Thanks to Nerf for the samples as always, I’ll be doing reviews on more of this and additional looks over the next few weeks! While I’m at it, also make sure to check out my InstagramI post additional content with samples and arrivals like this!
I want to get some game time with this blaster before coming up with a proper review, but right off the bat the Adventure Zone Enforcer belt-fed blaster from Dart Zone got AT LEAST 140′ right out of the box. That’s pretty impressive for a freshly opened blaster. That being said, reloading this beast would be a moderate pain since I don’t think there are plans to sell the ammo belts separately. And to head off another question, yes, this blaster is branded “Adventure Zone” but that’s to identify the Wal-Mart specific brand of action toys associated with this and other blasters undoubtedly coming out as Wal-Mart exclusives. It’s a Dart Zone blaster, same as the LegendFire and Magnum. It unloads its ammo payload pretty quickly, and should give any rushing team a reason to pause but the groupings are pretty wide the farther out you shoot. For $29.99 though you are getting good power, good ammo capacity, and a really satisfying shooting experience feeling the chains move and hearing the blaster chug through darts. Kids are gonna love the gatling feel of this blaster, and older users are going to like the power. And for $29.99, the price is just right compared to other blasters out there that shoot either less ammo or slightly shorter max ranges. I don’t say this often, but if you have to spend on any blaster, definitely give this a look. I’ll update this review with some gameplay thoughts once I actually field test it, but until then, color me impressed for now.
Building a KForce K-10V blaster (How long did it Take?) Vas The Stampede
In a new installment, you see how long it took me to build one of the new K’Nex KForce Kitsfrom 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!
Here’s an unboxing while I get working on reviews. The Bug Attack Eliminator and I believe the XShot blasters are in stores already elsewhere, but they’ve been pretty spare in availability where I live. I am really just seeing them in larger quantities now, and even lost touch with Zuru until Toy Fair this year. If you’ve seen these already, great, I’m going to post a review later, and if you want to check it out, I hope to see you then!
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!
New Nerf RC Tank Drone Terrascout Follows in Wake of Terradrone VasTheStampede
Thanks to Nerf for the images and the info! Hot off the CNET presses, here you are about the upcoming Terrascout.
NERF N-STRIKE ELITE TERRASCOUT RC DRONE Blaster
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $199.99/Available: Fall 2016)
Get the drop on your friends with the N-STRIKE ELITE TERRASCOUT RC DRONE! This remote controlled blaster drone features high-speed, all terrain tracks (not for use in wet conditions) for quick strikes and an 18 dart clip for remote bombardment. Kids can use the live video feed featured on the controller’s LCD screen to scout the battlefield, locate targets and plan their attack. Maneuver the angle of the drone’s blaster remotely, and fire a single-dart by pressing and releasing the trigger, or hold down for extreme rapid-fire blasting in battle. Record audio and 720p HD video to an SD card (not included) and share epic battles and campaigns with family and friends. The controller will slide onto the back of the drone’s blaster and snap into place for storage. This product is for use in and outdoors. The drone also includes tactical rails, compatible with N-STRIKE ELITE accessories, each sold separately. Controller requires 4 AA batteries (not included). Includes blaster, camera, remote control with LCD screen, rechargeable NiMh battery, charger, and 18 N-STRIKE ELITE darts. Available at most major retailers nationwide and HasbroToyShop.com.
Nerf Terrascout! MSRP: $199.99
Rechargeable battery? Remotely controlled angle of fire? WHAT?
*Ahem* sorry. So after the Terradrone here we have the Terrascout! From what I’m told this isn’t made by a 3rd party licensee, it’s all Nerf here. I thought some of the earlier incarnations of remotely controlled dart robots were pretty awesome, and this is making some interesting claims. I’d be interested to see it! The $199.99 tag is a bit hefty for something this novel, given the upcoming other HUGE MONEY releases (Platinum Bow and Mastodon,I’m looking at you) but toys like this are always a bit of fun, whether you’re hardcore about your blaster battles or just like to tag your coworkers with foam darts (like I do!) Anyway, there you go now get outside and play!
F2A Exclusive: Q&A with Ben Stack, Inventor of the Precision RBS Vas The Stampede
Many thanks again to Super Impulse and Precision RBS for the samples, and this Q&A with Ben Stack, the inventor of the Precision RBS Launchers! I met Ben at New York Toy Fair, and followed up in email with a series of questions. I thank him for the time he took to answer them. His responses are in bold.
Ben on the right, at New York Toy Fair
– What did you study? Feel free to share a little info about yourself such as hobbies and experience in toy industry.
I most recently went to school for product design, but I had a bit of a background before that in engineering from various hobbies and jobs making things. I’ve dabbled in robotics, carpentry, soft goods, and yes, many years of projectile launchers and other homemade entertainment. – How long was RBS in development?
It’s hard to say when Precision RBS as a potential product line really started. I’ve been launching rubberbands since I was about 6 when my brother and I made clothespin launchers with my father. That’s when I accidentally discovered the “rifling” or “spinning” technique that Precision RBS still uses today.
In high school, after making dozens of launchers in middle school, I set out to really perfect a modular, high performance series of launchers. In college, I took the concept to a more finished state as my thesis project, where I was connected to SI and we then spent another busy few months converting the line to a robust injection moldable ABS design. Taking out the off years in between, I’d say there’s at least 5 years of my own development work in these 3 products we have now.
The core pistols of Precision RBS launchers
– Can you talk about what inspiration you drew on for the look of the RBS shooters?
Precision RBS from the start was conceived as a skill toy that you could actually use safely in public without any worries. This meant throwing the visual concept of a “gun” out the window and really striving for something cool that wasn’t threatening. Science fiction and sports equipment was the only place you could find that. I went through hundreds of renderings, color combinations, and graphical applications before settling on what we have today.
– Why rubber band ammo? What advantages do you find there vs other mediums, and how is RBS different from what is out there currently, including among other rubber band shooters?
The Hyperion: note the included pack of all three rubber band sizes.
Rubber bands are cheap, plentiful, multi-use, accessible to anyone anywhere, versatile, but most of all accurate! What fun is trying build your skills launching projectiles if you’re not going to reliably hit what you’re aiming at? Rubber bands are just the most amazing indoor target practice ammo. Rubber bands don’t bounce and roll away into dark corners either, to be forever lost. Rubber bands don’t get crushed if you step on them. They actually are affected by wind less than foam too, as the cross section density is higher.
The main thing holding back rubber bands all these years has been accuracy and range, and I think we’ve finally cracked it. When properly “rifled”, 117 rubber bands can reach out to 50 ft with a shot grouping well inside a standing silhouette. Inside of 30 feet, the grouping gets down to about 6 inches across. Fly hunting starts happening at around 8 feet.
Finally, and this is one that tends to get overlooked, escapement rubber band launchers basically act like a beautiful hybrid between flywheel and springer launchers: high rate of fire without any rev-up time or pumping. Your ROF is practically unlimited, it’s however fast you can pull the trigger. Just like flywheel blasters, you never have to readjust your sight picture until your launcher is empty.
I want to emphasize: Rubber bands shine when the target is behind cover and the window of opportunity is short.
As for other rubber band launchers out there, we’re committed to using all standard sized rubber bands so you have the option of refilling in bulk at office supply stores. On top of that, we’ve packed in just so many features unique to my rubber band launchers I’ve designed over my life, like the ability to always launch and store multiple sizes of rubber band, and the modular “barrel” lengths (wow, a barrel that actually does something?).
– Do you recommend certain shooters for certain ages?
Not really! It’s the band size that makes the difference. All of our precision RBS launchers are safety tested for ages 8+ and have been play tested by all ages, but loading size 117 bands can be more difficult for young kids. It’s not that it takes a great amount of force to draw the band back, but more that it is a long draw length, almost 24 inches. It usually just means younger kids have to brace the launcher against the ground to load it.
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.
– How many designs do you have in mind past the launch?
Oh wow, so many. I have a lifetime of folders for this stuff. These first 3 are the basic, “standard issue” series, and we’re starting to get more specialized in next year’s line.
– I noticed a holster, will those be available as well in the future?
I definitely had holsters in mind when I designed the core “pistol” style launcher, but we’re not sure how it would fit in the line yet. It might be soon, it might be later. We’ll see how it works out.
– What is your favorite feature about any of the blasters?
I have a soft spot for Chiron in general as it was the first Precision RBS launcher that I concepted in high school for high speed play. It’s designed to be versatile, able to take on both long ranged Hyperion and high capacity dual wielders by maximizing size 33 reload rate with the Quick Loader, and able to launch the 117 bands with the hand launcher. Masters of the hand launcher should be able to pickup, load, and launch 117 bands in a single motion, which can overwhelm the slower-to- load Hyperion, and out-range the smaller two bands.
Lots of info and insight, thanks again to Ben for taking the time to answer my questions! I’ll be updating this post later today with some additional video on the Precision RBS launchers, but until then see you next time.If you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out Part 1 here.
The Nerf Ambassador Meetup at #NerfHQ (Hasbro Headquarters/offices, not the old forum) Vas The Stampede
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)
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.
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.
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