Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy Nerf Year!

Last night, a buncha friends put together a "Happy Nerf Year" indoor game that closed out 2013 in a blaze of foam-dart glory!  Lots of familiar faces with some new folks to meet, lots of blasters to choose from, and a few different gametypes that made things interesting.  We had 12 folks total (11 pictured) that played from 6pm until about 10, so it was a full night of Nerf!!

We did our basic team elimination games for a few rounds.  Upstairs vs downstairs, with a no-mans-land around the entrance of the home and a choke-point at the staircase.  I kept forgetting that the fireplace in one of the rooms actually is open to the other side, so a few folks got caught off-guard when they were tagged out through that.  The last full-house team elimination game we did ended in a bit of a landslide, as my team cleverly utilized the staircase to the basement to our advantage.  The other games were only separated by a couple of points, so it was fairly even otherwise.  We cut off the basement for the last couple of games and shortened the field of play.  Games were a little more fast paced with quicker respawns and closer-ranged combat in general made things quite interesting.

I personally started off the night with a RapidStrike CS-18, but ended up switching to a HammerShot and a Snapfire 8 with a pouch fulla darts for the rest of the evening.  In the close-quarters situations we were in, burning through ammo with a RapidStrike just wasn't working well.  Plus the flywheel lag bugged me in a couple of situations where I needed a quick trigger pull instead of waiting for those wheels to get up to speed.  The HammerShot delivered and was probably the most solid blaster I used all night.  The Snapfire 8 proved to be a good secondary when I needed to lay down more firepower.  Both were much easier to load than the clip-fed RapidStrike and seemed much more accurate, too.

One of my friends brought his two MagStrikes and I always forget about how awesome these blasters are.  For Hallway-to-hallway situations, the sheer volume of darts they can sling out in a quick second is amazingly terrifying.  The look on this guy's face reads the pure satisfaction you get after burning through that 10-round Magazine.  These blasters ended up getting used in those do-or-die situations (or when you were tired of missing with your single shots), but because they took so long to reload and pump up, they never really remained anyone's main weapon.  One MagStrike was given to each side to help even things out and it was fun to see them utilized every now and then to turn the tides in some nitty-gritty standoff situations.

If it weren't for the breakdown it had midway through the night, I think the modded Stampede would still take the cake.  It's powerful direct-plunger system with an upgraded spring and suped-up rechargeable battery pack made it almost as fearsome as the MagStrike.  We decided not to count blaster-hits, so of course he loaded up that iconic shield and made the house rules eat their words.  Around corners, if you were up against the Stampede, you were probably losing that battle real quick.

The last set of games we did, we had a bit of a competition built in.  There was a large empty room in the center of the field with a small wooden Christmas Tree cutout on a round pedestal.  The first team to knock it over with a dart would win the match.  Unlimited Respawns, the room itself was off-limits, so you had to nail the Christmas Tree at a distance of at least 20 feet.  We'd fight for position to take shots at the tree, miss, get hit, and have to run back to respawn, reload, and retry hitting that darned little tree.  It was fun trying to knock that fella over with pistols, but the last couple of games, guys would just clear out the area and then unload 18 round mags they had in their pockets and vests until it got knocked over.  I kinda liked keeping it to single shooters or small pistols, as it tested your accuracy a little more as opposed to the spray-and-pray methodology that was used to win the last few games.

Overall, GREAT night of NERF and a fantastic way to close out 2013!  We've got an outdoor Laser Tag game planned for "The Base" next week, so a lot of these guys here are stoked to join in with that game, too.  From indoor Nerf to outdoor Laser Tag, we're covering both my bases in two weekends!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Mod Guide: Sidestrike

In preparation for a Nerf Game I'll be going to later today, I started going through blasters that were still stock to do some simple mods on them to get 'em ready.  Spring replacements, Air Restrictor removals, Voltage mods, just getting the armory ready to share with the other players.  I dove into the ZombieStrike Sidestrike and actually ended up spending more time on the video review and pictures than the mods themselves.  It was stupid-simple easy to do, and very similar to the Firestrike.  Still seemed a tad easier on this one, so I'd say if you're looking for a quick blaster to mod, the Sidestrike is yet another candidate to consider!  Video after the jump!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Crossfire Bow Internals

So I took a peek inside my Crossfire Bow to see what all the hoopla was about.  Turns out there isn't much to this blaster.  Just a simple trigger, single plunger tube (looks to be about the size of a Firestrike), and this mess of orange that has all those lovely dart sensors built in that allow for the sequential firing.

Although it's use of Air Restrictors is identical to that of the Triad and RoughCut 2x4, there isn't any gear-driven priming like the RoughCut had... so doing a spring mod in this won't eat up the teeth in that gear system.  It's the only way to get more power out of this blaster.

I also took apart the blaster's shell, which separates into 3 colors for 6 pieces total (3 on each side).  There are small plastic clips on the inside of the blaster that can be released to detach these pieces from eachother.  This should make for some EASY repainting!

To release the clips, the blaster has to be in two separate halves.  Use a flathead screwdriver to push the clip through.  Don't force them, or else you'll risk damaging the shell.  Just use a little patience and start detaching the clips from one end and move to the other.  The Orange front portion comes out easy, but for the back shell, I suggest starting from the middle and then work your way towards the Nerf logo near the back of the blaster.

Friday, December 27, 2013

N-Strike Elite Accessory Guide

I was doing some work on Nerf Mods & Reviews and saw that one of the most popular posts is the Accessory guide for the N-Strike Lineup.  As I was starting to update that and tweak it a bit, I thought I should make a new one for the N-Strike Elite lineup.

Below is a listing of all accessories that work with the N-Strike Elite lineup.  There are some accessories that aren't Elite-specific that I've listed anyways as I have seen them used on blasters.  It includes Barrel Extensions, Stock Attachments, and Tactical Rail Accessories.  They are organized in that order to help you if you're looking for something specific.

Listings will include the accessory's features as well as how to get it (if it came with a set or if it was sold separately).

Monday, December 23, 2013

N-Strike Elite MEGA Magnus Review

Got the Magnus... and I'm happy.  Really happy that there's hope for the MEGA lineup and that this blaster is more of a compliment to the N-Strike Elite lineup than a big overpriced hunk of plastic like it's brother before it.  It's a lengthy review, one of my longer ones, just because this covers more than the blaster and it's functions.  I go in-depth with my opinions of why I'd choose this blaster over the Centurion and how it could benefit someone as a secondary in a few different ways.

See the video review after the jump!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

New Product Photo Galleries

Thought I'd point out that, if you've missed it, there are Photo Galleries of new products posted on the Tactical Tag Facebook Page.  This week, I added photos of the SideStrike, Crossfire Bow, and Magnus.  All 3 will eventually get reviews (the Crossfire Bow already has one, actually) before 2013 is done.

There have been a lot of new blasters for 2013 and I've enjoyed covering them.  I look forward to seeing what the new ones have in store for us!

Also, I'll be adding photos of an upcoming Indoor Nerf Game that's scheduled just before the end of the month.  All 3 of these new blasters, as well as other ones that I've been working on, will be combat tested during these games.  It's been awhile since I've had the opportunity to actually use these blasters in combat, so I'm excited to see if they live up to the hype.  Office Warfare doesn't really count since it's just playful pointless skirmishes.  Many of the new products can talk the talk, but testing them in an actual game will show me if they can walk the walk.  Tacticool < Tactical Usefulness

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

ZombieStrike Crossfire Bow Review

I've been looking forward to the ZombieStrike Crossfire Bow since all those ZS blaster pictures were leaked in the summer of 2013, so I was on the hunt to find one when I heard they had started reaching retailers here in the US.  I found one and immediately started messing around with it until I learned that, aside from this looking like a Crossbow, there's really not a lot about this blaster that works like the legendary Nerf Crossbow from the 90s.  I sort of already knew that, but I suppose I was hoping this blaster would be special and stand out from the rest of the line of dart-slingers Nerf has been coming out with.  Aside from it's Crossbow-like function, this is really just a half-capacity version of an N-Strike Elite RoughCut 2x4 that can use a stock attachment.

Well, you be the judge!  The video review is after the jump!

Predicting the Future

In the wake of losing another great Nerf blog, I started reading through stuff that had slipped under my radar from the Southern Brisbane Nerf Club (SBNC) site.  I came across this box art that I had missed, which shows the ZombieStrike Crossfire Bow in it's green colors but with an N-Strike Elite-designed box.  On the right of the box there's a "Zombie Strike" logo and some undead dudes wandering around.  SBNC weighed in on with interpretation of this odd box art.

What we've seen is a gradual progression from concepts to stay the course for N-Strike Elite towards this ZombieStrike lineup.  The ZS gear started off as a Target Exclusive with only the HammerShot and SledgeFire in the lineup.  It's been speculated that the rest of the ZombieStrike blasters we're seeing were originally intended to add to the N-Strike Elite and Vortex lineups respectively.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Fräulein Fusefire!

Going along with the "Mein Magnus" theme, the guys at DartBlasterDE have a look at the ZombieStrike Fusefire!  It's a nifty Vortex blaster that's like a Proton and a Lumitron "fused" together.  They've also got a Ricochet to review as well!  Get comfy, because it's a 17 minute video covering both blasters in great detail!

Thanks again to DartBlasterDE for sharing this info!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Reviews on the Way!

So as I was doing some testing for the HammerShot vs Snapfire dual wielding testing, I managed to find some new blasters at local retailers.  Big thanks to those on the Facebook Page who had reported their findings that gave me hope!  There's a lot of Nerf on my table, so I'll be cranking out reviews in the next week or so.  Here's my To-Do list (in no particular release order)
  • Review: SideStrike
  • Review: Crossfire Bow
  • Review: Magnus
  • Re-Review: Mission App
  • "Dual Wielding Duel"
If I were at my old job, I'd have the time to crank these out one-per-day over the next week, but I'll try to get 'em all out quickly.  Just wanted to know something before I dive into the reviews.  I've done two styles of reviews before: in-depth and quick showcase.  Some folks have liked the fast-n-easy reviews that cover all the functions of the blaster in a minute or two while others prefer the analyzed take on the equipment and how it can be best utilized.  A recent example would be the Rapidstrike CS-18 covered in just over a minute versus the Snapfire 8 that took a little over 5 minutes to look at.  Which approach do you prefer?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Give the Gift: YOUR Gift

 Most of you who read this are interested not only in Nerf and Laser Tag, but the modifications that revolve around those two hobbies.  I've made it my goal to share what I do on Tactical Tag, as well as feature other works that I find notable to share.  Well, we're knee-deep into the "Season of Giving" so today I thought I'd propose an idea that I look forward to seeing possible results of.

This time of year, gift giving is quite appropriate, but all too often the idea of a "gift" is something that is purchased.  A Gift can also refer to one's talents, as in saying that Picasso was a gifted artist.  So, for this holiday season, I figured I'd encourage those who modify Nerf and Laser Tag blasters to extend that gift to someone you know.

Today, while I was visiting with Russ, a good friend of mine who works on Subarus, I noticed a Raider CS-35 and a Maverick REV-6 on one of the tool boxes.  He has talked with me about modifying these before, but he's a busy guy.  I figured, as I was waiting, I'd modify it for him as a way of saying "thanks" for all the time he's taken to help me out.  It wasn't much, just clearing out the ARs and doing the Penny mod to the spring, but he seemed surprised and happy with the performance increase in the blaster.  It felt good to use my knowledge of modifications as a quick gift for him to enjoy, so now I'm encouraging the rest of you to do the same!

As always, I'd be happy if you would share your experiences with this.  Whether it be to help out a fellow Nerfer or to reach out to someone who has wondered about modifying their Laser Tag blaster, do something nice for them and spread the gift: YOUR gift!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Coming Up: Dual-Wielding Duel

Well, from the looks of comments on the blog, YouTube, and Facebook Page, I'll be pitting two of Nerf's newest "dual-wield-able" blasters against eachother in a head-to-head showdown.  The Nerf ZombieStrike HammerShot will go up against the Nerf Dart Tag Snapfire 8!  It's truly a Dual-Wielding Duel to see which blaster can sling 'em the best.  Range, Size, Features, Cost, Capacity, Reliability, and Ease-of-use will all play major factors in this shootout to see what would fair better.

I'll be testing the blasters alongside eachother as well as being dual wielded with their own twins, so the test will require two HammerShot blasters and two Snapfire 8 blasters to complete.  Testing will be quite thorough, so with my busy weekend schedule ahead, I don't expect it'll be done within the next day or so.  Just thought I'd toss up a preview of what's to come and gather some more thoughts I might want to take into consideration before going forward with the tests.  All of the tests and comparisons I've done have been that much easier to do thanks to your insight and advice, so if you've got something to say, speak up!

In the meantime, I'll be wearing out both of my trigger fingers.  Oh, and if you were a fan of my MEGA Centurion review (it seemed to be more comical than anything based on folks responses), you may wanna check out the Snapfire Review.  Just sayin'!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dart Tag - Snapfire 8 Review

This is a blaster that I started off thinking "Oh man, gotta get that thing!"  Somewhere between the not-sold-in-the-US issue and "OMG N-Strike ELITE!!" this fella skipped off my radar and I didn't come across it until I was actually looking for something else.  Toys R Us didn't have the SideStrike in stock yet (I had seen someone in Arizona found one), but they did have the Dart Tag Snapfire 8!  Thought I'd pick one up and review it.  I'll let you be the judge on this one, as it's a quirky blaster that may not work for everyone... or work how they thought it would to begin with.

See the video after the jump!

Monday, December 2, 2013

ZombieStrike Availability ::UPDATED::

I wasn't expecting to find this!  Upon looking through the Toys R Us website for some Cyber Monday deals, I found this link to a "NER Zombie Strike Sidestrike".  No image provided, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out what they're talking about.  I was under the impression that the ZombieStrike lineup was a Target Exclusive so... either I missed some critical news, or the "infection is spreading".

Considering that Toys R Us actually had Humans vs Zombies blasters on their shelves (though they were just rebranded AirZone blasters), it's not a huge surprise other than the fact that ZombieStrike, since it came out, has been a Target-only series.  I decided to dig further.

Nowhere on the box does the Sidestrike sport the "Target Exclusive" logo.  The Crossfire Bow also lacks this feature.  Upon investigating at, the site lists all the other ZombieStrike goodies as "Only at Target" with the exception of the Sidestrike, those Point Break water pistols, and Crossfire Bow.  The packaging characteristics of the Sidestrike and Crossfire are uniqe to the ZombieStrike lineup in that they have the blue background in the corner with the Nerf logo (similar to the blue seen on Elite blasters) whereas the other products do not share this.

This could mean a couple of things.  First, that Toys R Us might be getting some Zombie Strike blasters.  I don't see why you'd want to pay 3 bucks more for the same product available at Target, but whatever.  The bigger picture would mean that ZombieStrike blasters could start being available at ALL retailers who carry Nerf products, which would make them much easier for folks to get.

Could be interesting to see how things proceed from here!


RandomShadow09 has discovered the Sidestrike online for Wal-Mart.  Apparently, he found it using the UPC code on the Toys R Us page and was able to track down a listing for this blaster at Wal-Mart.  It's certainly looking like the rest of the ZombieStrike lineup that we've seen unveiled (remember that flood of new products we saw a few months ago?) is going to be more than just a Target Exclusive.  At this time, the HammerShot and SledgeFire look to be the only store-exclusive blasters.

Tek Recon: Another Lesson Not Learned

Roughly 3 months ago, a new kind of blaster hit retailer shelves called "Tek Recon".  Featuring unique tacti-cool looking blasters, round ammo, and optional smartphone integration, this project started off as a KickStarter.  Admittedly, I haven't really paid much attention to it for a couple of reasons, of which I will share with you.

I'll start with a question.  In the last couple of years, has there been a new breakaway product that has taken the projectile-based blaster market by storm that hasn't fired a foam dart?  Xploderz had water-based gel pod things.  MaxForce had precision spit-wads.  Yet, after less than a year into their release, Xploderz has flat-lined without much following and Jakks Pacific pulled the plug on the MaxForce lineup.  Perhaps I'm blind to it, but I don't see Tek Recon having any better of a result than those two.

Now take a look at App-Based gaming.  Many have tried it, Nerf included, but that feature hasn't really taken off either.  While Tek Recon isn't reliant on the App functionality, as they have been advertising their product with and without the App (which Lazer Tag should've done), it's not a strong enough feature to carry the lineup.  They're great blasters with excellent performance and nifty features, but something is missing.

Here's the bigger hurdle I see... and why I think Tek Recon hasn't caught on.  Fans who are likely to be interested in a product like this don't want to start from scratch.  If you're starting out in a game like Airsoft, you can get an AEG and join up with other folks who already have 'em.  It's been a popular game for many years, so products are readily available and there are long-standing communities built around them.  If you're starting out in a game like Tek Recon, you and everyone else who want to join in need to start from scratch.  There's no following to promote it... but it's gotta start somewhere.  Often times, where it starts is on a small scale that just doesn't get off the ground.  How many MaxForce groups did you see meeting up each week to compete in target practice?  The non-standard ammo keeps something like this from taking off as a legitimate contender in its' market.

A better question would be "how did Nerf, Airsoft, and Paintball get started?" and honestly, I don't have a good answer for that.  I have no idea how these types of shooting games got popular and continue to have a strong following.  Then again, didn't people think that by the year 2015 we'd have flying cars?  Somehow, in the next couple of years, I don't see Marty McFly boarding his hover-converted DMC-12 DeLorean any time soon.  What happens with most industries, and with society in general, is we get used to replacing one thing with the same thing.  Familiarity is preferred over change.  In order to REALLY jump out, you've gotta have a product that meets a need other products can't.  That's why alternative projectile-based blasters haven't been successful. It's the same concept as a Nerf dart blaster, so why not just stick with Nerf?  Oh wait, yeah.  I'll just stick with Nerf.  That's what happens.

It's partially what has hurt Laser Tag's ability to be a bigger contender than it is.  Unlike Nerf, where it doesn't matter who built your dart blaster as long as it can shoot darts, there's no cross-compatibility with the signals that Laser Tag blasters send and receive.  In order to play along, you've gotta have a blaster that will work with the others in the game.  A player with a Light Strike blaster can't join a Battle Tag game because the signals and features of that system aren't the same.  However, Laser Tag is different enough in concept from a projectile-based shooting game like Nerf, Paintball, or Airsoft because it's an electronic system that focuses coded infrared light into a beam that can travel hundreds of feet to be received by another player's equipment.  This is why I think there's a lot of potential to make Laser Tag as a whole (not as a company-by-company product) very successful.  The trouble is getting companies to be okay with their product being used on the same field as another.  Nerf vs AirZone.  Tippman vs Spyder.  CYMA vs G&G.  These brands can be played on the same field because they have interchangeable ammo, options, and the game can be played out the same way.  It's the same shooting concept for Laser Tag, but we go from physical matter being hurled forward to a suped-up version of Flashlight Tag.  If manufacturers, Laser Tag or otherwise, could realize these big points, they'd likely not bother wasting time on their current endeavors.

Back to our friends of Tek Recon, I think it's a neat product, don't get me wrong... but there's a reason I haven't even purchased a blaster to check out and review.  It's a lost cause with a game that won't catch on because it's too similar to what fans already have.  In the short run, yeah.  I bet they've sold a bunch of blasters, but there's no good long-term plan for this.  To me, there's value to a game that can be enjoyed long into the future.  Part of the reason I made the heart-wrenching decision to go from Laser Challenge-brand to Lazer Tag-brand was because there was a foreseeable future of cross-compatible blasters.  Nerf and Laser Tag are different enough to me to be enjoyed apart from eachother whereas adding Tek Recon to that list would really just serve well as a YouTube Review and maybe a laser tag recasing later on.  That might happen when the Havok goes on clearance like the MaxForce Shadowhawk did a year ago.  In the meantime, I just hope I can get proven wrong about this whole thing.  It'd be nice to have a flying Subaru!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Hunt is ON

Well, December is here.  Shelves of your favorite blasters are A: getting stocked more frequently and B: subsequently getting depleted more frequently as that Gift-Giving time of the year bears down on us.  Somewhere between the Barbie-aisle Rebelle gear and the "did anyone actually use it" TekRecon products, I'm hoping to find a ZombieStrike Crossfire Bow.  Not to be confused with the Crossfire, which was a Dart Tag blaster... because seriously, Nerf needs to double back and make sure they don't re-use blaster names.

Of course, the fact that I'm looking for this blaster already narrows my search to one retailer: Target.  Both the HammerShot and SledgeFire have become instant favorites of mine (despite their goofy colors) and the Crossfire Bow looks to continue that trend.  I've yet to see someone do a firing demonstration of this blaster, although I wouldn't be surprised if there was one out there I missed.  There's shots of the actual blaster, but no reviews I can find yet.  My general rule of thumb has recently been "If RS09 hasn't gotten his hands on it, I probably can't either".

Oh, and if I happen to find the SideStrike while I'm at it, that'd be an added bonus.  Still, the Crossfire Bow (like many fellow fans) is at the top of my Wishlist this season.  Only difference between me and some of those fans is that I'll have to go out and buy it instead of get it under a tree.  Under that, I'll have something exciting like tube socks instead.