According to general wisdom, NERF stands for Non-Expanding Recreational Foam, for the original foam padding used in off-road racing. This material was marketed on the basis that it ‘won’t hurt babies or old people.’ Historically the NERF brand was associated with the production of guns.
War fantasies still live on as you plug a couple NERF bullits into someone, as they break cover from the trees or the back of the sofa. Toy guns have been made and marketed to kids for 150 years now. They still confer a feeling of power, role-play of an increasingly complex kind. Play patterns based on a fascination with death and dying have mostly moved online now, but the desire is still there.