Year in Review Highlights: Nerf (and other Toy Blasters) – 2012!

Oh man… what a year!  2012 was a pretty big time for toy blasters.  There was just so much that came out and so many things have happened, here we are again.

Some of my fave things:

– New York Toy Fair 2012

– The Nerf Hailfire Release Party (Thanks Nerf!)


The Release of the Nerf N-Strike Elite:
– Retaliator
– Rampage
– Hailfire
– Triad
– Stryfe
– Strongarm
– Elit Reflex/Eliminator (Though I don’t believe it actually has a range increase)
– Elite Rayven
– Firestrike
– RoughCut 2×4
– Stockade (outside the U.S.)

RoughCut 2×4
Nerf Hailfire
Nerf Retaliator

Nerf Rampage
Nerf Strongarm and Firestrike
Nerf Elite Rayven and Stryfe
Nerf Triad
Nerf Eliminator
Nerf Stockade and 30 pack of darts

Nerf Dart Tag:
– Snapfire 8 (outside the U.S.)

Nerf Vortex:

– Diatron

Whew!  It’s been a busy year 🙂

Nevermind that Nerf revamped the Lazer Tag line:

Buzz Bee and Air Zone/Prime Time Toys had some respectable years with new releases of their own, but the most notable was probably the Range Master, an air blaster w/pump that got good ranges and gave some folks out there a non-springer option:

But it wasn’t just the year of the foam dart blasters, not at all.  Disposable ammo is part of the game now, past the Max Force spit wads and the first run of Xploderz water pellet blasters, there’s now also BlasterPro, “X2” series Xploderz, and Vapor.




This branch of the toy blaster tree will definitely bear some watching come 2013.  I got a feeling we’re in for a whole new level of innovation, between Nerf upping the ante with their increased ranges from the Elite/Vortex lines, now these new companies are going to have to show what they can do next.

Definitely not least, Zing Toys is out there with some great products as well.  Definitely keep an eye out for their Air Storm line:

Zcurve bow

ZX Crossbow

Zing Shot and Pop Rocketz

Zip Bak Bow
Z-Tek Crossbow


On that note… let’s not forget the fallen.  Gone, give or take some leftover stock on the shelves.  Safe to say these brands aren’t supported in their current forms anymore:

Max Force
Light Strike

BUT… while two brands dropped out (apparently)… one more has risen.  Yup, Launch N Attack

And a more local offering, Bumpa’s Blowguns!

And that, as they say, is that!  Sorry if I missed anything, but there’s only so much one can recall!  Have a great New Year, and see you in 2013!

Light Strike – Here’s a go

Light Strike – 
Assault striker w/target (3 different color variants) –  $39.99
Light Striker Pistol w/target  (3 color variants) – $29.99
Enemy Scanner (attachment) – $14.99
Rapid Fire Striker (attachment) – $12.99

Included power settings:

“Laser Strike” – 12 shots – disables enemy in 12 hits
“Stealth Strike” (silencer mode) – 12 shots – disables enemy in 12 hits
“Pulse Strike” – 16 shots – disables enemy in 8 hits
“Rail Strike” (powered shot) – 8 shots, disables enemy in 4 hits, slower reload than other modes, slow RoF (Rate of Fire)
“Sonic Strike” (powered shots) – 6 shots – disables enemy in 3 hits – slower reload and RoF
Rapid Fire Striker – Significantly more shots than normal “Laser Strike” mode, and in full-auto so impossible to really count amount of shots – disables enemy in 8 hits, slow reload, HIGH RoF
Enemy Scanner –
Detects enemy strikers in the surrounding area, aesthetically functions like a sonar, beeping in the direction players on other teams can be found, also increases damage from built-in weapons
Thanks to the fine folks at Light Strike, they sent along the above items for me to take a look.  All I can say is, “Impressive, most impressive.”

First up, your basic Striker.  It’s a pistol, with four buttons on top and the power switch.  Volume, shield, team select, and four weapon settings: Laser, stealth, pulse, and sonic.  It’s missing the “Rail Strike” the Assault model has, but you don’t have to hit a reload button.  Thematically, it’s as if the blaster “overheats” and needs to cool down.  The Striker also has a flip-up sight which is a nice touch, a jack for headphones.  It feels really good in-hand, the handles are a good size and fit both kids and adults (my 9 year old nephew had no trouble using it).  
Next, there’s the Assault Striker, a rifle unit.  In addition to to the same buttons the Striker has (but integrated into the body of the tagger, as opposed to the four buttons on top) It has the same weapon settings as the pistol, with the addition of the “Rail Strike” setting.  There’s also an additional “fingerprint scanner” that players must use to activate the blaster before it can be fired and a semi-auto (three round burst) mode, and single shot mode.  The bread and butter of the Assault model is it’s modular capability.  You buy an attachment like the rapid fire system, refractor cannon, scope, or enemy scanner and it changes the functionality of the striker.  So IN ADDITION to the settings it came with you now can expand your repertoire and play style depending on what attachments you’re using.  Attachments, that ACTUALLY do something!  And good range, reliability, and utility right out of the box.  
The strikers themselves overall have a nice weight, easy trigger action and just holding the trigger sends out a constant stream of shots.  And just because Wowwee makes “Paper Jamz” that doesn’t mean these strikers are paper.  It’s a robust plastic!  The strikers also come with an additional target that changes color based on your team selection, both for practice and if you want to add a layer of challenge to your traditional gametypes.
The strikers have their target on the front of the blaster.  This positioning leaves it easy to take some liberties, through testing we found hiding the blaster behind your back makes it easy to hide the sensor.  With the targeting vest this isn’t possible, as the sensors are out in the open, and maybe going prone is the only way to block the sensor after this.  Also, with more than 2 players putting the blaster behind one’s back won’t work with proper tactics.  One other thing is that when you play with just the blasters, a player can switch teams at any time.  It would be easy to switch teams without the vest, either on accident or if you were trying to cheat.  Also, respawning is done by just turning the striker on and off, so less scrupulous individuals might exploit this as well.

Now nevermind the strikers already get pretty much 50’ out of the box, but you’re also getting a multitude of different strikers in each unit, balanced out in power vs. rate of fire vs. reload time.  Throw in the attachments, the vests, the added factors of the ITS (Intelligent Targeting System) and you’ve got the makings for some pretty intense games in an immersive experience not really shown by anything else out there yet.  You heal, respawn, set timers, sentries, medic stations, and there are some serious pieces here for a grand game time puzzle.  The trick is just getting through that initial investment of all the pieces being sold separately, plus batteries.  Have no fear though, the attachments don’t require batteries.  Just the strikers, ITS, vests, and targets.  Each piece adds to the gameplay – vests make players able to heal each other, and the ITS has a number of different functions.  If you’re willing to make the investment you really wouldn’t regret it, there is definitely some serious potential for you and your friends depending on what you devise.  Light Strike provides the items, but the replayability and variety is definitely on the part of the play

A pretty serious oversight though has to be on the visibility of the lights on the strikers outdoors.  IN bright light, it’s near impossible to read any of the light displays on the strikers.  In the video below, you might be able to see what I’m talking to about.  Bright sunlight just washes out the colors under the frosted plastic sections of the strikers. 

Here’s how a little play went:

  • No clean up
  • Big ranges out of the box – 50’+, under 100 w/Scope attachment
  • Different play styles – high RoF./quick reload vs. high-power
  • Easy to track hits
  • Easy to pick teams
  • Out of the box, ready to go.
  • Reloading at the press of a button
  • Expand game play w/ other purchases, ITS and chest, targets – initial expense can be a hit, but really adds to the gameplay
  • Customizable experience
  • Lights are fun and bright, exciting to watch and fun to hear
  • Accuracy seems pretty spot-on
  • Expensive to get started, must remember you get multiple blasters with each toy.
  • Lights difficult to see in bright outdoor light
  • Easy to cheat
    • Respawning is too easy – easy to refill health and reset without anyone noticing
    • Easy to switch teams after a game has started
      • There is the chance this might add to gameplay as well (find the spy) but very easy to swap colors if players want to screw up a game type (this might happen on accident as well
  • Some weapons might be broken – the Scope outranges AND has a high RoF with the Stealth Shot.  Might need regulation on the part of the players, or it might not be as bad with more players.