Monday, December 31, 2012

Year in Review Highlights: Nerf (and other Toy Blasters) - 2012!

Oh man... what a year!  2012 was a pretty big time for toy blasters.  There was just so much that came out and so many things have happened, here we are again.

Some of my fave things:

- New York Toy Fair 2012

- The Nerf Hailfire Release Party (Thanks Nerf!)


The Release of the Nerf N-Strike Elite:
- Retaliator
- Rampage
- Hailfire
- Triad
- Stryfe
- Strongarm
- Elit Reflex/Eliminator (Though I don't believe it actually has a range increase)
- Elite Rayven
- Firestrike
- RoughCut 2x4
- Stockade (outside the U.S.)
RoughCut 2x4
Nerf Hailfire
Nerf Retaliator

Nerf Rampage
Nerf Strongarm and Firestrike
Nerf Elite Rayven and Stryfe
Nerf Triad
Nerf Eliminator
Nerf Stockade and 30 pack of darts

Nerf Dart Tag:
- Snapfire 8 (outside the U.S.)

Nerf Vortex:

- Diatron
Whew!  It's been a busy year :)

Nevermind that Nerf revamped the Lazer Tag line:

Buzz Bee and Air Zone/Prime Time Toys had some respectable years with new releases of their own, but the most notable was probably the Range Master, an air blaster w/pump that got good ranges and gave some folks out there a non-springer option:
But it wasn't just the year of the foam dart blasters, not at all.  Disposable ammo is part of the game now, past the Max Force spit wads and the first run of Xploderz water pellet blasters, there's now also BlasterPro, "X2" series Xploderz, and Vapor.




This branch of the toy blaster tree will definitely bear some watching come 2013.  I got a feeling we're in for a whole new level of innovation, between Nerf upping the ante with their increased ranges from the Elite/Vortex lines, now these new companies are going to have to show what they can do next.

Definitely not least, Zing Toys is out there with some great products as well.  Definitely keep an eye out for their Air Storm line:
Zcurve bow

ZX Crossbow

Zing Shot and Pop Rocketz

Zip Bak Bow
Z-Tek Crossbow


On that note... let's not forget the fallen.  Gone, give or take some leftover stock on the shelves.  Safe to say these brands aren't supported in their current forms anymore:
Max Force
Light Strike
BUT... while two brands dropped out (apparently)... one more has risen.  Yup, Launch N Attack

And a more local offering, Bumpa's Blowguns!

And that, as they say, is that!  Sorry if I missed anything, but there's only so much one can recall!  Have a great New Year, and see you in 2013!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Review Time! Launch N Attack Annihilator

Alright!  Thanks to Eyespy Toys, I was able to get my hands on a Launch N Attack Annihilator and a Target Launcher.

Nerf Barricade, Prime Time Toys Quick Shot 6, Launch N Attack Disc, Launch N Attack Annihilator, Launch N Attack Disc Launcher

Cost:  $14.99 - $19.99 depending on vendor.
Ammo Capacity: 10 shots (closer to a Dart Tag Blaster in output)
Range:  Blaster shoots about 20-30', the discs go up to 40' upward (supposedly)

The disc launcher attaches to the blaster on the side, and you pull the rip cord which spins the disc that lifts it into the air.
It definitely looks styled after a Nerf Barricade, minus the trigger guard, or a nub to attach a stock.  It has the extra rail on the side to accomodate the attack disc, but some of the more important design differences are a bit closer...

Low amount of extra space in chamber to accommodate other darts.  This is literally sized for their ammo alone.
Dart length comparison between an original Nerf Streamline, a Nerf Elite Streamline, and a Launch N Attack Dart

The Launch N Attack rotating chamber only has enough clearance to barely cycle its own brand of darts through the blaster.  You can't use other brands of ammo with it unless you force and manually rotate the blaster through each shot.  Not the most efficient if you're in a pitched game where each shot counts and every movement means the difference between tagging or being tagged.  In the heat of things, finding this out could be wildly frustrating.  You can see the Launch N Attack Darts are just a touch shorter than Nerf ammo, hence the lack of compatibility.  One other quick note is the Launch N Attack Darts are a harder plastic/rubber on the tip, not as much give as the Nerf ammo tips, so you know if you decide to shoot your friend unawares.

Now, while I miss the trigger guard and the ability to use all types of ammo the Launch N Attack blasters do what they're supposed to do blaster-wise, hitting 30' or so and pretty consistently.  I say consistent in that it hits that range, but it does leave something to be desired in the accuracy department.  And that is a common trait among streamlined style blasters and flywheel ones at that.  The weather's been a little bit crappy since I got these, so I haven't had a chance to test the disc launcher outside yet to check the 40' claim, but I do have something to compare it to:

Nerf N-Strike Disk Shot vs Launch N Attack Rapid Attack

Disc that comes with the annihilator, Rapid Attack Disc, and Nerf Disk Shot disk.
Utimately, how do I feel about the blaster?  With the market going the way it's going,  to see a normal 20-30 range out of a blaster knowing there's farther shooting stuff out there for just a few bucks more is a tough sell, in my opinion.  Never mind the lack of interchangeable ammo usage which makes using this in a game of tag a tough choice.  From a playability standpoint, the addition of the target disc is a good incentive to use it for target practice/reaction testing for yourself, or if you're bored want a mobile target to shoot at.  I will definitely continue to keep an eye on this company though, as I like where they started, but definitely hope to see a more current take on their blasters considering what's out there now.