OWTK Toy News & Reviews

NERF Rebelle Does Girl Culture A Solid


That’s the buzzword in the girl’s toy aisle. Has been for over a year, since Hunger Games splashed across thousands of over-sized screens. Brave piled on, and lowered the age demographic for the slings, bows and arrows of outrageously fun outdoor play.

Yep, archery is in vogue right now, even more so than poorly paraphrased Shakespeare, and shows no signs of slowing down with more and more bow & arrow play sets rolling off production lines in far away factories, a new Hunger Games (Catching Fire) movie on deck, and Merida having become an official Disney Princess. None of the little girl archery sets, however, look quite like the striking woodland brown lacquered one Ms. Everdeen used in The Hunger Games.

Katniss Hunger Games

This is curious, to say the least, considering it’s Jennifer Lawrence’s heroic character who’s the purported impetus for such play patterns. I don’t want to speak for her, but I’m fairly confident saying Miss Everdeen would look askance at a hot pink bow with which to do battle.

NERF, through their new Rebelle archery toy line for girls, has come the closest yet in the ‘WOW’ and ‘That’s Pretty Awesome’ reaction department, from kids and their skeptical dads (hi there!). This is thanks in large part to wicked-cool vector designs gracing every Rebelle arrow-cum-bullet-slash-dart, crossbow, and bow. Katniss might actually dig these weapons, although the beaming lily white core of each would be brutal for camouflaging purposes.

Nerf Rebelle Crossbow

The NERF Rebelle Heartbreaker Bow (above) is gorgeous –> GOR-GEOUS!, especially the Vine-colored design shown below in the Amazon widget, because that one beefs up the teal-colored vector graphics with dazzling results. The one issue, for young kids, is the letting go of the bow cleanly to maximize the dart/arrow’s range. My 6-year-old girl’s finger tends to go with the bow string, just a little bit mind you but enough to cause the dart/arrow to fall limply out onto the ground, like a baby spitting up mushy peas. This frustrates my little archer elf. But when used properly, and she’ll get the hang of it soon, the Heartbreaker Bow performs beautifully.

Nerf Rebelle Foam Bullet Arrow

The Nerf Rebelle Guardian Crossbow Blaster (MUCH better name) is also brilliant fun. It contains the power to shoot the arrow darts across our entire backyard but is gentle enough to not sting when you sorta-accidentally-on-purpose attack your daughters from 20 feet out.

For older kids who need to add a technological element to their archery play, there’s an app and smartphone connectors making Rebelle a social experience too. We don’t go there often, therefore didn’t go there here.

I object to the use of the word “Stylish” here but damn this is a cool NERF Rebelle commercial portraying young girls in a way that they are often not seen in mass media: being physical, in drab clothes (olive, dark tones), and using weapons. I fought with the Mrs. about this ad and this post for about an hour last night, defending NERF’s attempt to market to girls solely because, in short, 1) the archery boom is girl driven (see the 1st paragraph), 2) the art design is more than tasteful, 3) the products were made specially for this line/ not existing “boy” weapons dipped in pink, 4) the products do not dumb down the play/do not sacrifice or limit the power of traditional NERF toys, and finally 5) the ad, save for the word “Stylish,” is pretty damn awesome especially when contrasted with all of the Pop Star/Pool Party/Nail Salon bullshit angles usually used to market to young girls. Is it perfect? No, but it is so damn close. And I applaud all of that.

Sure, Rebelle doesn’t scream Hunger Games! Or even Brave! But it doesn’t shout dainty princess! either, and in 2013 that’s enough for me to get on board. Add in rugged plastic materials, sturdy foam, fanciful art design, and muscular performance, and it is clear that NERF Rebelle is the winner of the 1st annual Toy Archery Games.

 *OWTK was provided with Nerf Rebelle products for review consideration. The opinions expressed above are honest and unbiased as always.

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