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


  1. Great post and spot on. The box art actually makes it look like an iOS device is mandatory to use them which is a massive fail. In their basic mode they're fantastic and probably the easiest laser tag blaster to date to pick up for casual players. Keen for your part two!

    Pocket- UT

  2. I love my LTAR! Sadly they don't sell them here in Italy, I had them shipped from usa and I'm the only one that I know that did it... I was able to build an Arduino circuit with an IR reciver that blink and buzz every time I shoot ai it, so now I can practice mu aim alone :) I wil try to imporve it with some motors for moving targets...

    Just few questions: I'm not a great fan of the iOS cradle... How can you switch to full auto without a device?

    Is there a way to shut up the annoing "warning! Warning"
    That the blaster yell every time is in the sight of another? Maybe it's only me but I find it useless and stupid!

  3. Seeing that you have been playing with the LTAR for so long, I am wondering if you can all of us by showing us how to take the cradle off !!!!

    I have googled high and low and found only a removed post at hivemind that mentioned how to do this.

    Thank you in advance.

  4. The LTAR looks really cool, but i really think this "video game in real life" nonsense is a played out gimmick. having to own an expensive smart phone just to get more options out of your blaster is ridiculous. Ubisoft's Battle Tag was the only one on the verge of making "video games in real life" a reality IMO. and their plans for new weapons and pickups and whatnot IN REAL LIFE was exciting stuff, exactly what i would want in a laser tag system. i just wish someone would take their idea and expand upon it, i really think if advertised properly it would blow all other laser tag systems out of the water.