Friday, July 25, 2014

Public Armories

The weekend is upon us!  It's the PERFECT time to get out there and have a game or two with your mates!  Most organized games tend to utilize a "Public Armory", full of shared blasters for your un-equipped friends to use.  What's that you say?  You don't let people borrow your blasters for games?  WELL then... you're not only a blaster-hoarder, but you're also thwarting possibility!

The backbone of almost any Nerf or Laser Tag group is usually some sort of shared loadout of equipment for other players to loan out.  Many times, blasters that are in the "Public Armory" are previously modified blasters by the owner so their players can have a bit of an advantage over using purely stock equipment.  On the one hand... yes, it can be a little frustrating getting owned by your own creation at the hands of an amateur, but loaning out modified blasters is the ticket to getting your not-so-in-the-loop friends HOOKED on the hobby-side of Nerf and Laser Tag: MODIFICATIONS!!!



Having a good group of people to enjoy these games with is the key to keeping interest in planning future events.  You can be a Plan-a-saurus Rex all day long, but if you don't have many people interested in playing... you'll find yourself working overtime to fill the ranks every time.  However, if you have people hooked (which usually comes with being remotely interested in the Hobby-side of things), you'll have people lined up to attend your next event.

Sharing modified blasters can also help your players not feel so out-classed the second they show up.  It's never fun showing up to an event, being handed an old tired Maverick REV-6 and be expected to go toe-to-toe with a Volt-modded RapidStrike with a 35-Dart drum.  Or being handed a stock LTAR surrounded by LazerBait-Lens-Toting Snipers from 1000 feet away.  Give your players something decent, like a Retaliator with the ARs out or an LTX with a Red Dot Sight.  They'll feel the advantage of having a modified blaster from the start and it might even get them interested in pursuing their own equipment... which means that NEXT time, you probably won't even have to loan them a blaster!

When my Laser Tag group switched over from hard-to-find Laser Challenge gear to readily-available Lazer Tag Brand stuff (LTTO, LTX, LTAR), we instantly saw a jump in people who owned their own gear.  Our Public Armory is usually about 18-22 Blasters (it needs to be with 25-30 players showing up to each event!) but more recently, we're not having to use as many of those blasters because so many people now own their own gear.

Now then, there's the whole issue of "I can't afford to supply everyone with a blaster!" and there's simple ways to remedy this.  The easiest way to grow a Public Armory from scratch is either to take donations (cash or blasters) or to go to a thrift store and start from there.  You don't have to loan EVERYONE the most expensive blaster on the shelf (and that's probably a Cam ECS anyways...).  Plus, if people are too cheap to show up with a blaster, they can at least donate a buck or two to your cause.  If you're organizing Nerf events, have people donate darts to the pot.  If you're organizing Laser Tag events, have people bring a pack of AA batteries to help power the blasters.  It's not as expensive as asking everyone to have their own gear, but it's still enough to help you maintain the armory for everyone.

I already know that many of you have your own Public Armories that you loan out.  Feel free to share any other helpful tips or show off a picture of your grandiose collection in the comments section below!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

So These Banana Clips...

Ever since the Demolisher 2-in-1 photos surfaced with their 10-Dart Banana-style magazines, it seems like a lot of Nerf fans have been raving over this kind of design.  Prototypes of larger 15-Dart Banana-style magazines have also surfaced.  As noted on SBNC, "the curved section is actually used. Unlike the ten dart banana clip (that was just a ten dart clip with a curve on the end) the curved section will fill with darts and the pusher will follow the tracks around the bend."

My main gripe with the Demolisher's 10-Dart Banana mag was that it only held 10 rounds whereas a 12-Dart straight clip (like from a Retaliator) took up less space with 2 more rounds in it.  The straight clips are also easier to store in pouches for those bringing multiple mags to the fight, like my buddy at Basic Nerf, so I couldn't really see a benefit to this kind of mag in the first place.  I can only guess that the 15-Dart Banana mag will be about the size of an 18-Dart straight magazine and... even if it's not... it's still got a shape that's more difficult to work with.

As a result of these two new magazines for Clip-System blasters, I've got to start wondering why the need to make things look "Tacti-cool" has started to negatively effect their usefulness?  Nerf has done a great job including Tactical Accessory Rails, nifty sights, and awesome-looking designs that accomplish the goal of making these new blasters quite pleasing to look at... but none of them have ever really sacrificed usability.  These banana mags, in my opinion, are crossing into the "tacticoolness over usefulness" realm.

There's still a place for these magazines when you're not looking for a tactical advantage in a game.  It's really just for show, like a lot of the other accessories and bits that you can put on Nerf blasters.  Dress up your favorite blaster with a Banana Clip and BAM!  You look pretty awesome!  Try and load up your rig with 6 of these in pouches... and you're not only going to run into problems with storage, but you'll find that if you had showed up to the fight with 12 or 18 dart magazines, you'd be able to dish out more shots, too.

At the end of the day, from Tactical Tag's look at things, these are about as useful as those coveted Nerf Pinpoint Sights.  They look cool, they have some functionality to them, but when it comes down to it, you're better off with something else.  I'll take my straight mags unless I'm going for pure style and looks... and who goes into foam-dart combat like that?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

DoubleStrike Found!

Time for some easy listening!  Why?  Well, that's what the background music to this footage of the ZombieStrike DoubleStrike happens to use.  Submitted by a reader of this blog, this video goes through this pocket warriors' packaging, unboxing (fast forwarded), firing demo (at 2:37), and has details at the end a la rolling credits style.  Some notable bits from this, ranges that were tested seem to be reaching 60 Feet angled.  They also note that it's doing about 15 feet better than a Jolt, so I'm assuming those are also angled results.

More info is on the way about this little pistol!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Another Point for the RapidStrike

While some Nerf fans might be getting tired of Flywheel blasters from Nerf, there's at least one that seems to have risen to the top of the list for those familiar buzzing blasters:  The N-Strike Elite RapidStrike CS-18.  When it came out in Summer of 2013, it was the must-have Fully Automatic Flywheel blaster for the lineup.  As of now, Nerf has yet to release another Full-Auto Flywheel option for dart blasters (although Disk Junkies still have the Nitron).  However, Nerf's "Elite" ranges of 75 feet are starting to be outdone by newer blasters, toting 85 and 90 feet of range.  Instead of supplying fans with a new full-auto blaster that also meets these ranges, it appears that the White-Striped RapidStrike that was spotted at Toy Fair 2014 will dish out darts up to 90 feet!

Basic Nerf has been running around with my paint-adjusted RapidStrike for several months now, so while it might appear he's got his hands on the amped-up version, it's just a normal RS with a white stripe courtesy of winning it from this blog.  I saw the news on the RapidStrike 2.0 posted on Southern Brisbane Nerf Club's Facebook Page.  It had a picture someone submitted from Baidu with the new "doo" and the new range claim.

That being said, there was a pretty sweet clearance deal on Orange-striped RapidStrikes on Amazon.com that might have some folks kicking themselves for not waiting for this White-striped high-power version to come out.  However, a quick Volt-Mod to the existing RS should make up for any buyers remorse those fans might have.  A little patience with some masking tape and a can of white spray paint can "update" your RapidStrike pretty easily, too!

Picture from Baidu (July 11th, 2014)
It also raises a bit of a question about the other recolored blasters we're starting to see.  "85" and "90" foot range claims are starting to become more common with the new blasters, so one might think that means that ALL of the recolored blasters will feature better ranges.  The best answer to that speculation is "Maybe".  This RapidStrike CS-18 is the first recolored blaster with a better range listed while others like the Orange Stryfe and White RoughCut 2x4 are simply recolors.  However, other new blasters coming out like the Demolisher and Cam ECS-12 are also boasting better ranges, so it may be a sign that the "bigger blasters" will be getting better ranges than the smaller pistols and handguns in the lineup to help differentiate things a little more.

Long story short, the RapidStrike looks like it just got better... but it's not too tough to get your existing blaster to look and perform like the new one.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

ZS Longshot Release Date

Looks like our old friend will be making it's way back to Target's shelves in August.  The ZombieStrike "ZED Squad" Longshot CS-12 Blaster has an online release date of 08-03-14.  Preordering for this blaster, which retails at $34.99, is available now.

On a related note, someone by the name of "deacle" has already posted a Review of this product.
Currently, 3 people don't find this review helpful.  I can't imagine why!  Of course, the question on every Nerfer's mind is the performance.  Questions loom as it's performance and internal design are speculated up the wazoo.  We still don't have a clear answer, at least as of this post, of what the internals look like for the new ZS Longshot.  The Target Website lists this blaster's "Maximum Firing Diameter" at 55.0', which could either be a PTG range (which suggests it might have Elite internals) or they could be angled shots, which might suggest it's got original N-Strike internals.

Count me among those hoping for retooled "Elite-ified" internals that'll make this worth the 35 bucks.It would be wonderful to have this iconic N-Strike blaster with a set of new guts that might warrant even better ranges, stock OR modified!

Stay tuned!  We're now less than a month out from it's release!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Rhino-Fire: This time it's real!

No more foolin, the real Rhino-Fire has finally come to the party!  Blogs, websites, and other social media are blowing up with photos taken from the Amazon.es listing for the latest N-Strike Elite blaster with all sorts of speculation to follow.  Two mag wells, two barrels, a Vulcan-esque Tripod-stanced setup, and Tactical Rails as far as the eye can see.

From the photos, you'll notice that the two barrels seem to expand and retract and have a blurry "these are clearly moving" effect to the graphics around them a la Pulsator.  There's obviously electronic power at work here, but details on how it works and what sort of firing system it uses are still unclear at this point.

It's sort of like a big Anti-Aircraft gun in the way that it looks and fires.  While the photo shows two darts parallel to eachother being fired, I'm willing to bet that the firing sequence shoots darts in an alternating sequence.  This is also in-line with the expanding and retracting barrels on the front.

There are all sorts of details we can speculate from the photos shown.  For instance, when you use this blaster on the ground with the tripod, you get to wear an orange hoodie sweatshirt.  However, when you stand up and take it off the tripod, your hoodie turns dark gray and your undershirt turns orange instead.  Pretty nifty feature.

This is likely their big "Christmas" blaster that'll knock out the shelves, but a link on Amazon could hint at an earlier release.  At the end of the day, we'll eagerly be waiting for more details as we wade into deep waters of speculative nonsense.  Until then, this blaster looks like a LOT of fun!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Usability Matters

A few minutes ago, I watched a great review by Bobololo that not only throws a post of mine under the bus (and I'm actually REALLY glad he did), but also points out a huge factor that can so often be overlooked.  In this case, it was something that I overlooked.  Usability matters.  Here's why.

Take a look at this breakdown for cost with the Cam ECS-12.  If you want the Cliff Notes version, essentially I come up with some numbers suggesting that, for about the same price, you can build up a rifle like the Cam ECS-12... or you can just buy what Nerf made.  Now, take a look at this not-so-hands-on review Bobo made of the Nerf Cam ECS-12.  It's pretty obvious the big bit that I left out of my number crunching: the performance of the camera components themselves.  Thanks to Bobo pointing out the elephant in the room, it's obvious what the real flaw of this blaster is: you can't take usable footage of a Nerf game with the equipment the Cam ECS-12 will feature.  When push comes to shove, the quality and framerate of the camera isn't something you'd want to use to review your battles or share on social networking sites.

For the cost of TWO Rapidstrikes, both of which perform better as blasters and come with more ammo, you can pick up one rifle-style Stryfe with a camera that will defeat it's purpose: capturing footage from Nerf games.  My main mistake was letting the cost aspect of that study surprise me and actually think that this might be a decent buy.  If you take a step back (or if you let Bobo convince you, instead), the cost doesn't really matter when it's defeating the main purpose of why you'd invest in a blaster like this in the first place.

I'm actually really happy Bobo pointed this out, and I'm glad to say that I was wrong because it was a wake-up call to something I don't want to lose sight of when it comes to this stuff:  Usability Matters.  You can spend spend spend all you want, but if it doesn't do what you need it to do, it's just sucking the fun out of your funds.