No, probably not--the future of paintball, that is--but I wanted to grab your attention and shake you like a rag doll. No, you (yes, I mean you) didn't do anything--that I know of--to make me angry--but if instead I start talking about politicians, automatic weapons and steel-jacketed ammo the next thing I know jackboots will be kicking in my door and ruining what's left of a bad day.
Some days I decry the future of this stupid game and other days I mock the pitiful efforts made to save it and still other days I think I could have had a V8--and not one of the fruity ones either. Some of you will recall that a fairly concerted effort was once made to keep the milsim and paramilitary overtones of some elements of paintball out of the public eye like crazy uncle Harry locked in the basement when the neighbors dropped by for a visit. That day is over, both from the industry and at the retail level where a lot of paintball stores sell Airsoft side-by-side with their paintball gear. One upshot of that trend may have been the recent California bill aimed at toy guns that originally included paintball markers--and could again. While paintball dodged that bullet--this time--paintball is clearly headed down a path that will further entwine our game with guns of all sorts--and it won't be to paintball's betterment.
But that isn't what I want to rant about today. While paintball looks to relive the Vietnam experience (or D-Day or whatever) minus all the ugly and, you know, deadly parts for fun and recreation Hasbro & Nerf are flat ripping us off. No, I'm not kidding. Here's the deal: check it out. (Watch the short video.) Not convinced, try here. Or here. (Watch this video too.) Getting the picture? Hasbro has taken Nerf to the next level and they've done it by looking at tourney paintball and recreating a Nerf version currently aimed at kids. It's cheap. It's clean. It's easy to play and it might even be fun. And they've taken a giant step or two past that with an annual tour of event stops to play in regional events with a chance to win a trip to Disney's WWOS (Wide World of Sports)--you may have heard of it--for the annual championships and a chance for the winning team to take home 25 grr. The tour, btw, is the Dew Tour featuring a line-up of so-called extreme sports.
Dart tag regional events compete with the other sports on the Dew Tour with regional winners eligible for the championships in Orlando. They play inside inflated, netted arenas with inflatable bunkers, penalty boxes and referees and score points by capturing an opponent's nerf something and returning it to their Home base in a timed game that offers multiple breakouts. Sound familiar?
Meanwhile, in paintball land after 20 years TV treats us like the hired help and our industry is all monkey see, monkey do without being able to agree on anything that might be in everyone's best interest all the while leaving a crumbling retail network to fend for itself.
Is nobody either ashamed or offended that Hasbro is kicking paintball's ass? Hasbro? And Nerf?
Of course, it also begs the question of whether dart tag and the other Nerf products are precursors--potential gateways to paintball--or, as silly as it may sound, the foundation of an easy to play, energetic, painless variant of tag that will pull potential paintballers away from paintball. And if nerf tag kids are potential future paintballers will anybody do anything about it or are we too far gone with our picatinny equipped replica AK-47s and battle vests to care?
H/T to Steve Davidson for bringing Nerf Dart Tag to my attention. Like there aren't enough things in the world that already aggravate me. Thanks, Steve. I owe you one and I will get even.