Monday, August 31, 2015

Unintentional Advertising

When I first looked at buying the home I live in now, there were a number of things that had me excited about it.  The location was great, the neighborhood was inviting and friendly, there was a big park in the backyard for hosting Nerf and Laser Tag games, and there was a nice big garage waiting to be fully utilized.  The garage has become my "office" with all sorts of space for my workbench, massive armory, tools, parts, and my beloved Subarus.  Covering the entire north wall of the garage were panels of pegboard that I mounted hooks and holders for Screwdrivers, Power Tools, and everything in-between... but since there was SO MUCH space, I decided to fill the unused portions with some of my favorite blasters.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I happened to put my blasters underneath the light for the garage door on the side... so at night they are illuminated.  Also, since it's on the north wall, in the mornings when I have the garage open, the sunlight lights up that wall, again displaying my collection.  In the two years I've owned the house, I can't tell you how many neighbors or even a random passerby have stopped to ask about them.  Just the other day I was doing some cleaning in the garage and I went inside to grab some water.  When I came back out, a fleet of boys were standing in front of the garage inspecting the display talking among themselves "That tan one is a sniper rifle!"  "I think my brother has that orange one, but it's different."  "What's that rocket thing?" so I spent much of the morning explaining each blaster and fielding their questions.

Adorning my wall is a Crossbolt, Elite Alpha Trooper with an OMW kit, modified SledgeFire, my "Van Helsing" SlingFire, my LTX DMR, the soon-to-be-modified LawBringer, a modified Demolisher w/Strike & Defend blaster stock, the ELV2, and the Blue "Unity Power System".  And with the upcoming Nerf War in my backyard, I took this opportunity to plug that event to get some more players with us.  I never intended for my pegboard wall to be an advertising asset, but it's certainly been working!

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Real Deal: Elite Longshot

Since the term "Elite Longshot" is one of the top search keywords that has brought viewers to this blog, I figured I'd chime in on this latest bit of news.  As spotted on the Toys R Us UK website, Nerf is recoloring the long-time fan-favorite Longshot CS-6 in "Elite" colors.

Why is it a top search keyword for my blog?  In case you've missed it, I've now built TWO "Elite" Longshots that have made the rounds on the internet.  While this official version doesn't look to claim any Elite performance on it, and most of us can easily assume it's still a stock Longshot on the inside, it is pretty cool to see Nerf's "legit" version look so similar to the ones I had built before.

The first one I built in 2012 when the N-Strike Elite lineup was making it's first debut to the Nerf blaster world.  It didn't feature the front-gun or scope and was a powered-up blue Longshot with some white stripes to match the then-new N-Strike Elite blasters coming out that summer.

The second "Elite" Longshot I built included the front-gun, changed the scope to a Pinpoint Sight, and replaced the priming handle with a pump-grip.  It also featured upgraded internals and a slightly different paint job that lined the white stripes up with existing N-Strike Elite accessories.

The official Nerf version looks most similar to my 2nd attempt at building what I thought an Elite Longshot would look like.  The white stripes with the black logos are almost identical between the two versions and the orange jam door and details along the top are all there.  Even the grip is the same dark gray that I used off of a Yellow Longshot.  Their buttstock isn't nearly as detailed as I would like, but I do like the darker color on that.  Obviously the pump-grip isn't happening with the Longshot from Nerf and it would've been nice to get the Elite Pinpoint instead of the big plastic "scope", but overall I do like that there's a legit version coming out.  Some internal upgrades will get it shooting just like my custom-made versions.

However, this does do something a little odd for my blog.  Since 2012, I've been getting all kinds of "Does Nerf actually make an Elite Longshot" questions and accusations that my creations were "fake".  There was (and still is) a lot of hype around these blasters I built.  And while this still isn't really an Elite Longshot, my Longshots seem like they've lost a little of their charm.  Even though I could say I was looking into my crystal ball to predict the future with these, making something that I thought would "never be" is a tad disappointing to me. Will it kill traffic?  Who knows, as I'm not really concerned with that.  I'll just keep doing my thing!

On the up-side, at least I'll can hope that the "build me an Elite Longshot" or "will you sell me yours?" requests will come to an end.  I can't say I'll miss that!  I might try to pick one up and give it similar "Elite Internals" treatment like the others, but it's just not the same when you're mocking up a blaster to look like the real thing.

Here's all my Elite Longshot videos I've made over the years.
Elite Longshot Progress Update #1
Elite Longshot CS-6
Retaliator vs Longshot
Retaliator vs Longshot (2)
ELV2 Progress 1
ELV2 Progress 2
ELV2 Complete

Saturday, August 22, 2015

War Prep: Public Armory

We've got a big outdoor Nerf War planned for Labor Day Weekend coming up.  While I expect most people to come out with their own blasters, I still want to share the handful of blasters that I have on-hand that I don't have enough hands to operate at once!  AKA: time to prepare a Public Armory to share with our players!

In case you've missed it, here's the details for the upcoming game!

Of the blasters I have to share, there are several that have been modified and I want to make sure that, if someone is borrowing a blaster, that it's still good for 'em.  Some of my modified blasters have seen some use and need some repairs or adjustments made so they're problem-free for whomever is borrowing them.

So far, I've got pretty much every current blaster available to loan out, but I'm wondering if I should break out my older N-Strike blasters, too.  Many of them were modified to improve the dismal ranges they used to get but, ever since Elite blasters set the bar higher for performance, many of them still have trouble keeping up with newer gear.  I could expand the Public Armory from about 10 blasters to loan out with my current setup, but by expanding it to include older gear, I think I could host a 20-30 player Nerf Game all on my own!

I thought I'd ask what fellow Nerf fans do for large-scale events like this.  I don't want to be stuck providing everything, but I also still want to have a successful event and equip our players with good blasters if they don't have one.  Either way, it's been enjoyable so far spreading the word and gearing up for this big event!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Straightening things out

A post I made on August 15th seemed to have more response than I anticipated... and perhaps not in the way I had hoped.  I figured it was time to address a few things.  Not exactly certain on where to start, so I'll start with the post itself.

My overall intent on making the post was to highlight and support fellow Nerf fans who, based on the widening gap of exposure compared to another channel, I felt should get more attention for the quality of the content they provide their viewers.  Specifically, I meant to promote Coop772, Drac, and Bobololo.  In doing so, I also threw Nerf Boy Productions under the bus by using his presentations as a drastic contrast to the kind of information supplied for reviews of Nerf blasters for those that I intended to support.

The entire article was actually sparked by the realization of the huge gap in viewership between two very different types of "reviews" of Nerf products.  I brilliantly overlooked the fact that, even though young adults / college age / older kids who play with these toys that Nerf is intended for use by children.  This can obviously reflected in that viewership gap that, at first, was surprising.  Instead, I was under the impression that people were actively seeking out Nerf Boy Productions over the reviews of Coop 772, Drac, and Bobololo and, after taking in the backlash of comments, it makes sense.  There are more kids borrowing mom (or dads') iPad to watch YouTube videos made by other kids about toy blasters than there are older kids (or young adults?) to look up informative and objective reviews about toy blasters.  My thoughts represent a small percentage of those who enjoy this hobby like I do.  Essentially, I was caught up in the concerns of a niche market and missed the mark.  Had I figured that out first, I probably wouldn't have even bothered making a post like that to begin with, as my concern would've been invalid.

Regardless of whether I should or shouldn't have made the remarks that I did, an underlying issue rose up that I think DOES need some addressing.  How the community seems to have responded to this is very mixed.  On the one hand, a lot of you helped me realize my short-minded take on things and I thank you for that.  On the flip side, there were a lot of fans who took this opportunity to bash on Nerf Boy Productions, Bazookafied, Drac, whomever.  There was a lot of mud-slinging going on and, while I may or may not have been the direct cause or fuel for these kinds of actions, it's still not an acceptable response.  Flaming, trolling, and general bashing isn't conducive to a positive outcome.  As some have pointed out, I should have talked to him to improve his content or at least offered advice to enhance the reviews before throwing Nerf Boy under the YouTube bus.  And, while I would hope that the remarks of a tiny blog like mine wouldn't hurt a giant channel, it's still something that I agree I should have followed a more helpful approach first.

Perhaps that's what bothers me most about a situation like this still.  I had the opportunity to try to connect with a fellow Nerf fan, regardless of our different views, and inadvertently started a big mess.  With the kind of exposure, consistent content release time, and availability of products at his disposal, Nerf Boy Productions has the potential to be a great channel.  There could be a balance between the excited ether that comes over nearly everyone who owns something new and the fact-centered analysis of these products that could be objective as any.  I kinda blew that chance the way things have panned out.

When I take a step back from this, I not only realize that the original intent of my blog was mostly lost and overshadowed by the response of NBP bashing, but I also find that my approach to addressing this and the entire "original intent" was kind of a moot point to begin with.  Want me to apologize?  Sure.  I kind of just did.  Want me to shut down by blog?  Nah, I'll keep doing my thing.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Honest Reviews > Ignorant Endorsements

So today I was watching some Nerf reviews and trying to get different perspectives on the latest round of products that were launched for the Summer of 2015.  For me, my regular watchlist currently consists of Coop772, Drac, and Bobololo.  We'll call them my "Big 3".  There are other great reviews out there, but I always find myself checking up on these three frequently because of their consistency, accuracy, ability to get new content out quickly, and (above all) their honesty.  But every time I watch a review on YouTube for a Nerf Review, there's "Nerf Boy Productions" that comes up.  And yes, I can hear your eyes rolling from here.

Awhile ago, when I got my FlipFury, I was a bit disappointed by the flip-barrel mechanism.  As such, I decided to forgo the ZombieStrike Doominator as I suspected this issue would only be worse with four barrels flipping instead of just two.  Still interested in if my worries were true, I checked up on my "Big 3" for their reviews on the Doominator.  At the top of the search list (as usual) was Nerf Boy Productions version of the Doominator Review.  Skipping this has become second nature, so I scrolled down to find my usual suspects.  However, I had to double take at the number of views listed.  This search was performed on August 14th of 2015.

For the Doominator Review, here's how the Big 3 stacked up for their video views (this is over a 2-week period).

5,320 Bobololo
96,872 Drac
104,859 Coop

And then there's this.

414,480 NBP

Even a math class dropout can combine all three of the reviews I actually watch and figure out that NBP has a considerably higher amount of views... than ALL 3 COMBINED.  I figured "oh what the heck... maybe it's worth a chuckle to watch and THAT's why there's so many views."  I proceeded to watch it.

As usual, the Nerf Boy himself proceeded with his sales pitch endorsement, performed a hilarious range test at his resort, and concluded that the blaster was totally awesome and recommended.  Nothing short of what I had expected.  12 minutes of my life wasted to watching him ignore the comfort issues with slam-firing, or the rotation issues right out of the box, or the loading issues, or the sub-par ranges.  Pretty much every issue that the honest reviews of Bobololo, Drac, and Coop touched on were completely unmentioned in his mindless dribble.

I'm sure there could be a political debate about how this is "mirroring society's ignorance to the facts" or what-have-you, but just in terms of Nerf... this is bad.  When a kid making awful reviews about products is getting more than DOUBLE the views of three proficient and knowledgeable reviewers, something is incredibly wrong.  I could add in other great reviewers sites to my list and STILL not come close to the kind of exposure that Nerf Boy Productions has managed to achieve.

Fight the power?  Post "u suck u stoopid" comments all over every video?  Write a letter to the editor?  Nope.  Not really anything I can do to stop it from happening.  However, I can at least attempt to reach people who are actually in-tune with the Nerf world and URGE you to support good channels and outlets.  Southern Brisbane Nerf Club, Bay Area Nerf, there's a ton!  Perhaps, in educating Nerf fans of good reviews, the NBP banter won't get quite as much exposure and we can actually help people make informed decisions. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Doomlands Blaster Comparisons

The Doomlands 2169 Blaster Lineup made it's debut in August of 2015 as a Target Exclusive in the United States.  It introduced two cyber-western themed blasters: the Vagabond and the Lawbringer.  They are both the same style/color, both are about the same size, and both use pre-existing internal layouts from previous Nerf blasters.  With the similarities mounting, I had a tough time trying to decide which one to get.  Truth be told, I'm still having trouble deciding even after taking a hard look at each.

Here's a review on both of them in a side-by-side comparison.  Included are links to each blaster's individual review.  Check out the battle of the Doomlands Debut Blasters!  It's Vagabond vs Lawbringer!!

And, if you're not into video reviews, here's my written comparison notes.

So there's a $7 difference in price between these two blasters... so right off the bat, the Lawbringer ($34.99) can almost look like a bargain (or the Vagabond at $27.99 is overpriced) because it comes with double the darts and can hold a total of 24 darts if you count the storage in the stock.  However, this review went further than numbers.

The Vagabond, while smaller, has better range and performance.  It is slightly easier to load in 6 darts than the 12 in the Lawbringer's rotating barrel.  However, it is not the most comfortable blaster to wield, especially in long-duration games.  The angle of the grip is fine but the design of the grip itself is the culprit.  There are raised bumps and grooves that aren't ergonomic and the seam between the clear plastic and gray plastic around the trigger guard.  The pump grip is fine, and reloading is easy thanks to the raised ridges around the barrels to flip through and reload.  The reload is easier too, thanks to the design of the side-barrel opening that makes the Vagabond look so mean!

The Lawbringer is much more practical in terms of ammo, comfort, and ease-of-use.  It's one-handed operation with those much-loved HammerShot internals means you have a hand free to reload darts into it's 12-dart barrel capacity.  The grip is considerably more comfortable than the Vagabond, too.  While the shoulder stock isn't long enough for most users (almost as short as the Retaliator) it does hold an additional 12 darts.  Between the comfort and capacity, you can last awhile in a game over the Vagabond... but it lacks a decent punch.  I was surprised to find that the smaller and cheaper Vagabond can out-shoot the Lawbringer.

Objectively speaking, I do also like how the Vagabond looks better than the Lawbringer.  Between it's killer looks and better out-of-the-box range, the Vagabond is a more satisfying buy in my books.  However, the Lawbringer is only $7 more and it's a more solid blaster all-around.  In a long-duration battle, the extra ammo and comfort of use will get the technical win, but I still LOVE how the Vagabond looks and that punch that it has.  

NERF Lawbringer Review

To bring law to an apocalyptic wasteland, you need some firepower.  How's 12 darts in rotation hooked up to a hammer-prime rifle with an extra 12 darts stored in the stock?  You can confidently waltz into battle with 24 darts at your disposal... and you'll need 'em!

This is the Nerf Lawbringer from the Doomlands 2169 lineup.  It's a Target Exclusive and, just like it's Vagabond brother, it's got this cool cyber-western design to it.  Tucked away inside and peeking through a clear panel on the side are Nerf Hammershot internals to wind through that 12-round rotating barrel.  The Lawbringer is also equipped with two tactical rails on top with a fixed barrel and stock reeling in the design.

It's a good comfortable blaster that could JUST use a little more power to make it great!  Check out the review below to see all the details!

Monday, August 10, 2015

NERF Vagabond Review

Here's how it is: Earth got used up.  Vash the Stampede?  That's right.  He's the dude with the $$60,000,000 on his head. Well here’s another great moment in the legend of Spike, famous bounty hunter and dog walker.  If I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die historic on the fury road!  Any of this sounding familiar?  Then yeah, you were pretty stoked when news broke of the newest Nerf blaster lineup: Doomlands 2169.

With a Summer 2015 Debut, this cyber-western lineup starts as a Target Exclusive with the Vagabond (in this review) and the Lawbringer.  Firefly, Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, Mad Max, it's kind of got all of those wrapped into a new design kick for Nerf blasters.  Count me among the many who were excited to see a new blaster theme go in this direction.  As I mentioned in this rant about Reshelling, there's really nothing new inside the debut blasters for Doomlands 2169.  One is a rifle version of a HammerShot with double the rounds and the other is using internals from a Guardian Crossbow.  And yet... despite the fact that there's nothing new on the inside, I can't help but love what they've wrapped them up into.

Sure, it's not the most ergonomic or comfortable blaster to use.  Yeah, you could accomplish the same thing with other blasters that you might already have, but there's no denying the attraction on the outside being a big selling point for Nerf's newest lineup.  That's very true of the Vagabond, which is a 6-Shot Long-barreled Pump-Action pistol.  I already have a blaster that does what the Vagabond can do (my trusty Strongarm) but there's something wildly different about wielding this cyber-western pistol that makes me feel like a Space Cowboy.

Check out my video review to see what this wannabe bounty hunter thinks of the Vagabond!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Nerf War on Labor Day Weekend!

Live near Omaha, NE?  Consider this your formal invitation to a big Labor day Weekend NERF WAR!!  We're meeting up at Southridge Meadows Park with all our friends so I thought I'd let Tactical Tag readers know, too!

All the Event Details can be found on the Omaha Nerf League Facebook Group page or on this Event Page.  While there will be gear on-hand to borrow, we encourage players to bring their own gear and darts (as we likely won't have enough to equip everyone!).  Our group has traditionally only done small matches with friends, so this is the first time we've opened it up to the general public.  We're excited to see everyone!

RANT: The Nerf Reshell Game

Tale as old as time.  A manufacturer builds something and then utilizes it's core components to make something else.  From Computers to Cars to Buildings and Blasters, it just makes sense.  So when Nerf releases a "new" blaster, take it with a grain of salt.  Sure the outside is exciting and it probably has a tactical rail but I'd be hard pressed to see ground-breaking new designs tucked neatly inside it's shell.  It's something that hit me when I visited Target this week (it's currently August of 2015 for those of you reading this in the age of flying cars).

On the one hand... WOW!  Look at all these new blasters!  There's the new RotoFury for the Mega line.  The ZombieStrike lineup has the Dooooooooominator (thank's Bobo!).  Oh and look there!  A whole new lineup called "Doomlands 2169" with some Cyber Western stuff!  And who could ignore the gobs of Modulus products all over the shelf space.  Accessory packs galore!!  It's all new new n- wait a sec...

Isn't that Doominator just using the same tech we saw in the FlipFury?  Huh... and it looks like the Vagabond is using the Guardian Crossbow internals.  And yeah, I guess that Lawbringer looks great, but it's really just a HammerShot with twice the ammo capacity.  Well, I mean the Modulus is a Stryfe... again.

Suddenly the "newness" wears off and, as I look at the shelves, I try to figure out which one looks the coolest (I nabbed a Vagabond).  It's still good, since the blasters all work well (although I haven't seen great reviews on the Doominator) but I was expecting that excitement of ALL these new products right in front of me to last a little longer.  Unless you absolutely NEED a new design on the exterior to add to your massive Nerf Blaster collection, you probably already own a similar blaster at home.

That's exactly what happened when I got home with the Vagabond.  I'll have a review up later, but in the 24 hours I have owned this new blaster in a new lineup... it already feels kinda old.  I already have a great 6-Shooter Pistol that can do Slamfire.  It's called the Strongarm and it's a great blaster!  Mine has been lightly modified to have a bit more punch for range but I've used it a bunch since I got it.  So whatever modifications I do to my Vagabond... it just feels like more of the same for performance gains.  Would I pick a modified Vagabond over a modified Strongarm?  Tough to say.  Would I pick two HammerShots over one Lawbringer?  Probably.  Would I pick a Stryfe over a Modulus?  More than likely.

I suppose what I'm hoping for in the future is something that WORKS differently.  Make a stand-out difference in a blaster, like the SledgeFire!  Lots of fun to fire, uses cartridges, has a nifty prime.  Sure it may not be the most ideal blaster to use all the time, but what made it fun was how different it's operation is from any other Nerf blaster.  The Rival line is very different for Nerf, and there's some cool innovation going on there, but I'm more focused on dart blasters since it's what I already have a plethora of (and what I tend to prefer).

The Reshell Game has been done a bunch and I suppose this latest "Loot Drop" of Nerf Products for Summer of 2015 seems like more of the same.  Perhaps that's because the new designs are in the new Rival lineup.  Perhaps there's just demand for the existing blaster tech.  Perhaps I'm just bummed that the high of owning this new Vagabond wore off so easily when I realized my Strongarm is doing just fine without an extra 6 inches of plastic.  Either way, Nerf knows exactly what I'll do: keep getting these blasters.  They still look great.  They still work great (a few exceptions, but nobody is perfect).  And they still fuel my random battles with my 7-year-old neighbor.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Special August Bulletin!

Attention Tactical Tag readers!  This is a special bulletin concerning activity for the month of August.  Due to unexpectedly high levels of cuteness (and derpy-ness), Tactical Tag will be a little pre-occupied with a new puppy.

This is Daphne!  She's a 9-week-old Corgi Puppy who, besides being an attention sucker to begin with, does require a lot of attention.  From house training to feeding to playtime, Daphne is keeping my wife and I very busy.  Until we can get a routine figured out and she is more independent (she needs to be supervised a lot!), my free time is kinda sucked up.

For an example, she is very keen on devouring Nerf darts... which I discovered when I was testing range on modifications I've made to the Strike & Defend kit I reviewed earlier.  Instead of seeing how much of an improvement to range I had, Daphne made it a point to run a "Seek and Destroy" mission.

I'll have more content up later, including Doomlands 2169 stuff and the wrap-up of our 10th Summer Season of Laser Tag games, but I thought I'd let you all know that Bazookafied is a little tied up with puppy parenting!