Thursday, March 26, 2015

"Ultimate" LTX - Custom Laser Tag Blaster

It's not every day that I get to showcase someone else's work... but I am excited to introduce to you all: the "Ultimate" LTX.  Ever since Lazer Bait sent us those lenses to test out back in 2012, this blaster has been hellbent on destroying every player it can get into it's sights.

Even if I didn't have the utmost respect for this guy (which I absolutely do), I would have no choice but to have the utmost respect for this blaster.  It's deadly accurate, incredibly well-built, and acts as an extension of the user's very own WILL to cut down opponents with precision and power.  I am pleased to present to you this review of the "Ultimate" LTX.

Skirmos - Gameplay Ep2

Some guys, some GoPros, and some Prototype Laser Tag blasters.  Skirmos blasters to be exact!  Here's some more gameplay footage they've released of this new tag system.  Disregard the incorrect timestamp, which would suggest this isn't recent footage.  The developers of this new system took it for a spin on a FFA match and then later a "Team Slayer" match.

I'm impressed so far with the display information, the RoF, and the level of accuracy and range these appear to be getting.  I'm excited to see more and hopefully get my hands on one to review!

Monday, March 23, 2015

ZF-LS: Magnus Mate?

A recent trip to Target reminded me "oh yeah... I've got a Zombie Fighter Longshot I was working on" when I saw the 2-Pack of Zed Squad Magnuses (Or Magni?) on the shelf. Sadly, there wasn't a Longshot to compare the colors with, but I figured it looked close enough.  I picked up the set and went home to rekindle this idea I had to integrate these two together.  I had thought the blue on the ZS Magnus would match that of the ZS Longshot.  ...Well... not quite!

Turns out the ZS Longshot is more of a greenish blue and the ZS Magnus is more of a blueish turquoise.  Or aquamarine, depending on when you were born.  This leaves me in a bit of a tizzy about this whole idea in the first place.  I've had a long time to ponder this, so let me break it down for you real quick.

My original idea was to made a Stefan-based "Zombie Fighter" out of this ZS Longshot.  Make it tacti-cool, make it survive the hordes of the undead, make the Xplorer Vanity Club put their seal of approval on it.  I wanted to build up an awesome Longshot with a nice strong spring and a shotgun-style pump.  Then got to thinking about doing an integration with the Magnus.  Having a Stefan Slinger on top with a grenade-launcher-esque MEGA Magnus under the main barrel.

Regardless of whether the colors will match up, I wonder if putting such a heavy blaster on the front-end of the Longshot will be a good idea.  If I were to attempt to balance things, I would need to add a bit of heft to the stock of the Longshot (which is easily possible) but then I end up making the entire rifle heavier.  There could be a good and bad side to doing this, but then the question also comes to priming the Longshot itself.  If I want to have a strong spring in there to sling out Stefans with deadly accuracy, a pump-action prime would probably be better to handle a high-load spring than the stock bolt-action prime.  I have not had good luck with strong springs on a bolt-prime before (I remember the Longstrike Massacre kit...) so the addition of this Magnus poses two possible issues.  Three if you count my OCD obsession with things matching up.

For now, my plan is to focus on the Stefan side of things.  I think I can answer my own question if, by balancing power with a bolt-prime, I can achieve the sort of performance I'm looking for without the use of a shotgun prime.  Then an integration wouldn't seem like a sacrifice to the original goal of this project.  If I can't, I'll just go with a shotgun prime and do away with the integration idea.  What say you, Nerf Nation?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

RANT: "It looks like a Gun"

There are two things that are currently bothering me.  The first is the seemingly unlimited amount of "It looks like a gun from (insert video game name here)" or "It looks like a (insert real gun name here)" comparisons for Nerf blasters.  The second is that I haven't made a rant in a long time.  Well, I get the feeling I can take care of at least ONE of those rants!

I'll skip the "Gun vs Blaster" debate since Coop has taken good care on that one and cut right to the chase... comparisons of a toy dart blaster to a real steel gun bug me to no end.  In my videos, I've poked fun at the "Dowse it in black Call of Duty" paint jobs and such, but it's really less that I'm trying to make fun of that game and more that I don't care for it when someone's only contribution to any sort of commentary or discussion is "it looks like an M4".  

To me, it's fine if there are some similarities between real steel weapons or science fiction props.  In some cases, some of those props are literally repainted Nerf blasters!  They look the part!  And I actually really like it when fellow modders build or paint their blasters to look like their favorite weapon from a Movie or Videogame.  That's not what I have a problem with at all.

What I take issue with is when that comparison is the ONLY feedback that is given, especially when the intent was not to mimic whatever it is that a person is comparing it to.  A review on the Retaliator "It looks like an M4".  A repainted blaster.  "It looks like a gun from Mass Effect".  I've seen it a billion times on my own work or on someone else's review or modified blaster.  Unless they were specifically trying to achieve that certain look, telling someone "It looks like (blank)" is probably the most irritating feedback someone can receive.  Well, actually I take that back.  Bobololo proved that the internet is capable of so much more than useless comparison comments.

It's almost in the same vein as "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"... only instead of yelling the usual internet obscenities (again, as Bobo brilliantly displayed.  I think I've watched that video 4 or 5 times now) it's the uselessly overused comment that someone can bestow upon a review, picture, blog post, or whatever it is.  I would almost liken these kinds of comments to the equally useless "FIRST!" posts commonly seen on YouTube videos.

At the end of the day, it's not that making blasters to look like on-screen stuff from movies, games and other sources bothers me.  In fact, I'd be one heckofuh hypocrite if I thought that... what with my obsession over the M41A Pulse Rifle from the Aliens movie.  That's all fine and dandy.  I'm also not completely against making toy guns look like real steel weapons... though it's not something I'll ever pursue.  When all is said and done... the "It looks like a (blank)" comment has an eyeroll-inducing effect on me... ESPECIALLY when it's not the focus of the content in the first place.

End rant!  Carry on about your business, readers!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Skirmos Prototypes!

Skirmos, the Open-Source Laser Tag system, is slowly but surely making it's way from being a Kickstarter dream to a reality for fans and enthusiasts from coast to coast.  In a recent news release from Skirmos, they announced that their fully-operational prototypes are undergoing testing that is working towards having full radio implemented by the end of the month on all 6 of their prototypes.

"Once all 6 prototypes are operational, we will begin negotiations with interested parties concerning manufacturing and distribution. This is going to be the fastest and most efficient way for us to get Skirmos to you, our backers. Again, once the manufacturing is started it is about a 5 month process. We are working hard every day to get to this point."

There is also a Snapchat account appropriately called "skirmos" for fans who would like real-time updates on their progress. It will feature videos and pictures of this new system in the weeks to come.  You can also follow their Facebook page or subscribe to their newsletter for updates via e-mail.  

While we've blown past the expected timeline for release of Skirmos, it's still exciting to see things moving towards development.  In the months to come, I'm hoping to be able to provide a detailed review of Skirmos to help spread awareness about this new system and what it can really do.  Stay tuned for more information!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

FDS: Elite Blue Demolisher

As if there aren't enough reasons to like those crazy Brits... here's another.  Yeah, you're seeing these pictures right (unless there's something wrong with your internet connection and they're not loading).  That's a Demolisher in Elite Blue colors!  But before you can say "Oh my gawsh where can I buy one?!?" just take a deep breath and realize... this is a repaint.  A REALLY good repaint!

This was a commission done for "Big Poppa Nerf" by Foam Data Services.  He shared these photos with me on the Tactical Tag Facebook Page and I just HAD to share them!  According to him, this commission was 85% conceived in the "Tactical Tag spirit of modding" to look stock and 15% conceived in the SBNC spirit of Photoshop Concepts.  I'm flattered that my idea of making things still appear stock has apparently become a thing... especially if it's bringing results like this!

To me, this paintjob not only tugs at my "I love Blue" heartstrings,  but also proves something that I've always been slightly irked about with the Demolisher.  TOO MUCH ORANGE kind of made it look blah.  However, with the Blue armor, even while keeping the rocket launcher orange, things look much more balanced and ...uh... tolerable.  I'm not sure if FDS or Big Poppa Nerf were the first to do this, but I certainly hope they aren't the last!

Simple Mods: Crossbolt Power

Since I picked up this Crossbolt I've been having a lot of fun just messing around with it while it's still stock.  Even though the top-slide prime isn't the most comfortable thing in the world, the fact that it's a bungee-powered bullpup-style clip-fed (or mag-fed) blaster that LOOKS cool makes this a winner.  There are some that are already claiming this to be the "Best Blaster of 2015", and I can easily understand why.

One of the things I liked was that this blaster is using a new-to-me firing mechanism: the bungee.  Obviously the easiest way to crank more power out of the blaster is to upgrade or modify the strength of the power this mechanism uses.  As with springs that are commonly used as the source of power for Nerf blasters, the bungee cord can be more powerful if it has more resistance.  Even without a complete overhaul of this blaster, you can easily upgrade the stock bungee by tightening it on either end of the bow arms.  To do this, all you need is a screwdriver to open the panels covering the ends of the bungee cord so you can access the ends and tighten them.  Once you've done that, close up the panels and get to blastin!

Check out the video below to see what I mean!

Monday, March 2, 2015

NERF Crossbolt Review

As if it wasn't already official from the last 20 bow-based blasters we've seen on shelves, Nerf has gone bonkers for Bow N Arrow and Crossbow setups.  For the first bit of that, it was more or less faux bow arms attached to a plunger-system blaster.  The Nerf Big Bad Bow, the Rebelle Guardian Crossbow, the ZombieStrike Crossfire Bow, they're all culprits of this design and can easily have the bow arms left off while retaining their basic functionality as a blaster.

Somewhere along the line, there must've been one guy at Hasbro who said "Hey!  Let's make functional bows!" because now, amidst the rest of the bow products they already have, there are a few that can actually sling darts or arrows utilizing their namesake.  In this case, it's the NERF N-Strike Elite Crossbolt.

I think I can speak for all Nerf fans when I say that even IF the bow arms on this were fake... we still wanted this blaster.  This mean-lookin bullpup style blaster has an undeniably aggressive design, despite it's compact size.  However, as the photos floated around the internet and fans began to break down how this blaster might work, we realized this blaster would actually fire darts by use of the elastic cord held in by two bow arms at the front.  Since then, the blaster has been released and is available at most local retailers.

UPDATE: I mention in the review a size comparison to the Rayven and there have been a few questions about that.  Here's a photo of the Crossbolt and the Rayven with their Magazine chambers lined up.  You'll notice that not only is the Rayven's stock longer by almost two inches, but that the Crossbolt trigger is also a little shorter.

There are some good and bad things about the blaster, of which I cover in detail in the video below.  Click "Read More" to see it!

Demolisher Project Update #1.5

Generally when I do a Laser Tag recasing, it's pretty simple to integrate the components into whatever shell I'm using.  However, when dealing with leaving other components in, like those needed to fire Nerf Darts, real estate inside the shell gets limited.  When this happens, I have to get a little more crafty with how I fit things into the blaster.

In this case, it's this Demolisher Project that I've blown the dust off of.  In the summer of 2014, I started working on making this "2 in 1" blaster actually serve both of my hobbies under one roof... making it a true "2 in 1" in my books.  Nerf darts slingin from the top barrel.  Laser Tag IR shots blazing from the bottom.  

Fitment has hit a bit of a snag for two major portions of the Lazer Tag Augmented Reality (LTAR) system that I'm using to integrate into the Demolisher's shell: the motherboard and the Sensor Dome.  These are major hurdles that must be overcome in order to move forward, so I'll be spending some major time this week getting around these two bits.  Once the placement is right, then I can start wiring up all of the other components and make some significant progress on the rest of the blaster.

Check out the video after the jump to see details of this update!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

It Begins... AGAIN!

I can't think of a better way to get back into the way things were by going BACK to something that pre-dates this blog.  This project has always been a doozie, but thanks to some help from near and far, it's the perfect chance to get back at it!

These last few weeks of being away have driven me crazy, so I'm very excited to be with my hobbies again!  Consider this the first of many updates coming!