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Nerf Turbo Screamer Football
I have grown up with Nerf products. Their soft but functional footballs were well-suited to the dense car filled streets of my youth. They prevented the scratches and dents that would have neighbors yelling at us from windows and front doors.
Nerf was safer and did less damage. It was also quiet. Bouncing quietly when dropped.
As the eighties became the nineties, quiet wasn’t acceptable anymore. For some reason, almost all products and the surrounding marketing needed to be “Extreme.”
Nerf was not immune to this trend, and they took their already pretty extreme Turbo Football design and added a sound mechanism, so it would whistle when thrown. This new product was the Nerf Turbo Screamer Football.
Released in time for Christmas of 1991, the Screamer retailed for about $8.99. Although prices varied and by 1992, it was common to find it for as low as $6.99.
As you can see in the above image, the Screamer has that fluted Turbo design. That really made this thing spiral and fly. So even if you had a pretty weak arm, you could get some distance. That distance was also helpful in getting the Screamer to actually scream.
While it would make noise during short throws, you only really got the full effect of it when it was thrown very far.
This image also prominently displays the mechanism that made it scream.
That mechanism might have made a cool sound, but if you happen to catch it wrong, it could jam your fingers up good. At that point you become the Screamer. So the football works on multiple levels.
I have seen people mentioning that the Screamer was released in 1989. I can find no evidence of this. I believe they are conflating the release of the Turbo Screamer with the original Turbo. That model WAS released in 1989. The earliest mention I can find for Screamers being for sale is November 1991, and they don’t appear in any 1989 or 1990 toy catalogs.
I also check the Official Gazette of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. As you can clearly see, the first use of the term for this product was April 1991. I am not sure why other sources claim 1989, but I am confident that you can classify the Screamer as a Nineties toy.
The market research at Nerf must have pointed to screaming technology being the future. Because the Football was not the only screaming product they released. They would also put out the Screamer Disc, Screamer Boomerang and eventually a line of darts that using “screaming” technology.
Nerf no longer makes the Turbo Screamer. They instead have a series of footballs that “howl.” Nerf Howlers aren’t exactly traditional footballs. They are instead footballs with a tail attached to them. This tail allows for greater stabilization and lift, which makes them a lot of fun to throw around.
Very soon after they discontinued the Screamer, they replaced it with the Nerf Sonic Siren Football. The Sonic Siren has a slight different mechanism, which seemed to improve on sound production. It didn’t last very long and is not as well-remembered as the Screamer or even the Howler.
If you do want an original Screamer, you will either need to get lucky or open up your wallet. This is one of those toys that didn’t have a long release, is prone to breakage, and is still thought of fondly by people who owned them as kids.
This means they are going to cost you. In working order, a Screamer will run you over $150 online. If you find it in a store, you can probably get it for about $100.
They released a commercial for the Nerf Turbo Screamer Football. With its driving guitar and gravely narrator, it is very typical of the advertising that would dominate the early Nineties.
The Commercial for the Nerf Screamer Flying Disc lays it on even thicker. Juxtaposing normal boring disc activities with the white-knuckle shouting intensity of the Screamer Disc.