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!

Monday, March 28, 2016

BatMonday - Air Hogs Batmobile Toy Review (something completely different)

Air Hogs Batmobile Review 
VasTheStampede

Thanks to Spin Master for the sample of this product, as always my opinions remain my own.

Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice opened this weekend! And with that, comes the merchandise. This review isn't of a blaster, but another type of action toy, the R/C car. Air Hogs, a brand under Spin Master toys, did the honors for this version of the Batmobile.



First, let's talk stats:
- MSRP: $59.99
- Includes:
  Batmobile x 1
  USB Charging cable x 1
- Range: 2.4 GHz signal = 200' of control radius
- Features: Front LED lights, rear thruster lights
- Needs 2 x AA batteries
- The Batmobile itself has an integrated battery (the Batmobile uses the USB charge cord), and the drive time may vary, it depends on the batteries used and the driving style implemented (going full blast with the car the whole time driving vs. a few times at full speed or using the lower speeds).

The Batmobile itself drives way better than I thought it would. The handling is tight, making pretty decent tight turns than I thought to expect. The LED lights on the front and the rear thruster are nice accents in low light, and add to the feel of the Batmobile. The car is super light too though, and I notice after some collisions with the curb there the bumpers are a bit scratched and some scrapes, so just be ready to know your Batmobile will show battle damage early. It's super light and compact though, very easy to transport so taking this indoors or outdoors is a simple matter, unlike larger RC cars.



(driving video from my instagram feed)

Now, I am not by any stretch an RC car hobbyist, and I do acknowledge that this is a basic, low remote range vehicle. BUT, it's a sweet looking replica-level Batmobile in its latest incarnation. It also drives well I think, some nice additional touches to add to the Batman feel, and is a nice diversion indoors or out. $60 might be a little much, but when you account that this car can offer a lot in the way of playability (the size allows it to be driven indoors with little issue, and less material would be necessary to build an obstacle course, for instance) it might balance out the expense. I do have some questions about durability, but I think marks like those add character to my own Batmobile.

One oddity I encountered was if I left the batteries in the controller after turning off the Batmobile, they would keep going once I turned the car and remote back on again. This was remedied by removing the batteries from the remote as well between driving sessions. Not a terribly big deal and easily remedied, but still a weird thing to encounter. Now this didn't change the fact that I had a good time driving the Batmobile at all, and that zipping it under cars and inches from the curb was a lot of fun all the same. All in all, a pretty fun purchase if you can get past the price. If you're a little late on a present for Easter, or you know a Batman fan who really likes tearing up the streets of Gotham in their mind, you wouldn't be wrong going with this Air Hogs R/C Batmobile.



Don't miss out, Air Hogs has a pretty awesome contest (Grand Prize is a trip to L.A.!) going on right now. Ends April 30, don't miss your chance to enter!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday 5: Five Must-See Places Outside the U.S. for Nerf Enthusiasts

Friday 5: Five Must-See Toy Blaster Hot Spots Outside the U.S.
Vas The Stampede

Early on in my blogging life, I quickly learned that Nerf games are not just for U.S. backgrounds, but organized games are an international phenomena. Nerf/Hasbro being a worldwide brand and a top toy maker, that should not have surprised me. Thanks to the advent of the internet and social media though, I see posts from communities abroad and it is a pretty amazing thing to think about. Taken from my analytics and personal observations, let's look at 5 places outside the U.S. where Nerf blasters have very active player communities and play their games regularly.

Keep in mind, this list is in no particular order! The 5 selected are taken mainly from my own experiences and the amount of activity I see on my website analytics.

SINGAPORE
Some basics about Singapore (info taken from Google's search engine entry:

"Singapore, an island city-state off southern Malaysia, is a global financial centre with a tropical climate and multicultural population. In circa-1820 Chinatown stands the red-and-gold Buddha’s Tooth Relic Temple, Little India offers colorful souvenirs and Arab Street is lined with fabric shops. Singapore is also known for eclectic street fare, served in hawker centres such as Tiong Bahru and Maxwell Road.
ISO code: SGP
Currency: Singapore dollar
Population: 5.399 million (2013) World Bank
Official languages: English, Tamil, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, Standard Mandarin"
The Singapore community is one of the first international Nerf communities I encountered. Once upon a time, there was a blog, SGNerf, and he was one of the first other bloggers I ever communicated with. Other bloggers/YouTubers from there, including Psyk from PWND, Blaster Shogun, the modder Ahtanie, and so many others. I used to frequent their forums, and had many a good conversation with this group. From what I've seen, this group has regularly scheduled games and even larger events. I think the group's been running for at least 6-7 years (2015 was their 6th anniversary, I believe) and is definitely one of the more active communities out there anywhere. Without getting bogged down in details, they do have some very strict gun laws which extends to paintball/airsoft as well, so Nerf blaster games seem to serve as an alternative. I've seen a LOT of different events come out of Singapore, from tournaments held in malls, to games in a variety of environments - woods, suburban areas, numerous historical military spots, and parks like this:



NerfSG 6th anniversary In Game Clip
Posted by Blaster Shogun on Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Obviously, one of these days I have to go visit. Somehow. But between the locations and the consistency of the players, Singapore definitely seems a must-see place if you're interested in Nerf/toy blasters on an international scale.


GERMANY

Country in Europe
Germany is a Western European country with a terrain of vast forests, rivers and mountain ranges, and 2 millennia of history. Berlin, its capital, is home to thriving art and nightlife scenes, iconic Brandenburg Gate and many sites relating to WWII. Munich is known for its Oktoberfest and cavernous beer halls, including 16th-century Hofbräuhaus. Frankfurt, with its skyscrapers, houses the European Central Bank.
Population: 80.62 million (2013) World Bank

Admittedly, there's very little I know about Germany's Nerf/toy enthusiast community, but I see enough posts on the net to make me notice! Between the number of hits I get from there and the posts I see crop up, along with news from the Nuremberg International Toy Fair, AND home to both dartblaster.de and the OWL Community. (whew!) I see a number of LARP related posts on modifications/blaster paintjobs from German hobbyists as well, of astounding work. All that leads me to qualify Germany on this list.


ENGLAND (UK)

Country in Europe
The U.K., made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, is an island nation in northwestern Europe. England – birthplace of Shakespeare and The Beatles – is home to the capital, London, a globally influential centre of finance and culture. England is also site of neolithic Stonehenge, Bath’s Roman spa and centuries-old universities at Oxford and Cambridge.
Population: 64.1 million (2013) World Bank
Currency: Pound sterling


The UK also showed a strong level of activity on my site hits, and with good reason. The BritNerf forums are pretty active still from the looks of things, along with various other social media outlets out there. Let's also not forget that one of the first Nerf-sponsored/branded arenas anywhere popped up here:





AUSTRALIA

"Australia is a country, and continent, surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans. Its major cities – Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide – are coastal, but its capital, Canberra, is inland and nicknamed the "Bush Capital." The country is known for its Sydney Opera House, Great Barrier Reef, the vast Outback (interior desert wilderness) and unique animal species including kangaroos and duck-billed platypuses.
Population: 23.13 million (2013) World Bank
Currency: Australian dollar


The land down under, home of the kangaroo, Australian Outback, Aborigines, Dream Time, and another of the biggest (and I believe oldest) consistent Nerf communities I've seen. The other places I've mentioned you can say are countries... Australia however is a Nerf-heavy CONTINENT that stands alone. I've heard of groups in Canberra, Wagga Wagga, Riverina, and so many more on their forums. New Zealand is off the southeast coast and has a steady group in Canterbury. In the past, I've heard that toy blaster interest really takes off in Australia (especially when the Nerf Dart Tag blasters released in their black and yellow colors. Needless to say, the place is not lacking for active players, albeit they may be spread out.



CANADA


"Country in North America
Canada, stretching from the U.S. in the south to the Arctic Circle in the north, is filled with vibrant cities including massive, multicultural Toronto; predominantly French-speaking Montréal and Québec City; Vancouver and Halifax on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, respectively; and Ottawa, the capital. It’s also crossed by the Rocky Mountains and home to vast swaths of protected wilderness.
Population: 35.16 million (2013) World Bank
 
 Canada! Oh, I heard about Canada. There is a pretty strong group (groups?) up there from what I remember, and used to hold some pretty massive events (I think they still do) like Massacre. The groups I do remember were heavy into modifying blasters, but they got together to fling darts as much as anyone. I believe most of the connecting is done over Facebook, but chances are if you wanted to get in with the Canadian toy blaster scene, by the time you've read this you're already in it.
 
 
 
And that's all, folks! As I stated before, I looked at my site data for my spotlights. If you want me to revisit or think I overlooked your country/continent, let me know! And abundant apologies to the countries I did name if I got anything wrong about your fair landmass - again just let me know so I may make the appropriate corrections. Hope this info was useful to you, and see you next time! 

I'll have another post up this weekend, "Super" related (and not a blaster product, but a fun toy all the same.)

 


Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Dude Perfect's Nerf Sports hit YouTube (ICYMI)

At a million+ views and counting, I find it hard to think you might have missed this BUUUUUUT, Dude Perfect's Nerf Toys got a Giant Nerf Edition video out, as only Dude Perfect does.



Hmmmm, gotta say the Knockout Targets are of particular interest to me! In large multiple quantities. Because reasons. :)

Monday, March 07, 2016

Toy Fair 2016 - Testing Paper Shooters

Paper Shooters at Toy Fair 2016
Vas The Stampede


After a bit of press for the last year or so, Paper Shooters is finally ready for the U.S. shores! I've been following the brand ever since they approached me some time ago, and it was good to finally see and shoot a finished product. I went for the GoPro POV while aiming and shooting. Note the priming between shots and the shell ejection.



The basic kits will run $29.99 and may include the following (pulled this from their website, I assume it will be the same in the U.S. during release:)

"Your 138 piece kit contains :
- All plastic components, screws and springs to create your PaperShooters™ base model
- 8 highly detailed A4 die cut cardboard pieces that contain all the individual pieces to create your awesome Zombie Slayer camo skin
Also included :
- 50 ‘Soft- splat’ paper pellets. Just dip them in water for 20-30 seconds, load them into shells and blast away!
- A mould to create endless amounts of ammo from ordinary paper. Got paper,? Got ammo!
- 6 shells that eject with every shot!"

I will have a more in-depth look at this when the samples come in and will give more of my thoughts then. Already, I know that it's supposed to be a pretty involved build and I am looking forward to taking a crack at it. It's not going to be the usual blaster out of the box experience, but I am definitely taken with the look and feel of the product.



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Friday, March 04, 2016

Friday 5 - 5 Nerf Features I wish would come back

Friday Five: 5 Nerf Features that I wish would Make a Comeback
VasTheStampede

  1. The Blast Button
  2. Semiauto spring blasters
  3. Integrated clips (the black and yellow Dart Tag line)
  4. Integrated "Secret" Barrels
  5. Non-slamming Air Pump Blasters
With the new Nerf Rebelle Cornersight coming out later this year, I was reminded of the old school Nerf Sneakshot. What other old school features would I want to see come back? The list above, and the explanations... are below.

BLAST BUTTON - Many years ago, Nerf made a blaster called the "Blast Fire" or "Blast Fire DX" (depending on which version you got) which had a neat little feature: you would prime the blaster, pump the air (5-6 times, maybe more), and you had either 5 shots in quick succession or could hit the "blast" button on top of the blaster to shoot all/remaining darts at once. It was a cool shotgun effect, and one I wish they would explore again, even though in the current line I'm not sure it will. Nerf did multishot a couple of years ago, but it wasn't quite the same as this, or the Hornet that followed, and the Lightning Blitz which didn't even bother with a single shot function.

Picture from SG Nerf, the Blast Fire in all its glory. Blast Button is on top.

The successor, the Hornet. Blast Button is on the side. Picture from NerfWikia.com
SEMIAUTO SPRING BLASTERS - During the Nerf Dart Tag line (black and yellow incarnation) there was a really cool pistol called the Sharpfire (yep, same name as the modular pistol out now) with a semiauto/power selection option. Yep, true semiauto trigger pull fun! No priming, no pumping, no accelerator trigger, just squeeze the trigger. The blaster could go from a higher power/slower trigger pull to a weaker setting/faster Rate of Fire setting, but it made dual wielding easy, and quiet (no motors, ma!) Nothing else has come out since then with a true semiauto function again though, and that's kind of a shame as I thought it was a really fun blaster. Unfortunately, one of the ones I bought didn't have the same power as the other no matter what setting, so there were some manufacturing issues it looks like on this blaster and given the mechanics involved I'm not terribly surprised. Still though, I would love to see something along these lines again.


INTEGRATED CLIPS - Yes, yes, I know the Han Solo blaster is out now, the Rey blaster, the Mega Magnus, etc. but the integrated clips from the black and yellow Dart Tag line (on the Speedload 6, Quick 16) were really interesting and I found them to be a lot of fun. For starters, the Speedload and the Quick didn't have to prime before loading. A lot less clumsy of a mechanic than the other current blasters. You could load the blaster, prime it, and even get an extra shot out of it (much like you can with the Fusefire, if you have one). I got to the point where I could feel the breech and just load the blaster without even looking at the clip while running; with half the blaster pulled out for the Magnus and co., that's a bit more fumbling around if you ask me. The dart tag blasters of this line were much considerably bigger and thicker because of the clip and the positioning, and the clip had jam issues (the best darts were blue tipped dart tag darts, even the older dart tag darts had issues loading with these new blasters), so hopefully if Nerf went back to this design it would come back stronger than ever.


INTEGRATED "SECRET" BARRELS - Nerf made a couple of "Secret Shot" blasters waaayyyyyyyy back, which had the main shooting barrel, but also a hidden second barrel either in the handle or on top. The first Secret Shot was a spring pistol, the main barrel in front and the version with the handle in the bottom. If you didn't know what it was, it looked easily like an ammo holder. But then if you were in a game and went with the "I surrender" well, much hilarity was to be had if you made the shot. :) The Secret Shot II was an air blaster that had a flip-down barrel on top that you could use after firing the first shot, but had to pump the blaster again between shots as opposed quickly pulling a priming arm. There's the Rebelle Secret Shot now, but there's no hidden barrel, just the flip-out function of the blaster itself. And I don't consider blasters like the Modulus stock blaster as part of this classification because it functions as a separate blaster, and has to be removed before shooting. Especially the Secret Shot I, this function was fun, but also pretty sneaky, and I like that.

(old school video review from Ahtanie, a Singapore Nerfer)


The Secret Shot I. The ammo holder on top also worked as a selector for whichever barrel you were using, and you had to flip it in place.

PUMP BLASTERS (non-slamming air blasters) - There used to be plenty of these, blasters you would pump, and then pull the trigger to fire, and I already mentioned a couple (see the beginning for the Lightning Blitz). Air pump blasters were slower because of the pumping action needed between salvos or shots, but they were super satisfying in some cases, too. Hearing the "pop" from an airtech blaster as you shot was nice (the 2000 was a popular one) and you almost felt like you got some real range stock. The Super Maxx 3000 was another good entry with this functionality, and for awhile was a primary of mine until wear and tear got the better of it. Nerf gave the fans what it wants in speed though, and possibly reliability (air bladders and seals were problems for these blasters as they got used) with the current spring/flywheel lines, and so the only real air blasters they use are those that "slam" function, like the Demolisher missile launcher, the Thunderblast, and one of the attachments on the upcoming Tri-Strike. Gone are the days of shooting 20 darts from a Wildfire, then scrambling to reload WHILE pumping the air back into the blaster. At least, from Nerf blasters.

Buzz Bee still has their "Air Warriors" line full of new air pump blasters, including the "Destiny" as featured below. Previously, they also made blasters like the Range Master and even the popular Panther which utilize air pumps in their play pattern. Hope for air blasters like this are not gone, just elsewhere.

Questions? Comments? Do you want to see animal-shaped blasters again like the Manta? Comment below!


Friday, February 26, 2016

F2A Friday Five - Five Gametypes For Small Groups!

Thanks to Hummer, a blaster game runner from Wisconsin I game with regularly, on the help for this one! He runs his games with a Milwaukee area crew in Wisconsin, check out M.A.N.O. for their shenanigans. Nerf games don't always have to be groups of 20-40 people running around (though that's a lot of fun, and these games types tend to work well in small groups of 10 or less (5 v 5 ultimately, or even less.)

Hummer in action during a game



Gametypes:

1. Zombies. Zombies can be added into many gametypes in addition to being played with variations (Dismemberment, chopper, ect.) (Stampede chiming in here) Zombies are players who would normally be considered "out" but instead find a new life as a facilitator of game play, marching around the field and tagging players who are still alive. I like instituting this facet because it means people don't have to sit out during a game, and zombies help prevent standoffs/camping. The rules we usually play with this game are there is an OZ or two, and they start off unknown (like HvZ), tagging players. Getting hit with a dart means a 7-15 second stun for the player to get away. This can be altered as noted above with variations, including large ammo.

2. Catch 'em all/blob - best played with 6+ people, but not above about 15. (Everyone starts with unlimited lives, 15 second respawn. Free for all. When you get tagged, you respawn on that persons team. Play until everyone's on the same team).

3. Free for all - Make sure you set boundaries, otherwise, you'll get the one camper who'll come in mostly fresh on lives. Adding zombies helps with campers ;)

4. Freeze tag - getting hit with a dart/projectile/weapon results in the victim being frozen in place. A teammate may release/revive the tagged player with a touch to the frozen player's person (BE NICE. DON'T BE RUDE ABOUT REVIVING YOUR TEAMMATES.) Frozen players may be used as cover, with hilarious results.

5. Royal rumble
Royal rumble: Start off with one person in the field, with everyone else lined up on the sidelines. add a person every 15-30 seconds. One life. Go until there's noone left or keep cycling in the dead players 'til tired. Alternatively, you could try to enforce a lives system, where you have to get back in line every time you die.


Some gameplay video from a recent game he organized, taken by CrissWolfNerf.



Questions? Comments? Hopefully these game types or some variant will be useful to you!

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