Nation Vs Zombies Game Highlight: Chris’s Last Stand

Chris The Human Fends off Zombie Horde so others may live at Nation Vs Zombies 2016

Chris, a player from Ohio, opted to hold off the encroaching zombie horde during Nation vs Zombies, in what I like to call pulling a “Boromir” (I’m sure other people do it too, but that’s not important). This, is his story.

 I was fortunate enough to record this, and moments like THIS are why I sometimes have to step back and carry the camera, not the blaster. Tough job, someone’s gotta do it. I still have the main video to work on, so more highlights to come!

Nation Vs Zombies: where 400-500 blaster/undead enthusiasts got together and had a good time of it. Next year: Athens, Ohio.

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Build Demo! KForce K-10V Time Lapse Speed

Building a KForce K-10V blaster (How long did it Take?)
Vas The Stampede

Spoiler: 

24 minutes

In a new installment, you see how long it took me to build one of the new K’Nex KForce Kits from K’Nex (that means, product provided, but my opinions are my own).

The “Build and Blast” KForce line has a lot of really good ideas in it, from the actual building and construction of the blasters (which any modder out there can appreciate) to the near-limitless possibilities what someone can build with a kit and a whole lot more K’nex pieces (something I would like to test for myself in the future).

I might be tempted to do a slower video in the future, mainly because while time-lapse is cool you don’t get a feel for some of the mishaps I had during building (I think the manuals could be a bit clearer on instructions, but that’s a discussion for another post, such as when I do a firing video). I wonder if someone who is familiar with K’Nex can do these builds faster, or if even someone who more regularly builds construction kits might have a leg up on me and shave time off what I did.

In any event, the line is still being supported and innovated on, and that’s all one can really ask in a super competitive arena like blasters. Companies are going for range, capacity, aesthetics, and K’Nex continues to fuel imaginative building while trying to produce a blaster that fires on par with most others, even if rate of fire may suffer slightly.

So let’s try this; if you have the same kit, or any kit that I post here, video yourself building it too and tag me in it! Whatever time I have, see if you can beat it or challenge me to build a KForce blaster faster than you (and get away with it)!

I still have a few more upcoming projects to do, so make sure to come back and keep checking for updates! Blaster reviews, photos, and the NvZ video are all on the way. Thanks again!

Nerf Mega Mastodon – Firing video from New York Toy Fair

Nerf Mega Mastodon Firing Video from New York Toy Fair
VasTheStampede

Took me wayyy too long to get this edit done! But, here it is, hope you still garner some enjoyment from it. The upcoming Nerf Mega Mastodon, and my firing it during New York Toy Fair 2016. I’ll have more to say when I get the final production samples later this year, but for the moment I’m going to reserve my judgment. It’s a HUGE blaster, though! I’ll have a few more older Nerf videos to post, so there’s more on the way!

Precision RBS: Rubber Band Shooter Rundown – Part 1!

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Super Impulse’s Precision RBS – Rubber band launching system

EDIT: updated with firing video playlist – 

The fine folks at Super Impulse provided samples of their latest offering, a rubber band shooting system called the Precision RBS. All opinions remain my own.
I first ran into Precision RBS at New York Toy Fair in February 2016. It was a new type of rubber band launcher, not to be confused with a previous brand the year before. Precision RBS offered something different from that previous toy in a variety of differences. It used normal rubber bands you could find at any major retailer, didn’t need a magazine, and most importantly HAD A FUNCTIONING TRIGGER. I saw 3 different models, each offering a little twist on rubber band launching. Aesthetically, I found the Precision RBS models elegant, with the smooth lines and round shape of the each shooter very different from many of the angular toys on the market today, adopting an alien/futuristic look, and the colors really stood out as well.
The Basics:

TALOS
“The lightweight Talos holds up to 20 rubber bands in two sizes, launches up to 30 feet and includes a built-in extender for even more power when you need it. It’s perfect for quick, smooth action.
MSRP: $14.99
Age: 8+”
CHIRON
“The Chiron has storage for up to 100 rubber bands, so you’ll never run out of ammo! Other features include the quick-loading design and a release option to separate into 2 completely different RBS Shooters, including a hand launcher. You’ll dominate your opponent with tons of ammo power!
MSRP: $19.99
Age: 8+”

HYPERION
“Nothing surpasses the Hyperion: with pinpoint accuracy and extended range! Capacity to hold three different band sizes, with extra side storage. Plus Hyperion has an unbelievable BURST feature and can launch 14 bands at once!
MSRP: $24.99
Ages: 8+”
Right away, the entire line is a relatively low cost offering, and with easily available rubber band ammo in large packs (and a secondary use as a tool around the house), there are a few perks before even talking about the toys themselves.
I mentioned my favorite parts of the aesthetics of the Precision RBS shooters. Besides the looks, the Talos has a very comfortable grip, and each toy makes uses of the body of the launcher, removing the necessity for attachments and accessories. The ammo holders are built INTO the body of the launcher, but by no means do they take away from the structure or the solid feel of the toys. Depending on the model, the ammo storage ranges from “adequate” on the Hyperion to “overwhelming” on the Chiron. But it’s these differences that really make for a compelling case at buying either model past the Talos.



The Talos acts as the “base” model of the line, while the Chiron and Hyperion are attachments onto the Talos that add another dimension to how you play with the launcher. The Chiron adds a humongous amount of ammo storage, along with the ability to shoot larger ammo and split into the Talos and a manually fired frame to shoot rubber bands from. For parents, this could easily be considered a two-player pack where one can use the pistol form and the other the hand launcher. The manual frame of the Chiron is easy to reload with practice, and can fire any size rubber band without an attachment, unlike the other models that can only fit one of the three standard sizes at any time. Here are the features among each launcher:
  • The Talos has an “extender arm” which allows it to shoot two different sized bands.
  • The Chiron adds an additional ammo holder and essentially a second manual shooter to go with the included Talos. Larger rubber bands may be shot on the Chiron as well when connected or separate from the Talos
  • The Hyperion can use small, medium, and large rubber bands, has an ammo holder for each type, and an undermounted shooter that sprays rubber bands or can shoot a massive clump of them at once.
The Talos pack is comprises of the Talos and two different sizes of rubber bands. The Chiron includes the Talos and the Chiron attachment/frame to shoot rubber bands by hand (and it protects your hand from being spiked by the rubber band upon launch). The Hyperion comes with all three different sizes of rubber bands as well as a Talos and the attachment for the Hyperion.
The rubber band ammo is pretty cool! Here’s how you load a Precision RBS launcher.
Why rubber bands? I’ll post an interview in part 2, but here’s a quote from the inventor, Ben Stack:
“What’s really awesome with rubber bands is the size of the band really makes a performance difference. Size 117 bands reduce the number you can load at one time down to 6, but increase range out to 50 feet with high accuracy. The size 33 is the sweet spot for indoor play in the middle, giving medium range, about 35 feet, and around 8-10 in loading capacity. Size 16s are for quantity over quality, giving you up to 12 shots with around 30 feet of range and close-in accuracy.
The rubber bands aren’t a perfect solution, though. The smaller sizes are particularly hard to see and find again, even at close range. I’d be hesitant to use them in a park area with wildlife. I am not sure I would use the line at all outside in a park, given how difficult it might be to gather the rubber bands up again. Maybe a concrete outside structure, but I’m too worried about the local woodland creatures. Also, the rubber bands in windy weather lose a lot of “oomph” and are very hard to aim, if they even reach their target. Not unlike other similar toys shot in the wind, but rubber bands are especially vulnerable to the elements. These toys excel indoors, and given the amount of cover in a home and/or office, Precision RBS would definitely offer a very intense play experience. And if you’re worried about pain, it’s minute and extremely temporary. The worst I ever felt was shooting my palm point blank with the Talos, and taking a hit 10’ away from the Hyperion. Otherwise, most of the energy is dispersed seconds after launching the rubber bands, and contact doesn’t hurt a lot, if at all. Considering the “pain scale” nurses might use, it goes from a 6 to a 1 in a matter of seconds of flight. My biggest recommendation is eye protection, because accidents do happen.

Edit: I wanted to capture a few more thoughts I had on this toy after the initial review – 5/4/16

One really neat trick about the rubber bands is the ability to “shotgun” them on a single nock, or in the case of the Hyperion one big clump of rubberbands instead of a stream of them. You can also shotgun load them onto the ammo holders, which makes restocking your reserve ammo elementary in practice. While shotgunning is possible with other toys, it’s not quite like this, and it’s pretty cool!

I found the launchers in Precision RBS very comfortable to hold, it didn’t feel built for small hands as some toys in the 8+ range are. And even if something like the Talos is oversized, there’s always the Chiron, probably the most versatile toy in the bunch because of the manual firing option. I almost wish the Hyperion had a stock, but it’s unnecessary. Its omission also probably helped keep costs low on the line, and again I find the prices a winner. Even moreso because of the lack of inherent costs in restocking a proprietary ammo, since the rubber bands are available everywhere.

Ammo holders on the Hyperion
And don’t let the various types of ammo dissuade you! I’ve found that with practice you can load multiple types of rubber band ammo onto the RBS, and as I mentioned with the Chiron frame it doesn’t matter.
It’s ingenious how the Precision RBS launchers are designed. The shooters barely have any moving components, outside of the nock wheel, the extender arm, and the slide on the Hyperion. The rubber band ammo is a self-contained propulsion projectile. I see those factors eliminating needs for maintenance to the toys, leaving not as many chances for a launcher to fail or misfire during a game. No fiddling with gears or wondering if your plunger is damaged, no spring tension or air bladders to worry about. Everything about the launcher is right there in front of you. It’s that simplicity of the Precision RBS that I really like, combined with the cost and ease of use this is a good buy for anyone looking to add something new to their arsenal or activities. 
Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow, where I release exclusive F2A Q&A I had with Ben, the inventor of the RBS launchers. I’ll also update with videos on these launchers tomorrow as well. Thanks!

Toy Fair news Day 1 upcoming

Good morning! Just an update that I am at Toy Fair! Unlike past years though, I do have a gig at the show but I will do my best to get my photos and (hopefully!) video up promptly.

UPDATED NERF BLASTER LIST HERE (crediting UK Nerf for posting it originally)

On the docket, I have Zing, a new Rubber Band shooter, Zuru, Marshmallow Shooters, and Paper Shooters so far. Tomorrow, I am visiting Nerf in the morning! I’ll be here thru the 15th though, and making a few last minute stops, including Sakar and their Nerf Drone. Wish me luck, and hope to find something that interests you!

From Toy Fair 2014

Wait, Nerf Drone? No new images sent yet, but here is some info:

·         Recon Drone Cam Copter a smaller sized multi-directional drone with a built-in 16.1 MP HD camera for capturing bird’s-eye-view high-definition videos and photos as well as the ability to hover, do flips, and fly upside down ($59) (size: 5.25 X 5.25 X 1.6)

 ·         Air Defender X Drone Cam Copter: a larger multi-directional drone with a built in 16.1 MP camera and HD video recorder ($99) (size: 13 X 13X 2)

·         Air Defender X Drone Cam Copter with Wi-Fi: a connected version of the Air Defender X with on-board Wi-Fi for real-time downloading of the footage captured by the drone’s 16.1 MP camera to the device of the user’s choice ($149) (size: 13 X 13 X 2)

A Nerf Blogger Had Writer’s Block in 2005. What happened Years Later…. Might Surprise you.

The Nerf Ambassador Meetup at #NerfHQ (Hasbro Headquarters/offices, not the old forum)
Vas The Stampede



Seriously, surprise.

 
Whereupon the blogger (and others of his ilk) visited the home of Nerf blasters, and learnt about production, design, marketing, safety standards, the future, and many things Nerf. Rival, Modulus, Zombie Strike, Doomlands, Rebelle, darts, Rounds, foreign markets, and what it means to be Nerfnation. MORE AFTER THE JUMP.

Sorry about the clickbaiting title, I just couldn’t help it. But seriously, folks! I know I say this a lot, but when I started this blog in 2005 (and barely posted then, but it was up!) I can’t believe some of the opportunities afforded me. And the latest… visiting the Nerf offices in Rhode Island, was fantastic.

 
NOW- I can’t talk about everything I saw there. Other bloggers (Nerd Drop, Click Click BAMF, Shining Foam, Lord Draconical, Blaster Labs, Nerf Haven) were there as well, so THERE WILL BE SOME OVERLAP. If you’ve already read those sources, great. Also, we all also signed a non-disclosure agreement (hereafter referred to as NDA).
 
WHAT I CAN TALK ABOUT IS GREAT (as far as I can say about prototypes.)
 
Coming this Spring 2016 (maybe sometime around January, hopefully earlier in time for the holidays)
 
 
Dual-Strike

There is A LOT I like about the Dual-Strike. First and foremost, it fires regular Nerf darts AND Mega darts at the flick of a switch. The idea is a fine one, and long overdue given the breadth of ammo available. This begs the question about when/if we get a disc shooter combo in somewhere, but that’s a whole different story. My initial impression was that it felt like a solid build, the priming arm wasn’t awkward, and the almighty selective switch did its job. In a lot of games recently I found myself carrying a Mega blaster, but also something smaller for darts. This eliminates having to carry the additional sidearm, and increases mobility. I definitely hope this is something they continue to tinker with and we see more of in the future. I’ll have plenty more to say when I finally get a production model. In general, I like and even prefer using Mega blasters on some level because of the wider surface area of Mega darts, which to me means an increased probability of hitting my target. They may not have the ammo capacity of an N-Strike blaster with a drum on it and may be longer to reload compared to swapping a new magazine in, but those are issues that I address with my play style. The Dual-Strike now tells me I can go with my preference but I don’t have to have that normal streamline blaster carried on me as well in case I run out of Mega darts during a game with none in sight.




Nerf Zombie Strike Crosscut



THIS. This blaster has the added roleplay element of the zombie-slicing buzz saw partnered with the blaster, and that’s all there is to it. The lower trigger “revs” the soft foam buzz saw, which stops spinning instantly upon contact with anything. More trigger pulls = higher revs and louder noise. Not really much to say here, except some good style points afoot for being able to tag with the saw first THEN shoot. Another interesting idea, although personally I would have liked to see the saw blade rev up and then launch out. 🙂 It’s a fun gimmick for me, and one I might use once in awhile just because.

Nerf Rival. 4-4.5 years IN DEVELOPMENT to get this blaster line worked out. Appealing to an older age group. Higher power. These are all things that I’ve seen groups asking for over the years from Nerf and here it is, 100 FPS right out of the box and decent accuracy. I can’t even begin to imagine how much D was poured into the line, but they went through the play testing and everything  with the applicable groups that’s what they assured us. In my own experience with the toy industry, selling something this powerful in the toy aisle can be a bit difficult. But given from what I’ve seen in recent weeks, the Rival line isn’t pushed to the “sports equipment” aisle like I’ve seen with past brands. While I don’t enjoy the prospect of buying new ammo, I do enjoy the prospect of higher velocity gameplay that this offers. I have a few more opinions on the subject, but that’s for another post!

And that’s the new stuff we can talk about for now. Other parts of the trip covered the design, production, marketing, and testing that takes place in the facilities. Along with getting a bit of history walking through the hallowed halls of Hasbro. I couldn’t remember the last time I was on a field trip, but this was definitely one of the best.

DESIGN

Trivia: The way I understood it, all roads for a Nerf blaster lead to Marty’s (Master Model Maker) desk. It is at his workstation that all the pieces are printed, worked out, and come together. He not only has to account for SAFETY GUIDELINES but also how to take the concepts/designs worked out and make them fit together in the first place. Amazing. Thank you, Marty. The design folks were great enough to walk us through making mockups, coloring, different piece variations, and what it takes to get the blasters to shelves. The 3-D printing setups were also hard at work if you can imagine, and we were able to literally watch parts grow.

PRODUCTION/MARKETING

First, Nerf has marketing concepts/campaigns and possible blasters lined up through about 2017. Just let that sink in, I’ll be right here.

Let’s put something else out there:
THE BULK OF NERF’S BUSINESS IS IN THE 8-10 YEAR OLD AGE RANGE.  

Yes, they may diversify their market (Rival, Koosh are such examples) but their main sales come from the 8-10 year olds, it’s their imaginations they’re trying to capture and their sales they are trying to earn. To do that, they need to make TOYS THAT THEY CAN SELL TO KIDS.

That being said, the discussion of high-end blasters akin to the Transformers “Masterpiece” line…. BLASTERPIECE if you will came up. The real question is what would make it compelling (performance is already upped in the other brands, so this will require some thinking.) Personally, a retro blaster (Manta Ray, Stinging Scarab, Perceptor) with Elite ranges would be nice. Or even a high-quality durable Crossbow redux. But they haven’t come to a definite conclusion on what a high-end blaster line would mean and until they do it’s still just an idea.

The team also took it upon themselves to show us prototypes, and fascinating isn’t a strong enough word about how I felt about seeing the evolution of current blasters such as the Hammershot and Slingfire.

Variations of the Nerf Zombie Strike Slingfire on the table

The stories. Oh, the stories.

Zombie Strike was a tough marketing sell as we found out and was in development for years before release. Finding a good 8-10 year old friendly balance with a theme like that was the challenge, and how to make it work. It was a gamble that kids would buy into it from the perspective of many people. Zombies were a hot trend when the line finally did come out, and the rest is history. The zombie theme still works for Nerf, and they continue to support it. Doomlands is them rolling out another stage of their storylines, hopefully to recreate the success of Zombie Strike with a post-apocalyptic flair.

Rebelle was another wary sell, but Nerf wanted to test uncharted waters. Yes, I heard some of the complaints with the initial “core” launch being in purple and pink but that came out of observational  research with younger females (which also showed distinct differences in how they used blasters compared to boys). And from what I’ve read (not from Nerf sources, I mean business analysts) the line is a success. The fact the line is still being supported (and moving away from purple/pink, now that the main launch is out) is a testament to the line and its reception. The things they’ve learned in play testing are continuously being adopted into their plans.

I also mentioned the Nerf Nuke from ThinkGeek, definitely not likely in the future. Sorry, y’all.

Nerf does like to take current trends/products and add their own twist. That much is clear when we see new takes on blasters that have similar mechanisms such as the Jolts and bows across the brand.

The folks from the Rebelle team showed us some of the video they take during their playtesting sessions in their specialized “Fun Lab” and Armory, which is a shooting range of sorts, and it was very different from what I expected. It’s pretty much a big observational area where they can watch how kids play with products. I saw a lot of target practice, not a lot of player vs player, unless that’s video we didn’t see. Girls definitely seemed to show more teamwork than boys, fulfilling distinct roles they identified for themselves. Not so apparent on the male side of the results.

One of the biggest questions for me was the lack of direct Nerf involvement in many of the grassroots Nerf/foam blaster only arenas popping up around the U.S. (Detroit Dart Club, Dart Wars, Strikezone Arena, Rochester Nerf League, etc) and beyond many of these places to play with blasters are opening up in some form or another, which are great when available parks/good bunkers are in short supply. The answer is “if you build it, they will come”, meaning that there has to be a very good proof of concept and practice before Nerf gets into the business. With as many active arenas as I see now, there are plenty of candidates.

Overall it was a pretty good visit for me. Heck, the fact that I visited at ALL still surprises me. After all the years doing the New York visits and everything, there was a sense of validation I had for being a one man band with an idea and a 3.1 megapixel camera in 2005. But there I was, in the belly of the beast walking the Main Street of Hasbro. As a Kid Eternal, this is one of if not the highest point of my blogging “career”. BIG thank you to the execs for letting this visit happen, which hasn’t happened for the fan community in almost 10 years, to look behind the curtain at our toys. I know it’s a risk but words can’t express the appreciation for how you welcomed us in over the past few years to culminate in this.

THANK YOU SO MUCH TO THE FOLKS WHO WERE A PART OF OUR TOUR:

 
The PR folks (you know who you are) – you brought me in
 
 Michael Ritchie, VP Sports Action
Dean Carley, VP Product Development, Nerf
Eric Huban, Sr. Director, Global Brand Strategy & Marketing, Nerf
 Brandi Cooper, Sr. Brand Manager, Nerf
Brian Jablonski, Director Product Design, Nerf
Kevin Dakan, Director Product Development Engineering, Nerf
Capucine Rebuffe, Director Global Brand Strategy & Marketing, Nerf Rebelle
Aaron Mead, Senior NERF Armorer, Sports Action Design & Development
Curt Mahlstedt, Director Product Design, Nerf Rebelle
Maria Silveira, Director Global Consumer Insights, Global Consumer Insights (Fun Lab)
Brian Tolson, Manager Product Development Services, Design and Engineering Development
Marty Fura, Master Model Maker, Design and Engineering Development
 
 
It was kinda like this:

Nerf: Spring 2016 ed. Shoot megas and streamlines at the same time!

Nerf reveals Spring 2016 blasters in RARE Visit from “Nerf Fan Ambassadors” 
Vas The Stampede
 
Fresh off the “Nerf Fan Ambassador” visit to #NerfHQ in Rhode Island, enjoy the info on these future releases. More on the actual visit in am upcoming post, so stay tuned.
 
 
N-Strike Elite Dual-Strike blaster
(SRP: $19.99/Available: Spring 2016)
  • Fires both Elite and MEGA darts
  • Selector switch to choose MEGA or Elite
  • 6 dart capacity (includes 3 Elite darts and 3 MEGA darts)
  • Zombie Strike CrossCut blaster
 
(Thanks Click Click BAMF for the pic)
 
Nerf Zombie Strike Crosscut
(SRP: $14.99/Available: Spring 2016)
  • Double barrel zombie blasting
  • Spinning SawBlade (foam)
  • Includes 4 Zombie Strike darts
 
 

Nerf bloggers visit Hasbro!

Nerf bloggers invited to Visit Hasbro Headquarters
Vas The Stampede

Today is the day! Visiting Hasbro Headquarters in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, as part of their “Fan Ambassador Meet-up”. Along for the ride are Click Click BAMF, Nerd Drop, Shining Foam, Lord Draconical, Nerfhaven, and Blaster Labs.

I already started posting some pics from traveling around Rhode Island. Feel free to check in on the shenanigans socially:

Facebook: Foam From Above
Instagram: Blasterbot1984
Twitter: @VasTheStampede

Filming is not allowed for our visit, and picture opportunities are limited; whatever we can share we definitely will!

ICYMI: Nerf Behind the Scenes – Nerf Mega Cycloneshock

VIDEO: Nerf Behind the Scenes – Mega Cycloneshock (ICYMI)
Vas The Stampede

Nerf sent out a video for its Mega Cycloneshock, here’s the scoop from the design team themselves.

Some takeaways… car design? That’s something I want to look more into if/when the next chance I have to hang out with the design team (hopefully this summer).