Friday, June 28, 2013

Purizoo: Rapidstrike Unboxing & Review!

Purizoo shared this great unboxing vid on the Tactical Tag Facebook Page, so I couldn't help but post it up here on the blog!  This blaster looks great and I really can't wait to get my hands on one.  Plus, I just appreciate the general goofiness of Purizoo's review in the first place.  Major props to not boring me to death with 12 minutes of getting it out of the box (which is what many "unboxing" videos showcase).

Also, looks like this is his first video too, so give him a "Like"!  Great review!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

w00t: N-Strike Elite Sale!

w00t is known for 1 day sales promotions on all kinds of nifty gadgets.  Today's sale lasts until June 28th and it's actually on N-Strike Elite products!  So if you do online shopping and you want a good price on the latest Nerf gear, hit up w00t!

Sale prices are at least %10 off retail price on them.  There's Strongarms for $8.99, Rampages for $25.99, and RoughCut 2x4s for $15.99, so check 'em out if you wanna save a few bucks to pad your armory!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Centurion: Reverse Plunger?

My buddy Pocket over at Urban Taggers found info on the new N-Strike MEGA Centurion that has me scratching my head.  No, I don't need special dandruff shampoo or anything.  I'm scratching my head because there's a reverse plunger in there.  The big plus for the N-Strike Elite lineup has been their direct-plunger systems.  Seems like every modder on the planet will tell you Reverse Plunger < Direct Plunger... but if that's the case, how do we explain this?

This is a Reverse Plunger System discovered by Langley (NerfHaven) that is found in the new Centurion.  The blue Direct-Plunger System above it is from an N-Strike Longshot CS-6.  It's a larger system than the Longshot, but it's still a reverse plunger setup... so what gives?  I know folks will instantly condemn the Centurion for this design choice... but all the range tests and firing analysis point to one obvious fact: the Centurion DOES get the 100 ft ranges that the box has been boasting.  Regardless of whether you like the internal layout or not, one thing is for certain... this system still manages to deliver on it's ranges.

I'm no expert in these things, but I know plenty of you who read this ARE.  What are your thoughts?  How are they getting such fantastic performance from a Reverse Plunger System?  Is there even MORE potential in here if it were to be a Direct Plunger System?

Friday, June 21, 2013

LTAR: Accessory Prototype Update

Last night my LTX EF5 was challenged, locked in combat with another player who's blaster rivaled my range and accuracy.  Even just as a lowly prototype unit for building the next generation of custom accessories for the Lazer Tag Augmented Reality (LTAR) lineup, this odd looking fellow was landing hits like a pro.  Installed on the front of this fella is a custom lens arrangement built by LazerBait (same as on my EF5).  On the rear is a prototype weaver rail adapter with a simple NcStar Red Dot sight, properly zeroed, and getting deadly accuracy of this already lethal lens arrangement.

Soon this thing will get another point attached to it: a stock adapter able to use N-Strike, Vortex, and Super Soaker removable stock accessories.  I made a post and video about this in it's earlier stages, but it's getting closer to completion.  This blaster had no problems landing tags across the park, so I can only imagine that adding a shoulder stock will only make it easier to use to help steady shots more.

Once we get a design ironed out, we'll start producing these adapters to make modification and enhancement of the LTAR even easier!  More players are starting to purchase their own LTAR blasters, so hopefully these accessories, when finalized, will help folks easily customize their blaster to suit their specific needs!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Congrats, Badger B!

First of all, THANK YOU for all the kind words on the 500K Pageviews post!  I'm so happy you guys are enjoying this.  It's what keeps me going!

And now, after me totally spacing to announce it on Monday: our Firestrike Winner is Badger B!  Just leave a comment with your contact info (I won't publish the comment!) so I can know where to mail it!

Thanks for all your support, everyone!

Transforming Trolls

While on the surface it may seem like a colossal waste of time, yesterday I think I can successfully say that I've transformed this guy from "Troll" status to a decent citizen of the internet.  I've done this a couple of times and the experience is quite enjoyable.  Sometimes it's a lost cause and they just fizzle out, but either way... it's just more fun to approach them this way.

From the start, you've gotta keep your cool.  Let them trash talk you, scream bloody murder at you, use every word in the book that their mother forbid.  Don't fire back, at least not in the same way they did.  This is key for your... umm... "Discussion" with them.

Find out what they're actually mad about, what set them off.  With most traditional trolls, it's really nothing.  They live to instigate and just yell at other folks to elevate their empty ego.  Respond with logic... they don't know how to handle it.  Keep a cool head about it and it ends up dumping cold water on their plans.  They usually give up after awhile.  It's the "imbalance" in the reaction that throws them off.  Baseless accusations don't hold up well against well-defined thought.  Here's an example.

Monday, June 17, 2013

AN1999: Elite Spectre Unboxing & Review!

Well THAT didn't take long!  Shortly after OutbackNerf told us about the N-Strike Elite Spectre, AwesomeNerfer1999 got his hands on one and did a fantastic job with photos and a review of it to the point where I'll simply re-direct you there.

The best part is that his Unboxing Video only takes 1:10 to watch.  I'm usually not a fan of unboxing videos because they take so long, but he figured out an easy way to fix that problem.  Go check it out!!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

500,000 Mark!

Thank you everyone for your continued and loyal support!  A little over 2 years ago, I had no idea this blog would make it to this milestone.  Tactical Tag would not be where it is today without your encouragement, input, and enthusiasm!

And JUST to say thank you, I'm going to give away a Nerf N-Strike Elite Firestrike!  Just leave a comment saying how you found this blog!  I'll draw the winner at random and post on Monday the name that was drawn.

If you're posting a comment without an account, leave your "name" in the comment.  You can't win if you post as "Anonymous"!

Good luck, everyone and THANK YOU again!

Rain Threatens, We Win!

Weather during this time of year is always unpredictable, especially in the Midwest.  Despite a seemingly constant threat each week of Rain, Thunderstorms, and even Tornadoes, we've yet to cancel a game due to weather this week!  Since the start of our weekly Laser Tag games on May 9th, we've had 6 games (one per week) all on schedule, so I'm pretty impressed with our luck so far.

This area is known for unpredictable weather, with this latest round of storms threatening to delay the opening ceremonies of the College World Series, hosted every year here in Omaha, NE.  However, the rain is a welcome change from the drought we endured last summer.  Growth in the park was limited and we didn't quite get the lush cover we've come to expect from the park last year.  Not only is that thick growth back this season, but it's more overgrown than ever thanks to the constant round of storms running through the area.  Grassy fields now reach the 5 and 6 foot mark, making the entire park one gigantic hiding spot.

I also started getting a bit worried earlier this season with lower turnout, but with weather being so uncertain at many of our games, a lot of folks have been cancelling plans to attend because of this.  Still, we've managed to get good turnout each night as veterans and newbies team up under the cover of some not-so-certain clouds.

The thing that's made me most happy are the new faces that have been coming back.  Each year we lose a few veterans due to their busy schedules, but it's nice picking up a few fresh players to fill in the spaces.  They've been having a great time and are inviting more of their friends as well, so I hope our "Friends of Friends of Uncles-cousins-nephews-former roomates" trend continues!  We'll see!

The Midwest Laser Tag Association is approaching the middle of our regular season.  It lasts 14 weeks, so with one game per week, June 20th will mark our 7th game.  There's more plans, more people to invite, and more mods to come, so I'm excited to see where this season takes us!

Friday, June 14, 2013

State of the LTAR: Part 2

Well, I've had some time to think about this a little more, take in other folks' opinions on it, and I think I've not only confirmed what I feel, but have a better understanding of why things are the way they are for the LTAR.

If you've missed it, here's Part 1.  Most of what I was concerned with in the first part have merely been confirmed as to the current state of affairs for it.  And while it might seem bleak for the shelf-life of this blaster, there's still a lot of good things going for this guy.

Simply put, big marketing flop.  On the part of just box design, something that irritated and worried me from the start, it's an iPhone Laser Tag blaster.  Unless you have prior knowledge of the product, there's hardly ANY way for someone to see that this product can be used without an iOS Device.  This is a 12 gauge shot to the FOOT right off the bat for it's success.  Showing the blaster with and without the device attached would've made this system more accessible for purchase.  Laser Tag is already kind of a niche game in a world mostly dominated by Nerf, Airsoft, and Paintball... so to further limit your marketing to being iOS Device centric has proven to be quite the fail on the part of it's advertising.

Gripes aside from the box design, the actual App isn't half bad.  For indoor games and just for playing solo games by shooting down "Augmented Reality" Aliens, Robots, and Spaceships, it's quite fun.  I have often played the game with and without the blaster actually on there and it's just a good fun time.  However, for outdoor use, which is primarily what my group uses laser tag for in the first place, aiming is quite the chore and the glare from the sun makes using the iOS Device even tougher.  While it's nice to have a health-readout and the ability to change weapons settings on the fly, there aren't enough advantages the iOS Device that outweigh the tactical disadvantage you get from the poor aiming and sunlight glare.

Here's where things really turn around for the LTAR in my long-term use with it:  what a GREAT standalone blaster!  Solid ironsights, great range, simple operation, quiet and stealthy performance, reliable features, and easily stored.  The LTX, while still a favorite among my group, tends to have issues with it's reload feature, has bright LED displays that can give away your position, and has an odd external design that make them a bit of a hassle to fit into our storage crates.  And, thanks to the dismal marketing campaign for the LTAR, they're more affordable than ever (to the point where I've thought to replace a few of our beat-up LTXs with LTARs).  The LTARs integrate seamlessly with LTX games and can even join LTTO hosted games, so it's really a great addition to bolster anyone's armory.

There's also WONDERFUL modding potential for the LTAR due to it's simple design.  While our group hasn't done much more than develop some add-on parts for a base LTAR blaster, I do have plans for recasing these blasters into other cool designs as well.  The fact that the LTAR has so few buttons but has made these buttons have multiple functions really makes this a great candidate to drop into another shell while keeping exterior buttons/selector switches to a minimum.  For example: the reload button can also be held down for 5 seconds to change the rate of fire from Single to Full-Auto firing modes.  The reload button also is used before the game is set up to select a team or it can be held down to activate the beacon to join a Hosted game from an LTTO blaster.  For those of you keeping score at home, that's 4 different functions for one button.

So, from what I've found... the LTAR may have been "tagged out" on store shelves due to iOS-Heavy marketing being undesirable for most folks looking for Laser Tag, the blaster itself is quite excellent.  On the one hand, it means that LTAR's are more affordable than ever and it's still a great blaster!  On the other, because it hasn't done well as far as sales go (due to all the clearance pricing I've seen on them in the short year it's been available), I fear that further development of the LTAR will flatline.  While it's not a good thing for the LTAR itself, it's good for those who know a thing or two about these so they can go out and buy them.  I had hoped that the new Lazer Tag blasters would be well-received and my job of promoting these blasters would be even easier, but the majority of players that come to our weekly games hardly know about them until I show them one we have on hand to use.  Sure, I could ask Hasbro to start paying me for my local marketing efforts with the LTAR, but I really wish they would've just been smarter about their advertising for it.

Long story short: don't believe what you see on the box.  Go buy one!  They're great blasters!!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

App-Based Gaming - My 2 Cents

First of all, I don't want to rain on anyone's parade or try to bash the obvious direction that App-Based Gaming is taking... or rather taking over.  I often get folks asking me at laser tag games "Why don't you use the App for your Lazer Tag blaster?" or "Have you heard about Tek Recon?" or "The Rebelle line is getting Apps, isn't that cool?"  I do admire the ingenuity and the features that these new App-centered systems are bringing to gaming... but there's several reasons that I don't really get all that excited about them.  They're more personal preferences than anything, but I thought I'd at least share why I tend to stray away from this new angle the toy blaster industry has been taking.  Here's my 2 Cents.

Monday, June 10, 2013

State of the LTAR: Part 1

We're nearing a full year that the latest generation of Lazer Tag hit the shelves.  In August of 2012, Hasbro released the Lazer Tag Augmented Reality set, or "LTAR".  This system has also been referenced as iNerf Lazer Tag and other derivatives revolving around it's use with iOS devices like the iPod and iPhone.  Much like my in-depth study of the Flywheel system I did a month or so ago, I'll be taking a closer look at how this blaster has been received by Laser Tag enthusiasts.

I've had plenty of experience with this blaster in the year that it's been out.  I was one of the first to do a true review of this blaster and have even switched over my laser tagging group to using Lazer Tag brand products to help promote the launch last year.  In order to expand it's reach on a local level, I've been promoting this system because it's readily available at local retailers for other players to purchase for themselves.  Because it is reverse compatible with the LTTO and LTX blasters, the LTAR simply expands our arsenal and gives players yet another choice to pick if they pursue purchasing their own blaster.  This system is sold in single and double packs at local retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, and Toys R Us, so it's incredibly accessible.

It's a versatile blaster with great features.  Even in it's basic form (no iOS device attached), the LTAR can switch from single fire to full auto, it has a spot-on Iron Sight, great range and performance out of the box, and it doesn't look half bad either.  Attach the iOS cradle, and you get a detailed readout of information regarding health, ammo, an assortment of weapon modes, plus some cool "laser" effects that allow the user to "See the Laser".

When it comes down to personal use, I've been using the LTAR in it's basic form for several reasons.  While I don't have an iPhone, I do have two iPods that I've played around with before and every time I've done this, I lose accuracy outdoors.  Aiming with the off-center camera of the iPod was frustrating to say the least.  For long ranges, and especially in outdoor settings, a digital display screen with no other aide for aiming made it tough to lay down accurate shots.  Also, the glare from the sun on the screen of the iOS Device made it tough to see sometimes, so it didn't matter to me if I could "see the laser" when I couldn't see my target.

It was also much easier to set up quick teams games, which is what my group normally does with the LTXs anyways, without having to load the app and select a team and go from there.  Even hosting with the LTTO system is possible with the LTAR, so I generally opt for the basic form of the LTAR.

However, most folks don't realize A: how great the blaster is on it's own and B: that it can even be USED without an iOS Device.  In my honest opinion, this is really where marketing is to blame.   Talk to the average consumer about Lazer Tag, or even eavesdrop on a customer in the toy aisle looking at one and all you hear is "Oh, it needs an iPhone.  We can't get this."  Whoops!  Thanks to iOS heavy marketing, Hasbro just lost a sale.  Not only that, but Apple products themselves shot the LTAR's potential in the foot again with the release of the next generation iPhone and iPod.  The screens are larger and won't fit in the iOS Cradle built for the LTAR... so even if the customer DOES have an iPhone, if it's not the right type... again they think "well we can't use this."  I wish I were making this up, but when customers are looking at a product, they need the basic answers on the front of the box showing the iPhone on there AND just the basic blaster.  There is ONE tiny mention of the LTAR being able to be used on it's own and it's in small print on one of the edges of the packaging.  I've griped about this before, and with clearance prices on the LTAR at most major retailers, I'd say it's justified.

While lower costs for LTARs isn't a bad thing for folks wanting to get into the game, it's bad overall for the continuing lack of presence laser tag has in the toy blaster world.  Take a look at what my group is doing with laser tag.  Every week we get dozens of folks out to play and have a good time with this gear.  You can play it anywhere, there's no ammo to pick up, no risk of property damage from the blasters, no extra protection to use when playing... it's really been a fantastic way to get folks together.

I'll be fielding more information from other laser tag enthusiasts as well as comments on here about the matter and putting things together in Part 2.  Feel free to weigh in on this!

EDIT:  Part 2 is now live> State of the LTAR: Part 2

Friday, June 7, 2013

100 Games Later

We started things off on June 6th, 2006.  Mission Park West, 8pm.  Myself and a few friends had managed to gather up a bunch of folks we knew, loaned out some Laser Challenge-brand gear for free, and started something that has become a tradition now ever since.  7 years later to the date, exactly 100 games planned, and we're still playing.  New faces, old faithfuls, but the same great game.

The game itself was quite a bit of fun.  As a "Throwback Thursday", we broke out the old Laser Challenge gear, equipment that we have since retired for the past 2 years, and played 4 rounds of laser tag.  But not before we had ourselves a nice lil cookout!  We fired up the grills, ate some burgers and hot dogs, and devoured some "camouflage" cupcakes my fiance and her friend made for us.  On the one hand, you'd think that stuffing your face with food before running around in a park would be a bad idea.  On the other, we've been doing this for 8 summers now... so who's to question that?  

I was expecting a little better turnout, but dumb luck would have it that a few folks were out of town on vacation and a few others ran into conflicts with work schedules.  It was still a good group, though.  We still managed 4 awesome games before the park closed at 10.

With the return of Laser Challenge gear came the return of some scary-awesome blasters.  Probably the king of them that night was this fella to the right.  That's my friend "Sundawg" with his blaster he built from a Nerf Recon CS-6.  With a great interchangeable barrel system that allows him to switch from a Combat barrel to a long-range sniper barrel, an adjustable Raider stock, and a quick reflex sight, nothing really managed to stop this guy.  That's business as usual for him, though.

Because we were using Laser Challenge, we also got to "mix" things up a bit.  LC sensors can still take hits from Lazer Tag-brand gear like the LTX, LTAR, and LTTO blasters.  This guy managed to dual wield with these blasters, making use of a Phoenix LTX in one hand and a Laser Challenge EX-D that had been recased into a Nerf NiteFinder shell.

There were also quite a few snipers running around... to the point were it was kind of scary seeing so many of them out and about.  We had loaned out 4 of our prized V2 Firestorms, as well as a custom-built V2 Firefly, Sundawg's RE-Con Mk IV, and Eleri's Tag Master Blaster... so there were 7 Snipers total at the game.  A bit overwhelming?  Maybe, but it was nice to have some long-range engagements going on amidst the chaos.

I'd say we had a pretty excellent evening.  The rest of the season will chug on and I'll keep finding ways to get more folks to show up.  I'll take quality over quantity any day, though.  Ironically, this is my 600th post.  100 Games.  7 Years.  Jeez!  There's gotta be a paradox somewhere...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

7 Years and 100 Games

Today marks it!  On June 6th of 2006, myself and 6 of my friends started organizing laser tag games under the name of the "Omaha Laser Challenge Association".  It started off as a fun way to get together each week with friends that were back from college or out of high school for the summer at a local park just south of where most of us lived.

That idea that started so simple has grown immensely into what it is today.  The OLCA continued to bring laser tag every summer to that park with friends, friends of friends, and uncles cousins nephews former roomates.  Today, we celebrate with a cookout and a return to our old faithful Laser Challenge gear that has been collecting dust for 2 years since our switch to the Lazer Tag brand (LTTO, LTX, LTAR).  It's gonna be a fun day regardless!!  I could not be more proud to have not only started this group, but to enjoy the support of my lifelong friends who have helped me continue it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

V2 Firefly: Back to the Battlefield

Worked on some more gear the other day in preparation for our big game this Thursday.  June 6th not only marks the MLTA's 7th Anniversary, but it also marks our 100th planned game!!  I'm incredibly proud of both of these facts and have been planning a few special things for this game.  The obvious change for this game is a return to our roots: Laser Challenge.  This tried-and-true system was the backbone of our group since our beginning and was the system of choice even before we officially formed any sort of organized games under a group name.  One of those blasters we managed to resurrect is the V2 Firefly.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Riding the Storm Out

The Midwest Laser Tag Association was all set to go for our 4th summer game on May 27th.  Forecast for the evening had cleared up and we were all ready to go!  Then suddenly, just like Nebraska weather tends to do, clouds to our west started darkening up.  Radar showed a strong cell of rain growing fast and headed straight for us.  With less than 5 minutes before the game to react, we attempted to get some games in, only to hear thunder rolling overhead that cued us to take shelter under the gazebo.

Ben (to the left) tracked the storm as it poured buckets overhead to see how long we would have to wait it out.  According to weather radar, there would be a noticeable gap between two cells that would hopefully be dry.   Sure enough, as the clouds moved away, a rainbow emerged and we were able to get some games in!

The weather was fitting for my Tornado Strike-based LTX EF5 to compete toe-to-toe with other snipers at the game.  If I could see it, I was hitting it non-stop.  The pump-action reload has been working flawlessly since I fixed it.  Honestly, the only reason I haven't done a final video review on this blaster yet is because every time I pick it up, I just wanna PLAY.  I've taken it out to the park, set up a couple of LTXs, set them in various spots, and work on landing hits from all kinds of odd angles.  Through brush, on the move, it's really been a lot of fun using such a solid and accurate rifle.  I keep saying that "I'm not a Sniper, so I'll probably give this blaster to someone else once it's done", but it's really growing on me.  It's compact, it can land hits on the moon, and I still think it's one of the best looking blasters I've made yet.

That being said, I am not patient enough to fill the role of a "sniper".  I tend to move more, lead from the front lines, and fight out those mid-range battles more often.  Combining my need to be on the move with this lethally accurate blaster has been a challenge, but all this messing around and fine-tuning of the blaster's mechanics have really made for an interesting combination.

I suppose another reason I haven't made a full video review is that I've been trying to make use of these frequent late-spring storms that have been rolling through.  I wanted to shoot the footage for the LTX EF5 with some kind of storm going on in the background, but I may just have to film it normally.  What do you guys think?  Should I wrap things up with the LTX EF5 as it stands now, or should I try to make a bit of a "Cinematic Event" out of this?