After last year's Mandalorian rifle, CNET can exclusively reveal that Nerf is opening up The Book of Boba Fett for its next Star Wars toy: Boba Fett's EE-3 blaster. It's based on the weapon wielded by the legendary bounty hunter (and would-be crime lord) in the original trilogy and Disney Plus shows.
New episodes of The Book of Boba Fett are dropping on Disney's streaming service each Wednesday until Feb. 7. The first two are available now.
The $110 toy includes three drums, each with four-dart capacity, so you can switch them out to reload, and comes with 12 Nerf Elite darts. It's 30 inches long, has a light-up scope and makes classic Star Wars sounds if you insert two AAA batteries. (You'll have to supply your own batteries.) To open fire like Boba, you load a dart, prime and pull the trigger.
Unlike the monochrome weapon seen in the movies and shows, Nerf's blaster is painted in the rich colors of Boba's fancy customized armor, which he gave a fresh coat of paint after recovering it in The Mandalorian season 2. It's kinda like the blaster is cosplaying Boba.
The Nerf take on Boba Fett's EE-3 blaster goes up for preorder on Hasbro Pulse and Amazon on Tuesday and will run until the end of March. It's scheduled to ship in spring 2023.
I got a chance to chat to Justin Saccone, Nerf senior project engineer, and Pete Bognanno, director of product marketing, about the blaster over Zoom. Here's a transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for clarity.
Tell me about your relationships with Boba Fett as a character.
Justin Saccone: I've been a huge Star Wars fan my whole life and Boba Fett has always been the coolest, most mysterious character. And now they're fleshing him out [in the show]. It's an awesome time as a fan.
Finding out what feels natural for him is how we approached the development of this product. It's been a blast for me to take that approach and dive in as a fan, but also working with Lucasfilm on developing a product. It's been a dream come true.
Pete Bognanno: My grandmother put on Empire Strikes Back [where Boba made his first movie appearance] when I was 7 years old, to keep me quiet while she cooked dinner. I grew up on Star Wars. The fact that we get to bring a blaster from Boba Fett to life – it's just incredible. It's still a bit surreal to me.
You can't talk about Star Wars' most iconic villains without bringing up Boba. We just love being able to bring things from characters we know the fans love to life. This is an amazing opportunity.
Take me through the design process for this blaster.
Saccone: We worked closely with Lucasfilm, deciding what iteration of the blaster to do, by looking at photos of the prop itself. Our design team took that and found a way to bring that to life in a way that's natural and meaningful for Boba Fett, leaning into his bounty hunter aesthetic and his personality – leaning into his suit's core colors.
What little detail are you most proud of?
Saccone: I love the way we've integrated the firing darts into a play pattern that feels like it could fit in the Star Wars universe, by designing the cartridge to feel like it could be something that Boba wears around his belt.
It feels integrated into the story of his rifle – being about a bounty hunter and feeling prepared for missions. You could imagine him having multiple cartridges ready to go, which is what we're offering with this.
Bognanno: Boba's base color is green, so I love the deco on this. It's also great when these iconic items give us the opportunity to innovate at Nerf, so I love what Justin did with the cartridge system.
The way the loader is integrated into the design, so it doesn't stick out, is really cool. This product is part of Nerf's "lmtd" (limited) collection, what does that mean in this context? How many units of this particular blaster will be made compared to a typical Nerf product?
Bognanno: We designed Nerf lmtd for the fans first. Our common thread through all the products that we create in this line is premium and fan-targeted. You can see that represented in the packaging, the lights, the sounds, the electronics and the full-size sculpts.
These items are going to be available through fan retailers, for preorder only. That preorder is going to run through the end of March and then that's it. If you're a fan, your window to get it is essentially the preorder window, because after that, we won't be creating any additional units and shipping them into retail.
One thing that we heard from the fans was about creating more mainline versions of these – similar, kid-targeted versions. We're not doing that on this item and we're not doing that on [the lmtd edition line] going forward.
In terms of the units, we'll do a fraction of what we'll typically do on a mainline product. If you're a Boba fan, there's not going to be a ton of these out there in the world. This is your time to get them.
The Nerf Elite darts have an unusual design, what are they based on? They reminded me of the Kaminoan saber darts Jango Fett [whom Boba is a clone of] uses in Attack of the Clones.
Saccone: I wish that was what we designed it off of! We designed the darts and the cartridge to feel like a cohesive unit. So you could imagine he had these clipped onto his belt, they would feel natural sitting there with all the brass other parts and pieces that he has among his tools of the trade. These are designed to kind of be one full, complete unit.
Can you hint at the next Star Wars product from Nerf?
We are proud to be able to work so closely with Lucasfilm and being such massive Star Wars fans ourselves, we're constantly thinking about what is next. And as we consider future products our fans always come first! Nerf and Star Wars both have such passionate fans and we are always listening closely to them to see what fans and collectors want to see next from Hasbro. So while we can't share details on anything not currently released, definitely stay tuned for future announcements.