Foam darts have been Nerf’s mainstay for decades, but in recent years, the company has been expanding to other foam projectiles, like the tiny balls its powerful Rival blasters fire. But today, Hasbro revealed a new twist for Nerf: a blaster that instead fires tiny pre-hydrated super absorbent polymer rounds that explode and splat on impact: like a paint ball but without the paint stain.
Back in 2015, Hasbro realised that Nerf didn’t really have an option in its lineup for teenage kids who’d grown up with the toy but eventually found the brand’s dart blasters underwhelming. They would instead gravitate towards more powerful alternatives like paintball or airsoft guns. That led to the creation of the Nerf Rival line, which could launch one-inch foam balls at speeds of up to 70 MPH. Later, in 2021, the company released the Hyper line, which used smaller, faster foam rounds and blasters with more shot capacity between reloads.
But there’s a certain satisfaction to tagging someone with a paintball, which explodes on impact instead of just bouncing off onto the ground. That’s the experience that Nerf is hoping to recreate with its new Nerf Pro Gelfire Mythic Full Auto Blaster: a real branding mouthful. Instead of foam darts or foam balls, the Gelfire shoots super absorbent polymer rounds that users need to hydrate with water. Since they’re much smaller when dehydrated, the blaster actually comes with 10,000 rounds in the box, while its see-through feed hopper can hold around 800 of them once hydrated.
Nerf doesn’t specify the speed with which the polymer rounds come blasting out of the barrel aside from boasting that they have a “high velocity,” but it’s fast enough for them to explode on impact, only without the brightly coloured stain a paintball leaves behind: a feature that’s surely targeted at parents instead of teens.
Hasbro claims there’s “no pickup needed” for the polymer shrapnel after an intense battle, and that the “Gelfire rounds are water-hydrated rounds that burst upon impact — much like when a blown bubble bursts leaving a barely perceptible residue.” Hasbro also asserts the “rounds and their residue are not toxic to humans, dogs, or cats,” and “based on our environmental studies, the Gelfire rounds do not pose an adverse impact to the environment when used as intended.” The rounds don’t disappear completely upon impact, however, so you’ll probably want to stick to using this blaster outdoors.
Other features include an extendable stock and a removable barrel that are each presumably compatible with certain other Nerf products, both semi-auto and full-auto modes that can fire at a rate of 10 rounds every second, and a swappable rechargeable battery — although it includes just one and you’ll have to supply your own wall charger.