Monday, September 29, 2014

Fall Game #1 and the LTAR-AR

It's Fall!  This is my favorite season for several reasons and, among those, is Off-Season Laser Tag stuff.  Fall games are a lot of fun, what with the different colors, the crunchy leaves, the cool crisp air, and the fast-track to night games that can be a lot of fun.  Right now, as the MLTA sits "Off-Season Mode", there's a lot more time to work on projects, too.  This is the first installment of many that I'll be doing between now and when Season 10 for the MLTA starts up in May of 2015.  We kicked off Fall with a quick 2-on-2 Snipers game that also tested out the last few bits on equipment for the LTAR that we've been developing.

This is the start of a series of videos I'll be doing that covers development of our equipment throughout the Off-Season.  It'll cover the progress on the workbench AND being tested out in the field during our games, which is an element of development that I enjoy that is often overlooked.  I haven't really documented progress like this, so it'll be fun to share the entire process with you all!


Projects currently on the workbench that will be featured in the coming months are listed below.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Get your Mod On!

Ever feel like you're burnt out on Nerf stuff?  A lot of fans have hit a brick wall from time to time or simply lost that spark they used to have for modifying Nerf Blasters or thinking of something new.  I've been guilty of it several times, but I end up forcing myself back into things instead of finding a solution... but today that switch got flipped!  I'm all psyched out about creating new stuff now, and it's all thanks to organizing my cluttered garage.

Check out the video below and see what happened!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Nostalgia vs Forward-Thinking

Last week, when I picked up a ZS Longshot, there were a couple of things I realized.  On the one hand, I embarrassingly enough found out that Drac had pretty much posted the same reaction to this blaster as I had.   I suppose it was also kinda neat to know that we were on the same page, but I just hadn't seen his video on it until it was brought up.  On the other, I've seen a lot of experienced modders kind of split on the return of the Longshot.  And yes, I know the Longshot has been on UK and Australian shelves for awhile now... but I kind of felt like it was a big deal to us clamoring US fans!

Here's the bit I've observed, and I'll use this bit from the r/Nerf page on Reddit from torukmakto4.
Sorry to be a pessimist but what is the allure of the LS system in this day and age? Elite CS is just as easy to work on, and just as rewarding for stock dart users in the end, and actually easier for noobs. The LS requires a lot of work to be viable in the stock dart world due to that pushback/reliability mess. If you want one to do a Retal's job, you either need a breech system, or you need to be the first to develop a conversion of the LS chamber to swinging-door. 
For stefan use, LS are a bit of a headache and have a number of mechanical shortcomings, and tend not to be cost effective. A lot of factors are going against the system from magazine cost/availability for stefans to weak bolt carriers breaking to very expensive aftermarket parts, and you hardly ever see a usable/reasonable build cost one shooting more than 200fps. 
For aesthetics and ergonomics they are very dated and clearly from a prior era where Hasbro Nerf was missing some modern lessons learned. Just look at the grip, the stock, the forend. Ouch.
 After reading this, I kind of sat back and thought "you know... he's got a REAL good point there."

I've seen a lot of experienced modders debate it, too.  Some of us seem to get caught a little more in the nostalgia and glory of this "Legendary" N-Strike Blaster... and they tend to say "YAY!  Now people can know the joys of modding like I did!"  Others are forward-thinking and can use modern Nerf examples of improvement to pick this big hunk of plastic to pieces.  Both sides make a lot of sense though.

Think about how much information there is out there on "Longshot Mods".  Use any search engine you like, but putting those two words in there will bring up a gazillion resources.  That's part of why I think a lot of Nerfers think that this is a great blaster to re-introduce to the community for newer players who "Haven't experienced the Joy of working with a Longshot".  This blaster has easily achieved an "iconic" status in the Nerf world through all of that.  However, historical significance doesn't mean it can hold up to the new technology and designs that are in these blasters almost a decade later.  There's no real way that it can.

Let's take one of Tactical Tag's famous matchups as an example:  the "Elite Longshot vs Nerf Retaliator".  When the Elite lineup was first introduced, I decided to modify a blue Longshot to look and perform like an Elite blaster would.  At the time, the 75 Ft Range Claims the Elite line was boasting was my target.  It didn't take much to get my old blue blaster to sling darts like that.  The usual AR Removals, Dead Space fill, and spring upgrades easily made the Longshot shoot to 75 feet flat.  When I finally got a Retaliator to match up against the Longshot I had built, I found that the 75 Ft ranges were more of an angled range instead of the flat ranges I was aiming for.

However, when I proceeded to modify my Retaliator with some simple mods... I quickly found out that there was a lot of potential sitting inside a smaller blaster.  With the same modifications (and a weaker spring), the modified Retaliator was slinging just like my Elite Longshot.  There are lots of blasters that I can think of, Retaliator included, that are more user-friendly and just as accessible to current Nerf modders that can be good to the modding community.  At the rate that people are pumping out reviews and mod tutorials and all kinds of stuff, the argument of "There's so much out there for the Longshot" doesn't hold much weight anymore.  It also means that there's less new ground to break with the Longshot, which I think is part of the excitement about modding new blasters.  Uncharted territory, doing stuff that hasn't been done or wasn't able to be done before... that kind of thing has been wrung out of the Longshot for eons.

Still, the Longshot still has that Star Power in the modding community, so many of us will still hold it on a pedestal.  Those who haven't had it before now have an opportunity to get their hands on one off a shelf instead of asking mom or dad to get on eBay or Craigs List.  When you're emotionally attached to what you do, which most Hobbyists will admit to, something like the Longshot will tug at your heartstrings and make you think of the Glory Days or what-have-you.  Those are the folks in the "Yay the Longshot is back" camp.  When you're more about the facts and numbers though... the Longshot is a past-it's-prime recolored aquamarine throwback that doesn't really mean anything.  There's no right or wrong at the end of the day as long as it does what you want it to.  And if it doesn't, just keep modding until it does!  That's really what will be valuable to the "next generation of Nerf modders" that we keep boasting about.

ThunderFail

So I just watched a short commercial for the Nerf MEGA Thunderbow.  Just thought some folks might have as much of a laugh with this as I did.  The part near the end where they line up and perform a "Thunderstorm" on the Dude Perfect fellas... the trajectory on some of these darts is quite comical, as evidenced in the screencaps I managed to nab.  I know these blasters are capable of better ranges, so I'm just going to guess that the bow arms weren't getting pulled all the way back on some of those shots.  Still funny to watch.

I've also been noticing more plugs for the "Accept No Substitutes" slogan in recent commercials... but it still doesn't stick like "Nerf or Nothin" in my opinion.  And, for some reason, the Dude Perfect "Nerf Perfect" stuff really hasn't been sticking for me either.  World Record holders or not, a bunch of College Grad atheletes running around at multi-million-dollar locations with over-rehearsed trick-shots doesn't do much for me.  Hadn't heard about them before all these Nerf commercials, so I asked my elementary-school neighbor about "Dude Perfect".  He was as lost as I was.  Anyone care to explain their significance to Nerf's target audience?  I'm clearly missing something here.

In the meantime, I'm gonna rig up some Smokey & The Bandit Gag-Reel music to this commercial and see if it gets any better.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Old Longshot, New Modders


Usually when I'm psyched about a blaster, I go out of my way to get it as soon as possible.  It also usually means that there's a review up for it several minutes after I've got it home.  That's not been the case for the "New" Nerf ZombieStrike ZED Squad Longshot CS-12... but I think that's mostly because I already was psyched about this blaster when it came out several years ago under the original N-Strike lineup.  There wasn't a lot "new" with this recolor that I could see, so I held off getting it.


However, when I did finally cave in and nab one, I quickly found myself feeling nostalgic and getting pumped about modding this, especially since Nerf seemed to have already made it easier to do that.  Between the unpainted shoulder stock, the black-painted trigger grip, and the bi pod already removed for an easy install of a shotgun-grip priming handle... I was all sorts of ready to dig into this blaster.  Shortly after tooling around with it, I realized that this blaster wouldn't just be good for a Longshot fan like me... but also be good for someone who has just started modding and hasn't known the joy of working with a Longshot before.  One of my new neighbors attacks me in my garage every now and then with a Firestrike, so maybe it'd be fun to mod this new Longshot with him so he can learn.

Honestly, after picking one up and thinking about what Longshots on US Store shelves potentially means, I'm all sorts of hyped up about the possibilities and potential this has. Could I be reading too much into this?  Highly possible.  Regardless, it feels good to say "I'm gonna go mod my New Longshot".  Been YEARS since I've been able to say that!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

ThunderBOOM ::crackle::

Those crazy Brits!  Colin Furze has been know for making a video or two that are... what's the best way to say this... explosive.  While he's done more than play with fire, I certainly think some of his more entertaining videos have hit a home-run with the pyromaniac in me.  So when I saw his Thunderbow laying waste to the countryside, I thought two things instantly.  1: I gotta share this with Tactical Tag.  2: I wish this had come out in July when Fireworks were legal in my area so I could go out and rig up something similar!

While this Nerf MEGA Thunderbow isn't ACTUALLY shooting bolts of explodie goodness, the targets ARE hit-sensitive.  Any Nerf blaster with enough hitting power could probably pull off something similar, but that's really not the message I found in this.  Sometimes I get too obsessed with the tactical-side of these toy guns.  I suppose the mere name of this blog might have something to do with that.  But the reviews I've seen of the Thunderbow won't appeal to those who are looking for something that's technical.  It's just flat-out fun, as evidenced by this 24-year-old tearing up the British back country.  I've largely ignored the MEGA Thunderbow because I just thought it was silly... but it took an English Gentleman in a Tie wreaking havoc on explosive-rigged targets in the deep woods to realize that silly isn't a bad thing.

It's all too easy to get caught up in being far too serious about these blasters.  Colin certainly delivered the wake-up call of a bonkers video like this that have shaken the rust off the kid in me.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Vacation Time! (9/4 - 9/7)

Alrighty folks!  Time for Bazookafied to take a break!  I realized that I actually haven't taken a vacation since I started my new job 2 years ago... so I feel like I kind of deserve this.  That, and it's a trip with the new wife (I got married, if you missed it) to go adventuring in the Pacific Northwest!

I'll be back after the weekend!  In the meantime, geek out about the new blasters.  See you next week!