Sunday, May 29, 2016

Game time: MANO group shot

No time like field time... we are in this hobby with projectile launching toys. Nerf war today! Group shot! Runnin' with the guys and gals of MANO in Wisconsin!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Nerf Mega Mastodon - Firing video from New York Toy Fair

Nerf Mega Mastodon Firing Video from New York Toy Fair
VasTheStampede



Took me wayyy too long to get this edit done! But, here it is, hope you still garner some enjoyment from it. The upcoming Nerf Mega Mastodon, and my firing it during New York Toy Fair 2016. I'll have more to say when I get the final production samples later this year, but for the moment I'm going to reserve my judgment. It's a HUGE blaster, though! I'll have a few more older Nerf videos to post, so there's more on the way!

Monday, May 09, 2016

Precision RBS Firing videos



A long time coming, here is a playlist of the firing videos I've made of the Precision RBS shooters. Feel free to subscribe, and hopefully give me a "Like" on a video or two!

Part 1 of the Review
Part 2 of the Review (exclusive Q&A with the inventor)

Friday, May 06, 2016

Nerf (And CNET) show: THE TERRASCOUT

New Nerf RC Tank Drone Terrascout Follows in Wake of Terradrone
VasTheStampede

Thanks to Nerf for the images and the info! Hot off the CNET presses, here you are about the upcoming Terrascout.

NERF N-STRIKE ELITE TERRASCOUT RC DRONE Blaster
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $199.99/Available: Fall 2016)
Get the drop on your friends with the N-STRIKE ELITE TERRASCOUT RC DRONE! This remote controlled blaster drone features high-speed, all terrain tracks (not for use in wet conditions) for quick strikes and an 18 dart clip for remote bombardment. Kids can use the live video feed featured on the controller’s LCD screen to scout the battlefield, locate targets and plan their attack.  Maneuver the angle of the drone’s blaster remotely, and fire a single-dart by pressing and releasing the trigger, or hold down for extreme rapid-fire blasting in battle. Record audio and 720p HD video to an SD card (not included) and share epic battles and campaigns with family and friends. The controller will slide onto the back of the drone’s blaster and snap into place for storage. This product is for use in and outdoors. The drone also includes tactical rails, compatible with N-STRIKE ELITE accessories, each sold separately. Controller requires 4 AA batteries (not included). Includes blaster, camera, remote control with LCD screen, rechargeable NiMh battery, charger, and 18 N-STRIKE ELITE darts. Available at most major retailers nationwide and HasbroToyShop.com.

Nerf Terrascout! MSRP: $199.99



Rechargeable battery? Remotely controlled angle of fire? WHAT?

*Ahem* sorry. So after the Terradrone here we have the Terrascout! From what I'm told this isn't made by a 3rd party licensee, it's all Nerf here. I thought some of the earlier incarnations of remotely controlled dart robots were pretty awesome, and this is making some interesting claims. I'd be interested to see it! The $199.99 tag is a bit hefty for something this novel, given the upcoming other HUGE MONEY releases (Platinum Bow and Mastodon, I'm looking at you) but toys like this are always a bit of fun, whether you're hardcore about your blaster battles or just like to tag your coworkers with foam darts (like I do!) Anyway, there you go now get outside and play!


Originally reported at cnet.com

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Precision RBS - Part 2! Exclusive Q&A with the Inventor

F2A Exclusive: Q&A with Ben Stack, Inventor of the Precision RBS
Vas The Stampede

Many thanks again to Super Impulse and Precision RBS for the samples, and this Q&A with Ben Stack, the inventor of the Precision RBS Launchers! I met Ben at New York Toy Fair, and followed up in email with a series of questions. I thank him for the time he took to answer them. His responses are in bold.

Ben on the right, at New York Toy Fair

- What did you study? Feel free to share a little info about yourself such as hobbies and experience in toy industry.

I most recently went to school for product design, but I had a bit of a background before that in engineering from various hobbies and jobs making things. I've dabbled in robotics, carpentry, soft goods, and yes, many years of projectile launchers and other homemade entertainment.

- How long was RBS  in development?


It's hard to say when Precision RBS as a potential product line really started. I've been launching rubberbands since I was about 6 when my brother and I made clothespin launchers with my father. That's when I accidentally discovered the "rifling" or "spinning" technique that Precision RBS still uses today.

In high school, after making dozens of launchers in middle school, I set out to really perfect a modular, high performance series of launchers. In college, I took the concept to a more finished state as my thesis project, where I was connected to SI and we then spent another busy few months converting the line to a robust injection moldable ABS design. Taking out the off years in between, I'd say there's at least 5 years of my own development work in these 3 products we have now.





The core pistols of Precision RBS launchers


- Can you talk about what inspiration you drew on for the look of the RBS shooters?

Precision RBS from the start was conceived as a skill toy that you could actually use safely in public without any worries. This meant throwing the visual concept of a "gun" out the window and really striving for something cool that wasn't threatening. Science fiction and sports equipment was the only place you could find that. I went through hundreds of renderings, color combinations, and graphical applications before settling on what we have today.

- Why rubber band ammo? What advantages do you find there vs other mediums, and how is RBS different from what is out there currently, including among other rubber band shooters? 
The Hyperion: note the included pack of all three rubber band sizes.
Rubber bands are cheap, plentiful, multi-use, accessible to anyone anywhere, versatile, but most of all accurate! What fun is trying build your skills launching projectiles if you're not going to reliably hit what you're aiming at? Rubber bands are just the most amazing indoor target practice ammo. Rubber bands don't bounce and roll away into dark corners either, to be forever lost. Rubber bands don't get crushed if you step on them. They actually are affected by wind less than foam too, as the cross section density is higher.

The main thing holding back rubber bands all these years has been accuracy and range, and I think we've finally cracked it. When properly "rifled", 117 rubber bands can reach out to 50 ft with a shot grouping well inside a standing silhouette. Inside of 30 feet, the grouping gets down to about 6 inches across. Fly hunting starts happening at around 8 feet.

Finally, and this is one that tends to get overlooked, escapement rubber band launchers basically act like a beautiful hybrid between flywheel and springer launchers: high rate of fire without any rev-up time or pumping. Your ROF is practically unlimited, it's however fast you can pull the trigger. Just like flywheel blasters, you never have to readjust your sight picture until your launcher is empty.

I want to emphasize: Rubber bands shine when the target is behind cover and the window of opportunity is short.

As for other rubber band launchers out there, we're committed to using all standard sized rubber bands so you have the option of refilling in bulk at office supply stores. On top of that, we've packed in just so many features unique to my rubber band launchers I've designed over my life, like the ability to always launch and store multiple sizes of rubber band, and the modular "barrel" lengths (wow, a barrel that actually does something?).


- Do you recommend certain shooters for certain ages?

Not really! It's the band size that makes the difference. All of our precision RBS launchers are safety tested for ages 8+ and have been play tested by all ages, but loading size 117 bands can be more difficult for young kids. It's not that it takes a great amount of force to draw the band back, but more that it is a long draw length, almost 24 inches. It usually just means younger kids have to brace the launcher against the ground to load it.

What's really awesome with rubber bands is the size of the band really makes a performance difference.

Size 117 bands reduce the number you can load at one time down to 6, but increase range out to 50 feet with high accuracy. The size 33 is the sweet spot for indoor play in the middle, giving medium range, about 35 feet, and around 8-10 in loading capacity. Size 16s are for quantity over quality, giving you up to 12 shots with around 30 feet of range and close-in accuracy.


- How many designs do you have in mind past the launch?

Oh wow, so many. I have a lifetime of folders for this stuff. These first 3 are the basic, "standard issue" series, and we're starting to get more specialized in next year's line.

- I noticed a holster, will those be available as well in the future?

I definitely had holsters in mind when I designed the core "pistol" style launcher, but we're not sure how it would fit in the line yet. It might be soon, it might be later. We'll see how it works out.

- What is your favorite feature about any of the blasters?


The Chiron

I have a soft spot for Chiron in general as it was the first Precision RBS launcher that I concepted in high school for high speed play. It's designed to be versatile, able to take on both long ranged Hyperion and high capacity dual wielders by maximizing size 33 reload rate with the Quick Loader, and able to launch the 117 bands with the hand launcher. Masters of the hand launcher should be able to pickup, load, and launch 117 bands in a single motion, which can overwhelm the slower-to- load Hyperion, and out-range the smaller two bands.

Lots of info and insight, thanks again to Ben for taking the time to answer my questions! I'll be updating this post later today with some additional video on the Precision RBS launchers, but until then see you next time. If you haven't already, don't forget to check out Part 1 here.

Precision RBS Firing video playlist here:

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Precision RBS: Rubber Band Shooter Rundown - Part 1!


Super Impulse’s Precision RBS – Rubber band launching system

EDIT: updated with firing video playlist - 

The fine folks at Super Impulse provided samples of their latest offering, a rubber band shooting system called the Precision RBS. All opinions remain my own.

I first ran into Precision RBS at New York Toy Fair in February 2016. It was a new type of rubber band launcher, not to be confused with a previous brand the year before. Precision RBS offered something different from that previous toy in a variety of differences. It used normal rubber bands you could find at any major retailer, didn’t need a magazine, and most importantly HAD A FUNCTIONING TRIGGER. I saw 3 different models, each offering a little twist on rubber band launching. Aesthetically, I found the Precision RBS models elegant, with the smooth lines and round shape of the each shooter very different from many of the angular toys on the market today, adopting an alien/futuristic look, and the colors really stood out as well.


The Basics:




TALOS
"The lightweight Talos holds up to 20 rubber bands in two sizes, launches up to 30 feet and includes a built-in extender for even more power when you need it. It’s perfect for quick, smooth action.
MSRP: $14.99
Age: 8+"


CHIRON
"The Chiron has storage for up to 100 rubber bands, so you’ll never run out of ammo! Other features include the quick-loading design and a release option to separate into 2 completely different RBS Shooters, including a hand launcher. You’ll dominate your opponent with tons of ammo power!
MSRP: $19.99
Age: 8+"




HYPERION
"Nothing surpasses the Hyperion: with pinpoint accuracy and extended range! Capacity to hold three different band sizes, with extra side storage. Plus Hyperion has an unbelievable BURST feature and can launch 14 bands at once!
MSRP: $24.99
Ages: 8+"

Right away, the entire line is a relatively low cost offering, and with easily available rubber band ammo in large packs (and a secondary use as a tool around the house), there are a few perks before even talking about the toys themselves.

I mentioned my favorite parts of the aesthetics of the Precision RBS shooters. Besides the looks, the Talos has a very comfortable grip, and each toy makes uses of the body of the launcher, removing the necessity for attachments and accessories. The ammo holders are built INTO the body of the launcher, but by no means do they take away from the structure or the solid feel of the toys. Depending on the model, the ammo storage ranges from “adequate” on the Hyperion to “overwhelming” on the Chiron. But it’s these differences that really make for a compelling case at buying either model past the Talos.



The Talos acts as the “base” model of the line, while the Chiron and Hyperion are attachments onto the Talos that add another dimension to how you play with the launcher. The Chiron adds a humongous amount of ammo storage, along with the ability to shoot larger ammo and split into the Talos and a manually fired frame to shoot rubber bands from. For parents, this could easily be considered a two-player pack where one can use the pistol form and the other the hand launcher. The manual frame of the Chiron is easy to reload with practice, and can fire any size rubber band without an attachment, unlike the other models that can only fit one of the three standard sizes at any time. Here are the features among each launcher:

  • The Talos has an “extender arm” which allows it to shoot two different sized bands.
  • The Chiron adds an additional ammo holder and essentially a second manual shooter to go with the included Talos. Larger rubber bands may be shot on the Chiron as well when connected or separate from the Talos
  • The Hyperion can use small, medium, and large rubber bands, has an ammo holder for each type, and an undermounted shooter that sprays rubber bands or can shoot a massive clump of them at once.

The Talos pack is comprises of the Talos and two different sizes of rubber bands. The Chiron includes the Talos and the Chiron attachment/frame to shoot rubber bands by hand (and it protects your hand from being spiked by the rubber band upon launch). The Hyperion comes with all three different sizes of rubber bands as well as a Talos and the attachment for the Hyperion.

The rubber band ammo is pretty cool! Here’s how you load a Precision RBS launcher.

Why rubber bands? I’ll post an interview in part 2, but here’s a quote from the inventor, Ben Stack:

“What's really awesome with rubber bands is the size of the band really makes a performance difference. Size 117 bands reduce the number you can load at one time down to 6, but increase range out to 50 feet with high accuracy. The size 33 is the sweet spot for indoor play in the middle, giving medium range, about 35 feet, and around 8-10 in loading capacity. Size 16s are for quantity over quality, giving you up to 12 shots with around 30 feet of range and close-in accuracy.



The rubber bands aren’t a perfect solution, though. The smaller sizes are particularly hard to see and find again, even at close range. I’d be hesitant to use them in a park area with wildlife. I am not sure I would use the line at all outside in a park, given how difficult it might be to gather the rubber bands up again. Maybe a concrete outside structure, but I’m too worried about the local woodland creatures. Also, the rubber bands in windy weather lose a lot of “oomph” and are very hard to aim, if they even reach their target. Not unlike other similar toys shot in the wind, but rubber bands are especially vulnerable to the elements. These toys excel indoors, and given the amount of cover in a home and/or office, Precision RBS would definitely offer a very intense play experience. And if you’re worried about pain, it’s minute and extremely temporary. The worst I ever felt was shooting my palm point blank with the Talos, and taking a hit 10’ away from the Hyperion. Otherwise, most of the energy is dispersed seconds after launching the rubber bands, and contact doesn’t hurt a lot, if at all. Considering the “pain scale” nurses might use, it goes from a 6 to a 1 in a matter of seconds of flight. My biggest recommendation is eye protection, because accidents do happen.

Edit: I wanted to capture a few more thoughts I had on this toy after the initial review - 5/4/16

One really neat trick about the rubber bands is the ability to "shotgun" them on a single nock, or in the case of the Hyperion one big clump of rubberbands instead of a stream of them. You can also shotgun load them onto the ammo holders, which makes restocking your reserve ammo elementary in practice. While shotgunning is possible with other toys, it's not quite like this, and it's pretty cool!

I found the launchers in Precision RBS very comfortable to hold, it didn't feel built for small hands as some toys in the 8+ range are. And even if something like the Talos is oversized, there's always the Chiron, probably the most versatile toy in the bunch because of the manual firing option. I almost wish the Hyperion had a stock, but it's unnecessary. Its omission also probably helped keep costs low on the line, and again I find the prices a winner. Even moreso because of the lack of inherent costs in restocking a proprietary ammo, since the rubber bands are available everywhere.

Ammo holders on the Hyperion


And don’t let the various types of ammo dissuade you! I’ve found that with practice you can load multiple types of rubber band ammo onto the RBS, and as I mentioned with the Chiron frame it doesn’t matter.

It’s ingenious how the Precision RBS launchers are designed. The shooters barely have any moving components, outside of the nock wheel, the extender arm, and the slide on the Hyperion. The rubber band ammo is a self-contained propulsion projectile. I see those factors eliminating needs for maintenance to the toys, leaving not as many chances for a launcher to fail or misfire during a game. No fiddling with gears or wondering if your plunger is damaged, no spring tension or air bladders to worry about. Everything about the launcher is right there in front of you. It’s that simplicity of the Precision RBS that I really like, combined with the cost and ease of use this is a good buy for anyone looking to add something new to their arsenal or activities. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow, where I release exclusive F2A Q&A I had with Ben, the inventor of the RBS launchers. I'll also update with videos on these launchers tomorrow as well. Thanks!

Saturday, April 02, 2016

5 Tips to be a Gracious Nerf Game Host (Friday 5, well, it's Friday somewhere still)

5 Tips to Being a Good Nerf Game Host
Vas The Stampede



Once again, I asked Hummer from the M.A.N.O (Milwaukee Area Wisconsin Nerf Out) Group for his thoughts on what it takes to be a good Nerf game host. A lot of games I've attended all started (for better or worse) from someone saying, "This day, this time, here are the rules..." and so on. Hummer's held and attended his own fair share of Nerf blaster/Dart Tag games in a variety of settings, so if I have to bounce ideas off anyone, it's him. The events he runs keep blasters minimally modded (if at all), using a community bin of store bought elite darts (no one really has to bring any, and a few other aspects that make the game accessible for first timers and folks who don't heavily mod their blasters.
His system works for me, and the group he runs with.Whether you agree with his tips or not, that's up to you.
  1. Have fun. You are playing with toy blasters, act like it.
  2. Don't have a schedule. Play what your group wants to play.
  3. Don't be afraid to try out new gametypes or variants of ones you already play.
  4. Downtime/resting is good to keep your players socialized and keeping their energy up throughout the day, but have the next game announced during that downtime & be ready to kick your players into action.
  5. Be the first one there/last one gone. Get there about 15 minutes early to get yourself setup/take a glance at the field for anything you don't want to be there while you're playing (Broken glass, sticks, Squirrels, ect.) And leave last and cleanup trash around the field, even if it isn't yours. 
 #1 is my favorite out of this list, because at the end of the day we want to go to a Nerf enthusiast meetup and have fun, make some friends, and toss some foam around. It's too easy to get caught up in group politics, ego, and competition (just like in anything) and forget why we picked up blasters in the first place. I will add a few other tips out of my own experience as well:

F2Addendums:
  • While you don't want a schedule, a written list of gametypes to select from doesn't hurt.
  • Duct tape. This rule should also apply to life.
  • Have a tool kit and extra batteries handy.
  • A method to divide people into teams quickly (a deck of cards, a handful of darts, flagging tape, whatever).
  • DO NOT FORGET TO HYDRATE.

Now get out there and Rule #1!

FOAMME FATALES

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