Dart Zone Pro – The Preorder

Dart Zone did it. For weeks they teased the “Dart Zone Pro” line, promising 150′ and incredible accuracy. That was great, but the remaining question was, “how much will it cost?”

$180.00. Today, the preorders went live midnight from the looks of it and you can own this yourself. Some of the initial responses I see online go from “I’m buying it” (and I’ve seen people ordering them) to “whoa…. that’s a little steep.”

A lot of people were hoping that the budget-friendly pricing usually attached to Dart Zone products would apply here, and that collector’s edition pricing surprised a few folks for sure.

I personally don’t have any experience with kits/short darts/etc like this, so is it worth $180? I can’t really tell you, but the research and information is out there. I’d like to try this blaster for myself but wow, that price tag is pretty steep for me too. In a world where XShot and Nerf slug it out for cheaper blasters, Dart Zone seems to have gone for high-powered product at premium pricing, and performance you don’t get out of premium-priced Nerf products right now.

Are the demo videos enough to make you want to get a Dart Zone Pro Collector’s Edition blaster? Will you give it a second look if they offer a less pricey kit later on? If these don’t sell, will we see any additional DZ Pro kits? Stay tuned.

Get Your Preorder in HERE

ORDER NOW!
Limited Edition (up to 1000 Units Available)
Delivers October 2019

MK-1 Collector’s Edition delivers Pro Power and Pro Performance right out of the box. MK-1 Collector’s Edition Case features everything you need to fit your own game. Each Dart Zone Pro MK-1 is individually numbered and comes with a certificate of authenticity. The Dart Zone® Pro MK-1 is the first Dart Zone® blaster designed and produced to meet elite player’s expectations. The Pro MK-1 is easy to assemble and ready for battle.

MK-1 Collector’s Edition Case: $179.99
with FREE SHIPPING!

MK-1 Collector’s Edition delivers Pro Power and Pro Performance right out of the box. MK-1 Collector’s Edition Case features everything you need to fit your own game. Each Dart Zone Pro MK-1 is individually numbered and comes with a certificate of authenticity. The Dart Zone® Pro MK-1 is the first Dart Zone® blaster designed and mass produced to meet elite player’s expectations. The Pro MK-1 is easy to assemble and ready for battle.
MK-1 Collector’s Edition Case: $179.99 Value with FREE SHIPPING! (US Orders Only)

Includes:
• Upper Receiver/ Front Blaster Body with Pre-Installed Metal Barrel
• Lower Receiver/ Rear Blaster Body
• Optional Plastic Barrel Included
• Adjustable Shoulder Stock
• Front Handle
• Rear and Front Sight for Tactical Picatinny Rail
• Thumb Screws (x2)
• Connector Pins (x2)
• O-Rings (x2)
• 15-Standard Dart Magazine (x1)
• 15-Half-Length Dart Magazine (x1)
• Half-Length Magazine Clip Adaptor (x1)
• 15 Dart Zone® Pro Standard Darts
• 15 Dart Zone® Pro Half-Length Darts
• Certificate of Authenticity – Individually Numbered (# of 1000 Limited Edition MK-1)

Bonus Offer included with all MK-1 Collector’s Edition Orders:
• Pro Dart Refill Set Included (a $29.99 Value for FREE!)
– Includes 120 Dart Zone® Pro Standard Darts
– Includes 120 Dart Zone® Pro Half-Length Darts

**Ships separately from MK-1 Collector’s Edition’s Case
**Brings Total Ammo Count up to 270 New Dart Zone® Pro Darts!

FREE SHIPPING – ONLINE EXCLUSIVE ONLY AT DARTZONEBLASTERS.COM

Order Now – Delivers October 2019 • US Orders only

 

Nerf & Blasters Year in Review: 2018

New York Toy Fair Hasbro Showroom

THE END OF AN ERA FOR BLASTERS

2018 was witness to one of the biggest moments for me in the toy industry: the Fall of Toys R Us. If you read any of the Rock Father’s coverage, Toys R Us going bankrupt in the U.S. and shuttering its doors at all U.S. locations was a watershed moment that left ripples throughout the toy industry. While the brand lives on in Canada and Asia, losing the U.S. side of the business left a hole in consumer spending that many retailers tried to take advantage of. And after some initial reports, it’s not likely any true winner arose.

That meant more retailers carrying blasters, carrying exclusives, and a lot of private label items under air zone and stats had to find homes elsewhere. The Toys R Us exclusive brands and Nerf skins like the sonic series (there were still some fire/ice kits around), Alien Menace, all needed new homes too. Where once many blasters were consolidated under the House of Geoffrey, they scattered to new retailers, eager to draw in new business. One BIG example is Walmart making a grab with Adventure Force, their private label. Two of the brands below are distributed through Adventure Force, making some of those blasters Walmart exclusives. Target locked in their own exclusive deals as well, but this makes collecting and finding the blasters difficult for fans who make it a point to find what they can, and casual buyers couldn’t care less as long as the price is right.

Most of the products/brands on this list I had personal experience with, or was able to gain reliable discourse from trusted third party sources. If you think your product should be on this list, get in touch and let me know! I might not even know your product exists.

Nerf

Nerf Blaster Wall New York Toy Fair 2018

Nerf had a pretty big year for 2018, and going into 2019 it makes me wonder what’s coming next. When I outlined it, Nerf had a ton of releases this year compared to everyone else. Sure, there were reskins/jolts, but considering volume alone there was a lot of shelf space that Nerf occupied. Besides blasters, Nerf released new goggles, pushed ahead some merchandise with Jazwares, and maintained some new exclusivity agreements across the board. Kohl’s, Amazon, Walmart, and Target were some of the exclusives I heard about, and Academy Sports is the only carrier of the Kronos battle sets (red or blue) as of this writing. Currently, a lot of the Nerf merchandise there is on clearance, so it makes me wonder how well it actually sold at those stores.

Regardless of the sales, Nerf certainly went big this year. Big in the form of the Nerf Prometheus, a $200 Rival blaster that shot faster and had a much higher capacity than a lot of the market, holding over 200 Rival rounds, firing 8 shots/sec, at about 100 FPS. After that they had the Nerf Rival Hades, a bigger version of the Nerf Rival Artemis that held 60 rounds and had slamfire. The Nerf Rival Stormtrooper blaster was functionally similar to a Helios. While still a good blaster, it looked good but didn’t offer anything new mechanism wise.

Other releases included the auto-loading Nerf Infinus (a first in tech), new Mega Accustrike darts released with the Mega Thunderhawk, revisiting light-up and clear plastic designs in the Ghost Ops Evader, and putting out a new chain blaster for Zombie Strike with the Ripchain. Other releases included* (and there were probably others I missed):

– Nerf Chronobarrel/ammo counter
– Nerf Ghost Ops reflective targeting set
– Nerf Rival Deadpool Apollo
– Nerf Modulus Longstrike
– Nerf Modulus Demolisher
– Nerf Vortex blasters (3 – Vigilon, Praxis, Pyragon)
– Star Wars dart blasters (Han, Qi’Ra, Chewbacca, Tobias Beckett)
– Nerf Microshots series 2 (Stryfe, Crossfire, Roughcut)
– Nerf BattleCamo (Stryfe, Firestrike, Roughcut, Battlescout, Splitstrike)
– Nerf Surgefire- Nerf Kronos Battle Sets
– Nerf Mediator Core blaster, stock, and barrel attachments
– Nerf Mega Tri-Break
Nerf Kronos (technically, scheduled release for Spring 2018 in Phantom Corps)*Not including the Overwatch blasters since they were originally scheduled for 2019.

Nerf also brought back a new version of laser tag, calling it Laser Ops Pro. It was decently priced, sold as a rifle (DeltaBurst), pistol (AlphaPoint), or a two-player starter pack. Laser Ops Pro was pretty neat that it only needed one phone/mobile device to run an app to host online play, amidst a bevy of other features. Aside from all that, players could easily just turn on blasters and play right out of the box (after getting batteries). Here’s hoping they continue to support the new line down the road. From what I heard, there’s at least another year in the works with Laser Ops Pro, and we might see more at Toy Fair in February, if nothing leaks out ahead of time.

Besides the entertainment centers coming up, I think some of the biggest hits this year for Nerf/Hasbro came in the form of licensing. Not only did Hasbro take Power Rangers (and I expect more than a few blasters out of that line) but they gained a deal to make Fortnite and Overwatch themed blasters.

Considering the popularity of each game, this is a move to clearly pull new fans from larger audiences into picking up Nerf. Nerfnation is large, but there is still a lot of attention to be gained from expanding to new audiences, including gamers and cosplayers who may not have considered buying nerf blasters until now. Coupled with a renewed GI Joe brand, Star Wars, and Transformers, Nerf has a lot of licenses to generate blasters for, and it will be interesting to see what comes out this year and years down the road.

If I had to make noise about anything Nerf/Hasbro is doing, it’s the creeping prices on high-profile blasters. The Nerf Rival Prometheus ultimately got marked down, but consumers predictably balked at a $200 price tag. There’s a whole psychology at work in pricing and marketing, but to start right off the bat with that price took down the interest quite a bit I think. The Nerf Rival Hades was a good buy, and the Kronos DEFINITELY a good buy for this year. But a majority of the big ticket blasters that Nerf pushed (Infinus, Scravenger, Mega Thunderhawk, Prometheus, Evader) had pretty high price tags. The price tags on the Modulus Longstrike and Modulus Demolisher are way higher than I would expect as well, even with upgraded parts and new kit pieces.

The argument is that with each of those, Nerf also released a Scout Mk II, Quadrant, or Surgefire. That’s not what people were looking at this year though, and those releases quietly moved forward. As you will see, those prices could also backfire as lower cost alternatives grows in recognition all the time. And for many casual players, the price is definitely right when it comes to non-Nerf brands.

Bottom line for me is, that Nerf led the charge with higher ranges in foam darts and then changed the landscape with Nerf Rival. They continue to influence the market in big ways, regardless of where they come up short.

Zuru

Zuru XShot Swarm Seeker Bug Attack blaster

Zuru, or XShot, continues to astound in the pricing of their blasters. They offer high ranges and (in the case of the Turbo Advance) high capacity blasting for much lower pricing than Nerf. The only real shortcomings are that there are no magfed designs compatible with Nerf blasters, and most magazines for XShot blasters are too small for Nerf size darts. The only exception is the Bug Attack Crossbow. XShot darts are also shorter than most other brands, and while it doesn’t seem to affect performance, it’s something not a lot of people are aware of. This doesn’t affect the front-loading/turret style blaster but it sometimes affects magfed blasters.

XShot also does not have a wide variety of styles to choose from. The Turbo Fire is basically a smaller version of the Turbo Advance (with a different priming mechanism and slamfire) and the other blasters are styles we saw before, but with some mechanical changes. The Vigilante 2.0 is now better able to accommodate longer darts, some XShot blasters now have a recoil feature (for blasting play without the ammo, much like a light and sound toy blaster). What is nice is the Swarm Seeker and Regenerator use the same clip, in spite of being in different segments. Previously, it was a huge disappointment that the Bug Attack Crossbow was not compatible with magazines from the Max Attack.

If you wonder how XShot manages such low pricing, look to their manufacturing. Their factories are almost entirely automated, cutting down on costs. What that also means though is why there is such a limited number of different designs. Yes, the argument could be made that Nerf puts the same internals in multiple blaster shells (Jolt and Kronos) but the point is they have different looks to offer different consumers. With XShot they keep a few designs but can’t have a lot of different tooling molds due to the automated process. That’s why you don’t see a lot of compelling exclusives on the level Nerf does.

HOWEVER, you will definitely have a hard time saying no to the prices they have their blasters and ammo. And in this case, you get a pretty good product for what you pay for. Keep in mind, when you see “Adventure Force” you might see XShot blasters, and the performance is worth the price.

– Swarm Seeker
– Turbo Advance
– Regenerator
– Hawkeye
– Max Attack
– Vigilante Mk 2

Dart Zone

Dart Zone made HUGE noise last year coming out with a Rival-compatible line, BallistixOps (or Adventure Force, if you shop at Walmart). Lower cost ammo, lower cost blasters with comparable range and ammo capacity, hopper fed mechanisms, and again at a much lower cost. Aside from some design differences (always-on vs accelerator trigger) Dart Zone continues to put out Rival level product that is worth a look if Nerf blasters are out of your budget. The BallistixOps ammo is on part with Nerf Rival, and in some reviews even a little bit firmer than Nerf, so it flies a little better.

Dart Zone/Adventure Force blasters don’t neglect darts either. Dart Zone introduced their version of “waffle-head” type ammo, similar to the K’next K-Force darts of the past. These waffle darts fly pretty well out of all blasters, are compatible with Nerf, and unlike the XShot ammo are of the same length as Nerf darts. But you can also get 200 rounds at Walmart for around $10. Definitely worth the money for that much ammo. The BallistixOps ammo gets up to 150 rounds for $20, which is pretty good as well, considering the cost of Nerf Rival ammo. The key note here is this is mass market produced ammo and safety tested for sale in a major chain, as opposed to some products you find on Amazon.

I mentioned the Dart Blasters, and Dart Zone represented well. The CommandFire is their take on the reloading mechanism like the Nerf Infinus, but with a larger amount of ammo, not just one dart at a time. They continued using chain blasters, making the Titan from the Light Command, a fan favorite. The Double Trouble is a fun front-loading blaster that is not something you would holster, but definitely worth looking at for gameplay. For $20, Dart Zone did a good job at matching price with functionality. Definitely glad to see them producing for another year.

– Releases this year from Dart Zone/Adventure Force:

+Quantum
+Velocity
+Titanium
+Accelerator
+Double Trouble
+CommandFire
– Waffle-tip darts for CHEAP
– Rival compatible ammo

Buzz Bee

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Buzz Bee had a somewhat quiet 2018. The releases they managed, as seen below:

+Covert Squad
+Night Attack
+Thermal Tracker
+Crossbow
+Reissues/Battle sets through Adventure Force of previous releases

The blasters Buzz Bee put out were good, but where last year saw the Thermal Scope on the Thermal Hunter, this year didn’t have a standout product. At Toy Fair, they had a handheld chronograph, the Velocity X, and the Mutator. Neither saw release in the United States (and I don’t think the Velocity X released at all) but the ideas were sound. The Velocity X was a handheld chronograph that was usable for darts, rival ammo, mega ammo, but it didn’t move forward. The Mutator I hear is only available overseas. Adventure Force carried the above blasters for the most part, while Target picked up the Covert Squad blasters, walkie-talkie bolt-action blasters.

The Night Attack and Crossbow didn’t use bolt-action, but the Covert Squad, Thermal Tracker, and Mutator did. Buzz Bee does believe in the bolt-action play pattern for blasters, and it’s interesting that they continue to use it. I always felt like it made usage more difficult for left handed players, but maybe I’m wrong? And considering the Nerf Jupiter leaked some time ago, it looks like Nerf believes in the bolt-action play pattern as well.

Buzz Bee blasters fire on par with Nerf blasters now, and Buzz Bee also has Precision, XL Distance, and suction cup darts, depending on the type of blasting a player wants to use. The darts and magazines for Buzz Bee blasters are compatible with Nerf as well, and Buzz Bee still produces a tactical rail adapter for Nerf blasters, making it possible to use accessories between the two brands still. On top of all the compatibility, Buzz Bee blasters are also much lower in price compared to Nerf blasters, and the ammo too. Buzz Bee hasn’t made the jump to a higher-impact play segment like Dart Zone, but they continue to crank out product in their segment that stands well against Nerf product.

Third Party (Amazon, Evike, eBay)

Third party products are a whole post on their own. There are many to choose from, and all I can say for now is you do the research and be sure of the product you are getting. These products don’t always go through the same safety testing channels that Nerf and other brands in stores go through, so it can be a mixed bag what you are getting. Sometimes darts that say “Nerf” are actually solid plastic/rubber headed foam darts with stronger impact, or just smell funny. Whatever the case, when buying online, follow your common sense protocols. If there’s enough interest, I’ll do a deep-dive post on third party products,

Blast Forward to 2019!

I’ll keep this short and sweet. 2019 looks to have quite a few huge events on the horizon. The Nerf arenas opening, Overwatch and Fortnite blasters being released, continued steady competition from other blaster brands, and the continued search for a new de facto toy store. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Here are some things I would like/feel I will see in 2019-

– If you HAVE SLAMFIRE, PLEASE
o Stock to stabilize firing motion
o PUMP-ACTION
TRIGGERS
o If you’re making a new blaster line, please make sure your blaster uses a trigger, unless there’s a very good thematic reason not to.
– Continued Growth of Nerf Rival (kinda obvious)
– Water ball blasters…. They were done poorly in the past (except for the Vapor line, that was pretty decent at the time) but definitely popular elsewhere in the world. Only a matter of time before they make their way back here.
– Better, much better GI Joe blasters to tie-in with the new movie (Though to be fair, no Bumblebee blasters yet).
– Hasbro will pick up more licenses, somewhere
– Big plans for Toy Fair in February
– Nerf will put out something even bigger than the Prometheus. Why? Because they can.
– More info coming up on the Nerf 50th anniversary, I am sure.

New York Toy Fair 2015 – In A Nutshell

New York Toy Fair 2015 in a Nutshell (The Good, the Not so Good, the…. What?)
Vas The Stampede

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.’ – Norman Vincent Peale

And there was a lot of shooting (darts, rounds, water pellets, zartz) at this year’s North American International Toy Fair. This makes 5 years now I’ve gone to the show and as always, I come back saying, “wow.” So here’s a quick rundown on what I saw, and some initial impressions.

Quick note: As always, this trip is not sponsored by any of the companies. No one pays to fly me out. This is all out of pocket for me on this trip to ensure I am covering what I want and saying what I need to say.

BRANDS:
There were a LOT of blaster type/associated brands that caught my eye this year. The Story So Far (in no particular order), followed by a taste/preview of things I liked (+) and/or didn’t like (-). As I intend to give each brand their own post, these tidbits are shots from the hip, what I readily recall.

  • Nerf (Hasbro)
    • DOOMINATOR +++++++++ (the amount of +s are completely arbitrary, but may relay my sense of enthusiasm) 
    •  Modulus blaster by itself (it’s a Stryfe, even if you can make additions)
    • Strike & Defend blaster (Literally, a “Stock Blaster”) +
    • Rival line ++++++++++++++++
    • Zombie Strike silly s Zombie Repellant + 
    • Rebelle Codebreaker + 
    • Tek Strike +
    • Rotofury doesn’t have a stock

 

BOOMco Needler – Halo

  • BOOMco (Mattel)
    • Halo blasters ++++
    • Spinsanity +
    • One of the new blasters is another triggerless/slam-fire affair – 
  • Zing 
    • New airborne toys/planes +
    • Firetek Styled Zano Bows +
    • Some additional roleplay items to the “Legends” line +
    • Firetek Style Sky Ripperz+
  • XC Shot/Bug Attack (Zuru)
    • Bug Attack will have included targets for additional hilarity +
    • New blasters for XC Shot (the ones with clips) were prototypes and not firing
    • Increased ranges for XC shot blasters + 
  • Primetime Toys
    • Not much new there, as a lot is still in the works. I did get video of the Talon, but Primetime promises some new product in the next few months. They did address some reports about the dart adhesive being problematic, and insist they have since fixed the problem. Comment below if you still find Primetime Toys streamline darts to fall apart, I’m sure they’d be interested to know. The Scorpion was one of their first forays going out of the Airzone line, and they plan to do more.
  • K’Nex +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A springer styled shotgun of their own.

    • I mean, seriously. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 
      • With a little working knowledge, I’d be interested to see how the standing K’Nex community excels with these blasters. They’re built with “regular” blaster play patterns in mind, with the intent of being able to withstand a drop/fall/hit like any other blaster currently on the market. DROP TEST HERE.
      • What makes me a believer? That one of the folks that works for K’Nex made a multi-barreled blaster (that fired on a single trigger pull after priming each individual plunger tube) out of the available kits. It took some work he said, but it worked out. To me, that spoke volumes of the potential of builds in this line. With enough plungers, connectors, rods, who knows what is possible. Also, look forward to their promotion coming this spring, to really find the best K’Nex fans out there! 
  • Marshmallow Shooters
  • Marshmallow Shooters Orballistics ammo
    • ORBALLISTICS. Reportedly going to get 50′ flat, and straight no less.+++
    • Foam ammo finally. Apparently the feedback was a lot of people didn’t like wasting food, so this is now a thing for their line. 
  • Discovery Kids
    • TBD: they had a number of blasters in boxes, nothing to demo. The designs looked like stuff we’ve seen, but if the price point is right (also, they might have some interesting licenses) I won’t discount them out right.
  • Moose Toys (From what they told me, they have a blaster in the works. Not your typical fare, but I’ll get more info on this later.)  
    • TBD
  •  NXT (Maya Group, from the way I see it, this is a reboot of the Xploderz line)
    • This iteration of water pellet shooters from Maya Group FINALLY HAZ A TRIGGER. After all this time, and the first run with BlasterPro, these blasters get a trigger. I will admit, I had misgivings about previous Maya Group blasters, but these seemed on point. Although, paintballers might see something very similar here (at least, the gravity fed hopper shape on top. +

  • NXT Generation (Bows, crossbows, etc)
    • Some of the most solidly-built blasters/shooters I’ve seen, but the ammo to me leaves something to be desired. They require a closer look from me for a determination on this next set. The shotgun I reviewed was a little expensive for what you got, but it’s a new year, with a new line of products. TBD

  • Ogo Sports (had a few interesting launchers, they might be good for objective-based gameplay) (N/A, as these are more for goals and objectives, and I see them as less for PvP.)
  • Hog Wild Toys (Power Poppers)
    • What is becoming a yearly standard, while these blasters are simplistic but freakin’ hilarious. +
      Honorable mention, right here! Made me think of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”.

    By my count, that’s about 13 different brands that made something blaster/launcher-related.
    There’s a LOT of press release info to go through, photos, and videos but I’ll release them all here! Stay tuned, as I will be releasing more galleries and videos this week (piece by piece, so as to not overwhelm you:)  and if you have any questions please leave in the (moderated) comments below!

    Let’s connect:
    Instagram: Blasterbot1984
    Twitter: @VasTheStampede
    YouTube
    Google+
     


    Mattel’s Blaster Line – BoomCo – Summer 2014

    As has been heavily covered already (seriously, I’m basically the last one to post about this), Mattel’s jumping into the blaster market (again!) with a product called BOOMco. I heard rumblings about this at New York Toy Fair, amidst other companies and apparently the group at dartblaster.de heard about it during the International Toy Fair Nürnberg. Not having anything solid to go by, I haven’t been able to say much at all about it. Mattel was also booked solid by the time I found out, so I wasn’t able to bug them.

    Proper news broke on Reddit – MarcusH26051

    ANYWAY, here we go.


    “Twisted Spinner Blaster – BOOMco. Blasters – Mattel 2014”


    “Rapid Madness, Twisted Spinner, Farshot & Clipfire – BOOMco. Blasters – Mattel 2014”

    Much EXTREME, such stunt. Wow.

    The incoming available product line can be found here on Amazon.

    Clipstrike – Cause it has a carabiner! A belt clip! Geddit? It also looks like it folds up, no?

    The Farshot (shield deployed)

    No cross-branding here! Dart refills (w/Smart-Stic Tech) look longer than Nerf darts, most likely not compatible.

    Dual Defender pack

    Rapid Madness!
    Additional targets & other accessories (see below) will be for sale

    Twisted Spinner blaster – NOT to be confused with a dilophosaur.


    First things first. No relation –

     All joking aside, I’m a bit surprised and really interested at Mattel even getting near blasters again. I want to expect a knock-down, drag-out slugfest of innovation in blasters now that 2 of the top toy makers out there are on a collision course. They rule the roost with Barbie and Monster High, have some great games with Uno and Apples to Apples, but blasters and playing with blasters has been synonymous with Nerf. The other brands (not necessarily blasters) on the market are carving a great niche (Zing, Marshmallow Shooters, Power Poppers, Tek Recon come to mind) but admittedly, a blaster brand/company with the resources and deep pockets like Mattel has been long missing. Nerf, long synonymous with blasters for many years might have that challenger.

    One thing I can tell, not all the blasters are triggered. The Twisted Spinner blaster isn’t, and has a… different kind of rotation mech.  The Rapid Madness does have a trigger though, but it also uses a clip reminiscent of a Powerclip/Magstrike (additional clips are sold separately).

    Some quick specs:

    – Blasters should hit around 70′ (not sure if this is for all of them, but it’s claims are close to N-Strike Elite)
    – Darts use “Smart Stick” Tech to show hits, supposed to be used with the shields/targets that also stick to surfaces. As shown in the videos, the targets can be worn on clothes to optimize stickability.
    – Eye protection, 2 in 1 bandolier, extra darts, targets, and clips will be sold separately.
    – The shields are used to protect and collect, catch your opponent’s darts so you can fire them back. I guess that helps cut down on dart sweeps…. maybe? The shields are fixed to the blasters via tactical rail.
    – Interesting bit, if you watch the videos from the pros in their interviews, one of them mentions how you don’t really know where the darts are going, adding to the satisfaction when you DO get a hit. Testament to the accuracy? Who knows. Honestly, that won’t be a confirmed thing until these come out Summer 2014.
    – Mattel looks to be going big – Nerfnation meet the BOOMco League (and win a “Boom Box” while you’re there.)

    Mattel has a reputation for putting out strong, quality products. Can’t attest that the reputation upholds though until these are out. The videos however make a good number of promises, and I will admit with Mattel’s name involved, I am just a touch less skeptical than I would normally be. Given the past incarnations of sticky ammo from other brands though, I wonder how those new darts will work on cloth and skin. But wondering is about all I can do, along with the rest of you, until these come out and hopefully I can get my hands on them. BUT, with the possible competitiveness between these two powerhouse toy companies… I truly hope it’s us the consumers who win out. With each trying to outdo the other we might see some of the best blasters to date in performance, quality, and features.

    Lock and load, things just might get interesting.

    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

     

    New Nerf for 2014: Nerf N-Strike Elite Demolisher 2-in-1

    NERF N-STRIKE ELITE DEMOLISHER 2-IN-1 Blaster

    (Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $39.99/Available: Fall 14)

    Got a bunch of messages about this Popular Mechanics post, but I see Basic Nerf, The Prop Weapon Co Op, Adult Fans of Nerf, Click Click Bamf and Awesome Nerfer posting about it as well. 

    Grabbed from Popular Mechanics

    Also grabbed from Popular Mechanics, illustrating the size.  Uhm, dang.

    Here is the product description:

    “Take NERF shots to the next level with the 2-IN-1 blaster that dominates both MEGA and ELITE missions! The DEMOLISHER 2-IN-1 blaster is impressive in size and power firing up to 100 feet, featuring semi-motorized blasting, a 10 dart banana clip, and all new missiles. Connect NERF scopes and lights to the blaster’s top Tactical Rail System and set sights on some of coolest NERF shots performed. Blaster includes two missiles and 10 N-STRIKE ELITE darts. Four AA batteries required, not included. Available at most major retailers nationwide and HasbroToyshop.com.”

    2 missiles, 10 darts…. the banana mag that so many folks have been asking for over the years, an undermounted missile launcher, swappable stock (though I may have to run with the given to have that missile storage.)

    This LOOKS great, sure.  I won’t get a look at this until February for New York Toy Fair (though UK Nerf looks to be on a collision course with the UK Toy Fair, who knows what goodies they’ll reveal.).  The F2A Facebook page is wondering about flywheels (pretty sure that’s an accelerator trigger), I’m wondering if the undermount is going to get 100′ (crossing fingers).  Anyway, enjoy the pics and onward to the Toy Fairs!

    Went Toys R Us, look at what I saw

    Nerf Koosh, some new stuff from Airzone, have not seen a Surge 6 on shelves for awhile, some new target shooting things, a new Quickstrike blaster, but quite possibly the most interesting thing was the new Launch N Attack stuff.

    Looks like a line of flywheel blasters and I do believe that is a copied Nerf barricade as well as a reshell of the Powerstrike 48.  The darts are streamlined, and they have a huge rotor target that launches up and you shoot it down.  This requires some looking into.

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    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!

    OP/ED: Hey, marketing/PR/design toy people, just a thought –

    After another Toy Fair, it got me thinking.  I’ve listened/read to many a pitch about this or that product, and it always boils down to a few target markets in the toy business, parents and kids.  Either the advertising/initiatives/campaigns are geared to the fantasy roleplay of a child’s imagination that gets them to bug their parents for a toy, or the parent thinks their child might be interested in said toy.

    Well, what about us?  For years I’ve heard that the NIC and other communities just do not make up enough of a population to necessitate any marketing.

     I wonder just how true that is.  Worldwide, I’d like to say that interest in blaster-based games has increased exponentially.  Sure, there are mainstays like airsoft and paintball (where applicable) but the fact that Nerf/related product blogs has grown exponentially in years says a lot.  There’s interest, there’s people paying attention, and I think it’s time some of the quoted talking heads I’ve seen doing news pieces or whatever on toy blasters need to be on notice.

    Like some cartoons, not all toys are “Just For Kids.” 

    I saw this piece a months ago (thanks to the Aussie Canberra crew for linking this on their FB) – http://www.timetoplaymag.com/toys/2814/the-maya-group/xploderz-xranger-2000/ – and while I respect the Time to Play team (seen them, never had a chance to actually speak with them) for their work, this little quote regarding Xploderz made my eyebrow raise a little,

    Xground Pounder

    Who It’s For
    The Xploderz XRanger 2000 is for ages 8 and up. We think that this will have a special appeal to older boys, even college-age kids.”

    I’m sorry, what?  College age?  I tried the Xranger (and the Xploderz stuff in general), and… well, if I got this in school chances are it would have been donated to some needy family or theater kid for costuming.  In fact, the blasters look like space ships more than anything designed with ergonomics in mind so it could probably fill in for a student sci-fi film.  Between the 4 hour wait-time (Sea Monkeys, anyone) for extra ammo and the overall unreliability of the blaster (it shoots when it wants to, even moreso with the Xground Pounder) and the lack of accuracy (due to the pull-release mechanism) to simple issues like BLOCKING YOUR SIGHTS WITH A HIGH-CAPACITY MAGAZINE (again, Xground Pounder)… I wasn’t a fan.  My mother taught me, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” but in a case like this, it’s buyer misinformation. 

    And I don’t think this was in bad form.  For almost $40 the Xranger and Xground Pounder are not worth the experience, and on a college kid’s non-budget there’s a lot better stuff out there.  The Time to Play team (or many other bloggers out there) play with blasters like I do, such as with the Tacticool Tag and Gaming Society of Chicagoland (http://ttagschicago.blogspot.com).

    I exchanged some emails with a company about samples they sent, and told them that the blaster they sent me was not functioning well, and the company wanted to go over what was happening.  One thing they mentioned was feedback like mine was good because they get an idea of how users actually deal with their blasters outside of shooting targets in their room

    So… what do they imagine kids are even doing once they take these out?  Sure, shooting targets is fun but we all know the first thing we did when we got the new toy home was aim it at a sibling or our buddy (NOT RECOMMENDED winkwinknudgenudge).

    Which brings me to the point.  Between all these communities like Mall Wars, HvZ, and the already existent aftermarket community, it’s not worth a company’s time to market to us a little bit?  Nerf’s done a pretty decent job of outreach to bloggers, Zing Toys, and Vapor, but they’re the only ones.  At places like Toy Fair, people ask about my readership.  When I mention all the places that show up on my analytics (and that one hit from Uzbekistan) their eyes grow huge.  We’re out there.  We want to spend money.  LET US BUY YOUR BLASTERS.  TELL US ABOUT THEM.  MAKE THEM AWESOME.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned these past few months is that the Internet becomes a fantastic bargaining chip.  Think of all the recent internet events where with one keystroke, items go viral, facebook and twitter blow up, and then a company either admits fault or disappears.  Oh, hey Ocean Marketing and Papa John’s.  Rush Limbaugh, how’s that apology for the Fluke going?  Miss your sponsors, right?

    Our words have power.  Our web presence has power.  We want to have toys for all ages, that play awesomely, and keep us coming back for more.  We’re not just a niche market anymore.  We are a viable share of the market.

    And I’m currently working on a way to prove it quantitatively.  Stay tuned.