Edit: previous version of the article incorrectly listed the company for RBS as Super Impact, that has been corrected as of 2/29.
1. Nerf –
I’m cheating a bit here. (See the full gallery of images here)
The Nerf booth had a ton of things that I felt will be huge in 2016. Heck, the Nerf brand in general is going HUGE in 2016 and beyond, from what I could tell. Even the Platinum Bow from Rebelle is a huge offering and regardless of it being Rebelle I intend to own one. Other blasters, like the BattleScout and the HyperFire, offer new twists on previous features, like the stripper clip (seen on the Magstrike and Powerclip, mainly) and a new camera, while the HyperFire has an increased Rate of Fire. The Nerf Rival Khaos is a ridiculous beast, and while the magazine compatibility is lacking, that is a seriously hilariously large blaster and magazine.
The Nerf blasters this year are incredibly eye catching, but with that comes a level of functionality in some blasters that may change the blaster landscape over the next year. Not just because the Tri-Strike makes most available ammo types usable in a single game play, or that the Hyperfire may arguably be the fastest Rate of Fire for a stock blaster to date, but because Nerf is showing confidence in its brand to try some crazy, oversized ideas. The Brainsaw is evidence the Zombie Strike line continues to produce some fun toys (yes, TOYS) while the Double-Dealer is another massive eye catching piece with its double mag setup. (The Double-Dealer was a non-functioning prototype when I was at the booth, so sadly no firing video. But the stock is in fact a magazine holder, if you haven’t see it yet.) My main concern though is the main blasters are going anywhere between $30 to $80, and to a family that can add up, even to an enthusiast collector. But the fans have wanted bigger and better, and this year, Nerf served that up in spades.
2. Buzz Bee gets “The Walking Dead” license
In addition to continuing to offer a low cost alternative to Nerf, Buzz Bee has the license for “The Walking Dead”, which I can see a lot of people getting excited about. Especially the rifle at the bottom, which does not seem to use an ammo belt like the last rifle of this style I saw (not from Buzz Bee, I believe). It looks like the license is more for the comics than the TV show, but at this point it’s still “Hey! The Walking Dead!” There were some other prototypes at the booth (a blaster reminiscent of the Magstrike/Powerclip, air powered and still very cool) but this is what really caught my eye and has gotta be one of the most telling things for me that Buzz Bee has some serious plans for the future and bears watching even more than before.
3. The Precision RBS system (from Super Impulse) –
This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been taken with a new type of blaster and ammo, but there was something so elegant about the Precision RBS system it deserves a callout here. These are rubber band shooters. And not some specialty rubber band ammo, but every day standard rubber bands (three different sizes) which makes getting the ammo easy in a pinch. The larger models have integrated ammo holders, an integrated second blaster, multiple round firing (and the RoF is semiauto, in case you’re curious). The guys who invented this really did their homework about rubber band shooters, and what players look for (even a separate firing mode) in general from a user standpoint, they really thought of a lot of things for this line. I look forward to seeing more from this blaster, that’s for sure.
4. Paper Shooters
Finally! After years of communication, I finally met the owners behind Paper Shooters, and they look ready to hit the American market. Now, these aren’t your typical blasters- it’s a model kit first (so there is some build time to invest) and a functional blaster second. These are some pretty pieces of kit when you’re done, judging by what I saw at their booth, and when you finally get the blaster built it’s very satisfying shooting them. The shell ejection, the pullback lever, it all feels very cool (for lack of a better term) when shooting them. Even moreso cause this is a blaster you build from the ground up with the kit, so it’s a very different offering from when you have a blaster and modify it, now it is your own you built from basically scratch.
K’Nex continues the K-Force line – now we have magazines, motors, and turrets to add into the mix. The beast pictured above is a custom build, but it’s three linked triggers to fire three darts at once. I used the initial kits and found the build times a little long, but I attribute that to my unfamiliarity with using K’Nex pieces. All the same, I am glad this line is still kicking because of the customizability it offers, and really want to sink my teeth into some custom builds this year.
Questions? Comments? Did you want to add anything? More galleries and more in-depth writeups to come, thanks for tuning in!