• Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

Rebelling against Hasbro’s Rebelle Nerf line

They’re pink.. because girls

Well it’s been a couple of days now since the Nerf Rebelle line images hit us and I thought I’d jot down my thoughts given it’s related to female Nerf fans and that would include me.

My initial reaction was.. well.. somewhat reactionary. As a woman who has always had ‘guy hobbies’ or been into ‘guy stuff’ the whole ‘paint it pink and call it girls’ burns me like almost nothing else. I despise it, it is lazy marketing at its finest. We’ve seen this in gaming for many, many years, pink controllers and keyboards, but no REAL solid marketing that is inclusive of a female audience. With this in mind, this is where my initial reaction comes from, hard to understand unless you’ve put up with it for years and you’re in that minority.

nerf rebelle blaster line thoughts nerfenstein girlygamer

Having said that, there will always be a niche market for this sort of thing and that’s where I believe Hasbro are coming from with this approach (wrong though I may find it). The downside is it perpetuates the marketing tide of this sort of nonsense and supports the present sexist hegemony. The upside is there will be girls / parents who buy into it and that means more girls realizing Nerf isn’t just for the boys and this is a good thing. Hasbro will hopefully tweak follow-up marketing for ALL merchandise that is inclusive, in a non-derogatory manner, thus opening up the entire range to the female audience (have you seen regular Nerf box art / ads?!).

On the actual design of the Rebelle line of blasters – color choice / marketing aside – I like them a lot. They’re sleek and different, which is what’s been missing (imho) from the line for some time. I personally think they should have released the line with clip on cover accents, maybe coming with two different colors and you could choose the accenting color you wanted (over a white blaster with say the black filigree), thus denoting it feminine or masculine if you like those annoying little pigeon-holes. Then of course Hasbro could make more money by releasing additional theme packs of the clip in accents panels. These would be great for people who want a really quick way to mod their blasters without the hassle of actually going through the stages it takes to mod them cosmetically.

nerf rebelle blasters

Bows are for girls
Not hair bows, we’re talking Katniss, Merida, Abigail Whistler arrow shooting bows. The trouble here is Hasbro are jumping on a bandwagon of strong independent female characters, but they’re doing it with Nerf bows that fly in the face of everything they stand for. I find that sad and again, annoying. Are the designs nice, yeah, but splitting the bow series into the pinky and perky Rebelle “Heartbreaker Bow” (ugh) and the Nerf N-Strike Mega Blazin’ Bow is just a kick in the female face again.

Despite Hasbro stating: “Just to be clear, we could have taken some of our Nerf blasters and just made them pink and put them in pink packages — but that’s not what we did”, this is still pretty close. Sure they designed them from the ground-up and for that they should be applauded…. loudly, but there are still steps to take.

nerf rebelle blastersWhose insights?

One day articles like this won’t need to be written, because we’ll realize gender is a socially constructed mess. You know years ago girls were dressed in blue and pink was the color of boys, that’s how natural these seemingly ‘natural’ things are. Think about that next time you’re in the toy aisle, looking through a toy catalog (they are so split by gender it is unbelievable), or watching an advert for toys.

Anyway that’s my thoughts on the Hasbro Rebelle line. I know I don’t usually ‘blog’ about Nerf things here, but I figured this was important enough to do so and probably too long for a Facebook update.

Now if I could just get that job as remote aesthetic design assistant at Hasbro we wouldn’t have this problem lol.

Some other articles you might find interesting that cover the gender problems of the Hasbro Nerf Rebelle line:

ReelGirl has a small mention that sums up the feelings of some

Good article over at Phek Trek’s Blog on Why Gendered Toys are the Wrong Direction

Rebecca Pahle over at The Mary Sue has a positive spin whilst intelligently covering the gender annoyances.

FeministSonar has an interesting take and asks the big questions.

Adding in my twitter pal Ragegirl’s article because it made me LOL and she says vagina…
Ragegirl talks Nerf Rebelle “Dear, Hasbro/Nerf/Companies in general who want to make things female friendly, I don’t like pink. I never have. I know, strange, because I have ovaries and a vagina and other bits that the Republican party of America is afraid of.”

And another great article via Jet in the comments. Nella over at Chez Apocalypse investigates the Nerf Rebelle line and how sometimes it is truly all in a name. “So let’s have more toys of equal quality that encourage kids to play in the way they want to play without us adults clutching our pearls for boys and girls”. Nice one Nella.

Written by Nerfenstein for her home blog. She loves Nerf, so this makes her sad.

Till next time people… what do we say?! ….

Originally written for GirlyGamer.com.au home blog of Nerfenstein / GirlyGamer / BoardGameGran. Catch up with me on my Facebook page, or if you Tweet… there’s always Twitter and guess what, I actually reply!

GirlyGamer / Board Game Gran

Nonna who loves her family, travel, board games, video games, VR and all things geeky (oh and some terrible reality TV.. don't judge lol).

21 thoughts on “Rebelling against Hasbro’s Rebelle Nerf line”
    1. I don’t know whether you mean you paint your daughters blasters pink, or you support the idea that girls should be wooed into Nerf without this silly pink idea and you repaint them other colors?

  1. Remember that line indi say in raiders? I got my own version “pink whyd it have to be pink’. and dafuq is the advertising about? So guys are gonna buy these and respray, why didnt they release em two different colors and market the whole thing to everyone, seems legit.

    heartbreaker bow dafuq? thats the best they come up with? maybe they pay a 10 yr old girl for that name. you notice regular nerf aint blue but for the new ones, they are gender non specific colours so really market to all already. how hard can it be?

    1. lol apparently it can be very hard. That’s true about the regular Nerf colors, very gender neutral, though it’s mainly for safety reasons as opposed to any effort by Hasbro to make them so.

  2. I’d have to say I agree with you. I’d read multiple articles on this subject (including the one you read, but there’s another good one here: http://chezapocalypse.com/youre-a-heartbreaker-toy-taker/) and they’ve all kind of hit the nail over the head as to why I really am not looking forward to Rebelle. Yeah, the blasters are very very neat and have some new ideas that people are looking forward to (namely that hammer-action revolver), but this marketing is just… dated. To me, this feels like a marketing thing that would have happened like five or ten years ago. It feels like Hasbro’s going backwards with this.

    I think this just overall gives me a bad gut feeling because this was supposed to have been advertised to a younger me, and younger me would have looked at this and said “no”. I have a bias for tech-looking stuff, but I dunno… it just feels like Hasbro’s trying to go out for this one specific stereotypical target, and it’s going to alienate other girls and other people in general. I know the modding community will buy these either way, but if you bring in the general population into this, then this might be a marketing failure.

    I know I’m being a big party pooper about this new series, but I just can’t shake that bad gut feeling.

    1. Fantastic response Jet, thanks for taking the time to articulate your feelings so well. The marketing strategy here is definitely in need of a kick in my opinion also. Despite Hasbro stating they asked the market, this reeks of old school male led marketing of a female centered product. That’s probably that bad feeling you have, it’s sadness Hasbro let this happen lol.

      A marketing strategy can be a failure for a few reasons, this is a failure on the grounds that Hasbro could have re-marketed their entire range and added these awesome new blasters to that range. That range could then have had open marketing that was inclusive of girls, whilst not directly aimed AT them. Yes, I worked in marketing once ;p

      My guess is these will be a success. Why? Because they’re new and not just skinned new. The Nerf community seem to lap up any innovation and regardless of the sickening skin and marketing of these products, they are innovative from a design / usability standpoint. Present Nerf fans – like me and you – will buy them and as I briefly mentioned the pink brigade too will hopefully step up and make purchases, thus making more girls Nerf fans. We can but hope.

      I’ll add that new link to the article, thanks for the heads up.

  3. As someone who is a father and a gun enthusiast (both real and nerf), I see both sides. My son isn’t quite old enough to play with nerf guns yet (he likes to say “go!” and watch me shoot them across the room), but I dabble a little myself. They’ve come a ways since I was a kid, I have to say. This marketing, as obnoxious as it is, works. My wife hates pink guns because she thinks nobody will take her seriously if her concealed carry pistol is pink (and I agree). My mom and girl cousins, however, want everything they own to be pink and sparkly. And if you go to an outdoors store, you will definitely see pink guns that fire real bullets.

    But I notice that the real gun manufacturers rarely make guns in just pink versions. Hasbro/Nerf should pick up on this reality. Like you said, the modders and nerf-lovers will see through the marketing and grab these guns. After watching this video I personally think a pump-action crossbow is awesome. As a dad/husband I’m secure in my masculinity and often carry girly looking bags for my wife. For me, it wouldn’t be a big deal to walk down the barbie aisle and pick up a nerf gun, go home and repaint it to my liking. But I think back to myself as a ten year old and I never would have bought it for fear of looking like a girl. They’re doing themselves a disservice by only offering these in the girl paint job.

    I’m usually a fan of traditional gender roles, but even I have to agree this is a fail. I’m all for girls having dolls, but I don’t have a problem with a girl getting into a nerf war with her brothers or friends either. Until now they really haven’t marketed NERF to girls. The commercials and boxes are all boys and the guns are in the boy section. Undoubtedly these Rebelle guns will be in the girl section and have only girls in the commercial (unless they are shooting boys). Instead, they could include girls in the commercials with boys, as well as offer more paint combos for each model and they might actually capture both genders.

    Also, as “neat” as the collector darts are, parents will hopefully figure out the cost difference pretty quickly.

    1. Hey Josh,
      fantastic response, thanks for taking the time to write such an articulate reply. It is very strange Hasbro hasn’t taken the move to open up their marketing to be more gender neutral, but the same can be said with most action / doing toys, unless they are related to care-giving / domesticity. Would I buy my daughter dolls, yes, would I buy her a little mini ironing board and kitchenette, no. People don’t realize the messages these seemingly innocent acts send to the growing mind. You and I as adults both know walking into the girls aisle and purchasing a pink gun for you doesn’t bring into question anything, people would assume it is a gift, Were you 10 – as you mentioned – it would be different. We should be looking at why that is and trying to fix it, rather than just saying, oh that’s just how it is. It is that way largely because we make it so.

  4. I love the sleek, curvy design rather than the usual chunky one, but the pink makes me cringe! When will Hasbro realize they’re being totally sexist? Its not so much the pink on the guns thats bothering me, but its the entirely pink packaging and the little girls on the packaging that are in lots of makeup and extremely girly poses. Who shoots a gun like that? Even though I absolutely hate the marketing, I’m still probably going to buy a gun because they look like they would make some badass mods.

    1. Right with you Hannah and you probably noticed the newer non Rebelle Nerf are still being marketed directly at boys, so so sad and a wasted opportunity.

  5. So is this to capitalize on the inherent aggressive tendencies of young females, if so bad business choice. Biology will be against you Nerf.

    1. You need to do some study on nature vs. nurture, I think you’ll find it very interesting indeed. Young ‘females’ are no more aggressive now than they have ever been, with MANY other variables in play in modern times which can skew how things may appear.

      Perhaps you never meant your comment in the negative manner it has come across… who knows, either way, thanks for taking the time to leave one.

  6. Personally, I am on the fence with the Rebelle line. I am glad that girls won’t think that Nerf guns are “for boys only”” but at the same time, I feel like if they had just created an advertisement showing both boys and girls playing with Nerf guns, that would have been enough.
    The thing I REALLY hate about the Rebelle line are the gun-titles. “Heartbreaker Bow” is the most cringeworthy because it categorises girls as “emotional” and implies that they’re supposed to think about relationships and “breaking hearts” which is just stupid, in my opinion.

  7. Sigh. You just aren’t understanding Rebelle. It’s not aimed at girls, it’s aimed at GIRLIER girls. And the person who said ‘they probably pay a 10 year old to make up names” I am 10 and currently insulted.

    1. Hi Abbie, sorry you feel insulted. I think many of us understand marketing and gender specific marketing a little better than you seem to be suggesting. When you get a little older you will understand that not everything is always as it seems, especially in the world of marketing. It is the disingenuous tricks companies (especially toy companies) use and how this in turn has a ripple effect in other aspects of life. Ask yourself why did the Rebelle line NEED to be marketed to “girlier girls” 🙂 Why not just market all Nerf guns to all kids regardless of gender? Wouldn’t that be better? If you went into the toy area of a store and saw images of girls and boys on ALL Nerf products? That would be cooler don’t you think? 🙂

  8. One of the few articles on gender specific toys I’ve read and completely agreed with. It’s good to see you did not enter into the usual anti-feminist allegory on why girls need kitchen play sets and boys need militaristic play sets and how we’d all be happier if people just stuck to their roles. Roles made mind you by the patriarchal structures we still see at play today. My Hasbro has entered into yet more gender separation is beyond me and their reasoning for it pathetic.

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