Nerf's Billion-Dollar Toy Empire Surprisingly Started With a Foam-Rubber Rock

A look at the brand's dynasty of polyurethane, from balls to blasters

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On a Monday morning in 1968, Reyn Guyer discovered one of the world’s most famous toys by accident.

Guyer, the inventor who’d come up with Twister, was in his conference room, testing a new caveman game with colleagues. The prototype included a bunch of foam-rubber rocks that, the men soon discovered, were more fun to throw at one another than use in the game. And then something really hit them: “We had inadvertently created the world’s first indoor ball and broken the parental rule ‘no throwing balls in the house,’” Guyer recalled.

The Ammo: These innocent-looking little dimpled balls are the rounds for Blasters like the Nerf Rival, a serious shooter that pops them out at 68 mph.;


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This story first appeared in the April 24, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.