Jun 20, 2013

    Nerf gun customisation is a big part of game

    THE sound of gunfire filled the air. This was no ordinary battle; this was a Nerf war.

    Manufactured by Hasbro, Nerf blasters are plastic guns which shoot tube-shaped foam bullets cut to size. A gun costs between $7.90 and $109.90 at local toy stores.

    Easy access to these toy guns has helped fuel an increase in Nerf players who meet on a regular basis to battle it out a la video game Halo.

    One such group that takes its weekly skirmishes seriously is the S16, a team of Nerf enthusiasts who meet weekly to practise.

    According to one member, corporate communications executive James Tan, 25, online community NerfSG started organising game sessions about five years ago.

    S16, which started with 16 members two years ago, now has 20 to 30 active members, with new participants joining every week. The group also maintains an online presence via the NerfSG forum.

    As foam bullets are used, the guns are relatively safe. Also, a Nerf battle involves more strategy than physical exertion, said Mr Tan.

    When My Paper joined S16's practice session on Sunday at the void decks of Housing Board blocks in Clementi Avenue 1, the passion for Nerf gameplay was immediately apparent.

    With various members decked out in full battle gear that included helmets, boots, camouflaged uniforms and customised Nerf guns, it was clear that this group was not messing around.

    Indeed, the customisation of Nerf weapons has become an increasingly popular trend.

    Reasons given for the rise of customised Nerf guns run the gamut, from enhancing gameplay to being aesthetically pleasing.

    The pride the enthusiasts take in customising their weapons was visible at the practice session.

    From a Nerf gun that had colours mimicking Iron Man's, to a blaster inspired by Transformer's Optimus Prime, it is clear that players take the game seriously.

    Avid customiser Gavin Lim, 16, told My Paper: "When I was searching for modifications of Nerf guns on Google Images, I found out about the steampunk genre. I thought the aesthetics were really cool."

    Steampunk is a science-fiction sub-genre that has gained traction among Nerf players and cosplayers.

    The student added that he often does customisation jobs for other Nerf gun users and charges about $70 for a custom paint job on a big gun.

    While some players choose to modify their guns internally to enhance their performance, most customisation jobs are purely cosmetic.

    Student and cosplayer Charlotte Lee, 18, said that, while she customises her Nerf weapons externally, she rarely shoots them.

    According to cosplay-event coordinator Jason Koh, 31, Nerf guns lend themselves naturally to creating props that are in line with the costumes they are a part of, such as Starcraft or Star Wars costumes.

    He also said that, while he would be open to participating in a tournament with a customised Nerf blaster, the rough-and-tumble nature of the competition might cause wear and tear.

    "As long as the customisation (of the Nerf gun) is mostly cosmetic, there's a lot of stuff we can do with it…and it's fun," said Mr Koh.

    S16 is taking part in a Nerf tournament, Nerf Powerplay Champions 2013, to be held at Nex Shopping Mall, Atrium, Level 1, from tomorrow to Sunday.