Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Laser Tag Q&A: Event Planning

Today's installment of Laser Tag Q&A focuses on how I run the large-scale laser tag games that I've been doing over the years.  From players to equipment to scenarios that we do, I weigh in on how we've been successful with our events for the past 6 years.  Questions, as usual, are from my loyal readers and watchers on YouTube and this Blog.  If you've got questions that haven't been covered yet, ask away and I'll try to get to them in some fashion!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Lazer Tag Q&A: Consumer-grade Systems

So I've been doing this for awhile and have had plenty of experience with many types of laser tag.  Be it indoor Arena tag at a rollerskating rink or military-grade professional-level stuff, I've tagged with it.  I've invested a lot of time and finances into my own laser tag gear so I kind of have a good feeling for what's worth investing in.  I've taken questions off of YouTube and this blog to make this in-depth analysis of 3 major laser tag systems a little more relevant to your questions.  It covers Light Strike, Laser Challenge, and Lazer Tag (LTX and LTTO).  Tomorrow I'll have another post answering your laser tag questions, so if you've still got more questions, I've still got more answers!

Lumitron follows Suit

So earlier last week, Nerf released another video for the Rayven that I took great pleasure in picking apart for it's inaccuracies.  The Rayven "Inside Blast" got posted over at NM&R and either the script writer is getting worse by the day, or this was an awful ad-lib performance by Mr. No-brains Xpress model.  Either way, the basic jist of my complaint about it isn't just the "Amazing" script writing, but the fact that they're actually feeding you wrong information.  If you go by his amazing step-by-step instructions, you'll find you actually can't operate the Rayven.  Click here to see what I mean.

Onto the Lumitron's "Inside Blast" commercial.  It's not just "Amazing", it's also NEW this time!  I don't know if I'd call a recolored Praxis "New", but sure... we'll go with that.  Seconds later, he's calling the Lumitron "Rapid Fire"... which I think is misleading.  To me, Rapid Fire is... you know... something that can fire a succession of darts quickly.  Perhaps with the recent release of the Speedswarm, Nerf has forgotten what rapid fire means?  Apparently the Lumitron can be called "Rapid Fire" because the priming handle is called a "Rapid Slide Handle".  Either way, they at least did a better job of telling you how the blaster functions this time around... but it's still frustrating seeing these commercials prioritizing hip new words over actually delivering facts about their blasters.  Their promotional word choice and white-boy slang just get in the way.

At least it's good that Nerf Blasters practically sell themselves, because if this were a company that was relying on these commercials to launch this "Light it Up" line, they'd be sunk.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Izzy Knows!

A great friend of mine has recently opened a blog that could potentially answer some questions that some of you may have for the Questions & Answers for Laser Tag starting tomorrow.  The blog, Thoughts by Izzy, is an extremely intricate analysis of the Light Strike laser tag system coming from an experienced Laser Tag fan.  Izzy has been working with the Lazer Tag Team Ops line for a long time now and is well invested in the hobby.  He's an excellent resource to talk with and these two blog posts are incredibly detailed.  Regardless of your experience with laser tag thus far, you can get a fair perspective of the Light Strike lineup from his two posts on his new blog.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Laser Tag Questions: January 30th-February 2nd

Between the 23rd and 27th of this month, I posted Tactical Advice every day for Nerf.  For the next week, between January 30th and February 2nd, I'll be answering questions for Laser Tag.  This is also a good time to get some more exposure for laser tag out there since the newest laser tag system will be unveiled at ToyFair 2012 on February 12th!

Since I'm more of an expert at Laser Tag than Nerf, I figured this would be a good opportunity to answer questions from my readers and viewers since there's SO MUCH I could cover!  I may end up expanding this into a longer series of Questions and Answers if there's enough response, so pick my brain!  Ask me about this hobby I love so much!

Aim True, Nerfers!

Alright, well my last bit of advice for this week on Nerf-related topics is making the most of your shots.  Whether you're a foam spammer or a one-hit-kills kinda player, at the end of the day, you want your hits to count.  In recent indoor games, I've averaged 7 kills for every 1 time I've been hit, which isn't bad considering where we play.  I'm not trying to say that this is an impressive stat or you may do better than I, but in the environment I have played in, that's a pretty good record.

I suppose the first piece of advice I would say is to be familiar with the range of your blaster first.  I do lots of testing with my blasters before I use them in games not only to see how they perform, but to become comfortable with being able to gauge what I can and can't hit.  If you do angled range tests to get the maximum distance of your darts and just go with that when you get to an indoor game, you'll quickly realize that because you can't lob your shots as much, you can't reach out to that maximum range you were hoping for.  It's important to test out your blasters in the environment you'll be playing in so that way you can judge distances of what you can and cannot hit in the heat of the game.  You'll waste less ammo on opponents you can't dream to hit if you know this ahead of time.

Congrats, Ninjadude123! Now for a Box of Scraps!

Well, this week's winner was somehow "Anonymous", who was last seen leaving a comment on Jan 21, 2012 at 1:48 AM.  Through a bit of silly drama this morning, I've figured out who it was.  Ninjadude123 is our winner and he's got the Nerf Bandoleer AND 2 Clips with 18 Streamline Darts headed his way!

This week's question is about modifications.  What's your favorite modified blaster?  It doesn't even have to be a mod you've done yourself.  Share a link to a picture if you want to!  Just tell us what made it stand out to you!  And since this blog is for Nerf AND Laser Tag, I'll accept answers for either (or both!)

Which brings me to the prize:  A Box of Scraps!  But not just ANY old scraps, but springs, plungers, and among the items is a full Longshot Plunger system with Bolt sled!  This box would be great for any Nerf Modder!  So answer that question with a comment below to enter to win!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Clever Customizing

You don't have to invest in real-steel accessories to deck out your Nerf Blaster.  There are simple ways to make additions or add a tactical flair to your blaster that use pretty common materials.  Today I'll share a few of these with you that won't break your bank.

First, this mod also shines some light on my friend's recent laser tag project, but it could easily be applied to any Nerf blaster with a tactical rail.  Flashlights can be VERY handy for indoor games, and having one mounted to your blaster can free up a hand for you to use to reload your blaster or change out a clip.  Lets face it, the "Tactical Light" N-Strike accessory just doesn't cut it.  By taking an ordinary flashlight and some Zip ties, you can mount a flashlight to your tactical rail.  German's Rayven that he's working on turning into a laser tag blaster serves as a great example on how to do this.

Rayvens and Rifles and Guns, Oh My!

Just got back from another successful "Mod Night".  There were 5 of us working on projects tonight.  Of the smaller stuff, we dropped a 2.5kg spring into a NiteFinder that could shoot a hole through a bunker.  As a result, darts were flying around the workspace for much of the night.  I'm pretty sure we'll need to put some padding on that plunger soon before it shatters, as it's got quite the punch to it.  Sadly, the speeds it sends darts out only make the inaccuracies of N-Strike darts more obvious.

A lot of work went into the Pulse Rifle this evening, but there's still a LOT more ahead of it too.  My main goal tonight was to get the Airsoft gearbox finalized and closed up, and I did just that.  We wired the trigger for the Laser Tag side of things into the AEG contacts since there will only be power going to one system or the other (never both).  Closing it up was actually the harder part, since the new Stock that we installed last week gets in the way of construction.  I had to take apart much of what we had done last week just to finish up today's work, only to put it all back together.  However, I put down some much-needed Lock Tite on the bolts securing the stock in place so I don't plan to ever have to dig back into that gearbox for awhile.  I don't use Airsoft much anyways, so I don't expect to be needing to service that stuff very often.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mod Night Tonight!

Friends of mine are getting together again tonight for another "Mod Night".  We frequently get together to work on blasters and utilize each others help and expertise to make the most of our time.  Of the projects, I thought you'd be interested that my friend "German" is working on an N-Strike compatible stock built from Airsoft Gun parts.  It'll be able to attach to any N-Strike blaster with the removable stock option.  I'm hoping to get some more pictures and see how it's built/how it works.  So until then, here's a teaser picture that he sent me.  He's the same guy who's working on that Arduino-run Rayven laser tag blaster I showed earlier.

Nerf Blasters, Inside and Out

Just because there's more plastic on this Longshot,
doesn't mean it's a good idea...
In following the trend this week of posting Tactical advice for Nerf, today's advice centers itself around the blaster.  It's sort of tough to go into a Nerf Battle without a Nerf Blaster, isn't it?  There are so many different types that can go with different styles, but I thought I could help by offering ideas to improve your blaster to better your performance in games.  Once again, my focus on this will be for indoor games since I don't play Nerf outdoors (unless I'm running tests).

Whatever style you have adopted, your blaster probably reflects this.  The key to having a good blaster is having the specs that match what you want to do, since everyone plays differently.  For instance, if you're the type who likes to spam darts everywhere, you probably have a high RoF blaster with plenty of ammo at your disposal.  If you like to spam darts but you're using a single-shot front-loading pistol... you probably need to find something else!  Matching a blaster to your style, whatever it is, is important.  Don't sacrifice the way you play by being tied to one blaster because it "looks cool" or something like that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pulse Rifle: Mag Bottoms!

My M41A Pulse Rifle project has been around since Nerf Mods & Reviews started their blog and it's always been a work in progress.  It's also been my main weapon for the longest amount of time (when it's working, that is!)  Last week I finally got around to installing the new Screen Accurate stock during our Mod Night.  Yesterday I received two Mag Bottoms made by Noble of the AliensLegacy Forums.  These are not only accurate replicas of the bottom, but they're also modified to fit Tokyo Marui Thompson Hi Cap 190 Rd magazines. They actually attach to the bottom of the magazine for a secure fit.  They also have a hole in the bottom of them so you can access the tension wheel to operate the Hi-Cap magazine's internal spring.    On the version that came with the original G&P kit, you couldn't access this wheel without removing the entire mag cover.  The original Mag Cover fell off frequently and only clipped onto the bottom of the Pulse Rifle.  Now it fits directly onto the magazine and is secured by the mag actually fitting into the blaster.

Update: LTX Accessories and NEW LT System!

What will the new system be like?!?
Last fall I announced that Shoot the Moon (the developers of Hasbro's Phoenix LTX and Tiger Electronic's Lazer Tag Team Ops) was coming out with a new system that would be backwards compatible on a basic level with both the LTX and LTTO blasters.  I also announced that TagFerret, who works for STM, would be releasing kits to make unreleased options for the Phoenix LTX.  I haven't had a whole lot to report on this matter as of late because, quite honestly, there's not much else to say right now.  I had been waiting to hear more about both of these advancements and asked my friends on the LTAG Message Board if they had any inside information on it.  Mike Yates of CTDYNE delivered the most informative answer, so I'll just relay that here:
It just so happens I had the opportunity to ask TagFerret about this very topic last week. Windjammer is correct. The ferret said the work on the new tagger has been “an all-consuming effort” that has left him with no time for the RapidBlast kit project. He had hoped to get the PCBs and software for the RapidBlast barrels done by the start of December 2011. Obviously that schedule has slid to the right. He also said that the project is about 90% done. He has some software work for the PCB and mold making tasks left for the IRLED holder. He has not yet ordered any of the PCBs pending final check of the software. So this project has not been forgotten just put on hold until his work load lightens up. Looking forward to seeing just what the new tagger looks like and the features of this new gear. Come On Toy Fair! 
Mike Yates

Dress Code

So I've already covered what NOT to focus on when it comes to Nerf Games.  On the flip side, I'll put in my two cents to having a successful Tactical layout for foam slinging, starting with the other side of that coin: what you SHOULD wear.  It's also quasi-related to the Weekly Giveaway question for this week.  Again, the focus here is for Indoor Nerf Games, but the same idea of practicality ahead of "looking cool" that I'll explain applies.

Monday, January 23, 2012

...and a Tactical New Year!

Nerf Outdoors?  It's more stand-out than you think!
I love reading comments and feedback related to the blog.  So when I read "maybe you should do a couple posts about tactical ideas for nerf / laser tag stuffs? I'd read it... " from TestamentSeven7, last week's Weekly Giveaway winner, I figured why not give you what you want?  I mean, this is "Tactical" tag, and during this time of year with so many new things coming out, it's easier to seem like a news service.  Well, I've decided to put a stop to that with some different levels of Tactical advice.  The advice I'll give is merely my opinion that's been shaped by my experience playing Nerf and Laser Tag games for quite a while.  This week, my focus will be on Nerf, while for the week of January 30th, I'll focus on Laser Tag in anticipation of the Toy Fair that should give us more info on the latest Lazer Tag system!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Congrats to TestamentSeven7! NEXT: Bandolier Giveaway!

This week's winner is the NM&R Chatroll Lurkmaster: TestamentSeven7!  He'll be receiving 35 Exclusive Red Streamline darts!  Once again, thanks to everyone for your comments and insight!  If you haven't, check out the comments from last week's giveaway to see what everyone's take is on their preffered dart types.  It's interesting seeing the common ground as well as some personal opinion coming into play when it comes to choosing darts.

Which brings us to this week's question.  You've told us what your favorite darts are.  NOW I want to know what's your preferred way of carrying them into games?  Do you just use the blaster's carrying capacity?  Maybe stuff a few extras into pockets?  Perhaps you've got yourself a Tactical Vest or maybe a...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lumitron Sighted! ...sorta

Since the beginning of the year, my local Wal-Mart has had a pretty dismal selection.  Much like other stores I've heard about, it still seemed cleaned out from the Christmas rush, with no large blasters and a depleted stock in general.  However, on a routine trip there I decided to check out the section again.  I was delighted to see some of the stock returning with new Super Soakers on shelves.  There's still a lot of big gaps on the shelves, but the most intriguing part of it was this price tag with empty shelf space behind it.

Aside from the fact that Lumitron is incorrectly spelled (hey, it's Wal-Mart.  Give 'em a break) it's a little pricier than I had anticipated.  They had the Rayven in stock there too at it's normal price, so I guess the "Light it Up!" series is gonna deplete your wallet a little more.  This is especially sad for those who were planning on having a "Glow battle" by putting Firefly Tech clips in Vortex and N-Strike blasters.  It's just too darned expensive to pull that off right now until the Firefly Tech magazines are sold separately.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

CTDYNE: LTX Combo Mount Info

Brian, AKA Tagferret, wielding a Phoenix with the Combo Mount
Duncan MacKinnon of CTDYNE trying out the Combo Mount
A little while back I shared information on this blog about a fantastic piece of equipment developed by Custom Tag Dynamics (CTDYNE) headed up by a laser tag hero of mine: Mike Yates.  He's responsible for the optics installed in my M41A Pulse Rifle project and has been great to work with the better half of this decade on laser tag projects in general. He developed the LTX Combo Mount as a one piece combination scope/stock mount that can be attached to the LTX with no modification to the tagger and do this without the loss of any of the original functions of the base tagger.  I've covered it in 3 posts that you can reference below for additional information and photos of it's abilities to mount equipment onto an LTX.

The main question that has been on folks minds since the LTX Combo Mount pictures surfaced was "Will more be made for sale?!?"  ...and rightfully so!  Most of CTDYNE's modifications, while equally impressive, are entire blasters that have been customized from the ground up.  They are unique pieces, much like how my LTX DMR is.  If they were to be for sale, it would probably be the sale of the single unit, since replicating these systems would require much work.  However, the LTX Combo Mount can attach itself to any base Pheonix LTX without modification of the actual blaster, which makes it ideal for production and sale.  Still, these pieces are complicated and each unit would need to be hand-built by CTDYNE.  Still, fans couldn't help but ask if such a thing could be done.

First Laser Tag game of 2012

A week or so ago we held our first match of the 2012 year.  Given the unseasonably warm temperatures, it was quite easy to plan a match for us.  We broke out the LTXs since the majority of the game would be played in daylight.  The game started at 3pm and went until 6.  It was an epic 3 hours of 6 awesome rounds of Laser Tag... and somehow yours truly ended up on the winning side for every game!  On top of that, I only got tagged out of 1 of those 6 games!  That's unprecedented for me!  (Usually I die leading others into combat)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Life after Humans

So this idea of 2012 being the year of the apocalypse had me thinking for awhile.  Not about it's seriousness or anything, but about the scenario of "Life after Humans" in general.  There are places around where I live that kind of give off a "forgotten by civilization" look to it that I thought might be neat for a few photos.  Then one thing led to another and the next thing I know, I'm out with my camera with a repainted Super Soaker Rattler in some silly clothes taking pictures near snow-covered debris.  And then THAT got me thinking even more, but I'll tell you about that part after I fill you in on what I did.

I decided to dress up for survival in a post apocalyptic setting.  No formal military fatigues or proper protection.  Instead I went with a beat up tan jacket, a scarf, some tac gloves, an ammo belt, and rigged a canteen sling out of some belts.  Then I went to my basement to see what sort of quasi-futuristic blaster I could cook up.  I came across my Rattler that I had been meaning to work on about 2 years ago.  I painted it, got it looking a little beat-up with some E-Tape and Duct Tape on there, as well as a washed paintjob look, and closed it up for my prop blaster.   I added a Maglite where the pump-action would've been and I think it turned out pretty cool looking.

Problem Solving with LC

How we used to do it!  Front sensors and crummy gear!
This photo was taken during the OLCA's first season in 2006.
Before the OLCA was able to obtain enough Laser Challenge sensors that had Back Sensors, we worked with what we had.  This was also the time when Jakks Pacific, the developer of Laser Challenge at that time, was mimicking the LTTO line's design of a blaster with the sensor mounted on it.  Previous versions that Jakks Pacific had developed had a tethered cord running from the blaster to the sensor vest.  When they mounted the sensor on the blaster, they called it a "Wireless system", since Wireless Internet was becoming increasingly popular at that time.  It was a cheap move with even cheaper technology at it's core.  Because the processor of the Laser Challenge systems that JP had developed could only handle one job at a time, the blaster couldn't fire while it was taking a hit.  On the other end, when the user was firing, they were essentially invincible for that moment... which ended up making trigger-happy users impossible to hit.  However, blasters with a sensor on them were somewhat useful when it came to our shortage of back sensors for our Laser Challenge equipment, so we used them for a short time.

During this time, one of our veteran players and a founding member of the OLCA was under criticism for being nearly impossible to hit because of the blaster he wielded and his large size.  With a front sensor mounted on his torso, his build and the bulk of the Laser Challenge V2 Firestorm that he used blocked the sensor during combat, making him increasingly tough to land a hit on.  To counter this, we tried coming up with a blaster-mounted sensor that wouldn't be effected by the problems that Jakks Pacific's blasters had.  Essentially, we took a domed sensor from a broken blaster and installed a second system into the Firestorm.  The Firestorm, which runs off of 6 batteries, only uses 3 of these batteries to run the blaster.  The other 3 batteries run the rumble pack that triggers when the blaster is fired.  While the tray houses 6 batteries, they are not linked together so that the board can run off of one set and the rumble pack can run off the others.  However, since we removed the rumble pack in his Firestorm, there were 3 open spots in the battery tray plus a large empty space where the rumble pack once was.  A sensor vest also runs off of 3 batteries, so we wired the separate board into the unused half of the Firestorm's tray.  After installing a separate speaker, the sensor dome, and a power switch onto the bulk of the Firestorm, we essentially had two systems running independently inside the blaster!

Later on, the OLCA's founders voted that one type of sensor system should be used for our games.  It was decided that every player must have a front and back sensor to make things fair.  As such, this custom blaster's internal sensor system was useless.  Eventually, we would scrap this blaster but use it's lens and other parts to build another blaster for it's owner.  However, we still needed to develop a front and back mounted sensor system that could be hit when players were using large weapons like the Firestorm.  The Custom Vest Project, or CVP, solved this with a shoulder mounted sensor with a dome construction.  We adopted the idea from Mike Yates of CTDYNE and have put it to use in several new sensor systems.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Endless Thunderstorm 2.0

Last summer, I hooked up a Hydration Pack to a Nerf Super Soaker Thunderstorm and got great results to make the "Endless Thunderstorm Mod"!  The not-so-great results was that I didn't expect chlorinated pool water to be so harsh on the main tube that ran into the Hydration Pack.  Turns out it got all dried out and cracked.  So I turned to the new Nerf Lightningstorm's Drum Magazine to get more insane capacity into my Thunderstorm... but that wasn't enough for me.  Thanks to my handy Ultrafire Batteries, I volt-modded this Thunderstorm too!

Lightning Storm Pic Spam

As usual, I leave the reviews of new Nerf stuff to those who do it best, the blogs I consider the "Big 3".  But that won't stop me from putting in my two cents about the utility of these blasters and trying to find a different slant on things.  I also was surprised at the lack of pic-spam for the new Lightning Storm accessories, the "new" big Super Soaker for 2012.  It's got a recolored Thunderstorm at it's core, but the selling point hands down for this guy is it's accessories.  It's got accessories for N-Strike Rails and Removable stocks, as well as a new drum magazine.  Quite honestly, I'm a parts-swapper and I think the Lightning Storm looks better with this loadout to the right.  That's a Shotblast Scope and Stock with a normal water magazine.

More after the jump!  (Love that line!)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Shelf News: Mid-January!

Goodness gracious, January has been full of new products and sales of older ones.  They're really ringing in the new year!  And with that new year comes new Super Soakers under the Nerf Brand.  I was wondering if the 3 new blasters that Nerf debuted on their Facebook Page would be the ONLY ones in the lineup this year, but it turns out they've brought back many of the soakers from 2011.  The Hydro Cannon is back, as well as the Thunderstorm and Tornado Strike.  Both the Thunderstorm and Tornado Strike have new Box Art while the Hydro Cannon seems to have retained it's art from 2011.  Also, I found Lightningstorms on shelves, but no sign of the Microburst or Elecrostorm.

I'm personally happy to see the Thunderstorm back, as I thought it was one of the best looking blasters in the lineup.  It's also nice seeing the Hydro Cannon back, as that thing is a beast and packs quite the punch!  While it's not that impressive compared to older CPS-series blasters during the "Golden Age of Super Soakers", it's certainly the most powerful one on the market right now.

It seems all the electronic blasters have this "Powersoak Technology" logo on the box, or "PT".  Looks like they're making it blatantly obvious which ones are electronically driven.  The box art for the Electrostorm carries the same logo on there.  I have not spotted any Point Break or Scatter Blast Super Soakers, so I get the feeling they've been replaced by the Electrostorm and Microburst.

All of these Super Soakers were found at my local Toys R Us, so obviously Price is going to be higher on these than other retailers.

I also found quite the sale on Light Strike products at Toys R Us.  Price cuts are at liquidation levels, with the Assault Strikers, once sitting at 30-40 dollars, are now at a much more manageable 18 dollars.  Accessories are being clearanced too.  The only thing I couldn't find a clearance tag for was the normal Strikers, which puts the new price of the Assault Striker even cheaper than those!  I only found these kinds of prices at Toys R Us.  This sale looks to extend into the end of the month of January.  I'll be watching their shelves to see if this low of a price can get this system to sell around here, as Light Strike has had a tradition of collecting dust in my area.  Oddly enough, the Lazer Tag Phoenix LTX sets are sold out all over town.  There is empty shelf space where they used to reside, so either folks have been reading my blog or someone is about to have one heckofuh lazer tag party!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Battle Tag: Nail in the Coffin

It seems I've come across the only evidence that Battle Tag has truly left the world of Laser Tag.  While cleaning my workshop up, I came across my Battle Tag 2 player set and was like "oh yeah!  I wonder if they've done anything else with it?"  Upon deciding to check up on their dedicated forum for it only to be redirected to the main Ubisoft Forum, I did some more research around the 'net to see where Battle Tag had gone.  Battle Tag has been removed from Ubisoft's online store and no searches on their website or forum bring up any information about this system.  The only thing that still officially exists (as of the time of this post) is the Battle Tag Website.

I've been calling Battle Tag's demise for awhile.  It never got out of it's "Soft Launch" state, which was essentially market testing after which it just sat there.  With no word from Ubisoft on the forums after Summer of 2011,  I presumed it dead, but posts still lingered on the forum and things still showed up on eBay for the system.  However, after today's findings, it's safe to say that Ubisoft has effectively closed the door on this laser tag system.  It had some good things going for it and had a lot of potential for expansion and to get better... but obviously there wasn't enough in Battle Tag for Ubisoft to continue it.

Light it Up! ...Amazing!

Nerf Mods & Reviews shared some information with us, namely two short commercials for the Vortex Lumitron and the N-Strike Rayven.  I've already given these commercials their deserving criticism, so I'll spare this post from any more of that.

We already know the ins and outs of the Rayven thanks to it's early release, but the commercials confirmed at least one thing about the Lumitron for me that was being considered: no "Slam Fire" mode on it.  The Abercrombie & Fitch model that showcased it's firing was manually priming each shot, just like the Praxis.  I was hoping that Nerf would at least make some type of minor change to differentiate the Lumitron from the Praxis, but unless their model actor wasn't aware of the function, it looks like the only differences between these two blasters is the name and color.

Congrats to TheHornetSquad! New Giveaway too!

If there's one thing I might like better than awarding the prize to somebody, it's reading up on all of your responses.  It's neat seeing everyone's angles on what they like most.  This week's randomly selected winner is TheHornetSquad, who is actually a newer follower I've noticed.  Checked out their YouTube channel and saw their war videos.  It looks like a lot of fun just to make those videos, so now they've got a Nerf Element to add to their arsenal!  Maybe it'll become a new favorite?

This week's question concerns the only element that is truly "Nerf" about these blasters: the darts!  I'd like to know what N-Strike dart you prefer to use.  It can be for any reason be it that you like the blasters that use them or you're a fan of how it performs!  You could even be specific like "Green Dart Tag Velcro Darts because I LOVE green darts and I like how they stick to things!"  (That's literally a quote from my cousin who loves everything that's green!)

In answering this question, you'll be entered to win a never-before-opened bag of 35 Red Exclusive Streamline Darts!  This bag came with the Clear Series Raider from Target and I saved 'em just for you guys!  So if you want to fill the air with red foam or you really want a dart to match your ultra-rare Red Strike series blasters, tell us about your favorite dart and they could be yours!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pulse Rifle: Screen Accurate Stock

We had what we call a "Mod Night" with fellow hobby enthusiasts who happen to be good friends of mine.  They're all active members of the OLCA and avid Laser Taggers and Modders.  We get together every now and then to collectively work on projects so as to capitalize on each other's insight, help, and skills.  One guy was working on rebuilding an LTX's Ammo Core while another fiddled with his Longstrike Laser Tag/Nerf blaster.  Whatever our individual goals were going in, at some point everyone ended lending a hand to work on mounting a new Screen-accurate stock for my M41A Pulse Rifle.

Nerf Nation Announces Super Soakers

Via their Facebook page, Nerf has officially announced a few new Super Soakers, most of which we've already heard about to some extent.  Of course, the only thing that's probably exciting to Nerf fans is that stock on the Lightning Storm, which is compatible with N-Strike blasters.  Among the announcements are Microburst (small pump-action pistol) and the Electrostorm (Smaller battery-powered pistol) as well as the repainted Thunderstorm: the Lightning Storm, that sports new accessories to the Super Soaker Lineup.  Nerf's post said this to promote these new additions to the Super Soaker lineup.
We’re counting down to the warm weather, just cause we can’t wait to use the new Nerf Super Soaker Lightning Storm blaster. Featuring a detachable stock, blast shield and a range of over 25 feet, the Lightning Storm blaster comes packed with a monster, 35 ounce capacity. Fear the storm, people.
In my honest opinion, the Thunderstorm wasn't that fantastic of a blaster, with weak water pressure and a "meh" design.  The Lightning Storm's accessories are it's real selling point.

More than just XLR?

The "Xtra Long Range" Disks of the Vortex Line have been at the center of all 4 of the blasters that debuted this line.  However, Bluefire on Urban Tagger's Facebook page brought up an idea that I've been pondering for some time now.  Take a read:

While reading your latest post, I had a thought... Vortex's ammo is called XLR discs. Not just discs. And N-Strike's most widely used ammunition is called Streamline darts. Not just darts. So... could the presence of a specific title for the disks possibly signify other sizes and types of discs to come in the future? After all, N-Strike currently has 6 functional types of darts (not including cosmetic differences): Streamline, Whistler/Sonic, Suction/Micro, Firefly Tech Streamline, Firefly Tech Suction, and the Titan AS-V.1 MegaMissile. So, being N-Strike's intended counterpart, shouldn't Vortex eventually grow to have different types of discs as well, besides the XLR Glow Discs from the Lumitron? What do you think?
 It's an excellent point that has had me thinking quite a bit.  The dead-ends I keep running into is whether anything other than a disk with the shape of an XLR disk would be able to be fired by Nerf's current lineup of Vortex Blasters.  Of course, N-Strike also has different blasters that fire specific ammo.  You'll recall when the Longshot first came out, it was the only blaster that could use Streamline Darts until other Clip-System blasters started seeing production.  Could the XLR Disk be the "Sonic" Dart equivalent of the Vortex Line?  Might there be more variations to the Vortex line for blasters that shoot different kinds of disks?  Or is there a way to engineer different disks that would still function in the existing Vortex Blasters (aside from a recolor or the Glow Disks coming in the Lumitron).  The floor is open for your comments and ideas about this subject!  I'd love to hear what your thoughts are on the matter!

Wind Conditions: Darts vs Disks

When the Vortex line first came out, I nabbed a few and messed around with them.  The Vortex line was interesting to me since it was a completely new firing mechanism unseen in previous Nerf Blasters.  In the midst of the Vortex hype, criticism arose about the disks being more susceptible to interference from wind when used outdoors.  I ran a few tests comparing the Torsion Spring Vortex blasters (Proton, Vigilon, and Praxis) and the Flywheel driven blaster (Nitron) to see if one system was superior to the other in windy conditions.  However, I didn't test the Disks up against N-Strike's dart blasters.  With a Wind Advisory today, I thought it was the perfect chance to check it out.

I've done lots of work exploring these new Vortex Blasters.  Check out my other findings!
Torsion Spring vs Flywheels
Amped Nitron
Disk Loading Tricks
N-Strike vs Vortex Game
Vortex Video Playlist

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

More January Shelf News

More Stuff on the Shelves here in the Heartland of America.  I may not be the first to have seen it, but you can bet that if it's showing up here that it'll either be at your stores waiting for you by the time you read this or on it's way shortly!

I made a routine trip to Wal-Mart and spotted the largest stock of BuzzBee Shotguns I've ever seen.  Traditionally, my Wally World has not had many off-brand blasters in stock.  However it looks like there's as much presence for BuzzBee as there is Nerf now.  They're the new layout shotguns too, with the over-under barrel instead of the side-by-side we've seen so much of.  There's nearly 20 of them just on the shelf!  In addition to the Double Shots, there's Tek series blasters, Tommy 20s, and Berserkers.  Oddly enough, this particular Wal-Mart was out of almost all of the larger Nerf brand blasters.  No Stampedes, Swarmfires, or Nitrons were on shelves there.  However, they do still have their Longstrike's on sale for $29.  Wal-Mart also has  Rayvens and Speedswarms now.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Universal Nerf: Whiteout Sharp Shot

Thought I'd post my latest work on a blog that's designed to feature Mods.  Repaints are rare for me, but the shell-design of the exterior panels on Dart Tag Blasters led me to make something special for a Weekly Giveaway way back in December.  It's finally done and featured on Universal Nerf.

If you've missed it, Universal Nerf is a joint project between myself, JetCell, and Triangle.  The idea is to help promote other's submitted work in one centralized place.  Folks can submit as often as they like so instead of being on a schedule with Authoring for another Blog or meeting your own personal deadlines, you can get what you want done and share it with the world without the hassle of running and promoting your own website.  Click on the banner to visit UN and submit something while you're at it!

40K Pageviews!

I'm not much of a Warhammer guy, but I couldn't help but think that this occasion might need some photoshopped goodness.  Thanks for all the support, everyone!  It's an honor to serve you with this blog!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

UT's Contest Results

Via their Facebook Page, Urban Tagger's Christmas Giveaway 1st Place has been announced! Tristan Cavanagh is now the proud owner of that custom Nerfenstein - Aesthetic Nerf Mods Australia modded Nerf Rayven CS-18 blaster!!  Here's a brief description of his entry quoted from their Facebook Page.
Tristan wrote us a really lovely story about a family tradition he has with his family and neighbours helping out at a childrens' refuge and getting the kids to all help with modifying Nitefinders and Mavericks. It was beautifully written and heartfelt and we felt was very deserving of the Rayven.
If you're still itching to find out if you were a runner up of the contest, UT Reports that the rest of their entries will be announced soon.   They received an overwhelming amount of entries for the contest, so it's no wonder they're taking their time in carefully picking the winners.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Oh what a Night!

Just held our first game of 2012 with the Omaha Laser Challenge Association!  Great turnout, especially for the cold!  I'll have pictures up later, but I HAD to brag a bit.  This is the first time I've ever played a series of games and never been on the losing team ina LONG while!  To top it off, I only died once during all 6 of the games we had!  Games started at 3pm and ended at 6pm with decent weather, especially considering what time of year it is.

The LTX DMR also got quite the workout.  I had a fun time with it, and in general a good set of games with my friends.  Gotta love outdoor laser tag!

Pictures up once Sundawg gets 'em loaded up!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Rocket Man!

Burnin' out the fumes out there alone!
So those Titan Rockets pack a punch, don't they?  But doesn't it suck when you've somehow lost it?  Or the fins break off?  Or you just flat-out want some spares to shoot?  Well thanks to a tip from Ice³, I've got a link to an order form so you can get more Rockets!  Just follow this link, print it off, fill it out, and mail it in.  They're $3 a rocket but it's free shipping.  I think it's a pretty good deal, especially considering how many times I've nailed someone from across the room with a Titan Rocket!  I don't use 'em often, but I would imagine if I had more rockets, I'd use it more!