Saturday, June 17, 2017

Firing Demo! Dart Zone "BallistixOps" Powerball Blaster - the Nerf Rival.... rival?

Sunday, June 04, 2017

"Nerf" Arenas - Blaster Battle Facilities in the U.S. Are Here

"Nerf" Arenas Continue to Spread - a look at NDWA and Dart Warz from 2015







BASIC STATS:

Dart Warz
Locations (US):
Meridian, ID
Colorado Springs, CO
Centennial, CO
Wichita, KS

Pricing:
Varies by location: see website - DART WARZ
Banned blasters?
Yes - see website
Socks/Shoes during play?
Socks

Dart Warz! One of the first arenas I ever heard about, but also definitely the first franchise I ever heard about. Randi and Stanton W. were nice enough to fly me out for a night to experience not only their arena(s), but to try my skills playing on one of their teams for their proprietary tournament, NDWA (National Dart Warz Association.)

As it stood, I met staff from the Idaho location, but had the privilege to look at the Centennial and Colorado Springs locations in the scenic, lovely, state of Colorado. Each location had 2 arenas (with enough square footage to accommodate modern Nerf blasters that hit 40-50’ flat, if that’s helpful), littered with obstacles, pro shop, rental stations, safety briefings, DJs playing music, open play, private games, things like that. It was a real neat setup to see in person. I believe each play area could accommodate up to 40 players on each field, and I can only imagine the chaos THAT would look like.

Dart Warz has rules, as many competitive style places do. One rule is, you play in socks. In order to preserve their floors (foam mats), they ask that players wear socks during play. It took some getting used to for me, but after a bit of time it wasn’t a serious problem. Different, yes. A deal breaker? No. The games also have referees, which removes the honor system in place for a lot of Nerf I played in the past, at least most of the time. Refs are still human and you might think a call gets missed, but just play through and get it the next time. Either way, it’s definitely nice to have the refs there in the first place. There are also special house rules, some special house game types, but nothing I can really go into detail here. Must be experienced! But I had fun and the games we played ranged from the familiar to the alien, and it was great to see a bunch of new (to me) ideas at play. House rules such as bunker destruction, “grenades”, and precision targets as objectives were all fun to participate in, especially in large team games. Players were allowed armor and shield rules as well, which added another depth of tactics for some game types and situations.



The obstacles were sturdy enough, and the field layouts had decent movement, cover, firing lanes, choke points, and so on. Once in awhile the field arrangement seemed a bit favored but for the most part they worked. Dart Warz at the time was still using Vortex blasters heavily, which added an element of surprise, due to the curve of the discs around cover. Many players really liked Vortex, and remarked they were sad to see it fading even then. The Pro Shop had Dart Warz emblazoned gear, including socks, shirts, and headbands. Blasters were rented from a base tier to more expensive tiers, and I think a chronometer was available for “xtreme” (modded, blowguns, etc.) league play. Yes, that’s right, league play. Either way, the facilities and business models appear to have an option of foam blaster play for all ranges of interest in the hobby, from people just getting into it to heavy modders (within reason).

The NDWA tournament itself was an intense affair, pitting the skills of staff from the three arenas against each other in a variety of games, both blaster and melee (with foam swords and other weapons) oriented. Objectives had to be met, flags raised or captured, and within a time limit. Points were awarded based on performance and ultimately one store’s staff would lead in points, but ultimately everyone is still one big Dart Warz entity, just there to have fun and meet the other staff. I had a good time talking to some folks and seeing how they developed their play styles within Dart Warz, and definitely took home some ideas to tool around with in my own games. I flew into the tournament blind, ultimately, and used a Cycloneshock for the duration of the tournament. Opting to step out of my comfort zone, I went with a Mega blaster with slam-fire, and it served me well during the tourney. My loadout consisted of that, my ammo pouch, and my eye protection. It was kinda liberating to not rely on my "favorite" blaster and just go with what I could, a little extra difficulty for me, but an element of the unknown that makes stepping into an unknown playing field with an unknown opponent even more interesting.

I regret I only had a day to spend playing at Dart Warz, but what I did experience was different from my usual park pickup games. And it was a lot of fun all the same trying out something new and seeing how a place like a dedicated Nerf arena might operate, in this case the Dart Warz model. The fact that three stores operate under this brand show there’s some interest out there, and it’s interesting to know that within 3 years of emerging they’ve grown even this much. Yes, it may be a little more rigid than internet organized games and meetups, but places like this forge their own niche in the hobby, as well as introduce the idea of blaster games to a larger more regular and accessible audience. If you have one in your area, it’s definitely worth a look at least once.

SUPER BIG THANK YOU again to the staff and owners of Dart Warz, for bringing me out and putting me up for the night to have this experience. It was a glimpse of something new and different for the hobby, and as a proponent of varied play, I am totally fine with that. Have blaster, will travel.


Questions? Comments? Any facets of the place I missed? Let me know!

Nerf Zombie Strike Dreadbolt - Review and Firing Demo!

Nerf Zombie Strike Dreadbolt is a Huge Crossbow against the Undead Horde



NERF ZOMBIE STRIKE DREADBOLT Blaster

(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $49.99/Available: Fall 2017)
Outsmart and dominate the zombie hordes with the ZOMBIE STRIKE DREADBOLT blaster. The first-ever arrow-firing ZOMBIE STRIKE crossbow, the DREADBOLT blaster can take down zombies like never before. Use the detachable scope to line up the target, aim, and fire! Includes five arrows and detachable scope. Available at most major retailers nationwide and HasbroToyshop.com.

Well, there it is. the Nerf Zombie Strike Dreadbolt. First seen at New York Toy Fair, I was most shocked at how super sized the thing was. The ammo was the same as the Rebelle Arrow Revolution, Agent Bow, and Courage Crossbow, but the build of this Crossbow is arguably WAY bigger than any of those. 

Aesthetics:
I like the way the Dreadbolt looks. The Zombie Strike junkdeco is still in effect, along with the green/orange motif. Nothing new or surprising there. The nuance of a wrench as the priming handle is a nice touch, and one of my favorite features of the blaster. Yes, nothing really new as it's a crossbow reusing ammo from previous blasters, and the priming mech uses a a bowstring, but the fun is in the small details, like the priming arm wrench. It's a smooth action with the priming handle too, and the stock is comfortable to hold. My frame is about 5'8", and the stock is plenty comfortable for me to use. The blaster is a little front heavy though, and with the wrench positioned where it is makes finding a grip for your offhand a little odd sometimes (there's a grip area after the wrench, but sometimes my hand kept finding its way further up the body naturally.) Overall, a nice job with a solid build. The arms make moving through tight spaces a bit more difficult, but hey, that's a crossbow for you.

Usability:

The elephant in the room is that this is an "impractical" blaster for a Nerf war. And we'll look at a couple of reasons why.

- The ammo. Most games I play in utilize darts and maybe a few players bring Mega or Rival rounds. If you're using this or something like it, you best have a sidearm or be ready to chase your ammo down, lest your round with this blaster end quickly. The Rebelle version of the arrows are still available so a player could stock up ideally, but they might be the only player with that ammo type that day. 

- The range. Flat, this blaster hit 40', maybe. angled it would hit in the 50s and beyond but other blasters are doing that at lower angles with faster velocities. Style points would be the main incentive at using this against dart firing blasters.

- The cost. Given the price of this and other products coming out this year, consumers may feel compelled to have another selective year buying blasters. at $50 this is already a chunk from buying the Regulator or Nemesis, as cool as it looks. You could put your money into this blaster or something that will extend your play time during a game round.

Probably other reasons, but those seem to be the main ones for me.

With a little practice I was able to smoothly reload arrows, but the malleability of the shaft of the arrows also adds an extra level of sensitivity, you have to make sure you don't push too hard, lest the arrow flex out of place or veer off target because it gets bent. Besides that, aiming (and I found that easier without the sight) moving with the crossbow, all of it was ok. Going through doorways and tight spaces could be a liability with the Dreadbolt, but those are minor issues at best considering the number of other blasters available for different situations.

HOWEVER - 

This blaster was still one of my favorites from the show. The priming mech, massive build (relatively speaking) and Crossbow love were enough to make me give this blaster a prolonged look. In this toy there's definitely a roleplay element that is being tapped into more with this blaster than performance in rate of fire or range, and that's ok. Kids that want to imagine carving their way through an undead horde will get a kick out of this, as will players who may want those style points, or work on a more unique play style that doesn't involve streamline sized darts or Rival ammo. I see the value in unstructured play and imagination, and that's the crux of this blaster seeing yourself in that position of a crossbow wielding hero against the teeming undead masses. And in recent pop culture history, we know where that's coming from ;)

That being said, for the sheer size of this blaster I know some people will find purpose for it and it's not a bad buy for a blaster. I would remark that maybe wait for a sale or coupon to  buy it, as $49.99 is a little steep for a 5 shot specialty ammo blaster, considering the future and currently available blasters. But even at that, it's a proud addition to any collection, and a fun blaster in its own right. Whatever you pay, I found this blaster still offered a fun experience shooting arrows, and I hope you find it that way too.

Sample provided by Nerf, but all opinions remain my own!






AFFILIATE LINKS BELOW:




Saturday, May 20, 2017

Nerf TablePros, Demo and Review! (available now)

Nerf TablePros - Table top sports for a decent price and a retro feel 


Thanks to Nerf for the sample! From their Spring 2017 Sample Box - they included a Nerf TablePros set. It's a mostly papercraft construction kit, give or take a couple of pieces (in the case of the basketball set, there's a connector and the basketball hoop that are plastic). There are three different types for now; the basketball set shown, the soccer set, and the football (American) set. With the basketball set, you bounce/throw the ball into the hoop. Soccer and Football involve flicking the ball into the net/in between the field goal posts.

These are a bit of a throwback as well. I remember some other tabletop sets where the basketball would launch off a catapult which this kind of reminds me of except you bounce your shots in. This lends itself well to trick shot setups, or some quick time killing H-O-R-S-E, maybe something else? It's a quick set up, easy to store, and a good bit of fun trying to make the foal on such a small target. For $10 (or less, depending on where you shop) you aren't at a loss at getting these for yourself or a gift. Would I recommend this as a travel game, for a car ride or some other mode of transportation? Not so much, too many loose pieces (like the ball). But for a board game that could easily engross a few people for awhile, I can definitely see this fitting the bill. Thanks again to Nerf for the sample! (Opinions do remain my own.)





Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Nerf Gamestop Exclusive: Star Wars Battlefront Boba Fett Blaster and Mask Set

Nerf Reveals Exclusive  $89 Battlefront Star Wars set at Gamestop
Vas The Stampede

NERF RIVAL STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT APOLLO XV-700 Blaster and Face Mask set
(Ages 14 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $89.99/Available: Spring 2017)
Gear up like a Mandalorian warrior with the NERF RIVAL STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT APOLLO XV-700 blaster and face mask set! This special edition blaster and mask set features distinct Mandalorian decoration and comes with a fabric Mandalorian insignia patch. Experience intense, head-to-head competition with the precision and power of the NERF RIVAL APOLLO XV-700 blaster, sending foam rounds soaring into the air at a velocity of 100 fps, and featuring easy re-load magazine. Mask boasts a breathable design and elastic band for adjustable fit. Mask is not a protective device. Set includes reusable display box, blaster, face mask, and 7 NERF RIVAL foam rounds. Available exclusively at Gamestop.

There you have it. (Images here were initially provided by Nerf, I didn't get to write this piece until a little after receiving the email).

Licensed reskins aren't new for Nerf; some might remember the Nerf Optimus Prime and Bumblebee blasters from San Diego Comic Con awhile ago. This time, Battlefront II gets the honors; Boba Fett is the color scheme and the Nerf Rival Apollo is the blaster of note.

It's same to assume that there isn't a notable change in the performance of the blaster, it's a Nerf Rival Apollo that is still readily available at Amazon. The mask is a repaint of the red and blue masks already available as well (associate links below).

At first glance, I would be remiss to not say that this looks cool, no doubt about it. The color scheme of the Mandalorian bounty hunter comes up nicely on the images at least, and I knew enough people that used Star Wars voice changing helmets years ago during Nerf wars that these are a more functional change of pace. The fabric patch, reusable box, it's all neat.

But that seems to be about it, neat. The $89 price tag is a real sticking point for me, considering you can still buy a Nerf Apollo and Mask separately for considerably less. And yes, you have extras included, yes, creating a tooling mold for a new product takes time, developing a whole new blaster for a collectible that may not sell is a risk, but this seemed the path of least resistance in some ways to just slap a new paint job on an old blaster. Reskins aren't new practice either, but for $89 I need something new besides a paint job to cough up my money for something like this. Some different priming method? A new shell? This set seems mostly for Star Wars fans and Battlefront fans who will see the cool factor in the form more than the utility - not the community that uses blasters on the regular and see this as Just Another Apollo. Given the prices of other new blasters coming out this year, I'm going to put my money towards those instead (like the Nerf Regulator and Nemesis). Will it make a great gift though, for someone you know into Nerf? If they like Star Wars too, probably!

Key fact: I LOVED the Jango Fett blaster set... even though it was a single shot pistol there was enough different about the way it looked (and primed, to a degree) along with an agreeable price (at the time, it's a collector's item in its own right nowadays). All those factors, and I bought it. I would have liked a different shell, maybe a different priming mechanism... even a higher price for something that functioned like a Zeus but looked like Boba Fett's blaster? SOMETHING a little more compelling, this doesn't say it to me, unfortunately.

So this reveal has left me lukewarm. I like the colors, but knowing what's on the horizon I couldn't make this purchase myself. If you want to rep your favorite Bounty Hunter though with a projectile blaster and mask, and display it proudly with your other collectibles of note, you definitely have something here though, and something to look a little more the part if you need something (or some scoundrel) frozen in carbonite. I appreciate the inclusion from Nerf for this reveal, and like that they took the chance to make something for gamers and Battlefront fans, so let's try again, please? And if you get this set, I hope you enjoy it! It's just not for my collection, at least this time.




Affiliate links to follow (Amazon program):



Nerf Apollo (Blue)

Nerf Apollo (Red)




Sunday, May 14, 2017

Nerf Nitro Unboxing! Samples are in, what's inside?

Unboxing the Nerf Nitro samples from Nerf



Opening up the latest supply drop from Nerfnation, sending along the four initial toys from the Nerf Nitro line!

Included:

Duelfury Demolition Set - $39.99 MSRP
Flashfury Chaos Set - $29.99 MSRP
Longshot Smash Set - $19.99 MSRP
ThrottleShot Blitz* - $9.99 MSRP

*Marked as an "assortment" - will clarify but maybe it means you can get different cars in this particular pack?

Additional photos and information are available here!

As you can imagine, in full reviews of the sets as well as some launches and trick shots to follow! It's already an interesting idea, making toy cars out of foam and plastic. And if these work out for Nerf, it could be a whole new line of things to put their different licenses on. Either way, stay tuned :)


Friday, March 31, 2017

Unboxing! Nerf Spring 2017 Care Package is in!



Look at all this stuff!

Thanks to Nerf for the samples as always, I'll be doing reviews on more of this and additional looks over the next few weeks! While I'm at it, also make sure to check out my Instagram I post additional content with samples and arrivals like this!

Here's some info on what arrived:



Thanks for reading!

FOAMME FATALES

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