No Guts No Glory, Nerf For Girls

Hasbro posted their first-quarter earnings on Monday, driven almost entirely by Hasbro’s significant sales growth of girls’ toys. Girls’ toys sales rose 21 percent to nearly $140 million, The huge spike in sales was driven primarily by My Little Pony and Nerf Rebelle. In contrast, the boys’ category saw an increase of just 2 percent.

Two years ago I was part of a team approached by a group of male toy designers asking for help designing a line of Nerf guns and Supersoakers for girls. One of the things I've noticed as a designer over the last 14 years is that often when you ask a group of all male designers to design something for girls, the design studio immediately gets filled with pink unicorns, purple butterflies, fluffy clouds and swirly glittery script. Thankfully, the Nerf design group suspected that this wasn't the only possible direction, and they wanted our help.

We helped them realize that girls want to be bold and powerful too. They look up to characters like Katniss from the Hunger Games. Girls also tend to be less obsessed with guns than boys. We convinced them to go beyond guns and created design concepts for a bow and arrow. We also showed them how to make bright colorful and exciting graphics that were far less limited than the very stereotypically pink butterflies in swirls.  

In the end, the Hasbro designers did end of up swinging back toward a more traditional "girly" end of the spectrum in appearance. But it was still a far step forward from their original "overly girly" design concepts.

- yvonne lin

yvonne linour projects, girls, toys