Thursday, May 30, 2013

Elite Spectre!

Thanks to the tip from Outback Nerf, I got to start off my Thursday with a big ol' smile on my face!  I'll let this image do the rest of the talking.

Yup!  You're reading/seeing that right!  The Alpha Trooper we already know about, but having the Spectre, included with all it's original goodies (often times they've skimped on the accessories for Elite blasters) is getting Elite Treatment!  My friends at Outback Nerf said it reminded them of my blue Spectre I had built before, but I really just wanted a Blue Spectre.  I didn't expect Nerf to later actually come out with one!

We'll have to wait and see how tough it's going to be to find one of these.  It may be limited to this tournament, or it may get released domestically anyways.  This one kinda came outta left field, so I have no idea what to expect.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Possibilities for MEGA Darts

Solscud in Action!
Seems like ever since the Nerf N-Strike Recon CS-6 came out, folks have been linking a lot of tactical platform ideas to accessories for their blasters.  Many of these ideas include an under-barrel-mounted "Grenade Launcher" of sorts.  From Rockets to larger foam darts to even the occasional shotgun, platforms mounted underneath the main barrel have been a cool concept that modders have been adding to their blasters.  Now, with the introduction of the MEGA dart with the N-Strike Elite lineup, I can't help but wonder if there'd be some kind of application for something similar?

Just go with me on this one...

Centurion Unveiled!

Big surprise, but Hasbro has officially unveiled the N-Strike Elite MEGA Centurion!  Popular Science has a "360 degree view" of the blaster, as well as some other pictures of firing demonstrations and such.

From PS: "Sniping our fellow editors is a much-beloved and long-standing tradition here at Popular ScienceHQ. Trouble is: our long hallways put us at an uncomfortably close range to our all too well-armed victims. That won’t be the case for much longer. We got a sneak peek at the longest-range Nerf gun in history, the 100-foot-firing N-Strike Elite Centurion.
The Centurion is the first in a new line of Nerf guns that use MEGA darts. The darts are about twice the size of typical Nerf darts, which engineers say helps them get the momentum they need to fly further. The also whistle, an oddly satisfying addition to long-range shootouts  To get the velocity necessary (nearly 55 mph) to catapult ammo one-third of a football field, the designers had to supersize the typical Nerf launch mechanism. With a dart-filled magazine in place, you pull back on a loading handle to allow the top dart to pop into the firing chamber. Pushing the same handle forward sets the firing mechanism in place, and pulling the trigger releases a spring-loaded piston that launches the dart.  As for the gun itself, we’ll be blunt: this thing is freaking huge. It spans 40.7 inches from nose to heel, and at least 2/3 of that length is barrel. As with any gun, the longer the barrel, the straighter – and hopefully the farther – shots will soar.
The Centurion will go on sale this fall for $49.99."
Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of "new" information here, although at this point... if you've been following Nerf blogs, you pretty much know all you need to except for how much it'll cost and when it's release date will fall.  Looks like we should expect this fella on one of Nerf's usual "09-09-09" dates or something like that. Seems to have been a popular trend for them to use. Expect this to start hitting shelves late summer for those retailers that generally jump the gun (Target, Wal-Mart, etc).

Prepping the Antiques

Next Thursday (June 6th) marks 7 years of planning laser tag games.  It started off as the OLCA and now is known as the MLTA.  Last night, a friend helped me get our old Laser Challenge gear ready for a "Throwback Thursday" game that'll mark this anniversary for our group.  I've been getting really nostalgic going through old gear, beat-up customized blasters, and all the memories tied to this gear.

My experience with Laser Challenge goes much further back than 2006 when we started the OLCA.  My first set was a Christmas present in 1996 (oh how I wonder how many of my readers weren't even BORN yet!) and it started things off for me with laser tag in general.  From simple neighborhood games to using the blasters as props in "movies" my friends and I would film, this gear has a LOT of personal history for me.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Throwback Thursdays for MLTA

When we started doing laser tag games with the Omaha Laser Challenge Association (now the Midwest Laser Tag Association), we were using older Laser Challenge-brand gear by ToyMax and Jakks Pacific.  While I'm glad we've made the switch to the Lazer Tag brand with the LTX and LTAR so that other folks can buy their own blasters easily at local stores, Laser Challenge was still fun in it's own right.  Instead of having the sensor dome mounted on the blaster like Lazer Tag, Laser Challenge had the blaster and sensor separate, using a "vest" with front and back sensors worn on the player's torso.  The two big advantages that Laser Challenge still seems to hold over Lazer Tag was the back-sensor and the simplicity of the system that made it easy to repair and modify for customized setups.  The OLCA created dozens of custom blasters and sensors for the Laser Challenge system and now, even though we've moved on with a newer system, we're breaking them back out again!  Time for Throwback Thursdays this summer with the MLTA!

Air Zone Quickfire 12 Internals

Thanks to a submission from Mica on the Tactical Tag Facebook Page, we've got internal pictures (apparently there weren't any around) of this blaster.  He was nice enough to take these to share with the modding community, so I figured I'l post 'em up here!

Hope these are helpful for those looking to dig in to a Quickfire 12!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

TMB Stock Integration for LTX

Been fiddling around with this idea for awhile.  In my ongoing attempt to build stocks for our Lazer Tag pistols, I've managed to find an old stock from a Lazer Tag Team Ops Tag Master Blaster (or LTTO TMB).  Using a Phoenix LTX Lazer Tag blaster with a bad recoil pack, I'm utilizing parts from both to "build" a permanent stock onto this particular pistol.  The TMB's stock mounts into a modified recoil pack shell inside the LTX to make for a solid point for it to integrate with.

This integration is using similar techniques that a friend of mine used to mount a metal folding stock onto his LTX.  He too  utilized the existing internal structure from the rumble pack to fit his in there.  The only trouble I'm having is trying to figure out where to put the reload.  I don't think there will be room for the original reload mechanism in this.  I've been thinking of putting the reload where the shields button would be on this (forward of the trigger) and relocating the shields button to a toggle switch somewhere else on the blaster.

What's even nicer about this?  The green plastic on the LTTO TMB stock is the same type used on this Gold Phoenix LTX, so I'm hoping to make this blaster look like it came from the factory like this!  It would probably be better off painted up in camo or something, but I just really enjoy the idea of a "That looks like Hasbro made it" look to projects sometimes!

Turnout Rebound

Last week's Turnout
Last year, when the MLTA hosted it's 7th Summer Season, we did things a little differently than we had in the past.  Quick history lesson about our laser tagging group: we've always held our games on a weekly basis at the same location, day-of-the-week, and time.  We did this so that folks could work it into their busy summer schedules and always know when there were games even if they didn't have contact information for us.

So what's the deal with the slump of attendance we've had recently?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Elite Alpha Trooper Review

Finally got my hands on the N-Strike Elite Alpha Trooper CS-12.  While I'll admit, because it's essentially a recolored Alpha Trooper with stronger performance that I'm not quite as excited about this one, it's still comforting to see one of my favorite blasters get the "Elite" treatment.  Instead of showing the basic functions of this simple blaster, I spend more time in this video review pointing out reasons why the Alpha Trooper and Elite Alpha Trooper really are a fantastic blaster.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

"Eleri" tests the EF5

Alright folks.  I've tested every wire and switch on this thing.  The LTX EF5 is arguably the most solid blaster I've built for the Lazer Tag brand of blasters. Not only am I incredibly confident with it, but the MLTA's most seasoned sniper also approves.

His internet handle is Eleri at'Xalien and he's been reaching out and hitting the shots no-one else can since we started organizing laser tag games in 2006. He's been a loyal friend for well over a decade, so when I decided to sit a game out during our last Fight Night and he asked if he could take the EF5 out for a spin, it was a no-brainer.  Who else would I want to have put their stamp of approval on this blaster that's spent almost a year in R&D?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Severe Weather follows the Fight Night

It seems like whichever night we choose for any given season of outdoor laser tag, it always ends up being the worst weather of the week.  Whether it's unseasonably hot temperatures (especially last year) or stormy conditions, it always seems to fall on the weeknight that we play.  The Midwest Laser Tag Association (Formerly Omaha Laser Challenge Association) has traditionally held it's weekly games, known as the "Fight Night" on either a Monday or Tuesday night.  This season, we switched to Thursday nights, to better accommodate some of our veteran players' schedules.  

Last week, we still managed to have our Season 8 Opener cookout and games despite sprinkles and light rain.  This week, for the MLTA's second Fight Night, there's a forecast for Severe Thunderstorms.  On days like today, it's up to me to keep a close eye on the forecast to see whether the game needs to be cancelled or not.  Often times, during the day, I'm too busy to play weatherman and just have to check things out an hour or two before game time.

We'll just have to wait and see.  Around here, the saying goes "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes.  It'll change."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Versatility in your Loadout

Last week I talked about the shrinking gap that mid-sized pistols are facing and it seemed to stir up quite a bit of insight from readers.  It got me thinking even more about my own choices of loadouts during games.  I've never really stuck to one blaster to use throughout a series of games on any certain day.  I got to thinking about different choices I've gone with: Primary and Secondary versus using one versatile blaster for the whole game.

Traditionally, I've taken a Primary and Secondary blaster into games.  One main rifle and one small pistol.  I usually only use the pistol in the event that I'm in a bind.  When I'm out of ammo or when I've just jammed a dart in my Primary, I fall back on the pistol until I can get things running on my Primary again.  It's pretty basic.

Then there have been games where I've just gone out with one blaster that I can transform into whatever I need.  Blasters like the Stryfe and Retaliator work quite well as either a sidearm or a main weapon, so there have been instances where I've blurred the lines and used one blaster for both roles.  Instead of switching blasters mid-game, I get rid of or add on accessories as needed.  Often times, carrying my spare darts on the blaster has proved to be more versatile than wearing a sling with darts and clips and a sidearm attached to it.  It becomes sort of a hybrid blaster that allows complete freedom on my part to worry less about what I'm carrying and more about what parts on the blaster are working for me.  I've even used parts of my blaster as decoys to give the illusion that I'm hiding somewhere when I'm really sitting in wait at another point.

Obviously the big thing I lose when I'm using one blaster is that vital backup.  If I'm out of darts or my blaster jams, I'm dead in the water.  Suddenly the versatility and convenience of having all of my equipment on one blaster isn't worth anything.

So what's your take?  Is one versatile blaster able to replace the age-old Primary + Secondary loadout?

Monday, May 13, 2013

CTDYNE: LTX Lens Upgrade

Got an awesome e-mail from my buddies at Custom Tag Dynamics that I'm excited about.  Here's another great project of CTDYNE that's on a roll!  Here's the news along with several detailed photos about what they're up to.

"Hello Mike,
I see in your post to Tactical Tag dated Friday, 5/10 you mentioned that " On my next blaster, I may have to include some kind of sniper module add-on for those instances when I want to reach out and nab some long-range kills". The timing for this type of accessory build is once again proof that great minds think alike.

CTDYNE is currently in the process of building two sniper type accessories for LTX taggers. Our timeline for completion of these CTDYNE customs is to be ready to field them this September. I have some preliminary images to share of the unit for this LTX. It is called the Stinger.

The design goal for both units is the same: To extend the usable range of the tagger and to be able to quickly install and remove these sniper modules with no tools or modifications required to the LTX.

The basic structural components of the Stinger are a Laser Challenge Virtual Paintball lens assembly (the one you provided some time ago), A H&K G-36 front section from an airsoft, and the Hasbro video game module supplied with the original release of the LTX. These three main components are tied together with a custom fabricated aluminum center section. I have attached nine images of the preliminary work completed to date on the structure of the Stinger.
Keep in mind these are preliminary images. Details & finish work to come. You can see the aluminum center section with the optic tube installed. This is the rear mount for the tube. The black screw centered in the mount is what fastens the tube to the mount. The front of the tube is located by the hole I enlarged in the front section of the airsoft part. Fortunately, after I enlarged this hole I found that provision to hold rear of the optic tube centered for windage was already cast in. All I had to do was come up with a way to hold the rear of the tube for height or "elevation".

We are in the process of designing and building two custom boards for both these sniper modules that will work in tandem with the original board from the Shotblast module. As you can imagine the functions of the Shotblast board will be enhanced by this secondary board Duncan is building."

Newsflash: Urban Taggers is Awesome

Oh wait... we already knew that.  Urban Taggers, thanks to their intel, has got the scoop on LOTS of fun goodies, all of which I will weigh in on.  There's no point reporting what they already have reported, so I offer you my 2 cents on each of these awesome articles.

I suppose I've now got one thing to thank the Rebelle lineup for (after I questioned it's purpose in the first place).  The HammerShot in the new ZombieStrike lineup looks like a fun lil tagger.  I always appreciate those kinds of "Futuristic Six-Shooter" blasters that give a Trigun feel, and this one is no exception.  UT has a firing video up of it.  It's smaller than the Strongarm (as evidenced by the picture to the left) and has simple one-handed operation.  With this new blaster, Nerf has obviously aimed for the HvZ crowd, pun intended.  It also shows that all those Pink rebelle blasters may be in the running for "manly" repaints to begin with.

Check out the article on that one here> HammerShot on YouKu


More pictures have surfaced of the RapidStrike CS-18.  You know, if there's one thing this blaster has continued to do it's been to confuse me with their Naming Schemes with these blasters.  At what point do you decide to put a "CS-" tag on a blaster?  The Retaliator, Strongarm, a dozen other blasters recently developed, none of them have numerical designations.  Now the RapidStrike has the Clip System "CS-18" tag on there.  I suppose it's trivial at this point, but the inconsistency just bugs me.  Does it mean I'm not looking forward to the RapidStrike?  Oh hecks no!  Probably going to be one of my favorite blasters!

Check out the article on that one here> RapidStrike Pictures


As if we weren't already excited just to see how this thing works, it appears that Tony Stark has picked one up.  There's finally a firing video of this blaster that answers a lot of questions.  Put in the "NERFER" password and BOOM, firing demonstration.  Sounds like a long prime for it (no surprise there) but it still sounds muffled.  I'm kinda scared to see what this thing can do with it's obvious Air Restrictor removed.  If it's hitting 90-100 ft ranges stock, I can't begin to imagine what it's like with the leash off.
Check out the article on that one here> Centurion Firing Videos

Saturday, May 11, 2013

All Your Money are Belong to Us

Courtesy of SG Nerf
If you've missed the Un-boxing photos over at SG Nerf of the Centurion, the Centurion got unboxed at SG Nerf.  (lol)  Go figure, it's massive.  Like, bigger than the Longshot with the Front gun attached awesome.  Lots of interesting info, including listed ranges claiming some factual-looking facts.  One thing is for sure: you can't deny this blaster has PRESENCE.  But will it live up to it's aggressive-looking reputation?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Season 8 off to a Great Start!

Despite the rainy conditions, 12 of us managed to start out the Midwest Laser Tag Association's 8th Summer Season!  It was mainly just sprinkling rain on and off the whole evening, but we still grilled up some great food and played out a bunch of games!  Usually the first few games are a little dismal for turnout, but I'm confident we'll be back to our usual 20+ turnout games once the summer gets rolling.

It was also an awesome night to confirm that my LTX EF5 is complete!
Everything worked great on it and I was going toe-to-toe with some of our notable snipers on a regular basis, as well as picking off other players from across the park.  It's range and accuracy is fantastic and the pump-action reload is nice and quick.  I swapped out the Raider-Style stock for a Super Soaker LightningStorm stock and really appreciated the solid stability it provided, so that'll definitely stay on there.

With the EF5 complete, I can focus on other builds that have been sitting on my workbench.  As much as I enjoy the LTX EF5, the blaster doesn't suit my style of play very well.  I'm usually not the "Sit back and snipe across the field" type, though it has been fun dominating players well outside of normal combat ranges.  On my next blaster, I may have to include some kind of sniper module add-on for those instances when I want to reach out and nab some long-range kills.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Stupid Simple E-Tape Tricks

Over a decade ago when I started fiddling around with Laser Tag modifications, I was in LOVE with Electrical Tape.  It was black, flexible, and it was like an instant paint job with lasting durability.  Although I still don't think I've grown up much (still playing with Nerf and Laser Tag well past age 20) my taste in higher-quality modifications and paint jobs has improved.  But every now and then, e-tape still makes the most sense, especially in High-Traffic areas.

As I prep a new stock for the final version of my LTX EF5, I thought I'd share a few tricks that should help those who are still using e-tape for aesthetic work on their blasters, Nerf OR Laser Tag.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pistols: The Shrinking Gap

I've always been a rifle guy when it comes to my main weapon, but if there's one thing I've noticed during games it's how versatile some of these pistols can be... how they can match up to a rifle in power but still be small and nimble enough not to hinder mobility.  You've probably seen it yourself, someone at a Nerf game that's just tearing it up with a NiteFinder or even a Jolt.  Granted, a majority of the games I play involve mostly stock and lightly modified Nerf-brand blasters (no homemades or anything with Stefans or things like that), so keep that in mind during this discussion.

There seems to be a careful balance between blaster size and blaster capability that can be overlooked.  Some larger pistols, like a Maverick, Strongarm, or Vigilon, are still quite large.  However, there are blasters like the Recon, Retaliator, Diatron, and Stryfe that can be broken down to roughly the same size but exceed the potential for increased range and dart capacity.  Not only that, but larger pistols can't be holstered as easily as smaller ones like a Firestrike or Proton, meaning that they kind of HAVE to be used as a primary.

Things like the Jolt and Triad make the mid-sized blasters a tough sell.  My Triad, for instance, can hit anything my Strongarm can.  Sure it has half the capacity, but it's also one third the size.  If the Strongarm is powerful enough to be used as a Primary, so can this little hairdryer lookalike blaster, right?

There's a clear shrinking gap for larger "sidearm" sized pistols and blasters that, in my opinion, leaves them in the dark.  For the same performance but smaller size, you can go with an Elite Jolt, Triad, Firestrike, or Proton.  For the same size and better performance, you can go with a Stryfe, Retaliator, or Diatron.  These facts make me wonder ... why bother with blasters like the Strongarm?

Friday, May 3, 2013

LTAR: Accessory Prototypes

These are two Prototype platforms for working on custom accessories for the Lazer Tag Augmented Reality System.  These are add-on accessories to the basic LTAR taggers for easy installation and use, inspired by the LTX Combo Mount that was designed, built, and fabricated by my heroes at CTDYNE.  The first is a design platform exploring the possible integration with a Nerf Longstrike CS-6 stock and the removable cover on the top-back side of the LTAR blaster.  The second is a stock LTAR that is being fitted with custom-fabricated parts designed in SketchUp and then 3D printed with a Nylon-based Plastic.  This video gives a short overview of the two separate design processes that each blaster is going through.  The White one is focusing on permanently modifying parts of the blaster to make for a solid add-on while still retaining the shell of the LTAR itself.  The black one is focusing on developing parts that will replace pieces on the LTAR that can be added to the blaster without modifying or changing the shell.

The white blaster should have most of the kinks worked out of it before our Season 8 Opener on May 9th.  It'll likely see action then.  The black blaster will probably be used, but in it's stock form without the testbed pieces.  The N-Strike Stock adapter for the back is merely a mock-up for test fitting (hence it's frame-like structure).

Stay tuned for more developments!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

One Week Out

Instead of getting a headache trying to figure out why my area just saw SNOW again, I'm setting my sights on the Midwest Laser Tag Association's 8th Summer Season of laser tag games.  From preparing the regular armory for the demands of weekly games to washing up my camouflage and other tactical gear so it's ready to help me play my best, it's the last chance I'll have to get everything in order.

We're holding one more Mod Night this Friday to get things ready for Season 8.  Fixing the reload switches on Phoenix LTXs, getting a few modified blasters up to speed, there's a lot to do with only a week to do it.  I know we won't be able to finish everything up, but it should be a productive evening.