How Bungie’s Gjallarhorn Came to Life With NERF > News
When you think about the world of Destiny, a lot of what you visualize probably lives within the game, such as beautiful graphics, immersive stories, space magic, fashion choices. What you may not always think about are the pieces outside of that realm. All the toys, books, T-shirts, and other collectibles that come to life are thanks to Bungie’s Consumer Products team.
We got a chance to hang out with the Bungie Consumer Products team, an incredibly talented group of humans that come together every day to bring you all the real-world loot that Bungie has to offer. They are the ones in charge of brainstorming, designing, sourcing, gathering, and launching gaming memorabilia that we can’t wait to get our hands on.
Today, we get the exclusive opportunity to dive into a project quite close to many Destiny players’ hearts—the NERF LMTD Destiny Gjallarhorn Blaster. A labor of love between Bungie and NERF, let’s go back to how it all got started.
Katie Lennox (Director of Consumer Products, Bungie): I have worked at Bungie for nearly seven years, and ever since I started NERF Blasters have been something that leadership, my colleagues, and the team at Bungie at large had wished for and said, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had a NERF Blaster for Destiny?” So, this has been on our radar for a long time!
But partnerships, especially this sort of high-level activation, take time. You must have the right moment and you must understand what is coming up next. It really wasn’t until we realized that Gjallarhorn, a fan favorite and arguably one of the most iconic weapons in the franchise, was going to be returning to Destiny 2 in December of 2021, as part of Bungie 30th Anniversary Content Pack, that we all looked at each other and said, “This is the moment.” So, I reached out to Pete Bognanno (Director, Global Brand Development and Marketing at NERF), and we had some conversations and things started to grow and take shape from there.
Nate Purswell (Manager, Global Brand Development and Marketing): Just to elaborate a little bit on the NERF side, Destiny is one of those games that has such a massive library of equipment that our designers and engineers have always been impressed by and really respect. In 2020, we had our very first NERF LMTD Blaster, which is our line of products for the biggest fan communities with really showpiece products that we can’t do anywhere else. Because of that, we found that we suddenly had a home for Destiny. And Destiny was one of the very first properties for the NERF LMTD line. It’s the perfect overlap and we are thrilled to bring some of these fantastical items from the game into consumers’ hands for the first time. That’s something that both of our teams are incredibly passionate about. And hopefully what we’ve created is exactly what these fans have pictured Gjallarhorn to be.
Justin Saccone (Senior Project Engineer): We are all super passionate about the Destiny universe and we’ve all played the game. Because of that, the idea of bringing something like the Gjallarhorn to life was just too exciting to pass up.
As soon as these talks began and we really started to dial in on the Gjallarhorn, we went back and looked at in-game footage— animations, size and scale, reference from the game itself and extrapolated that into what we knew and how we would bring that product to life. That process began with really looking at how to capture the essence of the Gjallarhorn—knowing it wouldn’t be an exact copy or else it would be just unwieldy, massive, and heavy. We were making a product that not only is beautiful and representative of the Gjallarhorn, but also a functional toy. It is a NERF Blaster, so marrying those two things is what we’re super passionate about. It’s what we love to do.
Tim Hernandez (Senior Artist, Bungie): What NERF built was awesome! I was responsible for collating reference material and gathering input to share with the NERF team. They are complete professionals and really understand their craft which made the feedback process so much easier. Growing up with NERF Blasters and now being in this industry, it’s awesome to work with a company I admired as a child. Talking with the NERF team and seeing their passion made me feel like being a kid again. Being a part of shaping this experience for others is a really cool opportunity that I’ll never forget.
Justin Saccone: Our first pass at the Gjallarhorn didn’t have as much ornate detail or the filigree that comes in the iconic look of the Gjallarhorn. We had to look at things like the ergonomics of this thing, how do we even grasp the sense of scale of this while still making it functional, so we built an early model.
We needed to make sure what we were working on also tied back to the game, which led us to the Wolfpack Rounds. I mean, obviously it’s the main appeal of the Gjallarhorn. We went with a shell for NERF MEGA darts, which if you’re not familiar, are a little bit bigger than your typical NERF dart. With that shell, we’re shooting three of those MEGA darts at once, which gives that visual sense of the Wolfpack Rounds swirling and flying through the air towards your target. We felt like it was the perfect marriage of the use of the Gjallarhorn in Destiny and bringing it to life in a in a really cool and fun play pattern.
From there, we looked at all the reloading animations, and how these function in the game. We wanted to integrate how it reloads in the game so the entire top housing of the Blaster itself shifts forward, it opens the loading bay just like it does in the game, you pop the shell in just like the animation, and then you pull it back and you’re ready to blast off a burst of three MEGA darts, which is super awesome. It’s the first time at NERF that we’ve ever done an easily reloadable MEGA dart shell that fires multiple MEGA darts at once.
So now that we have gone through the “how” of making the Gjallarhorn Blaster, now let’s talk about how and why you all landed on this color scheme for the Blaster.
David Doern (Product Designer): I think it really goes back to all those initial conversations we had when we first knew about the Destiny partnership. We did a lot of preliminary brainstorming and the thought was, “Well, it’s all black and gold, and we have certain limitations in making toy Blasters.” So, I sat down and did a bunch of explorations on what the item could look like in like a true collaborative mindset. I highlighted a lot of our past and current brand expressions and discussed those with Lorainne, Bungie’s art lead on the Consumer Products team, and Garrett, Bungies art director on the Creative Studios team.
We wanted to be a little truer to the game asset, knowing that this is the only time we’re going to have this Blaster in real life and celebrating that. So, we looked at ways to integrate colors in places and landed on a clean look. The filigree areas became that iconic NERF orange and we let the silhouette do the rest of the talking in white and grey. I’m really happy with how it turned out.
Katie Lennox: Lorraine McLees really took the reins on ensuring that NERF’s deco proposal was presented to creative leads on the game development team and that we still maintained the spirit of the Gjallarhorn and its iconic branding. Lorraine ensured that we had full alignment on the execution here and again, even though it definitely has this NERF orange look, everyone was aligned that we were maintaining the spirit of what the Gjallarhorn is to our players. In fact, I think we even added more orange to make a more cohesive look. So, we all came together on the creative execution thanks to Lorraine and the team!
David Doern: Yes, that’s true. When Lorraine asked for more orange than I had even initially provided, I have never said yes to anything faster.
Jon Olson (Senior Graphic Designer): I wanted to give the packaging for the NERF LMTD Destiny Gjallarhorn Blaster an artifact vibe, overall. Bungie has a really good way of paying homage to history and things within the game that are futuristic but ancient too. I thought that lent itself very nicely to this, and I loved the fact that the Gjallarhorn had been absent from Destiny for a couple of years and is now reintroduced. The other obvious piece about the inherent design of the Gjallarhorn is just the ridiculous amount of awesome, ornate detail on the Blaster, and I really wanted to capture as much of that as possible.
To go back and spin off what Justin was saying about him and David being massive Destiny fans since year-one, you all didn’t know this, but when I first started working at NERF, I pitched a deck to try to get us to acquire Bungie as a license early on. When I found out that we were doing Gjallarhorn, I basically was like, “Fight me. I’m working on this.” And here we are having this conversation. I felt like this was such a collaborative effort. From the start, we had early concepts that I would bring into you all and we would have really good conversations talking through how deep down the rabbit hole we wanted to go with this.
We ended up leaning more into the story of how the player reacquired the Gjallarhorn and told that story on packaging. I’m really excited for the fans to get ahold of this thing and see what they uncover, and I am hoping to see a lot of YouTube unboxings. I think the box is probably one of the largest boxes we’ve ever made. It’s almost forty inches long. It’s huge, just absolutely huge.
Spencer Shores (Senior Graphic Designer, Bungie): Working with Destiny fans on consumer products is always a lot of fun because it’s a complicated system with lots of lore and history to consider. When the NERF team came to us with the creative, they nailed a lot of that just right out of the gate. I was a part of the packaging design review process early on supporting Lorraine. If you look at the original sketch for the first round of the packaging, it’s pretty close to where we ultimately landed. And a lot of the perspective that we brought was just providing imagery and providing resources, just details having to do with the Traveler and things of that nature. But as far as working with the NERF team, there’s a very apparent deep understanding of what we do here, and I think that made my job pretty easy as far as looking through everything because it was mainly just me being excited about what’s happening! Together, we aligned on what we’re trying to convey to the audience and to players. I feel like that really comes through to Destiny fans, and a lot of the intricate details are by players for players. I think that adds a level of depth to that unboxing experience from when you first get the box to when you’re holding the Blaster, you just feel that Destiny 1 through Destiny 2 content and context.
Nate Purswell: I love what you said, Spencer, about “by players, for players,” because that’s exactly what it is. And it was so fun taking this model that we had and even just in the 100-yard walk to the photography studio to go get the photos taken and just being stopped every time I had to move it by someone that I’ve never talked to at work like, “We’re doing the Gjallarhorn?!” It’s really cool to be a part of it.
Chris Hausermann (Product Development Manager, Bungie): I was just going to chip in and add that I’m such a huge NERF fan. I probably have over twenty NERF Blasters in my house; we’ve got a ton of them. My son and I have played with them pretty much his whole life and he’s still an avid collector. So, getting to work with all of you on a product that I love, being a NERF product, in conjunction with another product that I love and get to work with every day, Destiny, that’s dream come true material. Just getting to collaborate with all of you on a weekly basis, turning the dreams of the players (myself included) into physical objects that folks can enjoy every day, and really bring those dreams to life and bring that happiness to fans, that’s the golden nugget, that’s what we do all of this for.
Bungie Rewards Section
That is exactly why we do what we do. I honestly think this is one of the coolest video game items to ever be recreated, in any form, and the packaging is also just [chef’s kiss].
Okay, but now we need to know, what do I need to do to get my very own NERF LMTD Destiny Gjallarhorn Blaster?
Allie Eibeler (Associate Product Development Manager, Bungie): As many of our players know, we have our Bungie Rewards program which lets all players complete a specific task in Destiny 2, like completing a raid or earning the Gjallarhorn, which unlocks an item to purchase on the Bungie Store. This is one of those opportunities where we were like “Oh, this would be the coolest thing ever to make a part of Bungie Rewards.” To get early access to pre-order the Blaster on Bungie Day, July 7, 2022, you have to earn it in the game first and that’s just so cool. So having the Blaster tied to Bungie Rewards allows people who really worked for it, the people who on day-one were like, “Gjallarhorn is back! I’m going to Grasp of Averice! I’m going to make Xûr proud and get my Blaster and then get it in real life!” So, it’s an awesome way to make sure the people who are most excited, who’ve been waiting for this for a year at this point, can get their hands on the NERF LMTD Destiny Gjallarhorn Blaster first.
Chris Grucelski (Senior E-commerce Operations Manager, Bungie): Like me! I couldn’t be more thrilled for this NERF collab to bring one of my favorite Exotics to life. Fighting Lion, you are still my number one. I knew that I would be buying three Blasters for my household to commemorate finishing Grasp of Avarice with both of my sons. Now we can relive our adventures in our backyard. We have been prepping Bungie Store for months for this year’s Bungie Day event. Bungie Day is a holiday we celebrate with Bungie’s community of fans, and what better day to bring such an awesome limited-edition product to fans of Destiny and NERF?
Stephani Hatfield (E-commerce Specialist, Bungie): Yes, the wait is finally over! I can’t wait to yell “GJALLARHORNNNNNNNNN” when I have the Blaster in my hands. We might have only been hinting at this launch for a few months now, however this has been about a year in the making. Not only are we stoked about the product launch but also the experience for you, the Bungie Rewards customer! Starting with the virtual waiting room, we’ll be sharing some exclusive insight and photos of the NERF LMTD Destiny Gjallarhorn Blaster and what went into making this a reality.
Eric Newgard (Multimedia Artist, Bungie): Speaking of reality, handling the actual prototype while working on the marketing videos was a real treat. Concepts and photos didn’t quite prepare me for the real Blaster, and everyone on set was stunned by the scale and detail of this thing. Our Consumer Products team and NERF did a stellar job bringing this idea to life and I think our fans will be thrilled by the result.
This special Early Access Window to the Bungie Rewards pre-order offer will be available starting on July 7, 2022, at 10 AM PT.
Early access to the pre-order will be granted to players who acquire the Gjallarhorn Rocket Launcher by completing the quest in the Destiny 2: Bungie 30th Anniversary Pack before July 7, 2022. Eligible players must be signed up for Bungie Rewards and Bungie Store to purchase during the Early Access Window.
Remaining units will be made available to everyone after the Early Access Window, subject to availability. Due to the unique nature of this item, shipping availability to locations outside of North America, European Union, Australia, and United Kingdom may be restricted.
PROTOTYPE SHOWN. PRODUCT MAY VARY IN FINAL PRODUCTION.
Feizel Crux designed the Gjallarhorn as a gift to the Guardians who fought at the Battle of the Twilight Gap, forged from the armor of the thousands of Guardians who fell. The tale of our NERF LMTD Destiny Gjallarhorn Blaster thankfully ends without the need for thousands of Guardians to perish in-game, and now together as Guardians in real life, we get to bring it home with us.
Thank you, Guardians.
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