Dart Zone Pro – It’s Coming

Dart Zone Pro Reveal in Slow Reveal

Dart Zone has been hinting the last few days about a new line coming out this July.
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Dart Zone Pro. With the hashtag #only1pro and some mysterious angles, they’ve got the attention of the community. The most recent video and more like it are posted at – http://bit.ly/dartzonepro – you have to provide an email for updates but then you will get clued in on the latest info on the Dart Zone Pro line.

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The Story So far:

  • Full announcement coming July 15.
  • FPS: 150 out of the box
  • Sales will be through the Dart Zone website
  • Pretty sure it was pump-action
  • Limited Edition release, limited quantities

Interesting stuff! Stay tuned as more information comes out and we start to get more details.

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2017 Year in Review – Nerf, Buzz Bee, Zuru, and more – The Blasters, the Fails, the Wins, the Ugly

YEAR IN REVIEW: BLASTERS AND MOAR BLASTERS
Vas The Stampede

Blogger note: Each section will not encompass ALL releases for each brand. I am choosing highlights for each.

Nerf Nemesis. One highlight from 2017

NERF CONTINUES TO INNOVATE FOR 2017, BUT ALSO BLASTS YOUR WALLET.

2017. Probably one of the craziest years for blasters thus far. Nerf continues to hit some really high notes with their Rival line, continued world-building with Alien Menace, Doomlands, and hitting stride with continued products for Zombie Strike. However, they also continue to push the envelope when it comes to prices. While they are establishing themselves as the de facto blaster brand (so much that the brand has become eponymous with blaster battle play and games) they also establish with Nerf you get a premium product but also at a premium price.

The Nemesis, Regulator, Judge, Twinshock and even Dreadbolt were all 2017 releases and while impressive big blasters, the lowest of the bunch was $39.99 approximately. The Voidcaster, a semiauto spring pistol also released at around the $19.99 mark. The Raptorstrike looked great but it was another bolt-action rifle and while impressive aesthetically wasn’t functionality we hadn’t seen in previous blasters (bolt-action, magfed, accustrike ammo, etc.) The new blasters for the most part were cool in their own right –

Nerf Mega Twinshock
  • Nemesis – gravity fed hopper, 100 rounds before empty, usable with the Nerf Battery pack, overall just a great addition and a huge step for toy blaster play, although at $99.99
  • The Judge – a multishot functionality (3 dart bursts) but HUGE, and expensive.
  • Regulator – a blaster that introduced 3 dart bursts (a function also used in the Nerf Wii game a few years ago) but also a select-fire switch, a huge feature to go from burst, single, and full auto in a blaster. Bonus points for Modulus functionality to add more accessories. If the Nemesis hadn’t released this might have been my favorite from Nerf this year.
  • Voidcaster – Another semiauto blaster. Just a lot of fun and a function that needs to be used more often.
The jewel of the Nerf releases I think was clearly the continued monster offering from Nerf Rival. Higher fps, higher capacity, even at the prices it’s what the community was doing and Nerf made an offer for folks to step up their experience right out of the box. The Nemesis is costly, but that just makes blasters like the Hera, Kronos, even Khaos (with mags now sold separately) a bit more accessible and reasonable by comparison. And the Hera and Kronos were sleeper releases that weren’t a Toy Fair but were a huge hit when they came out, adding functionality to the Rival line of a semiauto flywheel Rival blaster and a 5 shot pistol with an internal magazine.
Not to even begin on the licensing for Deadpool, and Star Wars blasters that are perform pretty well (though I’ll say I wasn’t excited to see the Boba Fett Apollo kit), Nerf continues to keep the market stocked with a good amount of product for shelves. It’ll be interesting to see where Nerf goes next (and a leaked video earlier this year hinted at Bigger than a Nemesis, maybe even a Rival rifle…. a Rivle?) and with all the sub brands they have you can only expet more Nerf on the shelves for the coming year (some of which has already leaked onto shelves early, including the Mediator and Tri-Break.) If I had to nitpick anywhere, I wish there was more range out of the Judge, and maybe something new besides another rifle for Accustrike. Impressive as the lineup was in places, there is still some room for improvement and maybe some concepts I would like to see revisited. The Signature Bow was another great item, albeit not your usual blaster fare.
Toss in the additional licensed products from Sakar and Jazwares, there will be a full array of toys, accessories, and items to choose from to add on this year. Nerf continues to pave the way for other brands. And yes, there were also a bunch of smaller releases, repaints, exclusives, but these are the highlights that stuck out most for me. Dare I say it Nerf continues to set a gold standard for blasters in mass market, and whatever innovations they make definitely find their market amongst hardcore fans and casual players alike.
Don’t sleep on the competition – “Nerf or Nothin'” =/=…. Buzz Bee, Dart Zone, Zuru….

Competition is healthy! It’s so good. And when the competition is like this, the real winners are the players.

Buzz Bee came out swinging, releasing the Thermal Hunter, Zenith, Barbarian, Tactical Storm, Dwight’s Crossbow (for “The Walking Dead”)…. all for lower prices than Nerf blasters. The highlights were not only the number of pump-action blasters they made, but some accessory innovation with the Thermal Sensor (shown below!)

Buzz Bee also made magazines that were cross-compatible with Nerf blasters, new ammo types (Precision, Long Distance, in addition to sucker darts) that were compatible with Nerf blasters, even an adapter to make the Thermal Sensor usable on Nerf Tactical rails.

The Thermal Hunter was by and large the most comfortable blaster from this line for me, and the pump-action gave it the advantage over the Tactical Storm. I also have the Monorail (thanks for the sample, Buzz Bee!) but man…. the issues about it loading are pretty apparent. It does jam on me quite a bit from just the initial testings I’ve done, and considering how excited I was at Toy Fair I was a bit frustrated with the final product. Great idea, great look, but I wish the experience with the Monorail so far hadn’t left me wanting.

All the same, heck of a year for Buzz Bee releases. They really stepped up to provide an alternative dart flinger for Nerf, and at the prices they have the offerings are pretty good! If you’re a blaster player on a budget, don’t sleep on Buzz Bee toys. You definitely get what you pay for and a lot extra, I think. They still haven’t made their comparable Nerf Rival blaster, but that brings me to…
With the Thermal Hunter
Dart Zone (Covert Ops!) I used to dub Zing Toys the Dark Horse of the blaster/launcher category.
As Zing hasn’t had a new release in some time (that I’ve heard about) besides some Costco gift packs… I pass that onto Dart Zone. It wasn’t enough that they released the Enforcer, Light Command, Dartstorm, but they made a real splash this year with…. 
Much like what happened with Buzz Bee, Dart Zone has made a comparable product to Nerf Rival, but cheaper than any other offering from Nerf. $20 for the Powerball, and it’s cross-compatible with Nerf Rival ammo and magazines. The performance is comparable, in range and accuracy. No slam-fire still from these blasters but that’s not a big deal at all considering what you are getting. On top of the ability to use Nerf mags, the BallistixOps blaster comes with a gravity fed hopper, so depending on your style of play you can use either. You have choices. And buying this blaster won’t put you out against anything else except maybe the battery operated Rival blasters. And even then, there are plans for a new blaster called “The Accelerator”.
Dart Zone again makes the case for a budget buy that offers near-premium performance. You won’t go wrong giving this brand a second look in 2018. Their dart blasters are fantastically strong out of the box as well, but the BallistixOps definitely made their mark this year.
Welcome to the…. ZU (Zuru/Xshot)

Zuru by and large may arguably have the BEST value of blasters and darts. Knowing some of their manufacturing methods, their darts come in crazy packages of refills, but there is a caveat with that. While their blasters accommodate nerf darts, the darts are a little shorter than Nerf darts. In early Zuru mags, Nerf darts were way too long and weren’t cross-compatible. The Bug Attack Crossbow fixed that, but it made the magazine and Crossbow unusable with earlier smaller Xshot magazines, a huge oversight on their part in my opinion. Zuru darts however might hiccup in a Nerf magazine but they work a large part of the time. 
This year, Zuru put out the much lauded Turbo Advance and the Regenerator…. both really decent blasters. The Turbo Advance may have the advantage in my opinion though, as the blaster only needs to be reloaded via the drum while the Regenerator has two new clip styles and you have to refill those as you go. But the blasters are pump-action which I like, and in addition to the cost Zuru continues to chug along cranking out low cost products for good ranges and decent quality. Another brand that undercuts the premium pricing you find at Nerf with good options that don’t have the spectacle and aggressiveness of Nerf, but fire almost as well as anything else. Again, another brand you won’t regret saving a few bucks on.
The E-thir (Third Party companies/products)

Nerf says to use only products with the Nerf seal of approval, and there’s a litany of legal reasons they have to say that to people. Nerf’s brand has become synonymous with toy projectile play – practically anything that shoots a foam dart, arrow, ball, etc. gets referred to as a Nerf toy. Something goes wrong, like a third party dart injures a kid (anyone who used FVJs and found those uncomfortable to get hit with for instance) or some other product breaks and damages a kid’s toy, it’s Nerf who initially may get put on the hook for it. To my experience, the third party products I’ve used (Headshot ammo, shout out to them for providing a pretty decent Rival alternative) have so far been ok, but that doesn’t necessarily mean all of them will be. With the advent of 3D printing, information exchanges on the internet, and Amazon availability, the third party products available now is at a crazy level. That being said, yes, you may find some products perform better than Nerf products and that’s great. Common sense, not all Nerf products are created equal and not everything “for use with” Nerf is Nerf made nor may it be as safe as a product made by Nerf, or any other retailer that makes their products compatible for Nerf but also make their products for mass market (that means Dart Zone, Zuru, Buzz Bee). Just use common sense, read reviews, ask for recommendations, and happy hunting.
Bring me that horizon:

They’re still out there, and I hope to follow up on them at Toy Fair 2018, but Marshmallow Shooters, Paper Shooters, and Precision RBS are still out there and making products! Alternammo from foam darts are still around, so make sure to stay tuned here to find out more as I get info from them. 
Accessories! Modular battlefields!

Earlier I touched on licensed products by Jazwares, utilizing the Nerf brand (those are ok!)
Get familiar with these brands, as they offer ways to create your own adventures and battlefields in two very different ways. Battle Bunkerz offers inflatable barrels, drums, boxes, etc. that you can set up for your own purposes, like they do on Battle Universe. They look really cool aesthetically, and I do need to get these out in the field to try out for myself (it’s winter, and going outside is tough right now in Illinois! Indoor places by me are also few and far between. :P)
Fort Boards (and their sister product, Blaster Boards) are a bit costly to make a HUGE fort, but even the starter kits available can help make some decent panel obstacles for a small battlefield. The blaster board targets make for good objective and target shooting game play, while you also have the added benefit of a construction and fort building kit to add just a little more panache to your battlefield, whether indoor or out. It’s the first year I’ve seen other companies try to market directly to blaster play communities, and it’s interesting to see how everything plays out. The fact that these products exist and have an audience in this manner show that blaster play patterns are really coming to light. Yes, couches, chairs, and tables may still rule the field, but they don’t have to be the only things at risk (and these may save a lamp or two!)
WHEW! What did I miss? 2017 was a big year for blasters and associated products, feel free to sound off and let me know what you want to see in 2018! Happy new year, everyone!

GET CONNECTED!

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The Nerf Doomlands Judge! New Nerf Blaster that Needs a Bigger Gear Bag

Test Firing the Nerf “The Judge” for the Doomlands line… a huge blaster in its own right. Sample provided by Nerf, but thoughts and opinions remain my own!

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.


Basic Statistics:

MSRP: $59.99
Available: Now
Capacity: 30 shots (3 shot bursts, shotgun style. No shells. Front-loading in 3 dart groupings)
Includes: Judge, 30 elite streamline darts, HUGE BOX

Test fired the Nerf Doomlands Judge in the above video. Watch the assembly below!

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The blaster itself is incredibly…. ridiculous. It’s HUGE. The box itself has an “actual size” photo to shock and awe parents and kids alike in the toy aisle. And with good reason, as an adult the blaster is about the diameter of my torso and definitely eclipses my head when I place it in front of me. On pure aesthetics, this blaster is already quite an imposing image, or maybe a cartoon, depending on your point of view.

Gargantuan in dimension, the blaster is ungainly to wield. Pump-action makes dual-wielding nigh impossible, and and the surface area of the muzzle ensures that going around corners and finding good hiding spots in stealth are not a real consideration. Not when your blaster is the size of a small shrub. Does that make it a scrub, oh no, it makes it visible, and aggrolicious (I find big blasters tend to attract fire and attention from opposing teams and players in a casual game; this can be exploited in the hands of a knowledgeable player.) That being said, the blaster comes off initially as intimidating and with a three round burst is pretty effective in close quarters once it can be brought around to bear.

Performance wise, the blaster can be said to have more bark than bite. The ranges don’t seem much different from the initial product I saw at New York Toy Fair, and that was around 30′-50′. Angled or not, that was the most definite range. Not terribly different from the Sledgefire, but at least it had A WAY LARGER PAYLOAD (30 darts vs. 3+shell) and could be used as a shield (within certain gametypes). The spread wasn’t anything particularly astounding considering the 3 dart burst, and there was some loss of range on at least one dart in those bursts. The loss is usually where the 30′ mark came from. The key point is to consider this a truly close quarters blaster, and use it as such. If rules allow, use it as a shield. If they don’t, then be smart about aiming and when you try to run and gun with this blaster. The pump action is smooth, but the lack of a slamfire feature and again, the size for a short range blaster gives a player some extra tactical considerations.

Ultimately, if you’re let down by the range, then make sure to keep your focus in the Nerf Elite, Nerf Mega, and Nerf Rival areas of consideration. Unless otherwise stated, the thematic lines focus more on roleplay and fantasy/imagination play with blasters than outright performance. And The Judge, as a member of the Doomlands 2169, is highly indicative of that. You’re getting a relatively high capacity “shotgunned” blaster for close quarters and a lot of people as casual Nerf blaster users would love that. Who wouldn’t want to bust this out for some mischief on coworkers, classmates, and possibly unsuspecting family members? The Nerf Doomlands Judge makes an over the top statement about what it does as a blaster, and works the immersive angle of being some wasteland superhero with a large inventory of weapons of even larger construction. That’s the focus, and not squeezing out an extra 10′ on minimizing dead space or barrel fit. Doomlands is how some people play, and it gives them just the fantasy weapon to express themselves with.

The Judge is $60 roughly, available now. Is it worth it? If you can spring it and don’t mind the difference in range to most other blasters, then yes. Heck yes. It’s ridiculous, and that’s enough for me. If you want your accuracy and range a little higher, then it’s better to pass on this for a Rival (like the newly available Hera) or Nerf Elite (the Regulator is a good fun blaster out now as well.)

Hope this review helps, feel free to sound off in the comments! ‘Til next time.

RECOIL: THE WORLD IS NOW (available at Target and other retailers!) Game

Nerdist/Geek & Sundry just did such a great job with an overview:


Sponsored content brought to you by Recoil!

RECOIL PHOTO GALLERY

RECOIL: The World is Now Game – a new and really intriguing take on Augmented Reality, mixing it with laser tag, implementing perks/power ups from video games, a heads up display (HUD), mobile gaming, scorekeeping, a life bar, and just a whole lot of features other systems have tried before and didn’t excel in. Recoil though, is a little different!
I haven’t tried the game play yet (that’s coming in a future installment, the game doesn’t have a single player feature and I need to wrangle some willing victims) so let’s talk about what each kit in the line comes with. For now that entails the Starter Kit with Game/Wi-Fi Hub, The Recoil RK-45 Spitfire, the Recoil SR-12 Rogue, and the Recoil Frag Grenade.
FIRST – The Starter Kit.
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RECOIL Multiplayer Starter Set
·       Real-time player tracking up to 16 players
·       Location based gameplay powered by GPS
·       3D positional audio for ultimate battle awareness
·       Real time voice chat between players
·       Unique gameplay modes for outdoor & indoor play
·       Add-on mobile players
·       Location-based pick-ups and virtual weapons
·       Height: 7.75” Length: 11” Width: 1.7”  
·       Ages 12+, SRP $129.99
Requires 12 AA batteries (4 for the Spitfire x 2, 4 for the wi-fi hub)
The largest investment you’re going to have in the system, both in cash and batteries. BUT, the wi-fi hub has a range of 250 feet in any direction (500 both ways!), and a whole new Augmented Reality system to play. The game involves air strikes, land mines, actual respawn points and bases via the app, which leaves a whole slew of new avenues to raise your laser tag game. You get a lot of bang for your buck in experience, not to say about the robust build of the toy blasters themselves. Batteries are not included with any Recoil game kit and this requires 12, so rechargeable batteries could be a good idea.
The Game Hub is a neat piece of technology. You fire it up and use your mobile device to connect to the wi-fi signal generated by the hub (no internet, obviously. It’s just enough to allow the mobile phones to run the app and interact.) A hub can support up to 16 people to play at one time and generates the game, maps, etc. to get set up and play. One tip Skyrocket offers is that you hit airplane mode on your device first, THEN activate wi-fi (and connect to the obvious Recoil network), followed by bluetooth and location services. That will make connecting to just the hub and blaster units easier as it eliminates any rival device signals. 16 people only! Stacking Game Hubs does not equal a larger field (but man, that would be cool.)
The Recoil App is free to download (and you don’t need the blasters to play, you can just connect to the hub and game with your phone if you are the odd person out from the starter kit) and you can still play in the game.  Setting out mines is an option as is supplying teammates with ammo. Skyrocket really made sure to make the game highly inclusive if you just get the starter pack.

The app uses GPS signals (at least for outdoor play; at the time of this article an inside version of the skirmish game had not been released yet but was in the works) that show up mapped during gameplay on the app. From there players can locate each other, bases, see the results of damage from airstrikes, grenades, see the time left in a round, scoreboard, and life bars. The game also comes with scannable AR tags that you can use during gameplay for powerups. This will all be displayed in an upcoming gameplay video 😉 The following are some screencaps from the app itself. It’s really interesting to see just how much you actually have to offer once you get a game going.

Max game settings – they weren’t playing that long
Perks!

Find your respawn.

To my knowledge you can’t expand a game past 16 people and I am not sure how well this would operate from an elevated position (say in a park with some staircases or on a jungle gym) but I am still very taken with the promises this toy line is making, and just from the little testing I’ve done outside of a full game there is a lot of good stuff here to take away after that initial buy. There’s just so much you can do that relies on the “honor system” anywhere else. Another note, it looks like you can only connect one bluetooth blaster to your phone at a time, so no complicated loadouts. With the easy reloading though, that makes sense to not have to carry a primary and sidearm, I think.
Another feature is the environmental sound of the game; as gunfire sounds off around you in-game, you hear it directionally through your head phones based on your position vs the position of other players. It’s recommended you wear headphones when playing in order to achieve the full surround sound effect. Also, the push to talk buttons make sure that when you tag/get tagged, you can communicate your enthusiasm or lack thereof to your victims/enemies. Also, makes sure you know who to get revenge on later.
Then comes your pistol – 
Recoil RK-45 Spitfire

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RECOIL RK-45 Spitfire
·       Compact, versatile and effective in all battle types
·       Fully automatic with quick ammo reload
·       Push-to-talk button for real-time player chat
·       Dynamic force feedback
·       High-powered IR transmitters
·       Manual reload mechanism
·       Camera mount
·       BLE enabled for smart phone connection
·       Body-mounted sensor for full coverage
·       Includes: Direct Bluetooth connect and downloadable mobile game app

                 Ages 12+, SRP $49.99 

What’s really cool about the Recoil blaster units is not the bluetooth connectivity to your mobile device, or interfacing with the game, but the tactile feedback from the tagger units! I didn’t realize this when I first learned about the Recoil game, but the blasters flash red and make firing noises like some old school toys I had that did the same thing. That right there can be a lot of fun, but given the price you do need a little more, which Recoil definitely promises and delivers. 😉
The Spitfire requires 4 AA batteries, has a push to talk button on the back of the blaster, and three hit sensors on three different sections of the front of the blaster. A fourth sensor is plugged into the bottom handle and placed in your back pocked or the back of your shirt collar in order to set you up to be shot from behind. Less scrupulous individuals need not apply that won’t use the 4th sensor. Still though, it’s a very solid toy, good plastic and has some heft. The futuristic styling is cool and reminiscent to me of some video games. The phone mount is on the side, so it doesn’t obstruct my natural tendency to aim down the sight of a blaster. As far as intro weapons go, this is a winner on aesthetics and feel. 
A little bit louder now with a rifle (higher ranges than the Spitfire supposedly, requires further testing)!
Recoil SR-12 Rogue

Battery compartment
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RECOIL SR-12 Rogue
·       High fire-rate, magazine capacity and damage output
·       Fully automatic with quick ammo reload
·       Push-to-talk button for real-time player chat
·       Dynamic Force Feedback
·       Improved rate of fire and range
·       High-powered IR transmitters
·       Manual reload mechanism
·       Camera mount
·       BLE enabled for smart phone connection
·       Body-mounted sensor for full coverage
·       Includes: Direct Bluetooth connect and downloadable mobile game app
·       Height: 9” Length: 26.875” Width: 3” 
·       Ages 12+, SRP $79.99
For a few dollars more, you get a higher ammo capacity and range in the Recoil SR-12 Rogue, moreso than you get out of the Spitfire. No mods to do here either, what you see is what you get. It requires 6 AA batteries as opposed to the 4 the Spitfire demands, but you get the added boosts as well. The Rogue feels solidly built as well, and features a phone mount spot on both sides of the blaster (depending on your dominant hand). More of the same with three hit sensors and a wearable fourth, good weight distribution, and sleek look. The tactical rails make me wonder if any future plans are in motion but that’s a post for another day. If I had any nitpicks (and this is a minor one) it’s that the push to talk button is only on one side of the blaster. But even with that, the button is easily reached with whatever hand is not on the trigger. Given the added firepower you get from the Rogue that’s definitely not a deal breaker.
And now, A GRENADE. Again, similar technology in past products from other companies but this syncs up with your weapon as well in order to give you credit for your kills! 
Frag Grenade

I appreciate the detail at having a little clip to attach.
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RECOIL Frag Grenade
·       An explosive addition to your arsenal
·       High damage output
·       Large blast radius
·       Simple 1 button design
·       Time-delay explosion
·       Includes: (1) Frag Grenade
·       Height: 3.7” Length: 2.6” Width: 2.6” 
·       Ages 12+, SRP $14.99

The Recoil Frag Grenade is pretty cool because it has a couple of ways it works- you can sync it up with your blaster  to identify to anyone you used it if it took them out or give it a quick prime and throw for anonymous damage. The housing has some rubber on it to cushion it from impact, but definitely don’t throw it directly at someone, it’s still a hunk of plastic and electronics! This toy provides a radius of damage to opposing Recoil players, there’s no need to hit someone directly with it. Just need to lob it in the general area and let the timer do the rest. I don’t know how well the frag grenade takes impact against grass or hard surface from a high height or concrete but it definitely feels and looks like it can take a beating. It’s a very good mechanic that has been missing in a lot of blaster games, and this just might be one of the better ways to implement a splash damage mechanic, one I am really looking forward to exhaustively experiment.
And that’s the Recoil line for now! It’s a really exciting line, and I can’t wait to see what they might have planned for the future. There’s a lot to do between up to 16 people and with Recoil The World is Game for as long as people want to make their backyards, parks, parking lots, garages, and offices (in the future) into competition areas. Available now, The World is Now Game. Make sure to try this out and see what the future of laser tag holds!

Info on the #Nerf Kronos!

Revealed at SDCC, here’s the press release on the Nerf Kronos (Deadpool 2-pack).

NERF RIVAL DEADPOOL KRONOS XVIII-500 2 Pack
(Ages 14 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $59.99/Available: Spring 2018)
Intensity. Attitude. Tacos. It’s Nerf Rival meets Deadpool, and that means the battle will never, ever be the same. These 2 blasters have the look — and the snarkiness — of Deadpool, that don’t-call-me-a-hero bad boy from Marvel Comics. Open the breech to load 5 high-impact rounds into each blaster, then prime them with the spring-action cocking mechanism, take aim, and blam go the badder guys! Each blaster sends the rounds blasting into battle at 90 feet per second (27 meters per second). The blasters also have a trigger lock and tactical rail. The special edition box captures the personality of Deadpool with scribbled comments and cross-outs “written” on the box as if by Deadpool himself, and is designed for displaying and storing the blasters, rounds, and taco-shaped instructions. Experience the intensity and attitude of the Nerf Rival Deadpool Kronos XVIII-500 blaster 2-pack!  Available Spring 2018 exclusively at GameStop and Best Buy.

"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:
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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)




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!