Friday, September 30, 2011

LTX DMR's first Complete Outing

The LTX DMR got to see daylight last weekend in a small get-together of tagging veterans and newbies alike.  It was a small 4 on 4 in a new location I scouted at a lake nearby my home that went very well, both for the LTX DMR, and the players in general.  No power shorts, a nice tight focus, enough power to punch through brush, and a good amount of heft to make it feel real nice.

I went sight-less in this outing, mainly due to the close-range nature of the conditions we played in.  The area was only about 400 x 300 square feet and was pretty tough to get a long-range shot off.  I did manage to exchange fire with the other team's Sniper (toting a LTX with a lens arrangement from LazerBait) and survived that pretty well.
One of the many great teams I played on that evening

It'll likely be my blaster of choice until I can finish up the M41A Pulse Rifle later this year.  It's definitely my primary for LTTO and LTX battles though!  Since LTX can land hits on Laser Challenge vests, which is the other system we frequently use, I can use it as my primary for those games as well.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fort Worden: Laser Tag Heaven

Someday, myself and a few OLCA faithfuls will travel to the great Pacific Northwest and lock IR Beams with some of my laser tagging heroes at this legendary battleground.  Fort Worden is home to some of the best laser tag games I've seen documented in the U.S. and, while the fine folks who host it are always quick to invite us, we have yet to manage a trip out there.  Here's some pictures of their recent games at this field.

Fort Worden Laser Tag

Blue and Gold RapidBlasts getting around
You'll notice a few of the unreleased RapidBlast attachments floating about their ranks on LTXs.  I was surprised to see a gold version, since I had only seen the blue one.  These are not publically released yet.  If you read my previous post about their limited release through 1SLT, these shots should at least show you how they'd potentially look on your blaster.  These versions belong to the makers of the LTX and are likely only able to be used at these events when the owners make an appearance.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Johnson Arms: Nerf Prop God

UNSC Nerf Scout by Johnson Arms
So I've been following Johnson Arms for quite awhile now and every blaster I've seen done at the hands of the master craftsman Brian Johnson just looks wonderful.  From Stampedes to cap guns to Shell Shocks to water blasters, the aesthetic work on these blasters is incredible.  What I admire most is his creativity he manages to retain while doing prop work.  Yes, there's lots of props out there for Halo, but one of his most recent repaints has my jaw dropped of how wonderfully simple this is.  It's a Nerf Scout repainted with UNSC (from the Halo universe) logo on it.  I've seen dozens of Halo-themed blasters, but this one is BLUE and just looks fantastic!  While I've never seen a Halo Prop colored like this, it just works and looks great!

The whole reason I'm posting about Johnson Arms is that, across the board, I've never seen a repaint of his I didn't like.  Not only that, but this guy makes his incredible hobby available to the public!  Check out his blog, his site, his store... it's just an eye-gasm waiting to happen if you haven't seen the rest of his work.  Click the logo below (as long as you've got a drool bowl under your chin ready to go)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New LTX Accessories!

Just got this information over the LTTO Yahoo! Group.  This is direct from the developer of the Lazer Tag Phoenix and Lazer Tag Team Ops himself.  Brace yourselves, LT fans.
LTX RapidBlast Design
"I am completing the design of a PCB that can be easily soldered together by hobbyists and will convert the LTX TV Game into a new weapon barrel. Initially there will be two models, RapidBlast (same function as the RapidFire) and SniperShot (self explanatory).
Not long after that I hope to have molds completed to be able to produce kits that do not need a TV Game for modification.
I'll turn the designs over to 1SLT for production and sales, in order to continue funding TagFest and Fort Worden/Flagler events."
 You read that right.  Not only will hobbyists like myself be able to produce the attachments that would've further upgraded the base LTX blaster, but soon after they'll be available for purchase online from One Source Laser Tag (an excellent resource for any laser tagger).  For an idea of how the RapidFire or RapidBlast, as he's calling it now, would work, check out this video:

LTX DMR Complete!

(Nerf Stampede & Phoenix LTX Recasing)
I finally got around to finishing up the LTX DMR!  Covered up the Stampede logos, added a few more small aesthetic details, repainted some sections, solved all of the electronic issues, and closed it up for a review.  This project has taken a longer amount of time to complete mainly because of my frustration with the electronics in this blaster.  The Aesthetics and general construction of it were quite simple for me.  Because of the complex nature of the Phoenix LTX system and the fragile wiring inside of it, I ran into lots of connection issues that could only be solved through trial and error.  There were entire months that I didn't touch the LTX DMR out of sheer frustration with the blaster.  8 YouTube videos later, it's finally done!

And she's ready JUST in time for the Off-Season!  The paintjob that I chose for it is designed to blend in better with fall colors anyways, so I'm itching to get out there for some games with it in those situations.  I may add more things or change things to the blaster later on, but that won't be for awhile.  Right now, I'm just happy that it's complete and functional.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Awesome Weekend

So this morning I am tasked with the super fun job of unloading 3 crates of LTXs and a horde of N-Strike and Vortex blasters outta my car's trunk, but I figured it'd be a good display of how much fun we had with BOTH systems this weekend.

Some of you may have read that I planned on holding a Vortex vs N-Strike match on Saturday.  I did!  I also held a laser tag match with LTXs that same evening with the same folks, so.. my legs are still hurting!  It was a VERY active weekend and I thought I'd fill you in a bit about it while I patiently wait for some pictures to come my way from my good friend with an awesome camera.

I hosted the event, a 4 hour long social with members from my University's Marching Band, Saturday evening inside the music building with permission from the Building Manager.  We used the band room as home base and used hallways with barricades as our battleground.  We used the first floor only for the Nerf games and opened up the second floor for laser tag.  The range difference between Nerf and Laser Tag meant different needs for space usage.  I've hosted Laser Tag games in the music building before, but never a Nerf Match.  It went surprisingly well.

We did a true Vortex vs N-Strike match with some interesting results.  To make things fair, we had even teams with even starting points and the exact amount of ammo on each side.  Disks on Vortex, Darts on N-Strike.  When a player got hit, they'd return to their spawn point and mark a tally on a sheet.  We did 10 minute rounds and the team with the least amount of tallies won.  The first round went to Vortex by a landslide, which I wasn't expecting.  Then from there, things started to even out with close matches between each side.  The neat thing was the ammo limitations.  Since we only had 70 disks for the Vortex Side, the N-Strike side was limited to 70 darts.  This meant that high ammo-capacity clips weren't desirable since they would essentially be using up almost all of their team's ammunition.  To make ammo easier for the N-Strike side, we only allowed Streamline-firing blasters.  Most of them who were planning on using 35 round drums were reduced to 6 round clips instead to even the ammo out amongst their team.  If we had more Vortex Disks and could've allowed more ammo on the N-Strike side... I wonder if things would've turned out differently.

Once we played through 5 or 6 successful Vortex vs N-Strike games, we switched to the LTX Phoenixes for laser tag.  We played 4 more rounds of that before calling it a night.  My friend with the camera has about a hundred pictures or so to sort through of both Nerf and Laser Tag games that I'll share later.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Even MORE on the LTX Combo Mount!

CTDYNE just doesn't stop!  Though these additions aren't earth-shattering, further development adds even more options for Weaver Rail-mounted accessories.  Here he's got a foregrip addition to the Shot Blast handle, as well as side-mounted Weaver Rails for flashlights.  
The vertical fore grip is attached to the accessory rail now fastened to the pump handle of the shot blast module. This grip can be attached/removed in seconds without tools. When removed, a rubber cover can be slipped over the aluminum accessory rail to provide protection from the edges of the rail during rapid shot blast cycling.
They have also fastened a small section of aluminum rail to the left side of the combo mount to provide a place for tac lights or whatever accessory might be useful in this location.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

More on the LTX Combo Mount

I've been exchanging e-mails with CTDYNE about the possibility of producing additional LTX Combo Mounts.  Myself, and others in the Laser Tagging community, have shown a great interest in this particular unit. In the past, CTDYNE has made all kinds of impressive custom units but these are obviously one time fabrications that are not intended to be built and distributed even on a limited run.  However, I think the nature of this LTX Combo Mount and how it does not need to modify the Phoenix LTX to work is an attractive feature that would mean that it could fit on anyone's blaster.

The main issue that CTDYNE pointed out would be the likelihood of a high cost to reproduce these.  The parts that they use are for Airsoft Rifles and, unless he were to purchase entire Airsoft rifles just to rid them of the stock and rail system, would not be cost efficient.  Getting in touch with the company that produces these to get the specific parts would hopefully reduce the cost, but nothing is guaranteed with that.  Additionally, you can imagine just by looking at the craftsmanship and detail that went into this unit that a good amount of time would need to be invested to build more of these, even on a limited production.

CTDYNE told me this
I will have to do some research on cost and availability of materials and design simplification before I can get an idea of just how much I would have to charge and how many I may produce, if any. I would be nice to have some idea of just what the demand for the CTDYNE LTX combo mount is.

I showed CTDYNE the blog post that I and Urban Taggers made about his LTX Combo Unit to show some support for the idea of this becoming a reality.  They also sent me some more pictures of the LTX Combo Unit with other options attached to it that I'm sharing here in an attempt to show more support for the idea of this unit being fabricated on a small-scale production.  Right now, it seems like the best thing we can do to support him in this endeavor is to show that support.  Leave a comment if you'd even be remotely interested in a product like this to upgrade your LTX.  It's either that, or wait another year for the next LT system to come out!  I'd rather benefit from BOTH!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tech Target Mod

I don't have too many blasters that predate N-Strike.  Even though I'm older, most of my blasters are on the newer side of things.  However, I found an old Nerf Tech Target blaster that I've had for a long while and remembered that I stopped using it because I lost it's 3 darts.  Well, now all I've got are N-Strike darts, which are too small to fit in the old Tech Target.  These blasters show up pretty often online and even in Thrift stores, so if you're able to get your hands on one... do it!  The mod to make it N-Strike compatible is as easy as installing a smaller barrel and it gets excellent ranges!

It wasn't until later that I came across LordDraconial's tutorial on how to do essentially the same thing I just accomplished.  Just figured with all the announcements of new Nerf Blasters and seeing how easily Vortex outshoots N-Strike stuff that we could use a reminder that Darts can still compete.

I don't normally do this, but my mishaps with trying to shoot a "cool" intro for this video made for some nice bloopers... so I took a little more time and made a separate "Bloopers Reel" for this.  My ear is still ringing from a certain headshot.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Shelf News

So a trip to my local Wal-Mart pretty much sums up two big shifts from their stock alone.  The first being that Nerf's Vortex launch was extremely successful.  This store had stocked the shelves one day ahead of the official release date.  They are now down to only one Nitron left.  After seeing the dismal launch of the Light Strike laser tag line, seeing the Vortex series do so well reflects on Hasbro's reputation as a leader in the industry.  Also, I couldn't find one single "Gear Up!" series blaster left either.  Judging from other retailers that I've seen, this is the going trend for Vortex.  I'm hoping from the success of this launch that we'll see more new Vortex designs in the future (as well as a restock of the shelves quickly!)

Next, I observed the official mark to the end of summer.  Nerf's Super Soaker line is all over the clearance shelves, though it should be noted that they were some of the last water blasters to do this.  Most of the other summer stuff had been clearanced long before this.  With Tornado Strike's at 13 bucks and Hydro Cannons at 17, it's tempting to pick up a few for next year.

That same trip to Wal-Mart also got my hopes up.  It was kind of funny actually, when I saw the Nerf Whiteout series display and about messed in my pants before realizing that I had jumped the gun.  Improperly stocked, there was a Spectre among the display for the Whiteout Series.  The glimpse of it at first had me thinking that they had actually released the fabled Whiteout Spectre, but alas it was a mere mirage.

Lastly, there's also a new Dart Tag refill pack out there with 36 darts.  Hadn't seen this one before, so it's good to see the Dart Tag blasters still getting some attention. I worry that the new Dart Tag stuff has been neglected recently, as I haven't seen it disappearing off store shelves as quickly as Vortex did.  Then again, the new Dart Tag stuff didn't have the hype of a big release date and "teaser footage" that Vortex had. It just goes to show that if you market things right, you can make a killing on the release date.

So that's just a few things I've noticed in a recent trip to my local retailers.  I'm getting my Nerf collection ready for our Vortex vs N-Strike match this weekend.  Kinda getting excited for that!  So far it seems like the majority of the blasters will be Protons and Vigilons and a heap of extra ammo.  Thanks to Toys R Us' "Free Vortex Refills with each blaster" and the other retailers having disks in stock, I'm hoping we'll have enough ammo to warrant a game against N-Strike to be even.  I'm kinda psyched for this match, as I'm dying to see how the two actually match up.

Monday, September 12, 2011

CTDYNE: LTX Combo Mount

The folks who inspired me to start digging into Laser Tag as a hobby have released a new piece of equipment that has me wowed.  Custom Tag Dynamics (CTDYNE),which is headed up by some of my laser tag heroes, has released images and information regarding their latest advancement for the Phoenix LTX Blasters.  It's truly remarkable and I'm thoroughly impressed with their work, as always.
LTX Combo Mount

"The challenge was to design, fabricate and assemble a one piece combination scope/stock mount that could be attached to the LTX with no modification to the tagger and do so without the loss of any of the original functions of the LTX tagger. The recoil/light up hammer, ambidextrous reload levers and the speaker would all need to remain intact. Also the unit would need to be able to be used on any LTX and be easily removed to allow the use of the original red dot scope if desired. The shoulder stock used with this mount would also have to easily and quickly removable without tools.

The challenge was met at CTDYNE with the LTX combo scope/shoulder stock mount you see here. This unit attaches to the LTX utilizing two clamps that attach to the original accessory rails on the top of the LTX. The full length accessory rail on the combo mount can accept a wide array of sighting options. From the full size 3X9-40 shown in these images to a compact red dot type device.  Two clamp assemblies can be seen as can the internal stiffener that runs the length of the unit as well as some of the cross bracing needed to provide rigidity to the structure."

CTDYNE always does fantastic work and their solutions to tagging problems keep getting better and better.  Their craftsmanship is impeccable and their ideas are really what drive their creations to be among the best out there.  In terms of consumer-grade laser tag products, I don't know of any other individual or group who has even come close when it comes to the reputation that CTDYNE has established for itself.  I have been fortunate enough to work closely with CTDYNE and am excited to see them still producing great equipment to better the hobby I know and love as Laser Tag!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

N-Strike vs Vortex

Alright, Nerf fans.  You've officially made it through 24 hours of Vortex's scheduled release.  For some of us, it's been a little longer than that, depending on how true your retailers were to 9/10/11.  While I'm not sure that thinking about pitting Vortex versus N-Strike on the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks may be a good thing, I AM scheduling a Nerf/Laser Tag game this coming Saturday which will likely include a game of Vortex Blasters versus N-Strike Blasters.

Things I expect from this match up?  It's tough to say.  I've tested the two systems side-by-side a little bit... but testing doesn't reveal how they'll do in battle.  Still, there are a few obvious things I foresee happening.

  1. Ammo availability issues.  With both sides using different types of ammo, the ability to reload utilizing your opponent's ammunition against them (aka, picking up darts and loading them into your blaster as you go along) won't be happening.  The battle will soon shift from hitting the players to getting to your spent ammunition.
  2. User Error(Vortex side mainly).  These Vortex Blasters have a lot of safeties and locking mechanisms and our players aren't as familiar with them.  I expect some confusion, even after a briefing on how the blasters work, to make for a few easy kills on the N-Strike Side of things.
  3. Defined Ranges.  I expect the N-Strike side to note the obvious range gap they face against Team Vortex and vice versa.  This means we'll be seeing N-Strike players making use of short-ranged attacks and guerrilla warfare whereas Vortex players will be lining up for those long-distance shots.  The trick will be who can make better use of their blaster's abilities.
Things I don't know?  I'm not certain how the blaster's obvious strengths and weaknesses will balance out.  I'm hoping for a well-balanced game that makes people think more about strategies that will work for their specific blaster's abilities and less about the mindless "Yeah, point and shoot!" methodology.  There's an obvious ammo-spamming difference between the two types as well.  N-Strike blasters in general can dish out and carry much more ammunition than Vortex Blasters do.  However, with the range and precision of the XLR disk, will Vortex players even have a need to use as much ammunition as the other side?  

Feel free to leave a comment with your predictions of this match up.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Vigilon 6-Disk Trick

So the guys at Nerf Mods & Reviews presented enough convincing evidence to warrant me picking up and, subsequently checking out the Vigilon.  Obviously the Torsion Spring Mod on this is a must, but I remember LordDraconial trying to fit a 6th Disk in there.  I figured it was worth investigating on my own.  The solution I found doesn't involve cramming an extra disk in there, but rather making use of the Vigilon's priming system.  Check out the video below to see what I mean.

It's an easy trick you can do when loading your Vigilon up for combat.  The trick is as quick as this video on how to do it!  Folks had said the Spectre was the Vigilon's equal... but with 6 in there, now I think the Maverick is fair game too!

This same idea works with the clip system for Vortex on the Praxis.  It won't work on the Nitron because of the priming system on it.  Here's another video that shows the Praxis' loaded with an extra dart.  Put that Gear Up! disk to use!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

10,000 Pageviews!

While this might not sound like much, I'm pretty proud of how much attention this little blog of mine has gotten! Since starting it in the spring, I didn't think Tactical Tag would do well in a world already full of billions of blogs.  Somehow, the niche this blog covers (mainly mods for Nerf and Laser Tag with some news stories sprinkled in), has gotten some good publicity.  Even with 12 followers, Tactical Tag has been getting hits from around the world!

I do think that a large part of this blog's publicity success can be derived from the exposure the guys at Urban Taggers have given some of my notable posts.  I have to admit that whenever they relay a post with a link back to here, my stats spike like crazy!  I'm just grateful that the folks at Urban Taggers like what I have going on here.  It's neat getting praise from people you're already looking up to.

In any case, here's a thank you to all of you!  Whether you've been a long-time reader or you're just stopping by for the first time, thank's for the support that keeps me going!

Torsion Spring vs Flywheels

I ran some outdoor tests on the two different firing mechanisms in the Vortex lineup: the Torsion Spring and the Flywheel system.  The Proton, Vigilon, and Praxis all utilize the Torsion Spring to fling their disks forward while the Nitron uses a Flywheel system to spin the disks out of the blaster.  In reviews, I've seen lots of criticism for the Nitron because of it's lower power and slightly shorter range.  However, my findings in these outdoor tests reveal something those criticisms overlook.  Take a look at the video I made outlining the two different system's abilities outdoors with a slight breeze.

Hopefully with all the new info out there, review blogs like Urban Taggers, SG Nerf, and Nerf Mods & Reviews, and this bit of information, you can know what to expect on those shelves on 9-10-11.  Use this information to discern for yourself what blaster is best for you, if any!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Amped Nitron

Managed to get our hands on the Vortex Series a few days early.  I've heard that the Nitron doesn't have quite as much "oomph" as the other 3 do because of the flywheel.  Well, we Amped our Nitron with double the current running through it and got some impressively hard-hitting results.

Tested it with the 10 round clip from the Praxis.  Didn't want to overdo it!  I sorta wished we hadn't done this test, as returning the Nitron to it's normal output was depressing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Next Lazer Tag System!

An early concept for the LTX (2008)
Being in close contact with many die-hard laser tag enthusiasts has it's perks.  One of which is being able to talk with folks directly connected to the Lazer Tag brand designers.  As I'm permitted to, I'll give more updates here as I know more information.  Just figured that the fans of LTTO and LTX could use some uplifting information, what with the painfully slow death of Battle Tag and the widespread disappointment I've heard from big laser tag fans about Light Strike.  I've personally known details about the next system for the Lazer Tag brand for a little while now, but was asked not to say anything publicly about it.  However, since one of the developers for Shoot the Moon (company that has developed LTTO and LTX) posted a few details in the LTTO Yahoo! Group, I thought I'd relay that info here.

We are constantly developing new models, and while the market hasn't been solid enough to introduce a lot recently, we see it as picking up in the near future. Because of that we have a new model in the works that I think everyone will be amazed at. And it will be fully backwards-compatible with LTTO and LTX, something that is non-negotiable from our standpoint for all models. Beyond that I am not at liberty to say anything just yet, but keep your eyes on this group...

I know that the system will have the same sensor-on-blaster approach as well, and since they have reverse compatibility, it's likely that they'll also be returning to a 2-barreled system like the LTTO line featured.  So even in the midst of a relatively depressing laser tag market, STM has something worth looking forward to in the months to come.

There you have it!  Lazer Tag is coming back!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Revisiting the Durango

So awhile back I had this crazy idea to build a Laser Tag gun INTO a Nerf Blaster to have both my favorite shooting games under one roof.  That idea materialized in an ultra-rare Longshot blaster that I called the "M42-I Durango".  It was a neat blaster, but to be honest, I didn't do a very good job of building it.  I'm returning to fix it up and get it shooting really nice, but I figured now that I have this blog, I'd document that progress.

Durango after it's Intial Completion
The project was completed in Fall of 2010.  It was a bit of a rush-job and I eventually paid the price for it.  Still, my goal of using the Longshot's Front Gun to integrate to house the Laser Tag internals worked out quite well.  I also had taken the Red Strike Recon's Tactical Light and turned it into an LED Flashlight as an option to attach to the top rail of the Longshot.  With the AR our and the locks removed, the action on the Longshot was nice and smooth with a good bit of power behind it.  The laser tag internals weren't quite as powerful as I had hoped, but all I really did was recase a simple Laser Challenge Radar Extreme into it.
So there's a lot I can do to this blaster.  As I'm repairing and rebuilding this, I plan on making upgrades to both the laser tag side and the Nerf side.  I want to drop a booster board/increase the output of the IR LED in the laser tag barrel and fix up the buttons and switches.  I many also need to redo the battery pack portion so I can actually access it without having to take apart the whole blaster.  I'm not sure what to improve with the Nerf Side, though I have considered doing an Angel Breech to maximize the power already going through it.

Here's a video on where I'm at so far with this restoration.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Season 6 Finale

On August 27th, the Omaha Laser Challenge Association held the last game for their 6th Summer Season.  This closes up 5 full years of laser tag, free of charge, at Mission Park West.  It's been a phenomenal run for the better half of a decade.  I'm uncertain of the future of the OLCA at this point, but for now, here's a bit of a look back at this past summer season.  We had our usual cookout followed up by games with our old favorte: Laser Challenge.  Our resident Storm Trooper managed to show up and I got to use my Pulse Rifle a bit.  There's just a great set of photos from this game, as well as a highlights reel of the entire season.