Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Edge of Innovation: Part 2

While we'll continue this series as planned, it is interesting that during the time between Part 1 and Part 2, Nerf unveiled a blaster that seems to have answered the call of some long-sought features.  For those of us who might be picking up on this series in the future (by the way, I hope we have hoverboards by 2015.  Just saying) the NERF N-Strike Elite Demolisher hit the internet by surprise on January 20th, 2014.  I figure knowing the current events while this discussion is happening is important to keep in mind.  We may very well out-date ourselves here!

For those just joining us, and for reference, here's a link to The Edge of Innovation: Part 1.  This second part will focus on feedback received in the form of comments in the previous section.

Most folks focused more on a wishlist of ideas for blasters, which wasn't really part of my plan to discuss yet.  I suppose we can jump into that in Part 2, but here's what needed to happen first:  "What I'm interested in trying to discover is the edge of where an Innovative Design can ride be successful. In order to identify this, we first need to isolate what it needs to share. Once we've done that, we'll move on to isolating elements that have not worked well in the past, as well as problems that could be solved on current blasters. For the sake of discussion, I'm going to focus on a blaster that can fire Elite Darts."

So the blaster is going to use Elite Darts.  That's our staple.  To me, we've gotta start with the firing system and there are several common formats that Nerf has used.  The two most prominent right now are the Plunger System (Direct and Reverse) and the Flywheel system.  To continue using those systems wouldn't exactly be "innovative" in my eyes.  Hear me out on this one, but I've yet to see an electronically primed Air Tank blaster.  Air Blasters used to dominate the pre-N-Strike era and are still quite common to see used as a platform for NIC-style blasters.  The biggest issue folks seem to have with air blasters is the time that it takes to pump and prime the blaster to prepare it for firing.  Nerf is already using batteries to power flywheel motors, so why not use a system to pull air into a reservoir and automatically fill it before each shot?  The blaster would fill it's air tank before each shot, not upon pulling the trigger.  Better yet, why not give that control to the user in the form of what is usually used as an "Accelerator Trigger" that we see on Flywheel-driven blasters.  Pull the lower, smaller trigger to fill the air tank.  Then pull the main trigger to fire.  Or you could have a secondary button forward of the trigger where a grip would be for your other hand to fill the reservoir.  It could also have the ability to just pull the trigger without pulling the priming trigger before and do all of that before releasing the air, but that'd be a laggy shot (I'm thinking the Stampede).  You'd get the legendary power of an Air Blaster with the ease-of-use that an electronic blaster provides.  SG Nerf's ModWorks division already has made something similar for a Nerf Magstrike.  Sure it'd be a noisy blaster, but the Stampede has proven Nerf isn't afraid of making a loud system.

As far as our wishlist goes, it seems pretty obvious that having Tactical Rails, Removable Stocks, and options for other accessories is important.  I feel like more important than just HAVING accessories is to have ones that are actually useful.  A tactical light, decent sights, ammo storage, sturdy designs for stocks, etc.  It's not really "innovative", but more like an approach that would make them more successful.  I think if Nerf used a more secure Tactical Rail attachment, like they did on the iOS Cradle for the Mission App, that'd improve overall reliability of the accessories mounted.  It would also mean you could mount heavier items, perhaps even make attachments for other blasters.

Speaking of that, I think that's an idea Nerf missed out on capitalizing on.  The Nerf Crossfire, as part of the early Dart Tag lineup, was actually quite a useful little blaster.  With it's ability to attach to a lower rail on a blaster, it's the closest thing we've had to an under-slung secondary blaster.  Details on the Nerf Demolisher's rocket launcher are still fuzzy at this point, but it seems like it'll have a similar function.  The ability to combine blasters like this could be quite useful.  If they utilized a stronger tactical rail connection (like on that iOS Cradle), it'd be even better!

Blackout and harupia have similar ideas with a rotating shotgun thing, and I gotta say I'm a fan of that.  Essentially use SledgeFire 3-Round Shells and have a series of those in a rotating chamber.  Have a large in-built drum magazine with the ability to load cartridges from the back side.  Cartridges could be ejected much in the same way they'd be loaded, if they used a similar loading mechanism already in the SledgeFire.  Click it in to lock the cartridge in place, fire, and then click on a "ejection" button paired to the chamber to pop it back out.  If we were to pair this system with the automatic air blaster I mentioned earlier in the article, you'd have a pretty lethal combination.

Alright.  Did I get things right?  Are there other options we could consider that'd be better or worse than some of the ideas brought to light here?  It's time again for you to chime in with your comments and feedback on this.  We'll meet again in Part 3 next week!


  1. In my mind the big miss of 2013 was the Zombie Strike Sidestrike. Rather that being a remake of the Scout, it should have been a tripe (or quadruple!) over and under barrel blaster with ARs configured like a roughcut. That way you'd have a compact secondary with three to four dart capacity. Basically a holsterable Triad.

  2. Nerf should make a ballistic knife of some form that combines N-Strike Elite and the old N-Force line. It would be able to attach to the bottom of a barrel that doubles as a bayonet and a ballistic knife. Another idea is a Grenade/shotgun pistol. You would load it from the back like you talked about and it would have the break barrel aspect. It would have a universal design inside to load either shotgun shells or Demolisher rockets into the barrel. Grenades would be a good addition so instead of using socks or darts with rubber bands it would be along the lines of previous non-nerf brands but of course in the nerf styling. An LMG with a foregrip would be cool. An awesome addition would be a riot shied type thing that is sturdy but can be broken down into smaller pieces. It could have an area to hold a stryfe or a strongarm. An under barrel shotgun attachment would be cool (cartridge not muzzle load.)

  3. Another interesting thing that could be done with the Sledgefire shells is having a selectable firing mode, between three-round burst and shotgun, giving each its own plunger or air tank. A better magazine for something with only full-shell firing would probably be a full-on pump-action shotgun, though it would have to be absolutely gigantic to work well, which with the MEGA line I don't see as being too much of a problem other than maybe weight.

  4. When I first got into modding I designed a Halo sniper-rifle replica. It was to use a stampede motor to drive a reciprocating pump (the type used in air blasters-- an early, inefficient design that I would change now) and have a clip-fed breech that was actuated using the standard N-Strike priming handle. Your post has renewed my interest in the idea, and I may modernize it into a more useful blaster than a replica. Likewise, a drum full of shells feeding a shotgun would be great. In our wars, everyone has three hit points-- Sledgefires are one-hit kills, but I won't use one because of the reload period.

    I really appreciate the innovative thinking going on here, Bazook.

  5. Oh, I see what you're asking for. So you want to work out how far Hasbro can push their designs before people wont want then because they're too outlandish? For me at least as long as it fires something with reasonable performance, then I'm interested. For a lot of people it seems that the projectile (dart, disc, bigger dart, ball, rocket, what-have-you) shouldn't be changed often, if at all. They also seem averse to systems that would be harder to mod.

  6. Why fill an air reservoir with electricity? Why not use CO2 cartridges? The Nerf demographic includes teenagers, who are capability of handling CO2 for airguns and paintball, so why not Nerf?

    1. Because, sadly, Nerf also caters to little kids. They leave the CO2 for us to figure out.