Nerf blasters are complex machines. Ever since the original Nerf Blast-A-Ball was released in 1989, the brand has made continual refinements to its increasingly complicated series of blasters. But perhaps somewhat surprisingly, we've learned that product improvements aren't restricted to new models--tweaks and changes happen rather frequently as flaws or oversights are discovered once products are released for purchase.
A recent example of these ongoing enhancements can be found in the Nerf Modulus Recon MKII blaster. A member of the Nerf sub-Reddit named "Jangular" reported the Recon MKII was incapable of accepting either the standard Nerf 18-round clip (magazine) or the 25-round drum. This was a significant issue since both of these higher-capacity clips are the most popular ones being used in Nerf battles. Frankly, this large of an oversight was somewhat of a shock to us, so we offered to inquire with Hasbro on behalf of the Nerf community. And within about 2 weeks, we received the following official reply from Hasbro (emphasis ours):
"The MODULUS RECON MKII Blaster underwent extensive testing during the development process, as do all NERF products, and the clip compatibility issue was not discovered during this process. However, we have since received feedback from product testers noting their experience with the accessory’s incompatibility due to the blaster design. We appreciate such feedback from NERF Nation, and as a result we are addressing this by adjusting blaster production which should prevent the issue in the future. In addition, fans that have experienced this issue firsthand will be encouraged to contact our customer support team who will happily work with them to resolve the problem, offering a replacement blaster core for those made during the original production dates. Our goal, as always, is to ensure that all NERF fans have the best possible play experience with their blasters!"
In short, a user found a problem, we reported it to Hasbro, and the Nerf team responded that they'll fix the issue in production, and send a replacement blaster for anyone who received one having this particular issue. Very cool. But this isn't the only time the Nerf group at Hasbro has made a running production change.
In fact, it's far from it.
When the Nerf RIVAL Apollo was first released, we reviewed it and discovered that immediately upon use, our sample unit jammed badly--and to our astonishment, there was no jam door! A jam door has been standard-issue on most Nerf blasters (which, let's face it, jam fairly often in regular use), so we reported this to Hasbro right away as a potentially significant problem. And then, only a few short weeks later during a visit we made to Nerf HQ in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the Nerf team told us they would be implementing a running production change on future Apollo models to rectify the situation (a jam release button is now standard-issue on current production units).
But here again, this is not the only time the Nerf team has made a change to a model already on store shelves. Recently, user "Duke Wintermaul" on the Nerf sub-Reddit discovered that the popular Nerf Stryfe blaster was just released with what appears to be its 5th round of changes--the latest to remove some of the locks, lips, and other largely unnecessary mechanical elements. Units starting with a serial number that begins with a "5" are likely to be the latest (and perhaps final) version of this near-legendary model.
And of course, there's the infamous Nerf MEGA Centurion, which was notorious for priming problems that lead to chewed-up darts, not to mention a good bit of inconsistency in short ranges (up to 100' was claimed, but infrequently delivered). Much was made of these problems after the blaster's release in 2013, and whether shoppers knew it or not, running changes were implemented to the Centurion later in its production to improve overall reliability considerably. Unfortunately, the Centurion's reputation had been irreparably damaged by that point, but it appears the Nerf team at Hasbro took the hint and is no longer waiting for minor issues to become major PR problems (not to mention sales killers). And after visiting with the Nerf team recently and having spoken with them directly about these kinds of changes, we know in-process refinements are happening much more often than consumers are ever likely to know.
All this leads us to say that Hasbro is doing the right thing with its Nerf brand by actively listening to its fans when there are problems, and that means consumers of all types will be far more likely to receive a well built, high-value product. It also means they care about their reputation, which bodes well for their continued success as the most popular toy blaster brand in the world.