How We Almost Made the World’s Coolest Nerf Blaster

A few years back, several members of our coworking space were engaged in an ongoing Nerf War. So at random intervals, battles would break out in the hallways of NextSpace, with foam darts flying everywhere.

People were really getting into it, even modding their Nerf guns in various ways, like putting little dabs of epoxy on the dart tips to make them fly further.

This gave me a completely innocent, amazing idea: Wouldn’t it be cool to end the Nerf War by means of a custom-built, pressurized gas machine gun modeled after the six barrel M134 minigun?

The kind that can shoot 4,000 rounds per minute?

Like a more colorful, bouncy version of this:

In our research on the project, we determined that the “ammo” would be too expensive to buy at a toy store, so we contacted Hasbro, the maker of Nerf products, to buy those little bouncy darts directly.

Here’s the email exchange that ensued.

From: Chris Miller @ Launch Brigade

To: B2BCustServ@nullhasbro.com

Date: August 3rd 2012

Subject: Bulk Ordering Nerf Ammo

Hello,

We’re working on a project and need to purchase Nerf N-Strike darts in bulk (thousands of rounds).I was referred here by your customer service department. Let me know how we can facilitate an order.

They got back to me and everything seemed to be going smoothly.

From: Hasbro Customer Service

To: Chris Miller @ Launch Brigade

Date: August 6th 2012

Subject: Re: Bulk Ordering Nerf Ammo

Chris, what does the project entail and how are the darts being used? We have a few different types of darts…do you need the suction cup, whistler, clip system or dart tag?

Who wouldn’t be excited about this project? I happily shared.

From: Chris Miller @ Launch Brigade

To: Hasbro Customer Service

Date: August 6th 2012

We’re building a replica of an M134 machine gun which will fire clip style darts. We might also want to purchase a smaller amount of the vortex ammo.

At this point, there was a sudden radio silence. Some time passed. I decided to follow up, trying to make sure they knew this was all very, very official.

From: Chris Miller @ Launch Brigade

To: Hasbro Customer Service

Date: December 7th 2012

Just following up on this, looks like our project got the green light. Not sure what the legal ramifications are, we just want to purchase an existing product in bulk. Let me know ASAP.

This time they got back to me.

From: Hasbro Customer Service

To: Chris Miller @ Launch Brigade

Date: December 13th 2012

Chris, unfortunately legal did not approve this. sorry

Heartbreaker!

I did follow up once more, asking why selling me the same darts I could buy in a Toys R Us, but just more of them, created a legal issue.

I even offered to sign something disclaiming them of any legal liability. But their official policy is that they would not “knowingly provide Nerf darts when we know they will be used in a product other than a Nerf blaster”.

Obviously, the long-term solution for this is for Nerf to make their own M134 minigun. (You’re welcome, Nerf!)

But in the short-term, the project kinda stalled from there. Maybe we’ll try again soon. It’s too bad. Our engineers were excited to test how many thousands of foam darts we could send through the machine per minute without tearing them apart.

Oh well. It’s okay, Nerf — we still love you.

by Chris Miller

Ready? Let's get this party started
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