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:

London Toy Fair 2014 – UK Nerf’s report

London Toy Fair 2014 – Thoughts on the Nerf overview from UK Nerf

UK NERF was at the London Toy Fair this week, and posted up a report of what Hasbro had on display.  Hasbro sent out exclusive release info already on the Nerf Zombie Strike Slingfire, N-Strike Mega Thunderbow, N-Strike Elite Demolisher, and Rebelle Agent Bow.

UK Nerf, was able to try them out.  Make sure to read the entire report, but here are some choice bits:

About the Slingfire:

“About the same size as the Sledgefire and roughly the same weight. This was designed to be used one handed so the balance is spot on. You can flick it to prime it and it lands neatly in your hand so rapid fire with this technique would be possible with a little practice, keeping the other hand free for a secondary or to reload.”

The Demolisher:

” The Grenade launcher is not detachable, nor can it be without a lot of work (as far as I could see). It is fairly heavily integrated into the shell and I think if it were removable, simply using it would wrench it off the rail anyway.”  Word has it the Demolisher may be full auto due to the popularity of the Rapidstrike, so that remains to be seen.

Go read the rest if you want to know more!  It sounds promising though, and I am looking forward to getting a turn at these come New York Toy Fair.  UK Nerf mentions a total of 10 releases, so it’s bound to be a busy year.  No word on N-Force or Dart Tag though, we’ll have to wait and see.

I’d really love to say more and speculate, but honestly there’s not much to say without the blasters.  It’s a little weird to see the Thunderbow reliant on the bow arm as part of the priming mech, unlike the Big Bad Bow or BnA, where the bow arms were extraneous.  The Demolisher is going to be fun I think, and I really want to know if the diameter of the missile is the same as the Mega darts.  I strongly think the Rebelle Agent Bow is going to be the dark horse of the new releases, with the new arrows (tipped something like ball, per UK Nerf).  Anyway, have fun with the info!  It looks like Hasbro didn’t allow video or photos at all in their showroom hence the lack of images and photos from anybody.  UK Nerf does have some new angles though.  Thanks to them for taking time out of their lives to make the trip!

Lock and Load.

A shot from last year’s New York Toy Fair

 

Yikes! Pre-Toy Fair is in Swing! (Nerf News, other news…)

Hey all!

Sorry about the dearth of info here.  I’ve been posting a blaster-a-day on Facebook but I have admittedly fallen behind on reviews, posting, everything!  But with good reason.  I’ve got a lot of off-the-net stuff going on that will bring better content here.  There’s a method to the madness!  And it starts where I really got a good start, where everything pretty much changed and I went from just writing to writing with a bit more of a purpose:  New York City.  It was where I went when the Stampede was released at my first Nerf release party, and now I head out there for my 3rd go at New York Toy Fair.

While Nerf is always on my visit list, there’s always a few others that I’ve found along the way.  And I’ll be posting it all right here and on Youtube as I can!  I’ll have a full list of the blaster/shooty related companies I’ll be visiting, but of course I’ll take some photos and everything of whatever else along the way I find interesting.  Specialization is for insects, remember that.

HOWEVER, I am a bit behind on posting info from the fine folks at Nerf (Basic Nerf posted his info already) but what’s one more source?  That’s why Nerf reaches out to me, eh?

 

NERF N-STRIKE BLAZIN’ BOW Toy
(HASBRO/Ages 6 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Fall 2013)
Who’s ready for more NERF action? Send NERF foam arrows soaring across the sky with the NERF N-STRIKE BLAZIN’ BOW toy. The BLAZIN’ BOW toy features an authentic pull-back bow design that you simply pull back, aim, and release to fire the NERF foam arrows. The BLAZIN’ BOW toy can hit targets from up to an impressive 40 feet away, and comes complete with integrated storage for two additional foam NERF arrows. Includes three NERF foam arrows. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and HasbroToyShop.com. 
Also, it looks like the Nerf Stockade is finally hitting American shores, but only at Wal-Mart:
NERF N-STRIKE ELITE STOCKADE Blaster
(HASBRO/Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $21.99/Available: Fall 2013)
With motorized blasting capability, the STOCKADE blaster utilizes features such as a rotating
10-dart barrel and a removable stock with storage for 10 extra darts. The N-STRIKE ELITE
STOCKADE blaster comes complete with 10 N-STRIKE ELITE darts as well was a removable
stock accessory with storage for ten additional darts (sold separately). Blaster requires three
“AA” batteries, not included. Available exclusively at Wal-Mart nationwide.
The descriptions for the Jolt and the Nerf Reflex (Eliminator) don’t contain 75′ range info, so it looks like the discerning eyes of some readers was correct that while the paint jobs are new, the ranges for those are not.
Then the new Nerf Vortex:

NERF VORTEX REVONIX360 Blaster
(HASBRO/Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $39.99/Available: Fall 2013)
Amp up freestyle foam blasting performance with the NERF VORTEX REVONIX360 blaster which achieves the farthest VORTEX distance yet, up to 70 feet! This disc blaster features new, awesome deco and has a revolving drum that rotates each time you fire the blaster. Plus, the SLAM FIRE Handle gives you total control over your rate of fire – blast a single shot or hold the trigger down and slide the handle repeatedly to unleashan unstoppable stream of discs. Includes 30 multi-color XLR discs. Available at most major toy retailers
nationwide and HasbroToyShop.com.
I’m not even sure where to start with that, but I’m intrigued!
There was some Nerf Sports info, but THIS CAUGHT MY EYE:
NERF FIREVISION SPORTS FLYER Set
(HASBRO/Ages 6 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $14.99/Available: Spring 2013)
Featuring the innovative Microprism technology and a comfortable grip, the FIREVISION
SPORTS FLYER set will keep your competitive disc game with friends going even as the sun
goes down. Whether a hardcore game or practicing with a friend, you’ll be at the top of your
game with the FIREVISION SPORTS FLYER disk! Includes one FIREVISION SPORTS
flyer disk and one pair of FIREVISION FRAMES eyewear. FIREVISION FRAMES eyewear
require 4 “A76” batteries, included. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and
HasbroToyShop.com.
And it looks like a frisbee.  (will get a pic to post later).  So, Nerf (Tron) Firevision?  
Either way, there’s going to be plenty to see at New York Toy Fair, stay tuned and thanks for coming by!

REVIEW INBOUND! NERF N-STRIKE ELITE HAILFIRE (IN PHOTOS)

I first saw the Nerf N-Strike Elite Hailfire earlier this summer, at the big ol’ Nerf launch party and I finally got my sample! (Thanks Nerf!)

Pics! (after the jump) –

https://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

And, we’re back!  As you can see, I’ve put up some photos of the Nerf N-Strike Elite Hailfire.  At max capacity it can load up to 144 darts at once, using 8 18 round straight mags.  I’ve also included some shots of different combos of mags and accessories, just for fun.  So, how did I like it?

My play style on the field is pretty haphazard, so something like this so ridiculous plays into it very well.  Whether you’re using 4 35 round drums or the 18 round mags, you’re looking at a new futuristic side table :).  Basically, this thing is a “heavy weapon” and it should be used as such.  You stalk with it, you walk with it, if we learned anything from the Nerf N-Strike Vulcan you aren’t supposed to run with it, especially at full capacity.  When using smaller mags, sure it handles better but you’re not supposed to be very mobile using something this big.  A strap helps, but run and gun this thing is not at 144 darts.  You’re not going prone with it, as the thing demands you stand there tall and proud, to lay down the foam.

Now, my thinking about taking this out to a Nerf war with stock blasters – I’m not going to really be using much else.  I barely use 144 darts when using a Stampede during a round of CTF or Freeze Tag; I’m going to check my fire to cut down on reloading between rounds, and I might even just use one mag per round.  To me, that’s at least 8 games I’m going play without having to swap all my mags.  Victory favors preparation; if I’m going to use the Hailfire, I’m going to have a mess of preloaded mags in my gear, and on top of that I’m going to make sure I use one or two per game.  It’ll cut down on reloading between rounds, much less relying on reloading on the fly.  I’ve done this with a Stampede, Alpha Trooper, and a Rayven.  It’s a system I can make work for the Hailfire too.  And yes, once I’m out, I’m out.  Unless it’s during a lunch break, you won’t catch me reloading all 8 mags all over again.

As for the blaster, it’s fun!  Who doesn’t want to unload all that foam?  When using the handle, it’s a tactile experience of being a big bad walking turret.  I liken it to using a smart gun from “Aliens,” minus the swivel arm.  The trigger pull is solid, the flywheels rev loud and proud (seriously, with something like this are honestly telling me you want to play it silent?) and the transparent door is a nice touch (Hey Rogue!)

Using the Hailfire is easy enough- the handle on the top rotates the ammo rack, which accomodates N-Strike mags/drums, however you combo them is up to you.  You pull the accelerator trigger on the handle, and the main trigger moves the pusher arm that feeds darts into the flywheels.  The ranges I was getting were somewhere in the 50s-70s, whether flat or angled, video to follow.  I didn’t run into trouble with streamlines like I did with the Nerf Barricade, so bonus points for that.

Otherwise, it’s about $40 for this bad boy, and with that you get 4 6-round mags, the Hailfire, and 24 darts.  Why so few?  At this point, my guess is that the assumption is you already own a few 18 round mags after owning the Stampede, and wanted to keep the initial cost of the Hailfire down, while 18 round mags and a Hailfire upgrade kit separately.  Personally, I bought a large number of longshots once upon a time, and it ended with me having a surplus of small 6 round mags.

Either way, it might seem like a big cost but I sometimes just want to unleash a cloud of foam at people.  On days I don’t want to use my Nerf Vortex Pyragon, the Nerf N-Strike Elite Hailfire gives me a dart shooting option.  It’s reliable, it’s intimidating looking (as far as Nerf blasters can look intimidating) and I had a good amount of fun trying it out.  And that’s the important thing, isn’t it? The fun?  You can dress up your reasons for having something “War-worthy” or “Useful” but hang it all, this thing is decadent, it’s overkill, and some days you feel like a nut.  Have one of those days.

OH SO YOU WANT VIDEOS, HUH?  NERF N-STRIKE ELITE HAILFIRE VIDEOS???

annnnd maybe you remember this one?

REVIEW: Nerf Vortex Pyragon

 Nerf Vortex Pyragon against the Lumitron and a Clear Raider

Ah, the Nerf Vortex Pyragon.  The Nerf Raider CS-35 ended up being one of my favorite blasters, I would decimate entire teams with the right timing to apply the slam-fire.  Would the Pyragon match it in utility, and even outdo it in range and reliability?

After the break-


TRICKS:

REVIEW:

A couple of outdoor games with this, and it is definitely worthy of standing next to the Raider, if not outright overshadowing it.  Even the Rampage pales in comparison to what the Nerf Vortex Pyragon brings to the table.  It was impressive enough to see in action at the Nerf Elite Hailfire release party earlier this summer, but of course there’s no substitute for having the blaster in-hand 🙂

So let’s get down to it!  The Nerf Vortex Pyragon comes with the Pyragon, a 40-disc capacity drum, manual, 40-discs, and your hopes and dreams.  No scopes, no stocks, no blast shields.  It’s $39.99 at most retailers.  Thanks to Nerf, I got a sample.  Would I get another one from the store?  Most likely 🙂

FUNCTION:
It’s comfy.  In particular with the lightningstorm stock, as pictured here:

And the foregrip fits nicely for adult hands.  Ergonomic is the Pyragon’s middle name, from what I can tell.

The Nerf Vortex Pyragon can be considered the Rampage/Raider/Alpha Trooper of the Vortex line, due to the slamfire capabilities.  Advantage to Vortex on this one though, because the slamfire on the Pyragon is smoother, more robust, and more reliable than the slamfire on the N-Strike blasters.  Just a cloud of discs all flying at you in a matter of seconds.  It’s firepower, it’s elegant, it’s reliable.  A winning combination.

The drum is piece of work as well.  There’s the stem which serves as the main chamber, but then 4 auxiliary chambers inside the drum.  And when one empties, it automatically rotates to the next chamber until empty.  That’s why you’ll run out really fast, but maybe not before you tag an entire team with just one drum. 

A lot of people liked the Praxis, but the Pyragon has it and the Lumitron beat in spades.  What it trades in a little bit of width is more than made up for in reliability and slamfire. Not to mention the drum serves as its own turret mount 🙂

Quick word of warning… use caution if you put the Pyragon drum into a Lumitron or Praxis.  I found the priming arm triggered the mag release mechanism and inadvertently dropped my drum a couple of times to the ground because of this.  I didn’t have an issue using the drum with a Nitron, but the Nitron does admittedly fire slower than the Pyragon.

Also, I tried attaching a sling to the Pyragon, but it looked a point of attachment was not available on the Nerf Vortex Pyragon.  With that much awesome, I’m thinking the design team figured no one would want to carry anything else if they had a Pyragon, hehe.

Range-wise, the Nerf Vortex Pyragon hits pretty much what you’d expect from the Vortex line.  I’ll let the video do the talking here.

Anywhere from 50-70’+ depending on angle.  I had a slight breeze, which could attribute to the slice my discs were experience.  That being said, I was very pleased taking it out onto the field a couple of times and taking care of business.  It is still small enough to be mobile even with the large disc drum.  I crawled and roadie-ran through a few jungle gyms with it during games and didn’t feel the pinch for mobility at all.  The thumb hole in the foregrip feels more secure when holding the blaster, especially when using slamfire.  And as proven, it’ll fit grown hands –

Thanks Rogue!

In any event, the Nerf Vortex Pyragon is a solid buy.  Between the drum and the improvements over the mechanisms introduced with the Praxis it’s a good upgrade/addition to your playstyle if you favor a heavier hitting kind of mentality with a shock and awe approach to unloading a swarm of discs, or just having a lot of ammo on-hand for surgical strikes.  The drum is designed with a lot of nice touches (etched numbers, a snazzy logo) and it’s just satisfying to keep hearing that click when you decide to unload the entire thing.  Cleanup is not as much fun, but when is it ever?

Run out and get one, seriously.  You’ll feel better about yourself. 🙂

Nerf Elite Launch Party – 2012

Let’s get some links outta the way – AP IMAGE GALLERY

Adult Fans of Nerf
Nerfrevolution
Click Click BAMF
NERFHQ











Amongst other people who write mainstream news articles, the above sites were in attendance to the party.  In spite of recent events, Nerf does in fact reach out to fan sites and they do in fact treat them pretty well.

Now, my gallery (I also updated to include some new “Foamme Fatales” from the party) –

https://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

https://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

I’ll post some additional videos up (I had my GoPro chest camera on for as long as the battery would hold out; I’ll see what came of it) once they’re done, but just wanted to make some quick notes:

  • Nerf really knows how to throw a party
  • Nerf N-Strike Elite Hailfire ranges are pretty awesome for a flywheel.  Bandoliers are a necessity, and I’m working on a technique to allow easy dual-wiellding.  The magwell rack did pretty well in letting me run and the Hailfire is definitely more mobile than a Vulcan.  Mixing and matching the drums and mags was fun.  It’s a semiauto blaster, but it really feels way more reliable than a Barricade.  I suggest giving it a try when it’s released, I know I will.  One thing I would say is, you can’t really use a sidearm when you have it.  At full capacity, the blaster bangs around a lot if you try to run with it at your side.  You really need to carry it in your hands the whole time you have it.  Nerf groups who utilize blasters as shields are going to have to reevaluate their rulesets though, as this thing is a good size for that house rule.
  • The Nerf Vortex Pyragon is fantastic.  Rogue fell in love with it.  I love the way the drum loads, and the rate of fire on it is incredible.
  • The licensed Nerf materials rock pretty hard.  The sunglasses were fantastic, and I can’t wait to try out my earbuds 🙂
  • NERF FIREVISION.  Seriously, everyone needs to have a look at that when it’s out.  I will most certainly hope to get some samples to work with, but it’s a really interesting mechanic to utilize playing sports in low light.
  • It’s a little rough having to say “’til next year” to the fellow bloggers – it’s so much fun talking nothing but Nerf with these like-minded individuals.

Ok, I’ll have more to say when I go back over the vids.  I’m finally well-rested (2 red-eye flights in 2 days makes for a tired Vas) and I’ll go over more when I review what I shot.

From Nerf N-Strike Elite Launch 2012
From Nerf N-Strike Elite Launch 2012
From Nerf N-Strike Elite Launch 2012

From Nerf N-Strike Elite Launch 2012

From Nerf N-Strike Elite Launch 2012

From Nerf N-Strike Elite Launch 2012

From Nerf N-Strike Elite Launch 2012

From Nerf N-Strike Elite Launch 2012

From Nerf N-Strike Elite Launch 2012

Nerf N-Strike Elite… Bottom line

As we close in this week on the Nerf launch party for the Nerf N-Strike Elite Hailfire, I figure it’s only fair to finally do some actual writing, this being a blog and all.

So the Nerf N-Strike Elite line.  Hit or miss?

I’ll give it a hit, but tentatively.  I really want to love it, I really do!  And I’m impressed, don’t get me wrong.  But until I have the actual Hailfire in my hands to test and check out, I’m going with reservations.  Mainly cause I don’t want to think the novelty and newness of everything is clouding my judgment.  These are some sweet new toys, and I think they’ll add a lot of value to Nerf games far and wide, but let’s still maintain a grain of salt.

What we’ve seen so far are UPGRADES to existing blasters.  Nerf’s already received some fire for reshells (Spectre was a five-shot Maverick, the Alpha Trooper was functionally a Raider, and nevermind the countless repaints.)  I like what I’m seeing, but slam-fire and a single-shot modular blaster are things we’ve seen already.  The Hailfire has a new loading mech, but functionally it’s a Barricade or a Nitron that it’s a flywheel blaster and shoots one dart at a time as opposed to say, a spread of darts/discs.  But it’s either of those blasters on steroids.  UP TO 75′, and 144 shots (at max capacity) before having to refill another magazine.  It looks small, which might defuse bulky arguments, but that remains to be seen on what magazines will actually fit and how many (the speculation leads to: 35 rnd drums).  In any event, what functional hilarity this adds to the battlefield remains to be seen, and I can’t wait to try dual-wielding it.

Thanks to SGNerf for the photo!

All the skepticism aside… let’s get to it.  The Nerf Vortex line big ranges flat, but the discs fell victim to crosswinds more severely than darts.  They were also green, which made it harder to find in well-grown grass.  The Elite darts hit 50+ flat, but the advertised 75′ comes at an angle which is to be expected.  Either way, whichever range you hit that’s more than 20-30’+ that we’ve come to expect out of recent Nerf blaster releases.  So whether you like discs or darts, anything you’ve bought previous to Vortex and Elite will find you at a slight disadvantage.  I’ve managed to shoot straight with a Nerf Nitron, and the Retaliator and Rampage are pretty accurate at 40′ and a bit more than that even.

Those of us that hold stock-ammo/blaster games are going to have some fun with this new stuff, for sure.  It changes the field a lot, having this kind of range and accuracy straight outta the box without any additional work.  Everything from the previous N-Strike line is compatible with the Elite and vice versa, so don’t fret about all the streamlines you’ve already bought!  Just use them until you can’t anymore, and go buy Elite streamlines.  They fly a tad better than the originals.

So the only real gripe is I’m still looking for something way out of left field from Nerf.  Everything here looks impressive and I am impressed with how things fire, but the functionality still feels similar.  Even their vaunted Pyragon is a disc-shooting Raider.  While things look cool, I want to see something blow my mind both in how it looks AND how it plays.  I think the last blaster to do that was the Nerf Unity Power  System because it had 3 different blasters, one of which was essentially a shotgun.  When I saw the Raider for the first time it was awesome, but then boiled down to still putting out one dart at a time, just faster.  The Deploy was hilarious in function, but past the transformation (and nobody was fooled) it was a pump-action single shot blaster, or a Furyfire.

Still though, one step at a time.  Nerf’s given us souped-up ranges, a sleek color scheme, and dark blue darts. (I hope they make the darts brighter though… given the issue with green discs, white elite darts would be easier to find than dark blue.)  The Hailfire is going to have a reloading mech that looks promising at adding new body mechanics (I will admit, I liked the thumb switch on a Proton.  Made it feel very tactile and was satisfying on some level; the little things that count) to handling a blaster, which might be enough to sell it.

Speaking of selling – here we go once more with the pricing:

Nothing outrageous, and honestly I thought the Hailfire was going to cost more.  But that’s enough talk.  Time to get back to blasting, and shooting foam at anything that moves.  The Elite line shows a lot of promise, and I would definitely suggest picking them up and giving them a go.  The darts are new, the blasters are new (on the inside), and it looks like Nerf’s paying attention to what you, the fans want.  Better ranges and accuracy.  So show your support for what you wanted, and make sure Nerf knows this line is going to sell!  The blasters should start popping up around 8/1/12, and the Hailfire around 9/9/12.  Get on it, it’s time to upgrade.

Quick edit: I was asked if the Recon barrel changed in diameter for the Retaliator, but found this instead.  When pics first surfaced people speculated but I took a pic of my clear Recon for confirmation.

Nerf N-Strike Retaliator barrel extension

Nerf N-Strike Clear Recon barrel extension

I do declare, is that rifling I see?

Walk the ladder, compadres.
@VasTheStampede

P.S. – This Thursday I’ll be back here posting LIVE from the Nerf Hailfire Launch in NYC (New York City!)  Posting – Youtube:  http://youtube.com/foamfromabove
Twitter: @vasthestampede
aaaaaand this very blog!

Nerf N-Strike Elite: Centralized

Collected a number of the videos posted about the Nerf N-Strike Elite press kits and put them all in one playlist.  We all see things a little differently, so maybe there’s something here for everyone!

So far: Rogue1283, BasicNerf, and ClickClickBAMF all have videos up that I’ve found:

Curious about other parts of the Nerf N-Strike Elite line like the new bandolier, Tactical Vest, and even the Nerf Vortex Pyragon will price out:  Shining Foam went and got the whole listing straight off Nerf’s website.  Go have a look! 

At first glance, the Hailfire and Pyragon are going for $39.99, the Rampage is at $29.99 (different from the $34.99 listed in the press kit), and Nerf N-Strike Retaliator at $24.99.  Good lookin’ out!