I've been pondering this for the past few days after doing some Christmas shopping. For those of you not familiar, Nerf is a subsidiary company of Hasbro and is a popular producer of children's toys . Some of their most popular items include their foam Nerf footballs, Nerf frisbees, and most notably their Nerf guns.
Now over the years Nerf has produced a number of their "guns". Most of them resemble what you would come to expect of a children's toy, bright colors, rounded part parts, fantasy and sci-fi designs etc:
What I've noticed lately is that the new Nerf guns in stores have taken on an interesting new trend. While still being brightly colored foam shooting toys, they now have a more "realistic" appearance in both function an asthetics. These new toys feature scopes, bipods, pump action cocking arms, bolts, belts or magazines. They cycle and chamber rounds either by pump action or battery power. They now have psuedo-military names like the "C8-35", "C6 Longshot", or the battery powered belt fed automatic "Vulcan":
Given a decent paint job, and the intended realism becomes more apparent. The lines blur as to which one is the leathal weapon and which one is the toy:
Now I recall a time in the mid 90's when toy manufacturers were doing everything they could to make their toys as distinguishable from real firearms after a few tragic incidents where children were mistakenly shot. Granted these toys resemble nothing like real guns, but might this be the first tentative step back in that direction?
We also talk about the stepping stones into getting involved with firearms. It usually goes BB gun/airsoft gun/paintball gun --> .22 rifle --> full fledged hobbyist.
Are these Nerf guns piquing children's interest in guns earlier? Will children playing with more "realistic" toys make them more likely to grow up pro gun? What do you think this new trend in toys for children will mean for the shooting community at large, if anything at all?