F2A Friday Five – Five Gametypes For Small Groups!

Thanks to Hummer, a blaster game runner from Wisconsin I game with regularly, on the help for this one! He runs his games with a Milwaukee area crew in Wisconsin, check out M.A.N.O. for their shenanigans. Nerf games don’t always have to be groups of 20-40 people running around (though that’s a lot of fun, and these games types tend to work well in small groups of 10 or less (5 v 5 ultimately, or even less.)

Hummer in action during a game


Gametypes:

1. Zombies. Zombies can be added into many gametypes in addition to being played with variations (Dismemberment, chopper, ect.) (Stampede chiming in here) Zombies are players who would normally be considered “out” but instead find a new life as a facilitator of game play, marching around the field and tagging players who are still alive. I like instituting this facet because it means people don’t have to sit out during a game, and zombies help prevent standoffs/camping. The rules we usually play with this game are there is an OZ or two, and they start off unknown (like HvZ), tagging players. Getting hit with a dart means a 7-15 second stun for the player to get away. This can be altered as noted above with variations, including large ammo.

2. Catch ’em all/blob – best played with 6+ people, but not above about 15. (Everyone starts with unlimited lives, 15 second respawn. Free for all. When you get tagged, you respawn on that persons team. Play until everyone’s on the same team).

3. Free for all – Make sure you set boundaries, otherwise, you’ll get the one camper who’ll come in mostly fresh on lives. Adding zombies helps with campers 😉

4. Freeze tag – getting hit with a dart/projectile/weapon results in the victim being frozen in place. A teammate may release/revive the tagged player with a touch to the frozen player’s person (BE NICE. DON’T BE RUDE ABOUT REVIVING YOUR TEAMMATES.) Frozen players may be used as cover, with hilarious results.

5. Royal rumble
Royal rumble: Start off with one person in the field, with everyone else lined up on the sidelines. add a person every 15-30 seconds. One life. Go until there’s noone left or keep cycling in the dead players ’til tired. Alternatively, you could try to enforce a lives system, where you have to get back in line every time you die.

Some gameplay video from a recent game he organized, taken by CrissWolfNerf.

Questions? Comments? Hopefully these game types or some variant will be useful to you!

Nerf Rotofury: Nerf Behind the Scenes video Released

 
Thanks to Nerf for the video! Featuring the Nerf Rotofury revealed previously, the blaster is now out and available in most major stores.
 
MSRP:$34.99
10 Shot drum (highest capacity blaster for the Mega line currently)
Slam-fire
 
My biggest nitpick with this blaster is the lack of a stock or attach point for a stock, mainly because with Slam-Fire it helps steady the blaster. At least, it did with me when I used a Rampage or Raider. Otherwise, I like the Rotofury, the extra shots more than a Cycloneshiock are pretty nice to have. Enjoy the video!

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

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



Seriously, surprise.

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

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

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

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




Nerf Zombie Strike Crosscut



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

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

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

DESIGN

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

PRODUCTION/MARKETING

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

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

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

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

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

Variations of the Nerf Zombie Strike Slingfire on the table

The stories. Oh, the stories.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nerf Rival Zeus Blaster Claims 100 FPS when it shoots

Nerf Rival Zeus Claims to Hit 100 FPS
Vas The Stampede

Back in February at Toy Fair, I checked out the Nerf Rival Zeus blaster in prototype form! Thanks to Nerf for sending along the full production model. Check the video below, and I’ll update with my thoughts later today.

Check out the photo album in the meantime!

About the Zeus:

NERF RIVAL ZEUS MXV-1200 Blaster

(Ages 14 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $49.99/Available: Fall 2015)
Bring NERF battles to the next level with the mighty NERF RIVAL ZEUS MXV-1200 blaster. Simply push the power-up button, then take aim and unleash motorized blasting power on the opposing team. The powerful, precise RIVAL ZEUS MXV-1200 blaster gives fans and their allies an edge in battle and features an ambidextrous  clip loading and release button, safety switch, and fold-up sight. The included NERF RIVAL 12-round magazine is also compatible for use with the NERF RIVAL APOLLO XV-700 blaster, sold separately. Blaster is available in both red and blue and includes 12 NERF RIVAL Foam rounds. Six C batteries required, not included.
Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and at HasbroToyShop.com.
Nerf Rival Apollo:
Nerf RIVAL APOLLO XV-700 Blaster
(Ages 14 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $24.99/Available: Fall 2015) 
Perfect for the heat of the competition, the NERF RIVAL APOLLO XV-700 blaster sends NERF RIVAL foam rounds soaring in the air with extraordinary velocity. To defend themselves and teammates against the opposition, pull the lever to move the RIVAL foam round into place, then take aim and launch! Blaster is available in both red and blue includes seven NERF RIVAL foam rounds. 
Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and at HasbroToyShop.com.
Additional photos in the gallery:

Nerf Rebelle Arrow Revolution Demo (Toy Fair 2015)

Test-firing video from New York Toy Fair featuring the Nerf Rebelle Arrow Revolution blaster – as seen at about.com with the ToyQueen.

The arrow loading mech seemed a little clunky, so here’s hoping it’s refined by release. As for the draw on the bow, it’s still designed with 8+ in mind (more on the 8 than the “+”) but fans of the Rebelle bows so far might enjoy the new reloading cylinder, as well as an additional use for any arrows they already own. Coming this Fall 2015!

Nerf Doomlands 2169 press release!

Nerf goes “steampunk” with Doomlands 2169.
Vas the Stampede

“With the debut of the NERF DOOMLANDS 2169 line, members of NERF NATION can become the heroes of the future. This all-new NERF blaster segment was designed to inspire active, imaginative play with a futuristic edge only the NERF brand can provide. The year is 2169, nearly a century after an asteroid impact wiped out civilization as we know it. The post-apocalyptic wasteland once known as earth is filled with bands of marauding thieves and all manners of creatures. Now, the time has come for a hero to emerge from the wild, savage land to deliver justice and freedom to the human race with the new NERF DOOMLANDS 2169 blasters by their side.
The debut DOOMLANDS 2169 lineup, featuring the LAWBRINGER blasterwith a twelve dart rotating barrel and the pump-action VAGABOND blaster, is available exclusively at Target this fall and features all new sci-fi steam-punk designs, visible firing mechanisms, and NERF performance. In the epic battle for the future, NERF NATION will prevail.

The Fall 2015 NERF DOOMLANDS 2169 line includes:
 
NERF DOOMLANDS 2169 LAWBRINGER Blaster

(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $34.99/Available: August 1, 2015)

Patrol the lawless landscape and fight for justice with the NERF DOOMLANDS 2169 LAWBRINGER blaster at your sideThe formidable LAWBRINGER blaster features a twelve dart rotating barrel and visible hammer mechanism for blasting, while integrated dart storage allows for quick reloads on the run. With the LAWBRINGER blaster, no futuristic foe is safe. Blaster comes with twelve NERF DOOMLANDS2169 darts. Available exclusively at Target.

NERF DOOMLANDS 2169 VAGABOND Blaster
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $24.99/Available: August 1, 2015)

Survive the savage future and dominate post-apocalyptic battles using the NERF DOOMLANDS 2169 VAGABOND blaster. With unique DOOMLANDS style, pump action firing, and a six dart rotating barrel, the VAGABOND blaster is an essential tool for future freedom fighters. Includes six NERF DOOMLANDS 2169 darts. Available exclusively at Target.

NERF DOOMLANDS 2169 30 DART Refill

(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $9.99/Available: August 1, 2015)
Stock up on extra NERF ammo to ensure dominance in the wild futurePost-apocalyptic heroes carrying the DOOMLANDS 2169 30DART refill won’t be caught with an empty blaster in battle. DOOMLANDS foam darts feature gold deco with signature DOOMLANDS logo. Available exclusively at Target.”

Word has it Nerf is sending additional info our way, unreleased anywhere else. Keep watching this space, and lock and load, chummers!



ICYMI: Nerf Behind the Scenes – Nerf Mega Cycloneshock

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

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

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

Review: Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy – Star Lord Quad Blaster! (Nerf)

 GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY STAR-LORD LORD QUAD BLASTER:

Price: $19.99 (Target.com – ordered)
Range: 20′-30′
Includes: 
Nerf Elite darts x 4
Quad Blaster x 1

(The pics are reposts – But the video is new!)

There it is! The Star Lord Quad Blaster in all its glory. Last seen at New York Toy Fair, I managed to order one off Target.com.

The blaster has 2 triggers -> one opens the blaster up exposing the extra barrels, and the other fires darts. There are 2 slides behind each barrel that pull back and return to position, priming the blaster. Depending on which barrels have darts in them, those darts will fire. If all 4 barrels are loaded, the inner barrels fire first, then the outer. If you load darts any other way whichever barrels are loaded will fire (smart ARs).

Pretty basic, front-loading and a pullback slide with a sweet gimmick. It’s almost the perfect formula for a licensed product. And as far as licensed products go, I’m more used to them going 10′-15′, not 25′-30′. And that’s what you’re going to get out of this blaster. So while not on par with many Elite/other brands, it doesn’t have to. The push here isn’t someone looking for performance (mostly) but a comic fan who is looking to tag their nearest Ronan The Accuser-looking friend for fun. Costumers may get a kick out of this and folks who check out the movie that will become new fans of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Is it worth the $20? I enjoy the gimmick of the blaster, regardless of the ranges. I like my Nerf games stock and up close anyway, so 20′-30′, 50′, whatever that’s not what I got it for. I got it cause it looks cool and people will understand why I yell “OOGA CHAKA OOGA CHAKA” as my new battlecry 🙂 I will admit, I thought the ranges were a little longer at Toy Fair, but I don’t really care. It’s easier to holster when it’s closed up, but I’d probably use it by itself and not as a sidearm because that’s just how I do things.

Excelsior!

Pssst…. this was on the back. Looks like there is another blaster coming out! Star Lord doesn’t get to have all the fun 🙂

Nerf Vortex Pyragon… Battle-tested!

Just wanted stop in… Didn’t get any photos/video from today’s game w/TTAGS (wanted to focus on playing for the first time in awhile), but my Nerf Vortex Pyragon and the 40 round drum got some work today 🙂

The slam fire action is pretty smooth and flawless (as demonstrated in some test fire videos) but the accuracy and general feel of the blaster is aces in my book (to be fair, we were playing Freeze Tag and on a playground with a jungle gym; about 30-50′ apart at times.)  I was moving under/around well with it, and taking out entire teams under a cloud of discs.  No misfires, no jams, and replacing mags when empty was easy and fast.  Can’t ask for much more in my book.

If only I had a room full of UV lights and a slew of white vortex discs… Disc Wars a la Tron coming right up!

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