Monday, February 19, 2018

New York Toy Fair Nerf Showroom 2018 - A Blogger Story


The Nerf Wall at New York Toy Fair

Big thanks to Michael Ritchie for taking the time to speak with me while I was visiting today. If you want to see the full gallery, for now please check out Foam From Above on Facebook.

It was quite the visit! I spoke with Michael about a lot of the new developments over the coming year, and not a lot that I can really substantiate (because they have a lot of ongoing discussions.) What these discussions I can't say, but one key element is the Kingsman agreement with Nerf to open an arena in Asia. I likened this to the Paragon/UK situation a few years ago, but that was very limited in scope to the UK. The arrangement with Asia isn't. I've been messaged by a comrade in Singapore who has some insight to this, and it's interesting, is all I'll say. Hasbro's Singapore branch better pay attention though, there's a very stout community out there and it would be nice to see that fandom involved somehow in the development of this plan.

I did ask the U.S. side of things and... it's ongoing. One key thing I think I picked up was that Hasbro is a much larger experience than Nerf. As fans we have to remember that there's a lot going on at there that's more than the community. Transformers, Power Rangers now, and Gaming. Hasbro Gaming accounted for one of the top branches of performance in Hasbro's Business. What does this mean for us? That while yes, maybe arenas will happen, but they will be so much more. As for existing arenas, well, that's another conversation for another day.

Having spoken to a few arena owners in the past, I brought up the subject of possible industrial-grade supplies and ammo. While the feedback was something unique, who knows if the demand is high enough for them to consider it. The stresses of blasters in arena-level usage might match the stress testing at HQ? Still, it was an interesting point to bring up. One new bit of info I heard was the preference of the pump-action grip vs a handle, as while I was here I heard apparently the Artemis handle has a habit of cracking. Bringing this up to the Nerf reps, they were intrigued about how it happened.

There are a few other subjects we broached, but I'll leave those to the walls of the showroom.

Let's talk blasters.




This little surprise is the Delta Trooper. The information wasn't fully given to me in a press kit, so I don't have the price on the Delta Trooper right now (I can't speak for anyone else) but I'll get it as soon as I can. What I can tell you is it is spiritually like a Retaliator (they say the design is a bit modernized, and I can see that with some of the smoother lines on the blaster) and it has slamfire. Even better that this has slamfire and A STOCK. Maybe someone in the comments can remind me, but slamfire on a Recon was a mod at one point, wasn't it? Either way, at first glance and a little bit of usage, it felt pretty cool. I like it.


Next up, Nerf Zombie Strike Scravenger. I believe everyone figured this was the Modulus for Zombie Strike, and they were right. You have the attachments and everything to start off the Scravenger main body, and, and then there will be follow up accessory packs. In addition to the first-ever switch for Slamfire/lever blasting action, the accessories included are a smart-AR two shot jolt, barrel extension, magazine holder, scope, and red sight. The Twinslice (buzz saw blades) and Chop Stock (Axe-tension) are going to be future accessory kits to add-on to the Scravenger, sold separately. The fun part about the Twinslice is it's not the bayonet people initially thought; it's a holster for throwable buzz saw blades. Caught me by surprise, for sure. The Chop Stock is adjustable, and has foam edges. The main construction is plastic, but the edges are foam.

Evader

Chronograph/Ammo counter

The Nerf Ghost Ops Evader is basically a stryfe; stock attach point, single trigger pull per shot, but obviously the grip and feel is a little different. The big features are the light-up aspects of the blaster, but the additional accessory functions as an ammo counter and chronograph. You can start the count at a certain number (say a 35 round drum) and have it count down, or start counting from 0 to count up. The community has been using chronys for testing for years, and Nerf's picked up on the pattern. Additionally, they now have their own ammo counter design out now, but anyone who's been around also knows there's a third party Ammo Counter, who makes a similar (but with significant differences) product. The blaster was a low enough profile that it didn't feel awkward to use, so at this point I think it's pretty neat. Definitely looking forward to seeing it again later this year.


Oh, the Hades. Sweet, sweet, Hades. Huge capacity, slamfire, decent accuracy. At least from what I could tell since the range was full at the time I took the picture and tried the blaster out. The reload is similar to the Artemis, surprising no one. But having the blaster long enough to rest against the shoulder, along with sighting down the barrel, it was super comfortable to use. I recently heard that Artemis handles might break, at the point where it attaches to the blaster, just because of the direction of the force on the handle, versus a shotgun pump grip. I did mention this to Nerf, and they seemed receptive to at least knowing that this happens (and I saw it for myself). Whether that damage happens from inordinate levels of use (necessitating industrial grade plastic or something close) or just super unfortunate user error, or a little of both, I'm not sure. Either way, definitely a really solid feeling and cool blaster for the line. Also, loud. Had to ease up on the slamfire since another group was nearby ;)




The Nerf Mega Thunderhawk....  imposing, aesthetically very interesting, and it feels like a solid and powerful rifle. I'll have video eventually but I think this was still a very prototype model, as the darts drooped a bit for some shots. Maybe it was the ammo, but I'd give this another look at release. One interesting design note is that the magazine is integrated. It starts on the left, and progresses to the right, then when you empty the mag you push it back to the left, like a typewriter. On the one hand, it spares you buying new magazines, but on the other I don't know how left-handed users will receive this. Additionally, the mag sticks out so far I'd be wary of using it indoors just in case there's a narrow doorway and accidents happen. As established the blaster's barrel extension moves manually, no spring-loaded action when moving the bipod. Even the sliding motion feels robust and powerful, there's no other way to describe it. Whether you use the snub nose configuration or extend the barrel, the blaster has weight and a feel of transforming it that really makes a significant noise and feel. As for the Accustrike Mega darts, there's no groove like regular size accustrike darts, and the head is basically solid just flush with the foam body and holes to make a whistle. Worth another look at release definitely.




The Nerf Infinus - what a design. The Quickload technology is new, and pretty freaking awesome. Supposedly works with any mag, and if it jams it knows to shift two times in a row. The door jam is also on the side, so there is a way to get in. You don't have to hold down the accelerator trigger to activate the Quickload either, it's basically "always on." Definitely feels a little heavy in the back, but the blaster is a robust build and feels pretty solid. The blaster is full auto, so you definitely need to reload on the move with something like this. The rate of fire didn't feel as fast as a Hyperfire I think, but given the early state at Toy Fair, I'll give it a pass on that for now. But the new feature worked perfectly, and I am heavily encouraged at seeing that. Definitely something to give a look when it's released as well.



Oh, the PROMETHEUS.



It has its own type of rechargeable battery pack, $199.99 MSRP. So, it's big, expensive, heavy, and LOUD.

But so neat, to put it lightly.

Right off, as shown in the video, the Prometheus stalled at loading. Like the Nemesis, as the hoppers are gravity fed, sometimes the blaster needs to be shaken. While using this akimbo, that gets a little difficult to do consistently. On the handle, there's a safety, accelerator trigger, and firing trigger. In a way, it almost feels like what I would imagine a flightstick on a jet would be with all the switches. It has tactical rails, attach points, a slightly higher rate of fire than most other blasters, and super high capacity. You can also hear that it packs a bit of a punch for a stock blaster. Loading issues aside, it's Nerf's "shock and awe" level blaster and say what you want, but the strategy works. A blaster that's $200, 200 shots, and Rival speeds, what's not to notice about it? The way the blaster is held, at the waist with the strap, almost reminds of seeing Sigourney Weaver as Ripley with a flamethrower in Aliens. The handgrip is different but the stream of ammo and the posture to fire it is satisfying tactile experience. Clearly the blaster won't be for everybody (because cost) but if you manage to get one, it's definitely a good blaster to have, even looking at it this early. The loading is easily solved with a little shaking, and with that much ammo to shoot losing accuracy due to shaking isn't necessarily a concern. ;)



The Nerf Ripchain was different... I didn't expect to see Nerf going with chains again on any blaster any time soon but it looks like they did here. It opens up like a Vulcan, and the belts looks similar to Vulcan chains (so I think that stack of chains I have from the past are going to come back like a pair of retro bellbottoms). One note is that the plastic on the Ripchain chains feels a bit stronger than the old Vulcan chains, interpret that as you will. As for the blaster itself, it has slamfire, is pump-action, and decorated as Zombie Strike is. It felt comfortable enough to shoot, the chains obviously swing around so it's not a blaster you can be sneaky with or run without sounding an alarm. But what's old (chains) is new again here. Much like the zombies in the Zombie Strike universe chains are rising up in Nerf blasters with the Ripchain.

There were also new goggles for Rival, Series 2 of microshots (all still one barrel, Roughcut microshot is still one dart), some new licensed bags and things, and then some new store exclusives, including a Phasma Rival blaster like the Deadpool and Boba Fett sets that were out last year. Deadpool is also going to get an Apollo colored version, so plenty more in store exclusives (Best Buy, Gamestop, and so on) with the Nerf line as well.

Buzz Bee 2018 pricing and info!

Fresh off the press kit, here's the pricing information and copy from the new Buzz Bee items for 2018. Yes, there's a chronograph/distance accessory among them. Yes, it accommodates Rival ammo and Mega ammo.



Covert Squad [MSRP $24.99; Ages 6+]:​ Team up to embark on a covert mission with these two walkie talkie blasters by Buzz Bee Toys. Each blaster has a built in Walkie Talkie with earbud communication that works up to 300 feet range so your opponents won’t hear you coming. With blasting power up to 100 feet, you will be unbeatable!
Additional Notes:
Includes 2 blasters, 8 long distance darts, and 2 sets of earbuds.
  • ●  Velocity X [MSRP $14.99; Ages 6+]:​ The Velocity X by Buzz Bee Toys measures dart speed and distance from any blaster, at any angle. Its versatility offers three modes so you can use in a hand-held position, on a tripod stand, or you can attach it to compatible dart blasters for continuous readings!
  • ●  Mutator [MSRP $29.99; Ages 6+]:​ The Mutator by Buzz Bee Toys offers unparalleled versatility that allows users to expand the barrel, transform the blaster and select distance blasting up to 100 feet or extreme accuracy with PrecisePro darts.
Additional Notes:
Includes blaster, 10 long distance darts, 10 PrecisePro darts, two 10
count clips, and removable stock.
The Walking Dead Abraham’s Demolisher [MSRP $29.99; Ages 6+]: ​You can have the same blasting power as Abraham with this Demolisher by Buzz Bee Toys! This fully automatic, high speed dart blaster with a motorized barrel will blast darts up to 100 feet!
Additional Notes:
  • Includes blaster, 30 long distance darts, dart clip, and shoulder strap.
    Batteries are required.
  • Target Exclusive
Thermal Hunter [MSRP $29.99; Ages 6+]: Escape is not an option with the Thermal Hunter! Its heatseeking scope detects a heat source up to 60 feet away, and its crosshairs will turn red to let you know when you’re on target. Its unbeatable spring power and pump action allows you to blast darts up to 100 feet thanks to Buzz Bee Toy’s long distance darts! The unique design lets you customize and build the perfect blaster with other brand's accessories - and you can even place this scope on other brand's blasters!
Additional Notes:
Includes blaster, 20 long distance darts, heatseeking scope, stock, rail
adapter, and a 10 count dart clip. Batteries are required.
Predator [MSRP $9.99; Ages 6+]:​ Get ready for high-power, bolt action blasting with the Predator! This bolt action dart blaster by Buzz Bee Toys blasts up to 100 feet and also comes with soft and safe foam suction darts that pack staying power like never before! And with its secret storage area, you’ll never have to waste time refilling this blaster.
Additional Notes:
Includes blaster, 4 suction darts, 4 long distance darts, scope adapter,
and scope.
The Walking Dead Andrea’s Rifle [MSRP $14.99; Ages 6+]:​ Put yourself in your favorite Walking Dead character’s shoes with this clip fed, bolt action dart blaster by Buzz Bee Toys! With a detachable scope you’ll be able to see walkers from afar, and you’ll never have to get too close with blasting power up to 100 feet!
Additional Notes:
Includes blaster, scope, 8 long distance darts and an 8 count dart clip.

Nerf Accessories by Jazwares! Nerf Blaster Rack, Nerf LIcensed Bunker sets and MORE

Hey Nerf Nation! I went through the Jazwares showroom the other day to have a look at the latest Nerf accessories and gear coming from their company (as they have the license to make Nerf gear now) and here’s a little rundown of some of the key items I saw. I was not allowed to take photos, but thankfully was allowed to post about this with the pricing. There are some assorted dart pouches, bags, hip holsters, straps, BUT:

The prices are subject to change –

Ankle Blaster Holster - $7.99
Looks like it’s made to accommodate Jolts.

Portable Practice Target – Mesh bag with holes for target practice - $12.99

New goggles (reportedly with swappable lenses, between orange and blue - $6.99

Ultimate Battle Vest - $29.99 (reminiscent of a chest rig)

Ultimate Battle Waist pack - $14.99 (basically a battle belt)

Ultimate Battle Pack (both Vest and Pack together) - $34.99

Hovering Target (like those gift sets with the ping pong balls that float up) - $24.99

Starter Strike Set - $9.99 – maybe a drop leg holster and dart pouch in one pack

Elite Endurance Set - $19.99 – The Starter Strike Set sold with a battle strap

Stealth Striker Set - $19.99 – The battle harness, drop leg, and…. Something else. Not sure what it looks like.

Mobile Gear pack - $19.99 – Battle Harness sold with the Starter Strike items.

Supreme Strategy Pack - $29.99 – Vest and pouches

Total Tactical Pack - $34.99 – Vest, Cinch bag, pouches

Kronos dedicated Holster for Rival - $9.99

FALL 2018 -  BUILD A BUNKER CUBES.
$24.99
Yes, Nerf is making their own inflatable cubes. You can stack and attach with Velcro, and a starter kit will contain 3 cubes. The cubes are maybe 3’ high, if I recall correctly (don’t quote me on that) and are pretty well built. I think it’s a heavier vinyl they are made of, and there’s a notch in the top to act as a barrel rest.



STARTER, Deluxe, Alpha, and The Ultimate Experience Pack Bunker Sets
Starter - $49.99
Deluxe - $69.99
Alpha - $99.99
UEP - $149.99

Jazwares is fashioning 4’ tall bunker supports that will have some Nerf branded camo netting draped between them. The supports will be inflatable but it looks like the bunkers will make a cover 4’ High and 7.5’ Wide. Complete with notches in the top for blasters to rest and holes to peek at the competition through.

BLASTER RACK  (YES.) - $49.99

Looks like Nerf was paying attention during all those #Stockpile Saturdays, they’re finally making a blaster rack. Complete with side hooks, a main storage bay to rack blasters, shelving and a drawer, the set looked pretty cool. This was considered an “introductory” set, so plans for more could be in the works. The height of the initial set I saw was maybe 2-3 feet (tall enough to hold an AlphaHawk) and wide enough in the main spot to hold maybe 6 Retaliators. REALLY cool look, plastic but with a metal rack aesthetic.

Again, no pics were allowed! This is the best I can do, and thanks to Jazwares for letting me publish it! See you on the other side, Nerf Nation.

Some of the Nerf accessories Jazwares produced (the targets, the harness, not the darts.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

New Nerf 2018 - The Road to New York Toy Fair

Nerf Blasts the Internet with Foam Flinging Reveals for 2018

New York Toy Fair is coming! That means a slew of new reveals on a variety of tech/geek outlets across the internet, and Nerf is getting out ahead for 2018. I can't help but think there will be something else out there. Yes, a majority of the products from that secret video some time ago are already revealed now but maybe there is still something to come. Nerdist.com sometimes does reveals as well, it was there that the Doominator showed up. Whether that holds this year remains to be seen. Popular Science is another publication that may still hold the biggest reveal of them all (how you get bigger than the Prometheus... I don't know. Odds are decent though.)

*fair note, I put additional bold formatting beyond the sent copy to highlight features of interest.

NERF RIVAL PHANTOM CORPS HADES XVIII-6000 Blaster
(Ages 14 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $69.99/Available: Fall 2018)

Experience intense head-to-head competition with the NERF RIVAL HADES XVIII-6000 blaster! Load 60 high-impact rounds into the easy-load integrated magazine, prime, and pull the trigger to fire a barrage at your enemies. Whether Team Red, Team Blue, or Phantom Corps, Rival battles will never be the same. Package includes blaster, 60 high-impact rounds, two flags and instructions. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and on HasbroToyShop.com.


NERF N-STRIKE ELITE INFINUS Blaster
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $69.99/Available: Fall 2018)

Load and fire fast with the NERF N-STRIKE ELITE INFINUS blaster! The INFINUS blaster features motorized Quick-Load Technology; as kids feed darts into the blaster, the darts are automatically loaded into the 30-dart removable drum. With motorized, rapid-fire blasting, kids can quickly unleash a barrage of darts on their targets. Hold down the acceleration button to power up the blaster, then pull the trigger to fire. The INFINUS blaster includes 30 Elite darts. Requires 4 D batteries, not included. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and on HasbroToyShop.com. 
NERF MODULUS GHOST OPS EVADER Blaster
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $39.99/Available: Fall 2018)

Stay in stealth mode or light the way with the NERF MODULUS GHOST OPS EVADER blaster! Part of the GHOST OPS series, the MODULUS EVADER is completely clear to keep players undetected on any mission. Illuminate the blaster to guide the way in low-light situations by pressing the light activator. Customize the blaster with the barrel extension which lights up when attached to the blaster. Load the 12-dart clip into the Evader blaster, take aim, and unleash 12 darts in a row with rapid-fire motorized blasting. Enemies will never see you coming! Package includes blaster, clip housing cover, barrel extension, 12-dart clip 12 darts, and instructions. Requires 4 “AA” alkaline batteries (demo batteries included). Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and on HasbroToyShop.com.

NERF ZOMBIE STRIKE SURVIVAL SYSTEM SCRAVENGER Blaster 
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $49.99/Available: Fall 2018)

Zombie survivors are prepared for anything with the NERF ZOMBIE STRIKE SURVIVAL SYSTEM SCRAVENGER blaster! This essential zombie defense kit keeps battlers ready for any zombifying challenge that comes their way. Load a 12-dart clip into the SCRAVENGER and unleash a dozen darts in a row. Grab the extra clip from the holder and slam-fire the zombies away with the on/off slam-fire button, or stabilize shots with the stock/blaster attachment to never miss a target. The 2-dart back-up blaster allows battlers to surprise oncoming zombies who will never see it coming. Package includes blaster, stock with blaster, scope, tactical light, barrel extension, two 12-dart clips, 26 ZOMBIE STRIKE ELITE darts, and instructions. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and on HasbroToyShop.com.




NERF RIVAL PROMETHEUS MXVIII-20K Blaster
(Ages 14 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $199.99/Available: Fall 2018)

Head into battle blazing to take on the competition with the NERF RIVAL PROMETHEUS MXVIII-20K blaster! This blaster features the new ADVANCED ACCELERATION SYSTEM which allows it to fire at a rate of 8 high-impact rounds per second! This blaster also holds a whopping 200 high-impact rounds in its easy-load hopper. The PROMETHEUS MXVIII-20K blaster is fully motorized with a rechargeable NiMh battery for endless fun. Package includes blaster, 200 high-impact rounds, rechargeable NiMh battery, charger, two flags, shoulder strap and instructions. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and on HasbroToyShop.com.





NERF ACCUSTRIKE MEGA THUNDERHAWK Blaster
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $49.99/Available: Fall 2018)

Introducing Nerf’s first ever MEGA ACCUSTRIKE blaster! Blast with power and precision with the NERF MEGA THUNDERHAWK blaster. The barrel extension slides back and forth on the top of the blaster for custom performance allowing for distance targeting or a more compact blaster. The THUNDERHAWK allows for steady shots with the flip-down bipod for MEGA performance with ACCUSTRIKE accuracy. The THUNDERHAWK blaster includes a 10-dart, side-loading indexing clip and 10 NERF MEGA ACCUSTRIKE darts. Also compatible with NERF MEGA darts. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and on HasbroToyShop.com.



Ultimately, Nerf once again is going for premium pricing for their higher visibility blasters. The addition of Accustrike Mega Darts, a faster firing rate from the Prometheus, Quick-load technology, and a slam-fire on/off switch... those are some interesting features for this year. New York Toy Fair will be something else, for sure this year. There will undoubtedly be the smaller range items that have a soft release over the course of the year, so don't be surprised to see additional blasters release as the year continues. But that's a thought for another day. Thanks for reading, and make sure to watch for new edits and blog posts as the days to Toy Fair continue to pass!

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Nerf Infinus and Nerf Mega Thunderhawk Debut on Gizmodo

Nerf sent out the Press info for the Nerf Infinus and Nerf Mega Thunderhawk yesterday, and here you go!


NERF N-STRIKE ELITE INFINUS Blaster
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $69.99/Available: Fall 2018)
Load and fire fast with the NERF N-STRIKE ELITE INFINUS blaster! The INFINUS blaster features motorized Quick-Load Technology; as kids feed darts into the blaster, the darts are automatically loaded into the 30-dart removable drum. With motorized, rapid-fire blasting, kids can quickly unleash a barrage of darts on their targets. Hold down the acceleration button to power up the blaster, then pull the trigger to fire. The INFINUS blaster includes 30 Elite darts. Requires 4 D batteries, not included. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and on HasbroToyShop.com.



NERF ACCUSTRIKE MEGA THUNDERHAWK Blaster
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $49.99/Available: Fall 2018)
Introducing Nerf’s first ever MEGA ACCUSTRIKE blaster! Blast with power and precision with the NERF MEGA THUNDERHAWK blaster. The barrel extension slides back and forth on the top of the blaster for custom performance allowing for distance targeting or a more compact blaster. The THUNDERHAWK allows for steady shots with the flip-down bipod for MEGA performance with ACCUSTRIKE accuracy. The THUNDERHAWK blaster includes a 10-dart, side-loading indexing clip and 10 NERF MEGA ACCUSTRIKE darts. Also compatible with NERF MEGA darts. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and on HasbroToyShop.com.

The Thunderhawk has this little feature (not in this picture) where the barrel pops out, after flipping out the bipod. Not really for performance but man that probably looks cool. The Infinus seems to have an innovative magazine loading funnel in the stock, so It will be interesting to see how that comes out.

More on this later, gotta get to work. But enjoy the pics and the speculation! Don't forget I will be at New York Toy Fair, Feb 17-19. Make sure to check this space and my coverage on my social channels as well!




Gizmodo Article HERE

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Year in Review - Nerf, Buzz Bee, Zuru, and more - The Blasters, the Fails, the Wins, the Ugly

YEAR IN REVIEW: BLASTERS AND MOAR BLASTERS
Vas The Stampede

Blogger note: Each section will not encompass ALL releases for each brand. I am choosing highlights for each.

Nerf Nemesis. One highlight from 2017
NERF CONTINUES TO INNOVATE FOR 2017, BUT ALSO BLASTS YOUR WALLET.

2017. Probably one of the craziest years for blasters thus far. Nerf continues to hit some really high notes with their Rival line, continued world-building with Alien Menace, Doomlands, and hitting stride with continued products for Zombie Strike. However, they also continue to push the envelope when it comes to prices. While they are establishing themselves as the de facto blaster brand (so much that the brand has become eponymous with blaster battle play and games) they also establish with Nerf you get a premium product but also at a premium price.

The Nemesis, Regulator, Judge, Twinshock and even Dreadbolt were all 2017 releases and while impressive big blasters, the lowest of the bunch was $39.99 approximately. The Voidcaster, a semiauto spring pistol also released at around the $19.99 mark. The Raptorstrike looked great but it was another bolt-action rifle and while impressive aesthetically wasn't functionality we hadn't seen in previous blasters (bolt-action, magfed, accustrike ammo, etc.) The new blasters for the most part were cool in their own right -

Nerf Mega Twinshock


  • Nemesis - gravity fed hopper, 100 rounds before empty, usable with the Nerf Battery pack, overall just a great addition and a huge step for toy blaster play, although at $99.99
  • The Judge - a multishot functionality (3 dart bursts) but HUGE, and expensive.
  • Regulator - a blaster that introduced 3 dart bursts (a function also used in the Nerf Wii game a few years ago) but also a select-fire switch, a huge feature to go from burst, single, and full auto in a blaster. Bonus points for Modulus functionality to add more accessories. If the Nemesis hadn't released this might have been my favorite from Nerf this year.
  • Voidcaster - Another semiauto blaster. Just a lot of fun and a function that needs to be used more often.
The jewel of the Nerf releases I think was clearly the continued monster offering from Nerf Rival. Higher fps, higher capacity, even at the prices it's what the community was doing and Nerf made an offer for folks to step up their experience right out of the box. The Nemesis is costly, but that just makes blasters like the Hera, Kronos, even Khaos (with mags now sold separately) a bit more accessible and reasonable by comparison. And the Hera and Kronos were sleeper releases that weren't a Toy Fair but were a huge hit when they came out, adding functionality to the Rival line of a semiauto flywheel Rival blaster and a 5 shot pistol with an internal magazine.

Not to even begin on the licensing for Deadpool, and Star Wars blasters that are perform pretty well (though I'll say I wasn't excited to see the Boba Fett Apollo kit), Nerf continues to keep the market stocked with a good amount of product for shelves. It'll be interesting to see where Nerf goes next (and a leaked video earlier this year hinted at Bigger than a Nemesis, maybe even a Rival rifle.... a Rivle?) and with all the sub brands they have you can only expet more Nerf on the shelves for the coming year (some of which has already leaked onto shelves early, including the Mediator and Tri-Break.) If I had to nitpick anywhere, I wish there was more range out of the Judge, and maybe something new besides another rifle for Accustrike. Impressive as the lineup was in places, there is still some room for improvement and maybe some concepts I would like to see revisited. The Signature Bow was another great item, albeit not your usual blaster fare.

Toss in the additional licensed products from Sakar and Jazwares, there will be a full array of toys, accessories, and items to choose from to add on this year. Nerf continues to pave the way for other brands. And yes, there were also a bunch of smaller releases, repaints, exclusives, but these are the highlights that stuck out most for me. Dare I say it Nerf continues to set a gold standard for blasters in mass market, and whatever innovations they make definitely find their market amongst hardcore fans and casual players alike.

Don't sleep on the competition - "Nerf or Nothin'" =/=.... Buzz Bee, Dart Zone, Zuru....

Competition is healthy! It's so good. And when the competition is like this, the real winners are the players.

Buzz Bee came out swinging, releasing the Thermal Hunter, Zenith, Barbarian, Tactical Storm, Dwight's Crossbow (for "The Walking Dead").... all for lower prices than Nerf blasters. The highlights were not only the number of pump-action blasters they made, but some accessory innovation with the Thermal Sensor (shown below!)

Buzz Bee also made magazines that were cross-compatible with Nerf blasters, new ammo types (Precision, Long Distance, in addition to sucker darts) that were compatible with Nerf blasters, even an adapter to make the Thermal Sensor usable on Nerf Tactical rails.

The Thermal Hunter was by and large the most comfortable blaster from this line for me, and the pump-action gave it the advantage over the Tactical Storm. I also have the Monorail (thanks for the sample, Buzz Bee!) but man.... the issues about it loading are pretty apparent. It does jam on me quite a bit from just the initial testings I've done, and considering how excited I was at Toy Fair I was a bit frustrated with the final product. Great idea, great look, but I wish the experience with the Monorail so far hadn't left me wanting.

All the same, heck of a year for Buzz Bee releases. They really stepped up to provide an alternative dart flinger for Nerf, and at the prices they have the offerings are pretty good! If you're a blaster player on a budget, don't sleep on Buzz Bee toys. You definitely get what you pay for and a lot extra, I think. They still haven't made their comparable Nerf Rival blaster, but that brings me to...
With the Thermal Hunter
Dart Zone (Covert Ops!) I used to dub Zing Toys the Dark Horse of the blaster/launcher category.

As Zing hasn't had a new release in some time (that I've heard about) besides some Costco gift packs... I pass that onto Dart Zone. It wasn't enough that they released the Enforcer, Light Command, Dartstorm, but they made a real splash this year with.... 


Much like what happened with Buzz Bee, Dart Zone has made a comparable product to Nerf Rival, but cheaper than any other offering from Nerf. $20 for the Powerball, and it's cross-compatible with Nerf Rival ammo and magazines. The performance is comparable, in range and accuracy. No slam-fire still from these blasters but that's not a big deal at all considering what you are getting. On top of the ability to use Nerf mags, the BallistixOps blaster comes with a gravity fed hopper, so depending on your style of play you can use either. You have choices. And buying this blaster won't put you out against anything else except maybe the battery operated Rival blasters. And even then, there are plans for a new blaster called "The Accelerator".

Dart Zone again makes the case for a budget buy that offers near-premium performance. You won't go wrong giving this brand a second look in 2018. Their dart blasters are fantastically strong out of the box as well, but the BallistixOps definitely made their mark this year.

Welcome to the.... ZU (Zuru/Xshot)

Zuru by and large may arguably have the BEST value of blasters and darts. Knowing some of their manufacturing methods, their darts come in crazy packages of refills, but there is a caveat with that. While their blasters accommodate nerf darts, the darts are a little shorter than Nerf darts. In early Zuru mags, Nerf darts were way too long and weren't cross-compatible. The Bug Attack Crossbow fixed that, but it made the magazine and Crossbow unusable with earlier smaller Xshot magazines, a huge oversight on their part in my opinion. Zuru darts however might hiccup in a Nerf magazine but they work a large part of the time. 

This year, Zuru put out the much lauded Turbo Advance and the Regenerator.... both really decent blasters. The Turbo Advance may have the advantage in my opinion though, as the blaster only needs to be reloaded via the drum while the Regenerator has two new clip styles and you have to refill those as you go. But the blasters are pump-action which I like, and in addition to the cost Zuru continues to chug along cranking out low cost products for good ranges and decent quality. Another brand that undercuts the premium pricing you find at Nerf with good options that don't have the spectacle and aggressiveness of Nerf, but fire almost as well as anything else. Again, another brand you won't regret saving a few bucks on.

The E-thir (Third Party companies/products)

Nerf says to use only products with the Nerf seal of approval, and there's a litany of legal reasons they have to say that to people. Nerf's brand has become synonymous with toy projectile play - practically anything that shoots a foam dart, arrow, ball, etc. gets referred to as a Nerf toy. Something goes wrong, like a third party dart injures a kid (anyone who used FVJs and found those uncomfortable to get hit with for instance) or some other product breaks and damages a kid's toy, it's Nerf who initially may get put on the hook for it. To my experience, the third party products I've used (Headshot ammo, shout out to them for providing a pretty decent Rival alternative) have so far been ok, but that doesn't necessarily mean all of them will be. With the advent of 3D printing, information exchanges on the internet, and Amazon availability, the third party products available now is at a crazy level. That being said, yes, you may find some products perform better than Nerf products and that's great. Common sense, not all Nerf products are created equal and not everything "for use with" Nerf is Nerf made nor may it be as safe as a product made by Nerf, or any other retailer that makes their products compatible for Nerf but also make their products for mass market (that means Dart Zone, Zuru, Buzz Bee). Just use common sense, read reviews, ask for recommendations, and happy hunting.

Bring me that horizon:

They're still out there, and I hope to follow up on them at Toy Fair 2018, but Marshmallow Shooters, Paper Shooters, and Precision RBS are still out there and making products! Alternammo from foam darts are still around, so make sure to stay tuned here to find out more as I get info from them. 

Accessories! Modular battlefields!

Earlier I touched on licensed products by Jazwares, utilizing the Nerf brand (those are ok!)


Get familiar with these brands, as they offer ways to create your own adventures and battlefields in two very different ways. Battle Bunkerz offers inflatable barrels, drums, boxes, etc. that you can set up for your own purposes, like they do on Battle Universe. They look really cool aesthetically, and I do need to get these out in the field to try out for myself (it's winter, and going outside is tough right now in Illinois! Indoor places by me are also few and far between. :P)

Fort Boards (and their sister product, Blaster Boards) are a bit costly to make a HUGE fort, but even the starter kits available can help make some decent panel obstacles for a small battlefield. The blaster board targets make for good objective and target shooting game play, while you also have the added benefit of a construction and fort building kit to add just a little more panache to your battlefield, whether indoor or out. It's the first year I've seen other companies try to market directly to blaster play communities, and it's interesting to see how everything plays out. The fact that these products exist and have an audience in this manner show that blaster play patterns are really coming to light. Yes, couches, chairs, and tables may still rule the field, but they don't have to be the only things at risk (and these may save a lamp or two!)


WHEW! What did I miss? 2017 was a big year for blasters and associated products, feel free to sound off and let me know what you want to see in 2018! Happy new year, everyone!


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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Nerf RevReaper Firing Video and Demo! (Written portion inbound)

Nerf RevReaper Firing Demo -

MSRP: $24.99
Available now on Amazon!



Written thoughts to come! Check back later, but in the meantime, enjoy the video :)


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