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!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

ICYMI: New Buzz Bee 2017 Blasters from Toy Fair New York

Buzz Bee Brings the Blasters for 2017, Fall 2017*
Vas The Stampede
*- in stores by July possible according to the press release. Availability subject to location.


Buzz Bee definitely brought a lot of promise to Toy Fair 2017. They introduced three dart types (precision, long distance, and suction), increased the power of their blasters (openly claiming 100' ranges on some blasters) and BROUGHT SOME NEW FEATURES.

Exhibit A: The Rail Blaster - the only video currently (as of March 30, 2017) of it firing



  • Price: $16
  • Available: Fall 2017*
  • Rear-loading
  • 6 shots
  • No slam fire



Rail Blaster on the left, Tactical Storm on the right.


Exhibit B: The Thermal Hunter -


And the sensor - (From RandomShadow09)




At Toy Fair, an adapter for the Thermal Sensor to fit onto Nerf blasters was in development as well, to be packed in the Thermal Hunter.


I was not able to get a price at this time, but I am following up and will update this post once I get some more information.

Additionally, some new tweaks on old patterns:

The Blizzard - 40 shots and slam-fire only, like the Buzz Bee Sidewinder -



No price on this one yet either, I may have missed it.

And the Tactical Storm (pictured above with the Rail Blaster):

  • Price: $17
  • Available: Fall 2017*
  • Interchangeable stock (supposedly with the Thermal Hunter stock).
  • Removable barrel for modular play


In closing, Buzz Bee continues to keep their low prices for the most part while upping their features. Some folks seem particularly excited about the Rail Blaster, others want to get their hands on the Thermal Hunter, and some just want a less pricey alternative to Nerf blasters. Given the products from last year, and the licensing for The Walking Dead, Buzz Bee continues to impress me with what they're putting out in build quality and themes. As a good number of the blasters were prototypes I can't say much about the build or the performance of these blasters, I'll reserve that for the final retail models I will hopefully get later on. BUT.... some of the ideas that Buzz Bee had at Toy Fair were impressive indeed. Keep an eye on this blog and YouTube... as soon as I know, you'll know :)


And some additional photos! Full Gallery of the Buzz Bee booth is here:





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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Unboxing: Fort Boards from New York Toy Fair (Nerf Bunker construction idea)

Fort Boards Assist in Nerf Game Bunker construction



Fort Boards! Pretty cool!

Fort Boards are 8"x8" plastic interlocking panels that can be used to create a variety of shapes, including curved surfaces, blocks, walls, panels, panels with doors, etc. They come in a variety of colors, in a "Starter" pack of 22 panels (along with additional connectors) or a "Prime" pack of 44 panels (with additional connectors. Customizable with (sold separately) metal or wooden texture inserts, bull's eye inserts (coming soon with Blaster Board Target panels).


There's a LOT of potential I see here with this toy, with a little practice building your own customizable bunkers (with targetable panels) could work out pretty quickly. Different color schemes would keep things fresh as well (and maybe even help with branding for some arenas) while the modular nature keeps things varied and enhances objective style gameplay. I most certainly see the applications of this toy, and they are diverse beyond just building a clubhouse. Not going to lie, building an octopus looks pretty neat though.


Basic Stats:

Starter Pack:

Includes 22 boards (8”x 8”) and 21 connectors (for interlocking) and instructions - $61.99

Prime Pack:
Includes 44 boards (8”x 8”) and 46 connectors (for interlocking) and instructions


Find the Fort Boards on Amazon -
Amazon Associate Links (affiliate links, help keep the lights on for F2A! This is a provided sample by Fort Boards for review, I assure you my opinions remain my own):

Fort Boards Prime Pack - Kids Fort Building Kit - Jumbo Toy Blocks - 90 Piece Set - Yellow

Fort Boards Prime Pack - Kids Fort Building Kit - Jumbo Toy Blocks - 90 Piece Set - Gray

Fort Boards Prime Pack - Kid's Building Toy and Construction Blocks - 90 Piece Set - Red

Fort Boards Starter Pack - Kids Building Toy - Jumbo Construction Blocks - 43 Piece Set - Light Blue

Fort Boards Starter Pack - Kids Building Toy and Construction Blocks - 43 Piece Set - Gray

Fort Boards Design Cards Stone Pattern Accessory for Building Toys

Fort Boards Design Cards (Metal Pattern) - Accessory for Fort Boards Building Toys

Design Cards (Wood Pattern) - Accessory for Fort Boards Building Toys




Thursday, March 09, 2017

New York Toy Fair - Marshmallow Shooters and Paper Shooters (aka Spitball Blasterz)

Marshmallow Shooters and Paper Shooters partner up at New York Toy Fair
Vas The Stampede



Photo Gallery - Marshmallow Shooters



Photo gallery - Spitball Blasterz


Marshmallow Shooters and Paper Shooters partner up at New York Toy Fair
Vas The Stampede





Had a chat with the folks at Marshmallow Shooters and Paper Shooters (soon to be Spitball Blasterz) to see what they were up to, and surprisingly, they joined forces! Marshmallow Shooters has some new management, new manufacturing, which means new products. Paper Shooters, after a couple of hiccups, struck a deal to work products with Marshmallow Shooters. This also means that Paper Shooters is going to start exploring making all-plastic, shell-free shooters (hence the rebranding to Spitball Blasterz).

The new Marshmallow Shooters pump a bit more efficiently while shooting a bit farther. The "Extreme" Marshmallow Shooters also have a front-loading muzzle now, as opposed to the breech-loading on earlier models. Reusable ammo was also available, though no sign of the "orbballistics" shooters from a couple of years ago. The new agreements should alleviate some of the cost of the Marshmallow Shooters (which, are pricey in some circles) and affords Spitball Blasterz a helping hand in the manufacturing department. Also promising, new manufacturing means Marshmallow Shooters may diversify to other products. What products, that remains to be seen.

Paper Shooters (henceforth referred to as Spitball Blasterz) is moving forward as well, to all plastic bodies. The original kits had a plastic skeleton which was then covered by a treated cardboard. The new shooter models I saw are all plastic, rear loading, and don't require casings for the paper wad ammo. The paper construction/paper mould kits are still going to be available in the line though, so construction/gunsmithing fans will still have something to work with here. The prototype all-plastic rifle I tried out felt pretty comfortable, and shot well enough, but like all things at Toy Fair I await with cautious optimism.

Good to see more options for play out there though! Marshmallow Shooters undoubtedly has an audience (given their longevity) and Paper Shooters offers something just a little different from the out of the box experience. Where their products find a home in the community will be interesting to see, I'm just glad to see that there is still more invention out there when it comes to Toys That Shoot.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

New York Toy Fair 2017 Picture Gallery is live!

Nerf Showroom Photo Gallery from TFNY 2017 is live! 
Vas The Stampede

Click the link here to view the full album.

Nerf blaster firing videos from Toy Fair are found here.

(photos taken by Leywink, she helped me out a ton during the show. Most of the video? Her work, too.)



Nerf continues to provide blasters in the higher price category, but not without good reason. The Nemesis seems to be the hallmark blaster for them this show, providing a high capacity, high rate of fire, full auto, quickly reloaded blaster. At approximately $100 this is a pretty pricey toy, but for an older age group and with possibly a bit more disposable income. Using the Rival rounds is convenient (and offers a play style similar to paintball) even further encouraged with the hopper fed firing mechanism. Even as a prototype, this blaster really sets a bar that will be tough to meet on certain criteria. Again, this is a premium priced toy, but you might possibly get your money's worth out of it.

"NERF MODULUS REGULATOR Blaster
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $59.99/Available: Fall 2017)
Bring the power of three firing modes with one epic blaster! The NERF MODULUS REGULATOR blaster features single-fire, burst-fire, and fully motorized blasting power. The REGULATOR blaster is customizable and compatible with accessories within the MODULUS system, sold separately, so fans can build their blasters and have the ultimate blasting experience. Includes two 12-dart clips and 24 MODULUS darts. Requires 4 C batteries, not included. Available at most major retailers nationwide and HasbroToyshop.com."
The Regulator, I could see that blaster being quite a bit of fun across board as well. The select fire feature, complete with 3 round burst setting, is a fascinating bit of engineering. The Nerf video game had a burst round blaster, and now art imitates life here. The fire select option worked pretty decently going between single, burst, and full auto, but given it's a prototype I don't want to get my hopes up too much until the final product. At best I can estimate performance similar to the Hyperfire (based on the batteries needed) and my own visual experience. My only real confusion with this blaster is the carrying handle, I can see that adding to the full auto feel of the blaster but it comes across to me as just unnecessary. But, given the intended market and 8 year old switching from burst to Full Auto can really get in character with the help of the muzzle handle. Even more impressive is you can still sight through the handle even when it's on. Well done for finding the Devil in the Details, Nerf.

"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."

The Judge's size was not lost on anyone. ANYONE. This blaster is ridiculously huge, and say what you want about dead space, useless plastic, etc., this toy was still wowing and amazing people on the design. Now Nerf isn't promising full range on all three darts from each barrel, there will still be a dip in performance for each burst. That being said, this would still be on my list of things to buy just because of how insane it looks. Would I have liked slam fire? Sure. Would I have liked a stock? Maybe? Would I have liked to see 4 or 5 dart bursts? Definitely. But even this prototype at Toy Fair did a fine job of leaving an impression and should find its way into a gift box or two. I would be interested to see this play out at some of the games I go to though (blasters can count as shields there, and the players go super stock. There is also a decent amount of cover, so high range blasters get equaled out a bit more.)

"NERF N-STRIKE ELITE ACCUSTRIKE RAPTORSTRIKE Blaster
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $49.99/Available: Fall 2017)
Hone your skills and hit your mark with the NERF N-STRIKE ELITE ACCUSTRIKE RAPTORSTRIKE blaster. This clip-fed blaster with pop-up sight, adjustable stock and bipod helps players line up their shot and to aim with precision and confidence. Includes two six-dart clips and 18 ACCUSTRIKE series NERF darts. Available at most major toy retailers and at HasbroToyShop.com."
The Raptorstrike. You might not see anything with this Accustrike blaster that you haven't seen already, outside of the precision/range increase from Elite and Accustrike technology. The blaster comes with 2 six shot magazines, extendable bipod, but a flip-up sight. the sight means no top tactical rail, which is unfortunate, but it does have a neat look and a very cool feeling carry handle along the underside. Also of note is the solid priming bar, not the insert tab style on the Alphahawk. Also missing is a barrel attachment point, but the iron sights are another nice detail on the blaster that some folks should get a kick out of. The ammo storage in the stock is a neat touch, and it's one of the long type rifles that Longstrike/"sniper" fans might get a kick out of. Again, I'll reserve full judgment until it hits stores.

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.

The Nerf Zombie Strike Dreadbolt surprised me. I had not expected it to be nearly as big as it was, with previous crossbows in the line (Outbreaker, Crossfire Crossbow, etc.) and the Rebelle Courage Crossbow was supposedly a similar design, BUT SO MUCH SMALLER.

With the Dreadbolt, the blaster has a pretty sizable wingspan at the arms, and uses the soft head arrows introduced in the Rebelle line, with the Agent Bow. It's also comfortable to hold, and the priming mechanism is a wrench along the bottom to crank back the string. Nothing you haven't seen before either, but also nothing this big crossbow styled yet. I could see a few faithful users to this blaster just because of how much fun it could be. Using arrow ammo would be a pain during the usual Nerf war, but just the hilariousness of this blaster could make it worth it.

Speaking of arrows....


Really looking forward to the Signature Bow. I really hoped it would come out last year, but it looks like that was not the case, and this is why. It went rebranded to be released as part of the Dude Perfect trick shot items. I'll still get it, just because of the archery aspect. Not much to say about it, as this is essentially the Platinum Bow from last year, and I wanted to get it then too.


Nerf Nitro was in full effect as well! The cars really are a firm foam construction, and Nerf isn't kidding when they say you'll hit new heights with the cars. They launch off the ramps a lot higher than I did with Hot Wheels cars I used back when I was younger, and if they hit wood floors or furniture, the marking and dents should be minimal. It's a really neat idea and while not your usual cup of foam from Nerf, I can see why they did it. My next big question about this innovation is what does Nerf have lined up on the licensing side of things if this line takes off.


Nerf Rebelle only had a couple of new blasters to show off, the new Accustrike crossbows and then a crossbow/bow combo blaster. One might think Rebelle is getting scaled back after storming out with revolvers and other triggered blasters, but it's hard to say. There wasn't anything terribly striking from the Rebelle line this year though, unlike last year when the Corner Sight was part of the lineup. No new narrative was apparent either, unlike the "Secrets and Spies" from a couple of years ago, or the Charmed line from last year. Given how early it is in the year though, I'll definitely not be surprised if Rebelle comes out with something else later this year.

Don't forget that Jazwares will also be making new Nerf accessories for 2017! Check out the press release here.
Thanks for reading! I have plenty more booth visits to write up (Buzz Bee, Zuru will be out later this week) and some additional brands worth checking out to recommend (Whombatz and Fort Boards, I'm looking at you).

All in all, Nerf had a pretty strong showing with a couple of blasters, but stayed the course in functionality with a few others. I feel like there are still a few "buzz generating" items they're holding off on even now, and will just bear watching in the future. A few more brands came out of Toy Fair swinging, so the brand synonymous with the blaster battle activity is going to have to keep coming out strong themselves.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Nerf News from TFNY: Jazwares Gains Agreement to Make Nerf Tactical Gear & Accessories

Jazwares to Make Nerf Gear and Accessories 
Update: this video has some of the accessories in the background at 5:06.


Jazwares Gears Up for NERF Battles!

SUNRISE, FL – February 16, 2017 – "Jazwares, a leader in the toy and entertainment
marketplace, is thrilled to announce that they will be gearing up the NERF Nation community! In
collaboration with Hasbro, Jazwares is introducing an innovative NERF Toy Adjacency line that
includes targets, tactical gear, storage, and more to take NERF battles to a new level of fun,
competition, and achievement!
From Hasbro, NERF is the leading brand in the blaster category. Since launching in 1969,
NERF has become a staple in every toy store and continues to the dominate the category with
new and unique designs. NERF empowers kids everywhere to feel the rush of fun, social, active
play, and to ultimately achieve the impossible!
Jazwares is excited to collaborate with Hasbro on one of the industry’s most iconic brands,
NERF,” said Laura Zebersky, Jazwares EVP and Chief Commercial Officer. "NERF has
consistently brought products that engage children of all ages and we’re ecstatic to bring our
innovative twist on product design to the NERF line."
Jazwares will offer a wide variety of products to enhance the NERF lifestyle and blaster play.
Products will embody functionality and capacity in a cool trendy fashion. In addition, Jazwares
will also be complimenting the Nerf Sports segment with indoor & outdoor sports and games.
“We’re always listening to fans and consumers to make sure we are providing high quality,
innovative products that enhance the users play experience,” says Michael Ritchie, VP, Global
Brand Marketing, NERF Franchise. “We’re excited to reimagine new ways for fans to engage
with NERF through our latest collaboration with Jazwares.”
NERF Nation! Get ready for new gear, new battles! The Jazwares Nerf Collection coming Fall
2017, at major retailers starting in North American and EMEA."
So, this is now a thing and I found out about it yesterday. Jazwares, action figure company extraordinaire (makers of RWBY toys, Minecraft, and so many more) is going to produce storage accessories and tactical gear for Nerf. Wow. Previously, Perpetual Play Group was making similar items for Nerf, but it looks like that's no longer the case. I was not allowed pictures in the showroom, but the press release is real and verified. As soon as I am allowed pictures, I will most certainly post them to show what is in store (and I liked what I saw).

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Nerf Toy Fair Showroom Info Inbound!

Video firing the Nerf Accustrike Raptorstrike is done! Enjoy this while I work on the rest. Updating this post as I finish each one, and a writeup to follow. Thanks!

Update: Let's do this.

No big surprises at the Nerf showroom today, but I finally got my hands on a number of the products revealed over the last few weeks.

First off, thanks again to Nerf for giving me the 9 AM slot, I always appreciate the timing. Second, thanks to Michael Ritchie (VP, Global Brand Strategy & Marketing) for stopping to take a few minutes to chat with me. I hadn't known I would run into him, otherwise I would have taken a few questions from you all!

Michael and I discussed the Nerf brand as it was and where things were going, and touched base about the specificity in certain lines. ICYMI, the Elite line is still seen as the "performance" level blasters and thus are denoted with the ranges and frequencies blasters hit that range. Nerf is still very much a storyteller brand as well to foster the "unstructured play" of its market (kids) so they can create their own stories within the blasters they use. Hence, forming organized games and leagues aren't something Nerf is really invested in, but they recognize these exist. If you remember the Nerf Dart Tag League, Nerf put on these tournaments once upon a time but stopped in order to allow the fans to create their own. Think of Nerf as a sandbox, and games, leagues, teams, clubs, etc., are all castles that get built within it. We spoke about the involvement of the community in creating content (that's YOU folks), from people who have maybe under a 100 views on their videos (me) to all the other channels with way bigger followings. Also, be ready for Hascon! It's coming.

Overture, curtain lights, let's talk about the blasters.



ACCUSTRIKE. Currently, the Alphahawk and FalconFire are available, but coming in hot is the Raptorstrike, shown above. It has 1 tactical rail that the bipod is mounted on, a flip-up sight, extendable legs in the bipod, a 6 shot magazine, additional magazine storage in the stock, and a solid bolt priming handle. Unlike the Alphahawk, the Raptorstrike's bolt handle looks like the metal pin version of old. I hope to still see that on the final release. The blaster itself is LONG... so long that there's a good distance between the magazine and the trigger. But in that space there's an additional spot on the body to use as a carrying handle. Another neat feature is the placement of the mag release, it's right on the inside of the trigger guard across from the trigger but accessible to both left and right-handed users. Kudos to that, Nerf.



The Mega Twinshock is ANOTHER big blaster. 10 shots, single fire (with a staged trigger, pull it slow enough and it will shoot one dart at a time), two shots at once, or slam-fire, you have choices! There isn't much else to say, and I really enjoyed using it. Vicious simplicity.



The Regulator. Burst fire. Full Auto. Single Fire. Flywheels. An oddly included carrying handle. "Ammo Out" warning light. The Nerf Modulus Regulator has so many features integrated into it, there might be a kitchen sink Modulus accessory in the works at this point. I didn't experience any skip or interruption holding the accelerator trigger down while switching firing modes and it seemed like a seamless transition for the blaster. It runs on 6 "C" batteries, which leads me to believe it fires as fast as a Hyperfire and its sounds that way from when I tested this blaster. Again, this is a prototype and as such I can't get too excited until the final product is in hands. Was I impressed? Yes. Cautious optimism? Always.



Ok, THIS blaster caught me off guard. THE DREADBOLT IS HUGE. I thought it would be a reshelled cousin of the  Courage Crossbow, but nope. It's the same principle (bowstring power, arrows, etc.) but the Dreadbolt is a much bigger design, with a bigger shell and more comfortable stock. It has a lever action priming arm that pulls the bowstring back for each shot before you nock in the arrow, and you fire. While I can't totally get behind any blaster that uses an additional type of ammo (it makes reloading during organized games more difficult if everyone is using darts) but as a standalone toy for hilarity and mirth? Sold. I look forward to this at final release as well.



The Judge was still a little finicky at the show, but it made it through all 30 darts (in varying distances) during my firing test. The blaster is RIDICULOUSLY huge, wider than my torso (at least my head) but leaves too much of an impression to not be curious about it. The darts are going to fly different distances each burst, but hopefully this will be improved even a little bit at final release. Big cartoonish blasters like this are perfect to "build your own story" in imaginative role play, as opposed to being considered a "war worthy" blaster. It's oversized, it's silly, but I can't help wanting one based on the shock value of how massive this blaster is. Performance wise, I can't get too harsh on it as the blaster's still in prototype form.



100 shots! Hopper fed! Rival velocities! The Nerf Nemesis is huge. It's battery powered with full auto, and there's not much to say except announce how much I want one. I can't imagine how this might change the game for some groups and people who are way below the output on this blaster. The only trouble I ran into needed me to shake the blaster a bit to get the rounds to load into the feed, but that's minimal. Otherwise, the accuracy, rate of fire, and sheer madness of the blaster make it worth a buy but the price is a bit up there too ($99). As a paintball player, this blaster definitely blends worlds together, and I look forward to seeing much more of it at final release.

Questions? Comments? Let me know!



Saturday, February 18, 2017

Toy Fair 2017 - Day 1! Schedule and Preview (Buzz Bee, Dart Zone, Zuru, Precision RBS)

Toy Fair 2017 - What's to Come for 2017

UPDATE:

Here's the Rail Blaster from Buzz Bee. Inline clip, clear door to see your ammo, and rear-loading!


 


The above shows a hint of things to come for this year's Toy Fair, like that new prototype from Zuru. Also on the schedule today I have meetings with:

- Precision RBS (Rubber band shooting launchers from Super Impulse)
- Buzz Bee Toys (With word on new Walking Dead blasters)
- Zuru
- K'Nex (and maybe some new KForce builds) - it's the 25th anniversary for K'Nex today so who knows what they have in store?
- Dart Zone this afternoon - they typically don't have functional prototypes yet at Toy Fair (they save the big news for the summer reveal) but maybe they'll bring something extra this time.
- World Tech Toys  - they make some new blasters to hit the market.
- Factory Entertainment - Soft Weapons and Tactics!
- And a special event for bloggers with Playmates Toys, home of the T-Blasts 

I'll be checking in on Instagram and Facebook, don't forget to get connected!



 

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