Urban Taggers. So far nothing is official, although Nerf Mods & Reviews reported that Nerf would be making a big announcement at ToyFair 2012, scheduled to occur this month.
All we can do at this point is do what any other fan-base would: speculate the pants off of this!
Speculation is great and all, but before we get outlandish with our hopes and dreams about what this could mean, let's break down what we can. Since we can't consider this stuff "Fact" until it's got more concrete proof, establishing any hard evidence of what we've got is not possible. We can still be reasonable with it though.
Let's consider what we've got presented so far, which is darts and two blasters under this "N-Strike Elite" title. The darts appear to be modified Streamlines in blue foam. I honestly don't see a whole lot we can dispute with that, so we'll focus on the two blasters that are in question: the Rampage and the Retaliator. These appear to be repainted versions of the Raider and Recon (respectively). This isn't the first time Nerf has released a recolored blaster, as I point to the Lumitron. They've got new accessories on 'em that seem believable.
The Rampage has Slam Fire, just like the Raider, and a 25 dart Drum that looks to be center-aligned instead of to the right like the 35 and 18 round drums we've gotten so far. Seems believable, not to mention handy for all those folks who like using drums in their Clip System-fed blasters that load clips from the bottom. There's also a picture with a big transparent shield on the Rampage, not unlike the shields seen on the Super Soaker blasters like the LightningStorm and Hydro Cannon. However, this only appears in the CG image, not the box art. It seems a bit odd to have that kind of option and not feature it on the Box. Again, it wouldn't be the first time an accessory has been omitted on the main box art. You'll recall the Stampede's original box art didn't have the Foregrip/bipod on it. Still, everything seems pretty believable.
The Retaliator is the Recon variant that appears to have a clear extended clip, new stock design, and a foregrip, along with a standard-looking Recon barrel. The color in the CG image has the foregrip gray-colored while the Box Art has an orange grip. A bit unusual, but both of these blasters have differences with their CG and Box Art versions. They could just be early concepts before they were finalized. Still, everything seems like it'd be a believable situation.
The "fact" that throws things into disarray is the range claims. Nerf has been generally accurate with their box-listed stock ranges, with the Raider and Recon listed at 30 feet. The box art on both the Retaliator and the Rampage is listed at 75 feet, which is not only double the range of their normal variants, but even FURTHER than the Vortex blasters, which get ranges of 60 feet with their XLR Disks. While things like Orange Mod Works have made long-range capabilities like this possible, it seems improbable that Hasbro would be able to develop blasters that fire streamline-esque darts at 75 ft ranges without safety being a major concern. One could argue that perhaps the longer range is a result of these new blue Elite darts being properly weighted/perform better and, with internals tweaks to these blasters, long ranges could be conceivable. However, I point to a previous point that I made about recolored/rebranded blasters. When the Nerf Lumitron was released, we were kinda bummed that it's just a Praxis with a different color scheme and "Lumitron" printed on the side. There were no internals changes made. Not only would both of these Elite blasters have that tweak on the outside, but they would also have to have extensive internals changes to achieve 75 ft ranges. I have to question why Nerf would go through the trouble to reverse engineer internals that would perform at twice the level that the originals did while still keeping them in the Raider and Recon designs. It seems like it would be easier just to make new designs, unlike in the Lumitron's case.
When you look at the information we're able to glean from what we've got, everything seems believable until those ranges. It causes all sorts of problems with the feasibility of these blasters. If these blaster are real but the ranges were just photoshopped on there, why haven't we seen any originals surface? There are all sorts of questions spinning around this. In the end, Nerf Nation will just have to wait until next week to see if this was the "Big News" we were told to expect.
Whatever happens, you can bet that Bazookafied will be picking up those Blue Darts! I'm a bit of a fan of blue so I'd be all over those fellas. Blue darts in my Longstrike would make me plenty happy! If these blasters turn out to be true too, I'd finally be able to have a Blue opponent for my Red Strike Recon!
Feel free to share what you think about this new information in comments below!