Saturday, May 5, 2012
Rant: "Those were the days"
It's been 22 years since my first Nerf Blaster, a Bow 'n Arrow, that I played with shooting imaginary Nazis out of trees. It was the only thing I had for a long time and, truth be told, I really didn't want anything else. I never actually owned a genuine Super Soaker, as my friends were spoiled with arsenals of Super Soaker 50s, 100s, and later the CPS blasters that would eat through a tank of water in no time. There really weren't a whole lot of blasters to choose from, no exclusive blasters, no towers of extra ammo to buy for your blasters. We had fun with what we had. And when our blasters broke, if they didn't get replaced, we'd just do something else. Airsoft and Paintball really weren't mainstream then, either.
Nowadays there's all kinds of drama and criticism and hate surrounding the Nerf and Super Soaker world I once knew. There's new blasters for Nerf coming out every few months, with kids demanding more and more every time. Super Soakers have all the bells and whistles that the Nerf line now has with tactical rails and accessories too, feeding a generation that has been influenced by the influx of First Person Shooter videogames that thrive off the new "Tacticool" angle these blasters have. There are all kinds of motorized and electronic blasters on both sides that don't require priming or pumping to shoot. It seems like there's as much love for the designs as there is hate for the performance. And, at every corner, there's some 15 year old who's mom bought him a clear plastic Airsoft Pistol who now has a personal responsibility to flame and troll every foam-blasting fan on the planet. Oh, and when he's not doing that, there's some other kid who was born at the turn of the century preaching about how the Recon sucks and then glorifying the Nerf Crossbow's greatness, a blaster he wasn't even alive to experience.
With social media buzzing around giving everyone a voice to promote or condemn the products out there, it makes me wonder... was the era I grew up in the glory days NOT because of the blasters, but because it was just fun? Performance was cool and all, but we didn't know the first thing about modifying blasters outside of duct taping a flashlight to your Arrowstorm. We just enjoyed them for what they were: toys. In this era, it seems like every time a kid seems to think that the Deploy is cool, there's someone to tell him that it sucks and he's a baby for not shooting the neighbors cat with a Paintball gun. Not only has the genuine unbiased love for blasters been threatened by the hostility of social media outlets, but there's an increasing promotion of juvenile delinquency. Whether it's airsoft or just making your Nerf blaster leave welts on your neighbor, there's so much angst and negativity surrounding this once-pleasant recreational activity.
To me, when folks reminisce about the Golden Days of these blasters, I tend to think less of the raw performance power of those legendary hunks of plastic, but more of the untainted fun that it used to be. Fans can sit and complain about overzealous safety requirements that toy companies now have, but with the increasingly violent nature that seems to get promoted more and more these days, I can't really blame them. Companies have to take some sort of measures to protect themselves when a kid is in the hospital from taking a Nerf Dart to the eye. Accidents happen, true... but I really think that safety regulations are where they are now because more kids are looking to cause physical harm to their surroundings than to just play a fun game with foam darts or streams of water. Maybe I was sheltered or naive. Perhaps the area I grew up in was just a social utopia of happiness and now I'm just a cranky old fan tired of hearing complaints. Either way, the more I look at it, the more I miss those days for the fun, not for the blasters.
Posted by Reverend at 6:54 PM