Toy companies seem to be shying away from real-life guns.
Diamond Select’s Rocketeer andWestworld figures either didn’t have guns or they were glued into their holsters (despite coming with hands with trigger fingers) and their John Wick figure has one dinky pistol (though the “Casual” version does have a shotgun).
The G.I. Joe public relations team refers to guns as “blasters” and the new Classified figures have sci-fi-style guns. Apparently the new movie Marvel Legends Deadpool comes with two removable sci-fi guns and has two real-life Desert Eagles glued into his holsters (which can be easily removed with some heat).
The only Hasbro figures that have had real-life guns recently have been online exclusives. (I’m really curious to see how the Punisher w/ motorcycle gets distributed – wouldn’t be at all surprised if he were a fan channel exclusive.)
(Hell, I even noticed the Youtube stars my kid watches, Lankybox, always refer to guns as blasters when they play Roblox.)
I assume this is a post-Parkland phenomenon; that particular mass shooting seemed to change the conversation around guns, moreso than other recent tragedies. It doesn’t appear to be a policy Hasbro or Diamond want to make a big deal out of, as they’re likely hoping to avoid a PR debacle on either side of the debate.
UPDATE: In assuming this was a Parkland-related issue, I thought the reason that exclusives could have real-life guns was because their online availability meant they were solely directed toward the adult market. However, after a user on our Facebook page pointed out that the Target exclusive Black Widow figure has fairly realistic guns, another possibility occurred to me: the international market. Gun culture overseas is not what it is in America, and I can imagine there being some complicated customs laws around representations of firearms in some countries. Why bother with it when you can just use your own patented NERF designs?
When is a gun not a gun? It reminds me a bit of the famous X-Men “nonhuman creatures” legal case.
Aside from mass shooting-related sensitivity and international customs compliance, I can think of at least two other explanations. It’s possible using real-life weapon designs require some sort of licensing from the manufacturers, which makes using original creations such as NERF designs cheaper. It’s also possible Hasbro has plans for some corporate synergy by repackaging their full-size NERF weapons under the G.I. Joe brand.
I would be very interested to hear from any industry types as to what’s going on here – feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any insight to offer.