’s toy and scoff all you want, but Nerf’s latest N-Strike Elite Blasters have got even middle-aged working adults excited over them.
They sport names like “Hail-Fire”, “Rampage” and “Retaliator”, and boast the ability to shoot over 20m.
The term Nerf “Blasters” is preferred to Nerf “guns”, and “darts” instead of “bullets”, in order to avoid being associated with actual firearms.
There are four types of Nerf Blasters. The first is the N-strike, which can be disassembled and customised. Then there’s the Super Soakers, which is basically a water gun. The Vortex range shoots discs instead of darts, and, finally, the Dart Tag range, which shoots special velcro pellets that stick to your Dart Tag armour.
Hard-core Nerf fans often customise their own blasters, decorating them with their own designs and improving its shooting performance.
Before we got into the arena, we thought to ourselves – how hard could this be? But after the first game, where we got completely trashed by our opponents.
It was a point-based game combined with a capture-the-flag scenario. They captured our flag and tagged us so many times that we’re just too embarrassed to talk about it.
But let’s just say that this game requires serious tactics, stamina, as well as a good understanding of how the blasters work.
Every blaster has a different capability. Some shoot darts that travel a longer distance but are heavier, and some takes a longer time to reload but are very light.
All these factors influence your strategy, so for first-timers like us, all we did was just pick a gun that looked the coolest and ran onto the field #LikeABoss.
And the game really isn’t just for kids. Adults can get in on the fun too!
To get a better idea of how Nerf is coming along in Malaysia, we talked to the tournament’s runners-up, the Droids. The team consists of Sherman Sim, 24, Jayhan Tee, 24, Lance Chee, 37, and team leader Deno Ong, 41:
How much experience do you have in the dart tag?
Ong: Well, we started playing again on Friday, but we did take part in a competition last year.
Why do you guys like nerf and dart tag?
Tee: I like nerf because it’s the ultimate sport – it combines speed, agility and strategy.
We’re sure people have asked why would grown men like you play with toys like these…
Tee: Well, no matter how old I get, it’s still fun. So, regardless of what people say, it’s always going to be awesome to us.
Has anyone every made fun of you for playing Nerf?
Ong: No, not really. When the new elite series came out, I got a blaster for Lance and I had to pass it to him at work. When we opened the box, his office workmates came by to have a look, and they were exclaiming that it’s just a kids toy. But after we fired it and it reached a length of over 20m, they were speechless.