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 :)


Friday, December 01, 2017

Dart Zone 2018 New Blasters -Titanium & Accelerator (Adventure Force, Wal-Mart line)

New Adventure Force "Tactical Strike" blasters, from BallistixOps releases from Dart Zone, approximately January 2018! (compatible with Nerf Rival)





Fresh new info from Dart Zone, aka Prime Time Toys!

High-res photos too!








Priced again at just under the cost of other brands, Dart Zone sent over a press release of their new offerings coming to 2018. Under Walmart's "Adventure Force" brand, the "Tactical Strike" line is where to find these new blasters. I'm not sure what effect this will have on future releases, whether these will be for Walmart only (although in the case of the Powerball, Tactical Strike will have its own paint scheme) but for now I don't have any info that shows these will be anywhere else.

Queued up is the Accelerator blaster, what looks to be a flywheel, 6D battery monstrosity and the Titanium, another pump-action blaster. A little reminiscent of the original Powerball with a different handle. The new aesthetics look pretty cool though, for sure. What's new are ammo reloads (Dart Zone is making their own Rival-style ammo) and a mask along with the blasters. As I am all about the details, the blasters and the masks look to have interchangeable color plates for team indicators. Blue, Red, Green for starters (compared to the All-or-nothing color schemes for Blue, Red, and Phantom on the Nerf side of things.) And ultimately the price is definitely nothing to sneeze at considering the current market for 14+ foam projectiles. As a believer in stock play (not that it's the only way, but I do appreciate my experience straight out of the box) this is a pretty strong toy. And yes, comparable to Nerf performance the Powerball is a smaller profile blaster, and compatible with Nerf Rival magazines. The only real shortcoming is no slam-fire but maybe one day.

I may have samples after the holidays, we'll have to see! The official release date is January 15 so don't be surprised if these start popping up around then.


Exciting times, comrades. Dart Zone offers a fine product and if you're curious here's a firing video I did when I first got the Powerball:




Going to give these a go? Don't forget to check out Walmart later this month (or January at the latest) to see if you can find them!

For you YouTube watchers:

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Recoil: The World is Now Game - For the holidays!

This blog post is sponsored by Skyrocket. Thank you!




Hot Buy for the Holiday - Recoil: The World is Now Game by Skyrocket!

Laser Tag, AR airstrikes, power ups, minimal cleanup. Indoor play during the winter months? Definitely!

First: Outdoor play as shown by Sam and Niko on YouTube, also Node, Corridor Digital, etc.



And a poignant video by Nerdist here

The game clearly excels outdoors. There's more room to move, you have AR tags that you can scan, the GPS tracking is enabled (a big selling point to the toy and the enhancing the video game feel), teammates carry ammo and can share it with you, and if you don't have ammo there's an element of realism in making you run back to your base to reload. Respawn points are on the field and you have to report back there as opposed to respawning where you stand.

Indoors, the game is a little different. No GPS tracking, unlimited respawns and reloads. The grenade device still works inside though, and indoors it was a really entertaining element to have. But more on that later. That being said, the reload is NOT instantaneous. The minute you hit reload there's a time delay before you can fire again. It was just my friend and I against each other but I had to make sure that if I hit reload that I was well hidden or had a grenade.... just in case.

I opted out of using headphones for indoor play (in the basement we used it wasn't like we couldn't hear each other) but I could still hear my friend taunting me through the Recoil blasters when I was on the hunt. Indoors the speakers worked pretty well, and over the din of the muzzle flash and noise from the Spitfire and Rogue units we used there wasn't a lot of need to pay attention to what was being said. However, grenades, coming under attack, all those warnings still happened and when I did hear them they were much appreciated. The readout of health, ammo, and who killed me with what item (grenade or weapon.)

Some shots of the action:






One item I still used (in spite of my initial misgivings) was the hit sensor that clips to your back pocket/back collar. It did not interfere with my using the blaster as much as I thought, nor did I trip on it or get tangled up. To be fair I wasn't doing parkour while using the blasters but for the most basic of motions (with the build of an adult) the wire stayed out of my way. Would it be great to have a future patch that allowed multiple bluetooth hookups, allowing for bluetooth headphones, the blaster unit, AND the grenade? Definitely.

Recoil Rogue

The mount and my phone didn't feel weird really either, at least to me. Maybe that's a product of being used to looking at my phone for information, but seeing a heads up display with my hit points and ammo was refreshing. I DEFINITELY RECOMMEND HAVING A PROTECTIVE CASE ON YOUR PHONE. Definitely for everyday living, and absolutely if you use Recoil. Accidents happen, that's just how things go. But the mount was incredibly secure (make sure to read the instructions appropriately and use as directed) holding both a small phone and my large ZTE ZMax phone.

Hits seemed to register without issues, though I don't have a total gauge on distance as we were indoors. The Spitfire and Rogue are both full auto (just hold the trigger) but the Rogue (pictured above) has a higher ammo capacity than the Spitfire. Couldn't tell if the reload speed was different or not, but either way it's delayed and means the difference between getting hit and keeping score :) Seeing your life bar and having scorekeeping automated just made focusing on the game a lot easier and just having fun with the blasters for a few rounds. Once we were done with a round, back into the lobby and restart another game. The setup (loading the app, bluetooth matching, setting up) takes a bit in the beginning to get started but once you get going having a great play session is a breeze. And the flexibility of the system to go either in or outdoors is great. I don't believe you can transition seamlessly indoor to outdoor and vice versa, but it's hopefully nothing a patch can't fix in the future.

Air strikes weren't possible inside, but the grenades definitely added a nice dimension to the game. It's one thing when you have a camped position but it's another when you see the grenade roll in to where you're hiding (and vice versa if you're trying to hide in a room). It was an extra tactic that added some depth even for two people. What I will emphasize here is the grenades are hard rubber around a hard plastic case. Do NOT THROW INDOORS. Underhanded rolling (lightly!) is encouraged, or the grenades can be placed and set as mines with a time delay only.

Recoil Grenade unit

Definitely don't sleep on this as an outdoor or indoor activity! It's available now, the starter kit (with the required Wi-Fi hub) is currently $116.99 at Target.com. Be active indoors as the weather gets colder (where applicable) or just open yourself up to a whole new way to play laser tag as the world is now game!

Not gonna lie either, when my friend and I were cleaning up, it was nice not having to clean up darts too. Easy to pack, easy to clean, easy to set up, and even easier to have a good time. Make sure to add this to your list of holiday pickups as a gift! The starter kit is a great value for multiple people to play, and that's one way to start your gift opening day!



And you can find my initial overview of Recoil here.


Wednesday, November 01, 2017

HasCon 2018: Dates Announced!

Hey readers (anyone still out there?)

The news came out last week, but ICYMI, HasCon 2018 dates are announced!

Second-Ever HASCON FANmily Event Scheduled for Sept. 6 - 8, 2019 in Providence, R.I.

PAWTUCKET, R.I. – Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS) today announced that it will host its second-ever
HASCON event Sept. 6 - 8, 2019, in Providence, R.I. at the Rhode Island Convention Center and Dunkin’Donuts Center.

Hasbro hosted its inaugural HASCON event this past September, offering families and fans of all ages a completely new way to experience its brands, and a behind-the- scenes pass to the world of Hasbro. The event featured three days of hands-on brand experiences, meet-and- greets, sneak peeks, concerts, exclusive reveals, star-studded panels and fan-centric surprises.

“We couldn’t be happier with the feedback we’ve received from our inaugural HASCON event,” said
John Frascotti, president, Hasbro, Inc. “We’re looking forward to once again delivering immersive
entertainment experiences around our brands for fans and families in 2019.”

The 2017 event featured dozens of meet-and- greet opportunities with celebrities, athletes and
influencers, including Mark Wahlberg, Stan Lee, David Ortiz, James White, Dude Perfect, Maddie Ziegler, James Gunn, Zach King, Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, and Isabela Moner, among others. Concerts by Flo Rida and Daya were included with the purchase of a general admission HASCON ticket. Guests were also invited to audition for a Hasbro video, and to select a toy or game to donate to the Marine Toys for Tots for children impacted by recent hurricanes.

More details about the 2019 HASCON event, including information about ticket packages, will be posted on http://hascon.hasbro.com.

Here's a video of last year's trailer:



I missed out on it this year, hopefully I will be in attendance for the 2nd one. The Kronos and a slew of other upcoming Nerf blasters were announced, so it's definitely a show to watch for! There's something to be said about the trade shows for sure, but it's a little different when the brand themselves put on their own show that gives you a direct line to the brand masterminds themselves.

Hope everyone had a great Halloween! I haven't been posting here as often as I would have liked, but you can still find me on social media!

Instagram: foamfromabove
Twitter: Blasterbot1984
Facebook: Foam From Above

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Nerf Spring 2018 prices and press information!

Nerf Spring 2018 - information and prices

Edit: Updated with pics! - 12/5/17

NERF N-STRIKE ELITE SURGEFIRE Blaster
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $24.99/Available: Spring 18)
Slam-fire the competition in a sea of foam darts with the NERF N-STRIKE ELITE SURGEFIRE blaster! With a rotating drum that holds up to 15 darts, this blaster has both slam-fire and pump action blasting. Fans can choose a target and blast one dart at a time, or slam-fire all 15 darts to pour on the firepower. Package includes blaster and 15 Elite darts. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and HasbroToyShop.com.


NERF MEGA TRI-BREAK Blaster
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $14.99/Available: Spring 18)
Break into battle with the NERF MEGA TRI-BREAK blaster! This blaster features a break-open barrel that holds up to three MEGA Whistler darts. Flip open the barrel, load your darts, prime, and unleash MEGA power. Package includes blaster and three MEGA Whistler darts. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and HasbroToyShop.com.

Without attachments - Base model @ $19.99

With all the attachments, sold separately.


NERF MODULUS MEDIATOR Blaster
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Spring 18)
Customization has met its match! The NERF MODULUS MEDIATOR blaster has numerous attachment points for accessories within the MODULUS system which features over 1,000 different combinations. The MEDIATOR offers pump-action and slam-fire blasting so battlers can be ready for anything that comes their way. Slide the clip into the side of the blaster and unleash fire! Attach the MEDIATOR barrel and MEDIATOR stock (each sold separately) to create the MEDIATOR XL blaster for ultimate fun. Package includes blaster, clip attachment, 6-dart clip and six Elite darts. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and HasbroToyShop.com.


Not pictured - stock "holster" that the blaster slides into when attached to the back of the Mediator.


NERF MODULUS MEDIATOR STOCK Attachment
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $14.99/Available: Spring 18)
Upgrade firepower with the MODULUS MEDIATOR stock attachment! Hidden inside the stock is a double-barrel blaster firing one dart at a time with hammer-action blasting power. Dart storage and convenient clip makes the MEDIATOR stock a must for the battlefield. Package includes stock, blaster, and four Elite darts. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and HasbroToyShop.com.


NERF MODULUS MEDIATOR BARREL Attachment
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $14.99/Available: Spring 18)
The MODULUS MEDIATOR barrel attachment is an epic upgrade to any battle! Convert the barrel into a blaster featuring pressurized 3-dart blasting power! Flip the handle to switch from barrel to blaster, pump, and fire to release a triple-dart burst. Package includes barrel attachment and three Elite darts. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and HasbroToyShop.com.

Image snagged from NerfWiki - http://nerf.wikia.com/wiki/RevReaper

NERF ZOMBIE STRIKE REVREAPER Blaster
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $24.99/Available: Spring 18)
The zombies are getting stronger, but so are the survivors battling them. The NERF ZOMBIE STRIKE REVREAPER blaster has no trigger, just pump the handle once to fire a dart at the oncoming zombie herds with ease. With a visible gear mechanism, battlers can watch the gears turn as they launch the darts. The top-loading clip fires 10 ZOMBIE STRIKE darts to keep the zombies at bay. Package includes blaster, 10-dart clip, and 10 ZOMBIE STRIKE darts. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and HasbroToyShop.com.

Image taken from NerfWiki - http://nerf.wikia.com/wiki/Kronos_XVIII-500
NERF RIVAL KRONOS XVII-500 Blaster
(Ages 14 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Spring 18)
Rival battle will never be the same now that the RIVAL PHANTOM CORPS line has arrived. Head into battle as a member of the Phantom Corps team with the RIVAL KRONOS XVIII-500 blster. Open the breach to load five high-impact rounds into the blaster, prime, aim, and fire! This spring-action blaster sends rounds flying at 90 feet per second. Attach a red or blue flag to choose between Team Red, Team Blue, or choose neither to stay with Team Phantom Corps. Package includes blaster, five high-impact rounds, and two team flags. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and HasbroToyShop.com.


NERF RIVAL HELIOS XVIII-700 Blaster
(Ages 14 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $29.99/Available: Spring 18)
Experience the intensity of NERF RIVAL with the HELIOS XVII-700 blaster! Join the Phantom Corps with the HELIOS XVII-700 blaster and its 7-round magazine that sends high-impact rounds flying at 100 feet per second at the opposing team. Slide the bolt and pull the trigger to unleash unrivaled power! Change from the Phantom Corps Team to Team Red or Team Blue with the simple switch of the flag. Package includes blaster, magazine, seven high-impact rounds, and two team flags. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and HasbroToyShop.com.




NERF MICROSHOTS SERIES Assortment
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $6.99/Available: Spring 18)
Blast into big fun with the NERF MICROSHOTS SERIES Collectible Assortment! MICROSHOTS blasters capture the iconic look of the original NERF blasters fans know and love, but in a micro, scrunched-down fun style all their own. Simply load, prime, and pull the trigger for big fun in a small package. This one-shot blaster is as fun to collect as it is to blast! Series includes one micro-sized version of the NERF N-STRIKE ELITE FIRESTRIKE blaster, NERF N-STRIKE ELITE STRONGARM blaster, and ZOMBIE STRIKE HAMMERSHOT blaster. Each package includes one blaster and two Elite darts. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and HasbroToyShop.com.


Big thanks to Nerf for sending this along! Posting this from my phone, so images to follow later. In the meantime, enjoy the pricing information.
Not sure how I feel about the Mediator being pieced out separately, but given the pricing Hasbro had last year maybe that is a bit easier for people in the long run?
Thanks for coming by!

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Nerf Doomlands Judge! New Nerf Blaster that Needs a Bigger Gear Bag

Test Firing the Nerf "The Judge" for the Doomlands line... a huge blaster in its own right. Sample provided by Nerf, but thoughts and opinions remain my own!



NERF DOOMLANDS THE JUDGE Blaster
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $59.99/Available: Fall 2017)
Bring justice to a doomed land with the DOOMLANDS THE JUDGE blaster. With an impressive 30 dart capacity, THE JUDGE blaster can fire three darts at once! This massive blaster is ready for anything the post-apocalyptic wasteland can send its way. Includes 30 DOOMLANDS Elite darts. Available at most major retailers nationwide and HasbroToyshop.com.

Basic Statistics:

MSRP: $59.99
Available: Now
Capacity: 30 shots (3 shot bursts, shotgun style. No shells. Front-loading in 3 dart groupings)
Includes: Judge, 30 elite streamline darts, HUGE BOX

Test fired the Nerf Doomlands Judge in the above video. Watch the assembly below!



The blaster itself is incredibly.... ridiculous. It's HUGE. The box itself has an "actual size" photo to shock and awe parents and kids alike in the toy aisle. And with good reason, as an adult the blaster is about the diameter of my torso and definitely eclipses my head when I place it in front of me. On pure aesthetics, this blaster is already quite an imposing image, or maybe a cartoon, depending on your point of view.

Gargantuan in dimension, the blaster is ungainly to wield. Pump-action makes dual-wielding nigh impossible, and and the surface area of the muzzle ensures that going around corners and finding good hiding spots in stealth are not a real consideration. Not when your blaster is the size of a small shrub. Does that make it a scrub, oh no, it makes it visible, and aggrolicious (I find big blasters tend to attract fire and attention from opposing teams and players in a casual game; this can be exploited in the hands of a knowledgeable player.) That being said, the blaster comes off initially as intimidating and with a three round burst is pretty effective in close quarters once it can be brought around to bear.

Performance wise, the blaster can be said to have more bark than bite. The ranges don't seem much different from the initial product I saw at New York Toy Fair, and that was around 30'-50'. Angled or not, that was the most definite range. Not terribly different from the Sledgefire, but at least it had A WAY LARGER PAYLOAD (30 darts vs. 3+shell) and could be used as a shield (within certain gametypes). The spread wasn't anything particularly astounding considering the 3 dart burst, and there was some loss of range on at least one dart in those bursts. The loss is usually where the 30' mark came from. The key point is to consider this a truly close quarters blaster, and use it as such. If rules allow, use it as a shield. If they don't, then be smart about aiming and when you try to run and gun with this blaster. The pump action is smooth, but the lack of a slamfire feature and again, the size for a short range blaster gives a player some extra tactical considerations.

Ultimately, if you're let down by the range, then make sure to keep your focus in the Nerf Elite, Nerf Mega, and Nerf Rival areas of consideration. Unless otherwise stated, the thematic lines focus more on roleplay and fantasy/imagination play with blasters than outright performance. And The Judge, as a member of the Doomlands 2169, is highly indicative of that. You're getting a relatively high capacity "shotgunned" blaster for close quarters and a lot of people as casual Nerf blaster users would love that. Who wouldn't want to bust this out for some mischief on coworkers, classmates, and possibly unsuspecting family members? The Nerf Doomlands Judge makes an over the top statement about what it does as a blaster, and works the immersive angle of being some wasteland superhero with a large inventory of weapons of even larger construction. That's the focus, and not squeezing out an extra 10' on minimizing dead space or barrel fit. Doomlands is how some people play, and it gives them just the fantasy weapon to express themselves with.

The Judge is $60 roughly, available now. Is it worth it? If you can spring it and don't mind the difference in range to most other blasters, then yes. Heck yes. It's ridiculous, and that's enough for me. If you want your accuracy and range a little higher, then it's better to pass on this for a Rival (like the newly available Hera) or Nerf Elite (the Regulator is a good fun blaster out now as well.)

Hope this review helps, feel free to sound off in the comments! 'Til next time.


Tuesday, September 05, 2017

RECOIL: THE WORLD IS NOW (available at Target and other retailers!) Game

Nerdist/Geek & Sundry just did such a great job with an overview:


Sponsored content brought to you by Recoil!


RECOIL PHOTO GALLERY

RECOIL: The World is Now Game - a new and really intriguing take on Augmented Reality, mixing it with laser tag, implementing perks/power ups from video games, a heads up display (HUD), mobile gaming, scorekeeping, a life bar, and just a whole lot of features other systems have tried before and didn't excel in. Recoil though, is a little different!

I haven't tried the game play yet (that's coming in a future installment, the game doesn't have a single player feature and I need to wrangle some willing victims) so let's talk about what each kit in the line comes with. For now that entails the Starter Kit with Game/Wi-Fi Hub, The Recoil RK-45 Spitfire, the Recoil SR-12 Rogue, and the Recoil Frag Grenade.

FIRST - The Starter Kit.

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RECOIL Multiplayer Starter Set
·       Real-time player tracking up to 16 players
·       Location based gameplay powered by GPS
·       3D positional audio for ultimate battle awareness
·       Real time voice chat between players
·       Unique gameplay modes for outdoor & indoor play
·       Add-on mobile players
·       Location-based pick-ups and virtual weapons
·       Height: 7.75” Length: 11” Width: 1.7”  
·       Ages 12+, SRP $129.99
Requires 12 AA batteries (4 for the Spitfire x 2, 4 for the wi-fi hub)

The largest investment you're going to have in the system, both in cash and batteries. BUT, the wi-fi hub has a range of 250 feet in any direction (500 both ways!), and a whole new Augmented Reality system to play. The game involves air strikes, land mines, actual respawn points and bases via the app, which leaves a whole slew of new avenues to raise your laser tag game. You get a lot of bang for your buck in experience, not to say about the robust build of the toy blasters themselves. Batteries are not included with any Recoil game kit and this requires 12, so rechargeable batteries could be a good idea.

The Game Hub is a neat piece of technology. You fire it up and use your mobile device to connect to the wi-fi signal generated by the hub (no internet, obviously. It's just enough to allow the mobile phones to run the app and interact.) A hub can support up to 16 people to play at one time and generates the game, maps, etc. to get set up and play. One tip Skyrocket offers is that you hit airplane mode on your device first, THEN activate wi-fi (and connect to the obvious Recoil network), followed by bluetooth and location services. That will make connecting to just the hub and blaster units easier as it eliminates any rival device signals. 16 people only! Stacking Game Hubs does not equal a larger field (but man, that would be cool.)

The Recoil App is free to download (and you don't need the blasters to play, you can just connect to the hub and game with your phone if you are the odd person out from the starter kit) and you can still play in the game.  Setting out mines is an option as is supplying teammates with ammo. Skyrocket really made sure to make the game highly inclusive if you just get the starter pack.

The app uses GPS signals (at least for outdoor play; at the time of this article an inside version of the skirmish game had not been released yet but was in the works) that show up mapped during gameplay on the app. From there players can locate each other, bases, see the results of damage from airstrikes, grenades, see the time left in a round, scoreboard, and life bars. The game also comes with scannable AR tags that you can use during gameplay for powerups. This will all be displayed in an upcoming gameplay video ;) The following are some screencaps from the app itself. It's really interesting to see just how much you actually have to offer once you get a game going.


Max game settings - they weren't playing that long

Perks!

Find your respawn.



To my knowledge you can't expand a game past 16 people and I am not sure how well this would operate from an elevated position (say in a park with some staircases or on a jungle gym) but I am still very taken with the promises this toy line is making, and just from the little testing I've done outside of a full game there is a lot of good stuff here to take away after that initial buy. There's just so much you can do that relies on the "honor system" anywhere else. Another note, it looks like you can only connect one bluetooth blaster to your phone at a time, so no complicated loadouts. With the easy reloading though, that makes sense to not have to carry a primary and sidearm, I think.

Another feature is the environmental sound of the game; as gunfire sounds off around you in-game, you hear it directionally through your head phones based on your position vs the position of other players. It's recommended you wear headphones when playing in order to achieve the full surround sound effect. Also, the push to talk buttons make sure that when you tag/get tagged, you can communicate your enthusiasm or lack thereof to your victims/enemies. Also, makes sure you know who to get revenge on later.

Then comes your pistol - 
Recoil RK-45 Spitfire


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RECOIL RK-45 Spitfire
·       Compact, versatile and effective in all battle types
·       Fully automatic with quick ammo reload
·       Push-to-talk button for real-time player chat
·       Dynamic force feedback
·       High-powered IR transmitters
·       Manual reload mechanism
·       Camera mount
·       BLE enabled for smart phone connection
·       Body-mounted sensor for full coverage
·       Includes: Direct Bluetooth connect and downloadable mobile game app
                 Ages 12+, SRP $49.99 

What's really cool about the Recoil blaster units is not the bluetooth connectivity to your mobile device, or interfacing with the game, but the tactile feedback from the tagger units! I didn't realize this when I first learned about the Recoil game, but the blasters flash red and make firing noises like some old school toys I had that did the same thing. That right there can be a lot of fun, but given the price you do need a little more, which Recoil definitely promises and delivers. ;)

The Spitfire requires 4 AA batteries, has a push to talk button on the back of the blaster, and three hit sensors on three different sections of the front of the blaster. A fourth sensor is plugged into the bottom handle and placed in your back pocked or the back of your shirt collar in order to set you up to be shot from behind. Less scrupulous individuals need not apply that won't use the 4th sensor. Still though, it's a very solid toy, good plastic and has some heft. The futuristic styling is cool and reminiscent to me of some video games. The phone mount is on the side, so it doesn't obstruct my natural tendency to aim down the sight of a blaster. As far as intro weapons go, this is a winner on aesthetics and feel. 

A little bit louder now with a rifle (higher ranges than the Spitfire supposedly, requires further testing)!

Recoil SR-12 Rogue

Battery compartment

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RECOIL SR-12 Rogue
·       High fire-rate, magazine capacity and damage output
·       Fully automatic with quick ammo reload
·       Push-to-talk button for real-time player chat
·       Dynamic Force Feedback
·       Improved rate of fire and range
·       High-powered IR transmitters
·       Manual reload mechanism
·       Camera mount
·       BLE enabled for smart phone connection
·       Body-mounted sensor for full coverage
·       Includes: Direct Bluetooth connect and downloadable mobile game app
·       Height: 9” Length: 26.875” Width: 3” 
·       Ages 12+, SRP $79.99

For a few dollars more, you get a higher ammo capacity and range in the Recoil SR-12 Rogue, moreso than you get out of the Spitfire. No mods to do here either, what you see is what you get. It requires 6 AA batteries as opposed to the 4 the Spitfire demands, but you get the added boosts as well. The Rogue feels solidly built as well, and features a phone mount spot on both sides of the blaster (depending on your dominant hand). More of the same with three hit sensors and a wearable fourth, good weight distribution, and sleek look. The tactical rails make me wonder if any future plans are in motion but that's a post for another day. If I had any nitpicks (and this is a minor one) it's that the push to talk button is only on one side of the blaster. But even with that, the button is easily reached with whatever hand is not on the trigger. Given the added firepower you get from the Rogue that's definitely not a deal breaker.

And now, A GRENADE. Again, similar technology in past products from other companies but this syncs up with your weapon as well in order to give you credit for your kills! 

Frag Grenade

I appreciate the detail at having a little clip to attach.


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RECOIL Frag Grenade
·       An explosive addition to your arsenal
·       High damage output
·       Large blast radius
·       Simple 1 button design
·       Time-delay explosion
·       Includes: (1) Frag Grenade
·       Height: 3.7” Length: 2.6” Width: 2.6” 
·       Ages 12+, SRP $14.99


The Recoil Frag Grenade is pretty cool because it has a couple of ways it works- you can sync it up with your blaster  to identify to anyone you used it if it took them out or give it a quick prime and throw for anonymous damage. The housing has some rubber on it to cushion it from impact, but definitely don't throw it directly at someone, it's still a hunk of plastic and electronics! This toy provides a radius of damage to opposing Recoil players, there's no need to hit someone directly with it. Just need to lob it in the general area and let the timer do the rest. I don't know how well the frag grenade takes impact against grass or hard surface from a high height or concrete but it definitely feels and looks like it can take a beating. It's a very good mechanic that has been missing in a lot of blaster games, and this just might be one of the better ways to implement a splash damage mechanic, one I am really looking forward to exhaustively experiment.

And that's the Recoil line for now! It's a really exciting line, and I can't wait to see what they might have planned for the future. There's a lot to do between up to 16 people and with Recoil The World is Game for as long as people want to make their backyards, parks, parking lots, garages, and offices (in the future) into competition areas. Available now, The World is Now Game. Make sure to try this out and see what the future of laser tag holds!


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