Thursday, January 22, 2015

New Workbench!!

Just in time to tackle some off-season projects, I've got a new workbench in place that is MUCH better than my temporary fix... that I had been using for almost a year and a half.  When I moved into my new house in August of 2013, I quickly assembled a makeshift table to work off of that was comprised of a folding table and a large flat piece of wood.  It wasn't very stable and it was very disorganized since I never really unpacked or sorted things out.  I just kept working over my mess... and it continued to grow until I finally decided to sort things out and get a legit workspace.

The new table is very sturdy and bigger than my old one.  It also has pre-molded points in the legs where I can install outlets (which I might actually do later on).  My batteries and the charging station are on the right.  At the left are the storage for my Dremel, Electric Multi-tool, Drill Bits, and screwdrivers.  The adjustable light with a magnifying glass is incredibly helpful when I'm doing tedious electrical work to get a closer look.

As I cleaned and organized, I also redid my Tool Wall.  I used to just have a few small screw drivers, drill bits, and other Nerf and Laser Tag related tools, but now that I own and maintain a home, my collection of tools has expanded quite a bit.  I can't say I use them all for my hobbies, but it's certainly nice having better selection  when I'm working on a project.  Also, having them organized on a wall is much better than having them crammed in a backpack.

Usually, my Thursdays are spent working on equipment.  While I didn't make any progress on my latest projects, I can safely say that it will be infinitely easier to work on them now in this great space!  

Monday, January 19, 2015

Zany New Blasters!

While I don't think Nerf is ever going back to crazy fun blasters like the PULSATOR PULSATOR PULSATOR PULSATOOOOOR!  ... PULSATOR ...::ahem:: it is interesting to see these newer designs being a little less "make this as Tacticool as possible" to more of a  "well this will be fun to use" mentality.  I already got a sense of that through recent blasters, especially in the ZombieStrike lineup.  Unless you've been living under a Nerf News rock and missed it, there are two new blasters coming out that look like they fall more under the "this will be fun to use" section, and that's good for smiles.

Both of these blasters have the same general concept and layout.  The Mega RotoFury and the ZombieStrike Doominator are roughly the same size and have rotating barrels full of darts.  While the RotoFury has one rotating barrel holding MEGA darts, the Doominator has four that each hold 6 darts for a total capacity of 24.  As such, the Doominator has one extra trigger, a la the FlipFury, to rotate through this massive collection of ammo-spewing barrels.

Aside from the fact that I think the RotoFury sort of looks like the April Fools "RhinoFire" from last year, both of these just look like a lot of fun.  It's something I noticed when I reviewed the SlingFire and the FlipFury, that these blasters are just fun to use, and it's getting echoed through the rest of the line.  Even the N-Strike Elite RhinoFire is quite bonkers.

Getting away from the "make it shoot further, faster, awesome-er tacticoolness" mentality is refreshing.  Modders can improve those things easily.  It's been done so many times by Nerf that having these latest blasters is making it fun again.

Will they perform great?  I dunno.  Will they be the best blasters in the world?  Well, no... I don't think any one blaster can ever claim that title.  But they'll put a smile on your face every time you use 'em!  And that's a trend I'm okay with seeing continue.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Worsening Range Claims

From the very first shot you fired from your N-Strike Elite Retaliator back in 2012, you knew the "75 Foot Elite Ranges" weren't what you were expecting.  We eventually figured out that most of those range claims meant more like ~50 feet parallel to ground, which was still an improvement over the original N-Strike range that we were used to at the time.  However, it seems like those big bold claims on the box are starting to make even less sense.

Take the N-Strike Elite Crossbolt Blaster for instance.  Much like other recent Nerf blasters, it's got a staggering 90ft range claim.  If you take a look at the video, that dart trajectory takes a nose-dive pretty early on.  Looks like standard Elite stuff... but if that's the case, we've now widened the gap between actual ranges and those that are getting printed on the box.

This has been especially true of the "Elite XD" ranges, which I think gets broken down quite well in Drac's PSA about them.  Before the Elite lineup was even realized, we had a taste of "improved" blasters from Nerf with their Dart Tag lineup.  The famed "Blue Trigger" blasters featured upgraded internals and stronger performance, and these happened to start coming out just before the N-Strike Elite stuff hit shelves.  I think a lot of people assumed that since Nerf had legitimately improved the performance on these Dart Tag blasters that it would also be true when the Elite XD stuff started coming out.  In the end, the Elite XD blasters are simply recolors with more convincing box art.  They even come with statistics on the back, like this one from the back of the Demolisher box.  Apparently 73% of the darts should reach ranges between 85 and 96 feet while the rest are "< 85 Feet"... which still doesn't make a lot of sense.  Granted, there's no non-Elite XD counterpart of the Demolisher to prove that it's ranges hadn't improved, but across the board... whether the range is 80, 85, or 90 feet, tests upon tests upon stats upon stats have more than easily proven that they're really not any better than the standard Elite ranges we've come to expect in the last few years or so.

So why did Nerf bother posting higher range claims with these recolored blasters?  Because they're simply trying to sell more of the same products by misleading the buyer into thinking that "Well, not only am I getting a cooler color, but it'll also shoot better than the one I've already bought".  Whereas before, with the recolors they used to do, recolored blasters were just a one-trick pony.  Same blaster with different colors.  They're banking on the fact that there's an advantage to buying the "Elite XD" products by posting range claims and statistics.  Not only that, but the majority of these XD-ified blasters are done up in white.  Remember how well the Whiteout Series did?  So does the marketing team at Hasbro.  It's a win-win if you think you're getting a Whiteout-esque looking blaster that is more powerful than the ones already in your arsenal.

Then there's another piece to these ranges... and that comes in the form of the "N-Strike" label return, signifying worsening ranges.  Take the Nerf Sharpfire for instance.  Brand-new blaster, no Elite logo, no range claims.  This blaster looks like it could have some pretty serious range.  It's essentially performing like the old N-Strike blasters were... which is odd considering that after several years of Elite ranges... we sort of expect everything to at least clear the 30 foot mark.  My friends at Basic Nerf have proven this to have pretty dismal ranges.  There's also the Slingstrike which, while it apparently has better performance than the Sharpfire, it's still not going to hold up against other current blaster ranges.

The question then is why the mix?  On the one hand, Nerf is over-fluffing range claims on their XD lineup that are really just recolored versions of the original designs.  On the other hand, we have new blasters coming out that are going toe-to-toe with old Mavericks and Recons from the original N-Strike lineup.  In the end, it's up to the modding community to improve these blasters, so it's not the end of the world.  It's just a strange time right now for ranges with Nerf.  Now more than ever, it's important to do your research on new blasters to see if the hype really lives up to the claims.  There's an abundance of great resources out there, many of which I have listed in this post.  Especially as far as dart range has been concerned, I've been relying on RandomShadow09 for consistency to see how these blasters really perform, regardless of what the pretty box art says or what the blaster looks like.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

ZF-LS: The FAST Rail

Today I did some aesthetic work on my Zombie Fighter Longshot (ZFLS).  Using some new tools I got over the holidays, I successfully removed the top carry rail to make way for the FAST Rails from Xplorer Dart Blaster Developments.  The rails follow the existing lines on the blaster perfectly, as I expected, so getting them mounted should be no problem.  I also noticed that these rails weigh more than I had expected, so I hope this ZFLS doesn't get too top-heavy.

Some minor "repairs" to the outer shell might be in order, as the rails aren't molded quite wide enough to cover up the holes left behind by where the front portion of the carry rail used to sit.  Also, as I was test fitting and sanding to fit things right, I couldn't help but notice that this Longshot looks pretty aggressive without a big chunky barrel sitting out in front.  I may try to change up the front barrel of this to retain this kind of look, as there's PLENTY of "child-safe orange" already painted on the front of the blaster.  I'm still considering other ideas, so if you think of something that you think might look good, let me know!

I've also been trying out different combinations for internals to get this thing shooting just right.  I have a few springs that I'm considering using but I'm also still juggling between making this a shotgun-style prime or keeping it a bolt-action type.  If I go with a shotgun-style prime, obviously I can put a stronger spring in it... but it also still depends on what I do aesthetically with this blaster.  I've got some leftover bi-pod pieces I could use to give this an old-school grip up front and keep the original priming system.  Much like the first Elite Longshot I built, the spring would need to be strong enough to achieve the performance I want but not so strong that I can't single-hand prime it with the bolt.

I have also thought about integrating something underneath the main barrel like a Magnus.  I can't recall if the colors are the same between the ZS Magnus in blue and this Longshot.  I think a quick trip to Target is in order to see if my suspicions are true!  Or you guys could just save the the trouble and let this Nerf n00b know whether they match or not.

More to come soon!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

NERF FlipFury Review

Released in early 2015, the NERF ZombieStrike FlipFury is a fun revolver blaster that... revolves it's revolving barrels.  Yes, lots of spinning!  This concept has been a popular mod for Mavericks, Strongarms, and other revolver-style blasters before.  At the heart of this fury of flipping lies the guts of a NERF N-Strike Elite Strongarm, which is one of my favorite pistols and the "Most for the Least" award winner... so this should be a home run, right?

...Sorta?  It is refreshing that the gimmick of this blaster is actually helpful for reloading the blaster.  However, halfway through the testing, the mechanism that flips these two barrels started to get less reliable and seem like it was worn out.  It also tends to jam a bit with the Slam-Fire feature, which is not a trait seen often in the Strongarm.  I had the initial review footage put together and, after discovering these changes, I ended up re-shooting the video to reflect these issues.  It's certainly an honest review, as both the barrel flipping and the dart jamming occur in the footage.  I'm not furious, I'm not flipping out, but it is unfortunate that such a fun blaster out-of-the-box went downhill so quickly.

Check out the review below!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Thanks for the Birthday Wishes!

Over the years, I've made a lot of great friendships thanks to my hobbies.  On days like today (my Birthday) it's always special to get those "Happy Birthday" wishes from near and far.  There are a lot of people I've made connections with through Tactical Tag that I still haven't had the pleasure of meeting in person but still consider great friends.

As I continue to grow old (as we all do), I always manage to stay young at heart and the wonderful people in this hobby help me stay that way.  Thank you all for your kind words and wishes!

- Bazookafied

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Year of the Duals (not Duels)

As I sort out the projects to be had on my workbench, I couldn't help but notice a common theme making it's way through my blasters: Dual-Use!  The idea of making one blaster that is good for more than one kind of game has been great on paper, but has rarely made it's way to the battlefield.  Probably the best example I have of this was built and completed several years ago.  The "Durango", a Red Strike Series Longshot CS-6 with Laser Challenge Internals, was a blaster both for Nerf and for Laser Tag that I used mostly for indoor games hosted with college campus groups.

For 2015, there are several blasters that I'm working on that have the ability to be used for more than one kind of game.  I'm hoping I can get all of them finished, but it will be interesting to have so many of these dual-use blasters running around.  I can only use one blaster at a time, so the others will likely be loaned out during games!  Among these blasters, two are already in-production.  The M41A Pulse Rifle is an Airsoft / Laser Tag rifle while the Demolisher 2-in-1 features Nerf / Laser Tag under one roof.  There's a third project I've been considering that requires me to gut the Cam ECS-12 of it's glorious digital camera components to make it a Nerf / Laser Tag rifle like the Demolisher Project, too... so I seem to have picked up a bit of an obsession for making these kinds of creations.  On the one hand, I enjoy a challenge!  On the other, it's a good way to put both of my hobbies into one blaster.  You could say that these blasters are the embodiment of Tactical Tag: Nerf and Laser Tag modifications under one roof!

Should be a fun year working on these!  Stay tuned for more updates on these unique projects!