Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster

Today’s Zippy (like a number of other Zippy strips) revels in the sheer sound of an expression, in this case a brand name:

That’s Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster, a line of trochaic tetrameter (with short first foot) — so satisfying to say over and over again, like a mantra.

But what is this thing?, you ask. A kid’s war toy:

You can get a rough idea of what the blaster does from Hasbro’s product description — though it would surely help to be plugged into the blaster world already:

Approx. Retail: $44.99
Product Description:
The VORTEX NITRON disc blaster is the ultimate in VORTEX innovation and technology! The NITRON blaster’s cutting-edge acceleration trigger propels a full-auto storm of discs toward targets at extreme range for an all-out assault. Its Centerfire Tech electronic scope features pulsing targeting lights to help you center your aim. The included 20-disc magazine and onboard magazine storage keep reloading time as short as possible (additional magazines and discs sold separately). In addition to being fully automatic, the NITRON is also fully customizable with the Tactical Rail System that is compatible with most VORTEX and N-STRIKE Mission Kit accessories for a fully awesome battlefield experience!
Offering long-range, high-powered disc-blasting technology, NERF VORTEX blasters hurl ultra-distance discs for the ultimate battle experience!
NITRON blaster comes with electronic scope, 20-disc removable magazine, 20 discs and instructions.
Requires 6 “C” and 2 “AAA” batteries (not included).
Ages 8 and up.

The toy is presented in much the same way as real guns (and tools) are, in enthusiastic (ultimate, innovationawesome, cutting-edge) technical prose. The ultimate boy toy, “for a fully awesome battlefield experience”. (I’m not recommending the toys, just reporting.)

For some description in plain prose, here are excerpts from the Wikipedia entry on Nerf:

Nerf (trademarked in capitals as NERF) is a toy brand created by Parker Brothers and currently owned by Hasbro. The acronym NERF stands for “Non-Expanding Recreational Foam”.

(OED3 (Sept. 2003) says that Nerf is “apparently an arbitrary name” — that is, an invention for the sake of the sound, which conveys playful cuteness. It looks like the acronymic account is retronymic, an initialistic interpretation of the name after the fact. OED3’s first cite is from 1970, when Nerf balls first appeared.)

Most of the toys are a variety of foam-based weaponry, but there are also several different types of Nerf toys, such as balls for sports like football, basketball, and others. The most notable of the toys are the dart guns (referred to by Hasbro as “blasters”) that shoot ammunition made from Nerf foam.

… Currently, the company’s most popular products are Nerf Blasters, which are toy guns used to shoot foam darts, (consisting of streamline, dart tag, whistler, and suction) balls, or arrows. Various forms of dart ammunition are available, including a variety tipped with Velcro that can stick to Nerf vests, another tipped with suction cups designed to stick to smooth surfaces, a streamline dart designed to fit in magazines, a sonic dart that emits a whistling sound while flying, and color variations of the darts, including camouflage and glow in the dark. The Nerf blaster line consists of two main sub-lines: N-Strike and Dart Tag.

On September 2011, Hasbro introduced a third sub-line of Nerf blasters called Vortex. These blasters fire small green or white glow-in-the-dark discs made of soft plastic covered in foam with a range of up to 70 feet.

There are currently at least four Vortex sub-sub-lines: Lumitron, Vigilon, Praxis, and Nitron. It’s the long way from the safe and innocent world of Nerf balls to the child munitions world of blasters.

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