Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Review: The Ultimate Nerf Blaster Book (POW! Publishing)

NERF: The Ultimate Blaster Book by Nathaniel Marunas, published by POW!

There have been plenty of reviews already on this book, but what's one more? Licensed by Nerf and developed/researched for some time by Mr. Marunas (note the shoutout to the collectors/other sites out there, which includes Adult Fans of Nerf) he went to Hasbro HQ and the internet to gather what info he could and consolidate the information as best he can. But with as many companies that owned the Nerf brand (Larami, Park Brothers, and so on) over the years, that's 40+ years of history in foam.

Now right off, this is a kid's book. It's intended audience is for the 8+ crowd and even though there are mch older players everywhere, this book is for kids! There's a brief history of the brand from the beginning, but this is in no way an omnibus of the entire armory of Nerf blasters from day 1. He mentions the early days, the creation of the foam ball which led to the development of the first blaster and some of the various types of ammo (including the first mega darts) from over the years,but the majority of the book's blaster listings are for N-Strike blasters from 2004 to the present.

The book does include six exclusive N-Strike Elite camo darts in the cover as well, in case you need to protect yourself while reading. :)

The book explains different types of Nerf ammo, both discontinued and current. Mega Darts to Vortex discs, and everything in between. Each chapter separates the blasters by "classes" such as Light, Medium, Heavy, accessories, each page giving the technical specs of some blasters. It doesn't go into exhaustive detail about different paintjobs/schemes (unless you count the Lumitron vs the Praxis, which is listed here, and the red strike series gets a shoutout next to the Longshot.) It also introduces common lingo/terms to someone who may not be familiar with blasters, explaining direct plungers, priming a blaster, and so on.

Either way, this technical info is good for the kids and their parents to help them understand the different types of blasters and why a dart tag dart won't work inside an N-Strike magazine. Ranges don't differentiate angled/flat, but the release date info and measurements are nice little touches and trivia.

The best part for ME, as an older Nerf enthusiast, is the timeline and design process pages.

The above page even explains the "Javelin" hullabaloo. These pages are by far the most intriguing thing about the book for me, having met designers and wondering about just how they conceive the ideas and test these blasters, and how long it takes to hit production. To know where we're going, I like to see where we've been.

The book carries on its "intro to Nerf" feel by also including a few pages of gametypes -
And yes, you may play differently. These are guidelines, by no means are they law. Enjoy your games as you want to play, and let those who like what you do join in. BUT, it helps to also have some rules you may not have considered before!

OVERALL, is this worth the $20? part of me says the older fans have nothing to get out of it besides a couple of pages. BUT for the kids, the future of the hobby, this is a good buy for them. Big bold pictures, easy to follow, and darts. It'd be a great gift for the upcoming Easter baskets (if you celebrate) or just because they are all about their new active way to play. Also, the book sells, it'd show there's a market for it, and there could be more like this in the future!

Either way, borrow your friend's, have a quick look at the book store (they still have those, right?) and give this at least a glance. If you get it for your younger relatives, you can always borrow it.

Take it easy!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Funday: ZipStix From Hog Wild (Game, not Nerf)

Gratuitous glamor shot of the ZipStix.
 Thanks to HogWild Toys for these fun samples of the ZipStix! Let's mix things up with these tabletop construction/destruction toys, and take a closer look. You can build your own trick setups using the ramp, quarter pipe, cones, and launchers available in the separate kits, from starter packs  to the Mega Pack. Each pack has everything you need to start launching, including ZipStix, Launchers, and cones. The ramp and quarter pipe are sold in the larger kits, but they add another level of complexity and air time to your launches. The sets have an MSRP of $3.99 to $19.99, and after you start launching, I'll admit it's a lot of fun setting up a target and then knocking it back down. 

Prices taken from the HogWild Toys site here:

The ZipStix Mega Pack - $21.95.

ZipStix Dual Pack - $6.95.
The ZipStix themselves are essentially stronger slap bracelets- they flex and click straight, then pressing the ZipStix will make it curl up and spring about. The Launcher hooks the ZipStix, giving it a direction to go. Simple, and straightforward, and actually a bit of fun. If you think about it, you're not limited to those options either. I have to put the video together, but if you throw a straightened ZipStix in a particular manner, it will bounce up.Even though you already will have plenty to do setting up and launching, there are plenty more ways to play long after the inital purchase. Keeping everything together is pretty easy too, I like to stack my cones all together, and then snap the ZipStix around the top cone, making a cone tree of sorts with a ZipStix topper :)

This isn't a blaster/game review, but it's nice to mix things up now and again and I did have some fun playing/setting these up. My nephew (seen below) is 10 and had a good time aiming these around as well. The cones are light, so crashing the ZipStix through them is a pretty satisfying experience, even if you spend a good amount of time picking up/setting up the cones. However, for those of us used to picking up darts/loading large quantities of magazines, this shouldn't be too different. :) 

The price range of the kits is decent, but I will admit the $21.95 did make me double take a bit. However, if you are a completionist and want to explore all avenues of building different courses/shots/targets/tricks, it'll probably be worth the money just to see the height the ZipStix get when you shoot them. As time permits, maybe I'll do some future trick shots with these to show you what I come up with. Definitely a fun time to play with though.

Thanks to HogWild Toys for the sample, it was nice to try something different! I'll be back next time with the more traditional programming (VMD, Super Soakers, Next Generation Toys, etc.) are on-deck, and I'll have more then.

'til next time!

The Setup! Stack your cones and then bring them crashing down when you launch the ZipStix though them (or try to launch them over, whichever tickles your fancy). In use, the kicker ramp from the Stunt Pack. Flip it for another angle to use!
Box art for the Stunt Pack - $10.95
Different designs for a good number of ZipStix, you can make a whole collection of them.
Cones for targets, ramps for added hilarity.
The best part is, make up your own rules as well! Maybe you don't want to to use the cones?
Step 1: lock a ZipStix into the launcher.
Press on the end of the ZipStix to make it curl up just a bit, getting it ready to launch, then let go to see it fly!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Reviews in the works! (VMD, Nerf Spring Lineup)

Just a heads up! The Nerf Spring 2014 line arrived (some of it, you will see the other bloggers posting their reviews), VMD Cannon Commando, and Attacknid are being worked on, as well as Tek Recon and some randoms. Thanks for hanging in there, and be back with the word on them soon!