Sunday, March 31, 2013

Have an Egg-Tacular Weekend!

Happy Easter, everyone!  Just realized how similar an Easter Egg hunt is to searching for darts after an indoor game.  Hope you find all of yours today!

If you're not celebrating Easter today, Happy Day-Before-Really-Good-Candy-Goes-On-Sale Day!  Cadbury Eggs are among my favorite sweets to stock up on this time of year.  The next candy-based holiday is in October... so there's quite the stretch of normal candy before things get interesting again.

Either way, enjoy your weekend!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Flywheel Debate: Organizing Info

There's so many angles to look at this that, after an outpouring of input from the community (which is awesome), I think I'll need a little more time to really dig into this to get a clear picture of the advantages and disadvantages of using Flywheel-driven blasters.

One thing is certain, as with any blaster: if it doesn't work with your playstyle, it's tough to be a fan of this blaster.  Choosing the right Nerf blaster has never been about "Hey, what's THE BEST one I can get?" because there is no clear-cut winner.  So while you're all enjoying your weekend, I'll be attempting to put together a clear report that will reflect every angle that has been brought to my attention when it comes to these Flywheel Blasters.  THANK YOU everyone for your outstanding support!  If you still haven't chimed in on this, check out this topic.

Long story short:  I got a LOT of info!  Gimme a day or two to get it all organized into a detailed report!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Centurion gets Real, Revonix too?

We've already seen Box Art of the Nerf N-Strike Elite Mega's flagship model: the Centurion.  Now we've got a photo of the actual blaster itself, along with seeing it's folding bi-pod at work.  Photo is from and while the photo isn't the best resolution, it does show us quite a bit.

It also still makes me wonder if that front barrel is detachable, as many folks had speculated before.  Regardless, you can really see the heft of this blaster from the top-view we get from this picture.  A long top tactical rail with about an inch on each side of it gives this blaster some real presence.  Larger ammo, and a range listed of 100 feet?  I think I might be able to actually classify this blaster as a "Sniper", as much as I loathe the overuse of this term.  The Centurion looks to have earned it in aesthetics AND ability.

Feel free to weigh in on features you think this blaster might still have.  That bolt track looks awfully long to me... so maybe there's some interesting loading mechanism for the larger darts the Centurion is designed to use.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Flywheel Debate: Part 1

Flywheel Driven blasters have been around for awhile, but they're still pretty new to the Nerf lineup.  With the Barricade's successful release in 2010, they've released more blasters using this simple firing system.  These blasters, like the Rayven, Nitron, and Stryfe, have also been successful on shelves.

Haters are always gonna hate, though.  There are clear advantages and disadvantages to having a Flywheel-based system.  I figured, now that we're a few years deep into the Flywheel System with Hasbro's Nerf blasters, we could break down the obvious features of the Flywheel that make some folks adore them and others want to give them a bath in Kerosene.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Visit from CTDYNE

Checking out the LTX EF5
When I first got into Laser Tag, one of the first things I found on the internet was the website for Custom Tag Dynamics (CTDYNE).  Seeing their customized laser tag blasters for ESS, Laser Challenge, and LTTO was awe-inspiring enough to get me started on my own endeavors in modifications.  Back when we started the Omaha Laser Challenge Association (Now the Midwest Laser Tag Association) in 2006, we quickly learned about folks building customized laser tag blasters that were all somehow connected to CTDYNE.  As a result, these folks pretty much became my laser tagging heroes.  After 3 years of running the OLCA, I got an e-mail from one of the guys at CTDYNE saying that he'd be in the area and wanted to meet us.  You may have seen him around using the name "IR-Storm" in comments.  Needless to say I jumped at the opportunity to meet with him and learn a thing or two about modified laser tag blasters.  I was humbled by the fact that he was actually interested in what we were doing with our group and our equipment and, sure enough, we kept in contact afterwards to continue trading ideas back and forth.

Today, IR-Storm broke a 4 year streak and set some time aside to meet with us again.  Since his initial visit in 2009, we've switched from Laser Challenge to Lazer Tag systems and grown our group immensely.  He's always been supportive and given insightful advice on our more technical endeavors before and today was no different, covering topics from gameplay to modifications to future projects.  He checked out our newest customized blasters to see the progress we've made in the past 4 years and it was great catching up with him in general.  I hope we don't have to wait another 4 years to cross paths with him again!  One of these days, we'll head up to his neck of the woods and pay all my "heroes" up there a visit!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Finding the Stragglers

Had a bit of a surprise Nerf war against my fiance last night.  Thought I had rounded up all the Elite Darts we had slung around, but I guess she found one more.  This morning I found one in my desk from when we ambushed a salesman at work.

It always seems like no matter how hard I search or what methods I use to track down darts, there's always one straggler left behind!  We need a Foam Detector or something...

So who's gonna build me one?  Better yet, feel free to join in on the Dart Mustache look!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

RapidStrike & Centurion: All Hush-Hush

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
It's certainly been an interesting month for Nerf News.  Almost as quickly as news breaks about new blasters, red tape attempts rid the internet of any trace (no to avail).  The first news we got in March was of the N-Strike Elite Centurion, part of a new "Mega" lineup with larger darts boasting 100 ft ranges.  Shortly after news spread through blogs, forums, and websites, Hasbro stepped in and "covered it up".

This past week, news of the N-Strike Elite RapidStrike CS-18 broke out, as well as a clear 18 round clip being spotted a few weeks before that which seems to confirm it's existence.  The website that had hosted that image quickly removed their listing of this product, likely due to more Hasbro intervention.

The more I see stuff like this, the more I'm reminded of a certain situation that happened this time last year.  Perhaps with some Taggers in an Urban environment?  I know there's laws and companies trying to protect their products from being copied or released early and screwing up product launches, but this constant "NEW INFO!... oh wait... no nevermind.  We can't say anything even though we already did." business is a little exhausting, don't you think?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It's a good time, Base-ically

See what I did there?  BASE-ically?  Basically?  Because the game was at the Base?  It's- yeah.  Ok, not as funny as I had hoped.  But I digest...

While I'm bummed we didn't have better turnout (a meager showing of 6 for a venue that's better for 10-14 players), it's always a good time up at my favorite place to play Laser Tag.  But low turnout wasn't the only dent in the plans...

Of the blasters pictured in that group photo, half of them broke down.  The CTDYNE LTX wasn't taking hits very well and needs to be looked at.  The LTX DMR's power switch (what a surprise) was glitchy, and the LTX EF5's power supply crapped out on me.  All 3 are going to be closely inspected, repaired, and ready to roll before the MLTA's Season 8 begins, but it was still aggravating to have so many things go wrong.

The only customized blaster that managed to function throughout the 3-hour Tour up at The Base was Sundawg's Ultimate LTX.  The combination Sniper/Shotgun blaster fitted with an alluminium folding stock was a formidable foe.  It's no surprise that his blaster held up given his computer engineering background and fantastic electronic know-how.  Many of the tricks I've learned about working on Laser Tag blasters have been from his expertise and advice.  Hopefully by the start of our next summer season, I'll have my blasters running as reliably as his.

We still had a great time, and I want to plan at least one more off-season game before things start up again.  One thing is clear: these complicated customized blasters need thorough inspections and solid internals if they're to hold up for the next season of laser tag.  While I'm a whiz at paint jobs and layout for internals for these recasings, I need to improve my ability to build stronger internal structures to support these blasters.  It was a hard-learned lesson at this game that I hope to not have to repeat.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Breakdown: RapidStrike

Everyone's got their take on the news of this CS-18 RapidStrike... so after I had some time to sit back, read others thoughts on it, and let the hype surrounding it settle a little, I figured it was my turn.
From a quick breakdown of it's physical features, we can see the Trigger, Motor Trigger, Clip Release, Barrel Extension Adapter, 4 Tactical Rails (likely a 5th on the opposite side), Jam Door, and a Telescoping Stock.  I'm not even going to begin to try to figure out the clear clip with the blue foam, black tipped darts, but I'm hoping it's not some kind of specialized ammo.  Aesthetically, you can say it "looks like this" or "looks like that" all you want.  There are some clear features on this blaster that resemble other Nerf Blasters, which is quite common with Nerf anyways.  I would say there's a high amount of Stryfe, Stampede, and even some Longshot in this blaster's design.  One thing that stuck out to me was how gigantic the 18 Round clear clip looked, which is a sign of how much smaller this blaster really is than it could appear to some.  It has all of the aesthetic features of a big bulky blaster, but if you put the magazine and trigger grip into perspective, this is still smaller than a Stampede, maybe even smaller than a Longshot or Longstrike.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Xplorer: Longstrike Grip Review

I've had this for awhile, but I thought I'd do a review solely dedicated to this piece of equipment.  I had been using this with my OMW Massacre internals, but since those have broken (twice now), I've removed them and re-installed the stock parts with a high-load spring with no problems.

The grip has never been an issue.  It was a breeze to install, has worked flawlessly, and unless you're married to the idea of using N-Strike Rail accessories for the top of the Longstrike, it looks great too, especially on the Whiteout Series version!  I painted in my Xplorer "X" on the side myself into the recessed logo to make it a little more obvious.

Visit Xplorer's website to get one for your Longstrike!

Video after the Jump!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"The Base" - Laser Tag Heaven

So our Weekend Warriors got delayed due to Winter Storm Triton surprising local meteorologists as 9 inches of snow were dropped on the area with whiteout conditions thanks to strong gusts and blowing snow.  Now that the system has passed, we've got 50 degree temperatures on the way to thaw things out, so we rescheduled our game at "The Base".  I came across some footage I took several months ago that I had intended on putting together for a video walkthrough of one of my favorite places to play Laser Tag, so I edited it this morning to show folks why I look forward to playing here so much.

Since my LTX EF5 still hasn't had it's final test, I'll probably shoot the video of it's review AT the base, so that should be pretty cool!  Looking forward to this game, this place, and using the EF5 here.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mod Night: 3/10/13

Did some work debugging the LTX EF5 last night with my right-hand man Brandon.  We've been running games with the MLTA (formerly OLCA) for 8 years now.  Got a few things done in time for a game that has now been rescheduled for next weekend.  The snow we had planned for, but the bitter cold thanks to the unexpected winds has made things too frosty for our Laser Tag blasters' batteries to endure.  Operational time of these blasters gets cut down to about half an hour when the temperatures dip into the teens like they are now.  

Regardless, it was good to get a few things fixed on my blaster.  My buddy is working on a paintjob for an LTAR, too.  We also discussed possible add-on options for the LTAR for an extended barrel system and a stock that we might be building this summer.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Weekend Warriors

Last Sunday I hosted an indoor Nerf & Laser Tag event for a college theater group.  We had a great set of games and played quite a few rounds.  It was especially neat for me to play the Nerf game since we used their practice theater and set it up with obstacles and cover to hide behind whilst "Battle Music" played in the background.

It was also the debut of my N-Strike Elite Rayven.  I had planned on using the Elite Longshot Ver 2.0 that I'm working on, but I've been having issues with it.  Might need to revisit it's internals and do some kind of custom breech system on it (been considering this for awhile now).  Nothing special about the Rayven, as I just put Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries in it to help boost it's stock power a little.  I also taped two 12 round clips together for a makeshift "Flip-Clip" that worked quite well for me.  I was going to go 18 round, but I let other folks borrow those instead.  Still had a great time!

Another Mod Night is scheduled before our next game
Now we're coming up on ANOTHER weekend of gaming: the MLTA's "Battle at the Base" event!  I love playing at this venue and, while the weather forecast looks a bit cold for my taste, it's gonna take more than slightly-above-freezing temperatures to make me consider rescheduling it.  Only trouble is that my LTX EF5 that I had planned on using for the event has another issue: it's IR LED fell back inside the blaster... so I've gotta open it back up, re-mount that, and hope everything holds up!  I'm planning a Mod Night for the Saturday before our game, so I plan to have all the kinks worked out of it then.  The LTX EF5 has actually never been up to the base for a game yet.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how it does up there.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Centurion Mess

When news of the N-Strike Elite Centurion broke, Nerf Nation went crazy. A big blaster with long range and new ammo. Some folks liked it, some folks didn't, but the info was out there regardless. All of a sudden, Hasbro says not to post the info because it is "not from an official source", claiming that the blogger who posted this has "misrepresented the info and his access/relationship to Hasbro."

A few bloggers and websites have taken down the information supplied by MyLastDart, who posted an explanation of what happened.  However, the cat is out of the bag.  Regardless of whether the information MLD supplied us with about the specifications of the blaster and it's unique ammo is accurate or not, the box art and general concept of this blaster are running wild on the internet already.  

I find the situation amusing because, when it really boils down to it, these are toy blasters.  If this were a more serious note, like a major corporate bankruptcy or a conspiracy within the government, I could understand the sensitivity of this information.  Is information regarding a new toy blaster really important enough to warrant removing posts on a fan blog?  Or maybe sending a goon squad to Pocket Esq's home in Australia?  Granted, this isn't nearly as serious as that situation... but one would think that a toy maker has better things to do than worry about future release information being "leaked".  It's just my opinion, but these incidents cause an awful lot of noise for something as trivial as this.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

New Blaster, New Darts, New Questions

Photo from MyLastDart
So as usual, when word spreads about a new Nerf blaster, I take it under a microscope and start asking questions... and this fella certainly raises a lot.  If you've missed it (crawl out from under that rock!), there's a new gigantic blaster in town.  It's the Nerf Elite Mega Centurion.  Big, Bold, and... red? 

GAME DAY on Campus!

Today I'm hosting another event for a local college's Theater Group.  I've been doing these games with them for several years now, but this is the first time we'll be having both Laser Tag and Nerf.  Should be fun to see how the Nerf game pans out in the Fine Arts Building!

I've done Indoor Nerf games at several locations: homes, churches, and the Music Building on campus.  I find it always tends to work better with a smaller more localized playing field.  Usually I don't run into issues with home or church games, but whenever I've done events in the Music Building, we limit the area where we play.  Before we start the game today in the Fine Arts building, I'll have to scope out a good location to sling darts around, but I'm confident we can find a place that'll work. 

These games will also serve as a second round of in-game testing for my Elite Longshot Ver 2.0 and a final test run for my LTX EF5, both of which I hope to complete soon.  It's been too cold here to paint the Elite Longshot, but I've tweaked a few internal things that should optimize it's operation in games.   The LTX EF5 had it's reload switch repaired, battery pack secured, and lens arrangement permanently mounted.  I also touched up and detailed it's paint job, so it's good for photos if I deem it "complete".

Later this week, I'll have photos from the game and, with any luck, a finalized video on my LTX EF5 project.  Next week, when there's a stretch of warmer weather, I plan to get the Elite Longshot's paintjob set.  Should be a great start to the month!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Survive the Apocalypse

Xplorer Blaster Developments has come out with a new lineup focused on full-length darts (instead of their Xpower series with Stefans).  "Survivor" Foam Blaster Upgrades has parts for dart making, external upgrades, and performance parts for your blasters.  Among them is a Direct Plunger System for the Longstrike!  I'm a fan of some of the names they've got for these darts.  The "Soulless" and "Headless" foam rods are among some of the HvZ-centered focus of this new lineup from Xplorer.

I'll have more info on this lineup later.  Maybe even some reviews!