Wednesday, December 31, 2014


"We hold the world ransom for... (dramatic music)... ONE MILLION PAGEVIEWS!!"

Wait, I didn't force this on you, did I?  Well, regardless of how we got here, it's kinda cool.  Not only the fact that a lot of people have seen a lot of stuff from this little blog... but also the timing of it lining up with the turn of the New Year!

So whether you've been with me since day one or you just found Tactical Tag a week ago, thanks for all the support!

While I've got you here, Happy New Year, everyone!  There's lots of fun stuff coming up for Laser Tag, Nerf, and this blog in 2015... so I'm excited to see what the new year brings.  See you on the flip side!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Zombie Fighter Longshot

So amidst the crazy busy holidays, I managed to assemble some pieces from Xplorer Dart Blaster Developments to build up my first Stefan-toting Longshot.  Using my ZombieStrike Longshot, I'm going to be outfitting it with upgraded internals designed for use with Stefans as well as a sleeker weaver rail mount that will replace the N-Strike Tactical Rail on top.  There's other changes I'll probably make to suit my taste, obviously Xplorer's recent work with the Longshot has influenced my ideas quite a bit!

I've only used Stefan darts for reviewing purposes in the past.  In fact, much of the gear that I reviewed for Xplorer is getting used in this project!  I'm still not sure if I'll use the shotgun grip on mine, as it has become part of the Elite Longshot Ver 2.0 and I kinda like it on there.  However, with a higher-load spring in this Zombie Fighter, I may need to have some kind of better priming system.

First on the mod list will be installing the FAST Rails, a set of custom fabricated rails that fit over the Longshot shell that have been very popular with the Singapore-based Rangers for Xplorer.  Aesthetically they look great, but it's also handy to have some decent optics on a blaster shooting Stefans.  I usually only bother with optics on my Laser Tag gear since it's so accurate, but Stefans are a game-changer for accuracy.

In addition to the optics, you can't have a Zombie Fighter without some sort of flashlight!  I'll be fixing a small side-mounted weaver rail to put a tactical light (probably my Streamlight).  I don't think I'll do any nifty barrel or muzzle extensions since these usually conflict with the effectiveness of the light.  Granted, I probably won't be doing any night-games with the Longshot... but c'mon!  It's a Zombie Fighter!  It HAS to have it for completion's sake!

I'll also be using the X-Mag and parts of the Fighter Kit from Xplorer.  I've already transplanted many of the parts over from the Yellow Longshot sent for reviewing into the Longshot as I prep things for testing out different combinations and improvements to the internals.  I've re-enforced the ZS bolt sled already and have the Stefan Breech mated to it.

Depending on how much I end up adding to this fella, I could have this done in a week or two.  I don't plan on repainting the full blaster.  Probably just some extra markings or details to the existing ZombieStrike coloring.  I might detail up the buttstock a little more so it's not quite so plain, but that'll likely be the most of it.  I'll be turning to my Stefan-shooting friends for advice with the internals and priming, as there's a lot of experience with these kinds of systems that I've admittedly missed out on by using stock darts for so long!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and everything in-between to all my loyal readers, trigger-happy fighters, meticulous modders, and great friends in this hobby!

Whatever you celebrate, may it be a wonderful and special time for you and yours.  We are all so lucky to be part of and to contribute to this great community.  The year-round support is something to treasure.

So, as you break open presents, remember that it's more than just enjoying the material side of this hobby.  It's about the friends you exchange shots with foam darts or beams of infrared light.  It's about the advice and expertise of the community you're part of.  It's all these things that make this hobby so fulfilling and satisfying!

Happy Holidays, from Tactical Tag!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

CTDYNE: Counter Sniper Module Complete!

A few weeks ago, Tactical Tag featured the recent project that Custom Tag Dynamics (CTDYNE) undertook with their Counter Sniper Module (CSM).  Yesterday, they sent me completed photos and a video of how this unique accessory works.

It attaches to the lower accessory rail of any Phoenix LTX blaster.  There are small contacts that connect power to the CSM (just like the ShotBlast accessory) and enable it to communicate with the blaster.  It is intended to provide the LTX user with an appropriate counter measure for that pesky sniper who is harassing you from a considerable distance by providing the user with an optics package optimized for long range engagements. It can also be configured to provide an amazing rate of fire, if needed. The extended range optics in combination with the option to select a high rate of fire should provide a solution for a number of tactical situations.n

The unusually high rate of fire available on the CSM is made possible by the first do-it-yourself RapidBlast printed circuit board that CTDYNE has assembled. It is able to unleash fifteen (not ten) rounds of full auto fun in approximately three seconds. That's a cyclic rate of 300 tags per minute!

The optics on this LTX accessory consist of a 45 millimeter poly lens and a TSAL-6100 infrared LED. The performance of this combinatio of components is enhanced by the externally adjustable focal length function. The knob on the left side of the CSM can be rotated to unlock the mechanism the IR LED rides on.  By sliding this knob forward or aft, the focal length can be adjusted from a minimum of 4.0" to a maximum of 5.95". This dimension is read at the scale, also on the left side of the CSM.  Locking the position of the desired focal length is as simple as rotating the knob in the opposite direction.  Focal length adjustments can be made in seconds without the use tools.  CTDYNE has not yet had the opportunity to field test the optics package, so we are not exactly sure what the maximum effective range of the CSM will be. We anticipate at least as far or greater range than the mighty LTTO TMB.

The CSM is also equipped with a Close Quarters Battle function. When the slide switch on the left side of the fore grip is moved from "S" (sniper mode) to "C" (CQB mode) the tag signal is routed from the main lens to the pair of wide angle IR LED's at the front of the CSM.  Both of these IR LED's fire simultaneously.  Not much range in this mode, but a significant spread of infrared light is emitted when this function is selected. Just the ticket for clearing rooms, hallways, or tunnels!

The information needed to build a RapidBlast PCB that sits at the heart of the CSM is available for free on the internet. Others have built these RapidBlast boards based on these designs. For those who do not want to "do-it-yourself", CTDYNE is considering offering a limited number of either DIY RapidBlast printed circuit boards and/or ready-to-go completely assembled RapidBlast modules for the LTX tagger. If there is enough demand, these will be assembled one at a time in very limited numbers. The cost will reflect the hand crafted nature of this project. No final decision on pricing, availability, or options have been made yet.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

On Pace for 1 Million!

Earlier in the month, I couldn't help but notice that this little blog is gaining on a milestone I never thought could be reached.  After 3½ years of posts, the pageviews count is bearing down on the 1,000,000 marker.  As that moment nears, I thought I'd touch on some of the posts that have helped Tactical Tag get to where it is today.

Where did things initially take off for Tactical Tag?  Well, it's easy to see the spike in attention if you look around August of 2011.  I had only been writing with the blog for a few months, but there was plenty of early exposure thanks to a few links Pocket Esq had linked to Urban Taggers, a popular Australian-based blog. He had great resources on the Nerf News side of things (maybe a little TOO great) but for Laser Tag news, I was pretty much his lone contributor.  Pocket is still one of the only major bloggers I've worked with who had an interest in Laser Tag, so it was always fun talking with him about that stuff.  He took great interest in my reshelling projects like the LTX DMR and LTX EF5.  Without that support early on, there wouldn't have been much to build off of.  I owe much of this blog's early success to the support he gave.

After that, the next big spike came in the form of Nerf News... which I am almost never a source of.  Thanks to a friend of mine who was meticulously keeping an eye on ToyFair 2012 for news of the Lazer Tag Augmented Reality system (LTAR).  Among the images in a slideshow, there was a Vortex Blaster that popped up that I hadn't seen before.  Somehow, by looking for Laser Tag news, Tactical Tag managed to get famous for being the first to spread the word about the Vortex Pyragon.  Even after over two years of this post, it's still actually in the Top 10 for pageviews on this blog.

As the N-Strike Elite lineup was getting ready to hit shelves for the first time in 2012, I finished a project that would cause quite a stir in the Nerf community.  The "Elite Longshot", which is confused to-this-day as a real Hasbro product, was finished in time for it's first matchup against the then-new Retaliator.  The 75 foot range claims that the Elite series was boasting would be put to the test against an Elite-painted Longshot that I had designed to look and perform like the rumors were telling us.  I ended up building a second one earlier this year, but there's still plenty of misinformed YouBook and FaceTube fans who cry out at this false hope of a blaster.  Not exactly the best press!

In going with the "fooled you" concept of gaining internet fame, Tactical Tag's current pageview champion is the 2014 April Fools joke about the Rhino-Fire.  It was just a cleaned-up version of a mashup of blasters by Buster, as you can make out pieces of other MEGA blasters in this Franken-Fooler.  I am still baffled at how many people this managed to truly fool, as I didn't think it would get nearly as much attention as that Nerf Nuke that ThinkGeek showcased that day... and it probably didn't.  Still this Slam-Fire Flywheel-Driven MEGA Dart Blaster has reeled in over 5,000 of Tactical Tag's pageviews.

Still, in the grand scheme of things, it's never really just been one or two posts that have brought Tactical Tag this far.  There are currently 870 posts that have been made since the blog was started that span 44 months.  So, as the New Year closes in and those pageviews steadily climb, I just thought I'd take a look back at the progress this blog has made so far.  It's still admittedly a little blog compared to some.  There's no sponsorship, no official endorsement, no fancy web designer or custom domain name.  Just a blog about stuff I like.  I've picked up some readers who have turned into great friends, so it's been a rewarding run so far!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Laser Tag Mod Night 12/18

On the one hand, I had some much-needed catching up to do with my buddy.  On the other, we had a lot of work ahead of us for some projects that we want to finish up for the next Laser Tag regular season to be held next summer!

A big part of what we've been trying to do with our Laser Tagging group is make modifying stock blasters easier than ever.  By recreating custom-built parts in a 3D model, we're able to order pieces for our players to help upgrade their LTAR blasters to suit!  We're updating and refreshing older models while working on newer ones, too.  They'll be available not only to our local players, but anyone who's on Tactical Tag when we link the finished products from here.  We've already successfully completed the lens adapter and now we're hard at work trying to finalize our stock adapters!

I managed to get some more work done on the Demolisher 2-in-1 Laser Tag / Nerf project.  With some editing of the inner structure of the Rocket Launcher section, I've managed to mount the main board, speaker, and reload/shields functions into the shell.  I'm also starting to mount the sensor dome into the top of the Demolisher, but it means I'll have to be clever about any optics.  The Tactical Rail on top will have that dome smack-dab in the middle and it doesn't leave me much space to put a red dot sight.  I'll likely have to make a custom Weaver Rail attachment somewhere behind the dome.

I also managed to find a home for my favorite Tactical Light!  This Streamlight TLR-3 was on my LTAR-AR before and it's been a trusty companion when the sun goes down.  I mounted a small weaver rail to the side of the lens housing so I can keep using this guy!

I'm still trying to figure out where to put the power supply.  I may do some kind of rear stock mounted battery to help offset the front-heavy design.  Putting a battery on a removable stock might be an interesting solution to my previous "stuff it in the magazine" methods I've had before.  We'll see!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

NERF Cam ECS-12 Review

Halfway through making this review, I almost thought "Nah, there's enough bad press about the Cam ECS-12 out there", but since it was actually kind of fun (and funny) to make this, I went on ahead and buttoned it up.  This is a review... and a bit of advice to steer clear of the N-Strike Elite Cam ECS-12.

While it's certainly not the worst blaster built (it's actually quite solid), the high price and low-quality camera have made the Cam ECS-12 something to avoid.  The only reason I even picked this one up to review was because the price was substantially cheaper than the retail prices they normally go for.  I was still curious about the blaster and pitting it up against similar setups.  You can read in detail about my findings with that in >this article<

This is not just a review, but a bit of a comparison to what else is available to Nerf fans who want to capture their battle footage.  This detailed breakdown should make things easier.

There's also a bit of "bonus material" after the logo rolls.  Check out the full video!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cam ECS vs Kitted-out Stryfe

Nerf N-Strike Elite Cam ECS-12 versus a Nerf N-Strike Elite Stryfe with similar equipment attached.  I've been meaning to do this test for awhile, but there was one hurdle I couldn't jump:  The cost of that fancy camera blaster!!  It's no secret that the Cam ECS-12 is a wallet buster and, as many have pointed out, it's not quite worth the financial beating it takes to bring one home.  However, thanks to some stellar deals over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, there were a few opportunities to pick one up for 1/3rd the price, so I jumped on it to see what all the fuss was about.

Over the past few days, I've been playing around with the Cam ECS-12 and pitting it up against a Stryfe that I've equipped with a Super Soaker adjustable stock (similar to a Raider), a Tactical Mission App cradle, and an iPhone 5C.  I put standard batteries in both blasters and started breaking down the details between them.  Range, comfort, ease of operation, quality of the video captured, there's a lot to nitpick with both of these setups.

In order to be able to accurately tell which one is better, a line has to be drawn for cost on both.  I'm using Nerf-only products to compare against each other in an attempt to keep things as fair as possible.

The Nerf Cam ECS-12 retails for about $80.  An 8-Pack of batteries to power the blaster and in-built camera it are about $8.  So, a total of $88 to walk into a battle and record footage.

The Nerf Stryfe retails for about $18.  A 4-Pack of batteries to power the blaster are about $4.  You can pick up an N-Strike stock on eBay for about $8 dollars (I've seen some for less, some for more).  The Tactical Mission App cradle is about $14.  However, to get the camera, you have to have an iPhone or iPod to use with it.  This is the tricky part... since this kind of device will push the cost well over what the Cam ECS is listed at.  Then again, this is also an item that many people already have, so in some cases it's not an extra cost you would have to incur to build one like this.  To keep it simple, we're going to leave that cost out under the idea that you wouldn't go buy an iPod just to use for a Nerf Camera.  So, a total of $44 to build up a blaster similar to how the Cam ECS is currently set up.  A little over half the cost of purchasing a Nerf Cam ECS-12 at full retail.

There's more to consider here than the money you'd potentially save by going with the cheaper setup.  The Stryfe's versatile setup can be a plus, meaning you aren't limited to using it with this equipment.  It doesn't have to have a stock, you don't need the added weight and bulk of the camera, you can extend the barrel if you like.  There's an endless stream of possibilities with a blaster like this.  The Cam ECS-12 has a fixed-length stock that isn't removable.  The front barrel also lacks an adapter like the Stryfe, so this blaster is what it is aside from tactical rail options and different magazine sizes.

The Cam ECS-12 does provide a comfortable solid stock and an aggressive rifle look with tactical rails on the top and bottom.  The trigger, accelerator switch, and mag release switch are all in the same spot as they are on the Stryfe, so they're both easy to use.  It does boast a longer range printed on the box than the Stryfe, claiming "90 feet".  RandomShadow09's range tests revealed an average range of 39-40 feet.  The top shot was recorded between 44-45 feet.  The Stryfe, also tested by RS09, averaged better ranges landing between 44-45 feet with the top shot at 51 feet... so even though the box claims better ranges, most fans have learned not to trust the newer printed range claims.  (Elite XD... I'm looking at you!)

So it's looking like a clear victory for the Stryfe, as it should.  Heck, even a RapidStrike with the Mission App cradle on it would be cheaper and better... but it still comes down to that "if you have an iPod or iPhone" bit.  There are homemade options for cradles for Android smartphones to remedy that idea, so a camera blaster doesn't have to burn a hole through your pocket. If you're without a smartphone, you could argue that the Cam ECS-12 is worth it... but then you get into the quality of the video that this blaster takes.  I should've said lack-of-quality, as there's eight gobs of reasons why the ECS-12 fails as a camera gun.  Poor frame capture rate and underwater sound quality top off the list of horribleness for it.  There really seems to be no love for this blaster... but you really can't refute the mounting evidence out there either.

If you haven't owned a Nerf Cam ECS-12, curiosity might still push you over the edge and think "well it can't be THAT bad" but, I'm sad to report that it really is.  There's a reason our resident Bobololo went so far as to photoshop a Cam ECS-12 into his "review" instead of actually picking this blaster up.  Unless you've gotten a stupid good deal (like I did) on the blaster that makes it worth about the same as a Stryfe, the cost really can't be justified.  In the tests I've been running, I've been trying to find things I like about the Cam ECS-12.  You don't hear as much noise from the motors, the ergonomics of the blaster make it quite comfortable, it looks cool, and the operation of the camera and playback is easier than fiddling with a smartphone, but these are all small advantages in the grand scheme of things.  Cost, Performance, not to mention availability (I have yet to see one on a shelf locally), the Stryfe... or any other blaster for that matter... being used to mount a camera to capture in-game footage is a better choice than the Cam ECS-12.  That being said... I still don't understand why Nerf chose a noisy flywheel blaster to put a camera in!  With a manually primed blaster, you wouldn't get nearly as much noise in the video as you do with two flywheels whirring constantly!

I'm not super heartbroken.  If you get a good enough deal on a Cam ECS-12, like in the $20-$30 range, it's not a bad rifle.  It doesn't jam (much), it gets decent range, and it's comfortable to use.  Just ignore the camera bits, maybe repurpose that area of the blaster to be something else, maybe use the other 4 batteries to volt mod it with standard batteries, you have options.  I already have a handful of mod ideas on the drawing board to make this a fun kit.  Until then... I think I'll watch some of those entertaining Cam ECS reviews around YouBook and FaceTube.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Weekly Workbench 12/14

For the next few weeks, I've decided to devote some long-needed time to finishing up some projects.  Every modder, new and old, runs into the problem of having too many "Works in Progress" without much progress to speak of.

I've decided to hold another Mod Night with my friends this Thursday that should focus on getting my Demolisher 2-in-1 Nerf/Laser Tag blaster moving along.  I'm not expecting to finish it, but I need to sort past some issues on it that'll get the ball moving faster on it.

If you've missed it, here's the first bit of work on the Demolisher I did way back in July.

Demolisher 2-in-1 Nerf/Laser Tag

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

LTX M41A Pulse Rifle: Part 1

In September of 2009, I set out to build my favorite Sci-Fi blaster of all time: the M41A Pulse Rifle from Aliens  (James Cameron, 1986).  This iconic bug-slugger has transcended it's initial appearance almost 30 years ago and has been featured in other Sci-Fi films, Video Games, and even had real-steel versions made for it's massive following.

When I started the project, I used a G&P Pulse Rifle Airsoft Conversion kit for an M1A1 Thompson Submachine gun.  I left it as a functional Airsoft rifle but, thanks to the unique design of the Pulse Rifle, I had plenty of space to drop in my own Laser Tag system.  At the time, the Omaha Laser Challenge Association (now the Midwest Laser Tag Association) was utilizing Laser Challenge-brand equipment for games, so the half Airsoft half Laser Tag M41A had Laser Challenge V2 internals mounted inside the vacant "Grenade Launcher" housing underneath the main barrel.  Much like a Nerf Longshot Front-Gun Integration, there was plenty of space for the lens arrangement, motherboard, speaker, and buttons for operating the Pulse Rifle's new Laser Tag feature.  

A 3-Pole Switch controlled which system was active at any given time.  The middle position turned the blaster off.  Forward would send power to the Laser Tag internals.  Backward would send power to the Airsoft motor.  It was simplistic and it worked quite well for quite awhile!

However, when our Laser Tag group made the switch from Laser Challenge to Lazer Tag (LTTO, LTX, LTAR), this blaster quickly became obsolete.  Many attempts were made over the years to install new systems based off of Arduino Development Boards to work with current equipment, but they were never really successful.  Though the project is officially half-a-decade old... there's still things I can do to make this work like I had originally hoped.

So now you're all caught up with this blaster's backstory and ready to see what's coming next, right?  This M41A Pulse Rifle will be running off of a Phoenix LTX laser tag board and will utilize the features of the unreleased RapidBlast attachment to mimic the high rate-of-fire that this icon of Sci-Fi is known for.  I know what you're going to say:  "Zook... how on earth are you going to use the RapidBlast if it was never released?"  That's were my friends at CTDYNE come in!  Take a read.
We had three PCB's for the RapidBlast manufactured. We assembled the first board and did the trouble shooting and refinements necessary to get it to work properly. This is the board you see in the images of the CSM I sent you.  The second one will be used in a build similar to the CSM, but without adjustable focal length and one off lens assembly. The second unit will go to Izzy as a thank you for all his hard work getting the design to a state where we were able to have the boards produced. The third board from this initial production run will end up in a housing just the same as the one going to Izzy. 
Not to worry though, now that we have the bugs worked out of the design, we are planning on having second production run of ten additional RapidBlast PCB's manufactured. We can provide a bare PCB and a pre-programmed processor chip with the parts list available at Izzy's Github site. I would certainly be willing to build a complete board for Bazookafied.
While I eagerly wait for CTDYNE to work on that, I've still got a long road ahead of the Pulse Rifle to get it LTX-ready.  A lot of testing, breaking, fixing, troubleshooting, and modification is ahead of me, but at least there are still bits and pieces of the previous attempts that can help.  Most notably, the work we did on fabricating areas to house the IR Sensors in the blaster will not have been in vain.  We will repurpose those to work with the LTX board at the core of this project.  I've never built an LTX or LTAR before without reusing the existing sensor dome, so I have a feeling that'll be an interesting experience working through the problems that will likely arise from that.  Still, it's the first step in a winter-long journey this blaster will have to take if I ever hope to have it running for Season 10 next summer!

Over the next several weeks, I'll be getting the Pulse Rifle operational again, which will likely have more in-game testing too to make sure that everything is working as it should.  It's important to not only make this blaster reliable and fun to use... but also that the sensor placement and design doesn't interfere with gameplay.  The last thing I want to do is build an awesome blaster that no-one can hit and then get everyone upset!  Updates on this first round will be coming soon!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

N-Strike Elite SideStrike Review

When the ZombieStrike SideStrike was released in Winter of 2013, it came in "Ooze Green" and included a holster with dart storage.  This was one of many ZombieStrike blasters that seemed like it was initially designed to be part of the N-Strike Elite lineup.  Later on, the SideStrike got rebadged and recolored to go along with the N-Strike Elite blasters in a K-Mart Exclusive 2-Pack released a year after the original ZS SideStrike hit shelves.

The K-Mart Exclusive release includes two recolored SideStrike blasters, one that is white with blue accents and the other one in white with orange accents.  These do not include the holster that the ZombieStrike version comes with.  The two-pack retails for $24.99 at K-Mart while the ZS one normally retails for $14.99.  So, if we chop that 2-Pack in half, these blasters are technically worth around $12... which seems about right since the Firestrike (almost the same blaster) retails for that.  As long as you think the Holster that the ZS Sidestrike comes with is worth $2, then the K-Mart twofer makes sense.
Other than the color differences, the ZombieStrike and Elite Sidestrikes are identical inside and out.  Same ranges, same shells, same features.  There are still raised "ZombieStrike" logos printed on the Elite version shells, as well as that undead font they use for the name on the side of the blaster.  In the same way, the ZombieStrike versions have N-Strike Elite logos on the handles.  Whichever one you wind up with, the blaster is having an identity crisis in the branding department.

The Sidestrike has a twisted sister: the Firestrike.  Both share nearly identical internals and performance and both can hold two darts.  They also can both be used with the holster that the ZS Sidestrike comes with, which is sort of nifty... unless you're OCD enough to not like having an Elite blaster in a holster that has a gigantic "Z" logo printed on the side of it.  Still, most Nerf fans that followed the release of the Sidestrike will tell you that it was likely initially intended as an N-Strike Elite blaster.  Some fans, like our friends at SBNC, went so far as to recolor the blasters in their "proper" colors.  To those folks, the K-Mart exclusive recolors are kind of neat to see that idea realized.

Whichever version you wind up with, this is a fun blaster with great out-of-the-box performance that can easily be modified to get even better results in a nifty looking little shell!  It's comfortable to hold, even with it's small grip, and it's easy to use.  It's really a nice little sidearm that packs a punch and looks pretty slick.  The two-pack release also reminds me of the N-Strike yellow Scout blasters that was a K-Mart exclusive a few years ago and follows the same "cure that OCD matching habit with your arsenal" solution that it served, too!  In many ways, the SideStrike is like an Elite-ified Scout anyways, what with the top slide prime, the compact size, and the handy dart storage, it makes for an excellent successor.

Click below for a full video review of all 3 SideStrikes!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Cyber Monday Deals

Aside from getting your BOGO Free "Box Combo" at Raising Canes, there's some pretty neat Nerf deals out there today.  Figured I'd share a few of the major ones I've found!  Feel free to add ones I've missed!

A quick stop by's Nerf listing has a 50% drop on four blasters.  Strongarms are listed for $6.49,  Retaliators are listed at $13.49, RapidStrikes are $19.99, and even the overpriced Cam ECS is on sale for $39.99.  The Combat Creature is also listed for $39.99 for noisy robotic battles.  Oh, and the Rapid RED from the Rebelle lineup is 14.99, too!

Obviously if you're an Amazon Prime user, Free 2-Day shipping applies... but I suppose that doesn't matter if it's a Christmas gift to wrap up for the end of the month!

Toys R Us has a 20% off All Nerf Blasters sale for Cyber Monday.  In my honest opinion, this is really only good if you're looking for TRU Exclusive blasters like the recolored Sonic ICE and Sonic FIRE stuff.  They've always got crazy-good selection for blasters, but there's still some better deals out there on a couple of 'em. doesn't have quite the Nerf sale I was hoping for, but there's still a few good ones.  Demolishers for $29.99, SlingFires for $16.99 and some Perpetual Play ZombieStrike foam things.

There's a RapidStrike on there too listed, but it's cheaper at Amazon link up above.  I was hoping some of the Target Exclusive blasters would make the cut, but alas... no dice.

Speaking of Exclusive blasters, I was happy to see that Wal-Mart's site has the Elite Spectre REV-5 on sale for $12!  They also have the brand-spankin-new wallet buster: the RhinoFire marked down to $69.97 (normally $89.97).  The Rebelle Agent Bow is also rolled back to $19 for you Katniss fans.

On the downside, these are the only 3 Nerf items listed.  Still, I was surprised to see a sale on the RhinoFire so soon.  I actually just saw one on the shelf for the first time this weekend.

There's more deals out there, but this should get you off to a good start!  Like I said before, feel free to share more Cyber Monday deals if you find 'em!  Happy Hunting!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

I am Thankful for YOU

It's true... November has not been kind to my spare time, which has left my beloved hobbies a bit neglected.  However, as we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States, I can't help but think about what consistently drives me to return to my workbench and tinker on a Laser Tag pistol or upgrade a spring in a Nerf blaster... YOU!

Whether you're a new reader or a long-time supporter, whether you live down the block from me and come to the games I host or you're residing in far-off lands I wish I could visit, the people that read, comment, criticize, praise, and everything in-between make this blog worth returning to.  As a result of that, it has kept the fire for my interest in these hobbies burning strong.  I can honestly say that I don't think I would enjoy Nerf or Laser Tag nearly as much as I do were it not for the involvement and interaction I have with people on Tactical Tag and in the community for these hobbies in general.  YouTube, blogs, websites, wikis, chatrooms, and even just as simple as people I interact with locally for games and mod nights, it's really just fantastic.

When I'm stressed out paying bills or neck-deep in a bathroom remodel at my house or under pressure at work, my hobbies are part of what keeps me sane.  So, this Thanksgiving, I need to thank everyone who has been a part of those hobbies.  I hope you all have a great day as you all have had a part in making Nerf and Laser Tag more enjoyable.  I hope you all enjoy your day, your weekend, your Black Friday sales, and everything else in-between!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

CTDYNE: RapidBlast LTX Accessory

If you've been following this blog for awhile, you know that Lazer Tag fans have been teased with unreleased goodies designed for the Phoenix LTX since the line was discontinued almost 4 years ago.  To-date the only officially released add-on accessories for the LTX were those that came with it's initial release in 2008:  the Green-Dot Sight and the Shotblast.  These two accessories continue to be popular with our group and are sought-after items by most Lazer Tag enthusiasts.  The Green-Dot Sight isn't nearly as important as the Shotblast, though.  This shotgun-pump 3-round burst short-range accessory has been an excellent addition to the stock LTX and are often the first things to get picked up when we start our games.

But enough about what we already have.  I want to talk to you about what we COULD still have... even after years of waiting.  Best of all, it's from our friends at CTDYNE, my Lazer Tag modding heroes since 2006.  They sent me information and photos about one that they have in the works.

Gold Shotblast (top), Blue TV-Module (bottom)
The original concept was to provide a design and parts list for a printed circuit board that the user would have printed and then assemble. The intention was this PCB would fit into the video game accessory for the Hasbro LTX tagger without any modification to the housing, utilizing the original video game lens and an IR LED supplied by the user. The RapidBlast would unlock the super high rate of fire that was originally to be used on one of the accessories for the LTX that was never released.
We were recently able to complete one of these DIY RapidBlast boards. The project has gone thru a few different hands along the way. The first unit was taken to Fort Flagler this past September for a shake down at the last big game of the summer here in the northwest. After the Fort Flagler event, it was reported the rate of fire was outstanding, but the range yielded from the stock video game optics was unsatisfactory. If the user could get close enough and played smart, they were able to overwhelm an opponent with the super high rate of fire from the RapidBlast.

I have been given the opportunity to upgrade the optics on this first DIY RapidBlast in an effort to extend the range to a more usable distance. I am actually the fifth person to work on this project. The DIY Rapid Blast is such a special accessory for the LTX that I wanted to upgrade the optics and the housing accordingly. This CTDYNE version of the DIY Rapid Blast is called the Counter Sniper Module (CSM). The optics in the CSM consist of a 45 millimeter main lens with a single TSAL-6100 IR LED. As well as a pair of wide spread IR emitters under the main barrel that fire simultaneously. This pair of LED's each have a different spread/range. These are intended for close quarter battle use. Not much range with these but a significant spread of IR light. A selector switch is located on the left side (Labeled S-C) of the fore grip to switch between the main barrel or the pair of CQB emitters.

But the real innovation as far as the optics on the CSM, is the externally adjustable focal length mechanism. The IR LED behind the main lens can be set to different focal lengths in seconds. The minimum setting is 4.0" Maximum focal length is just under 6.0" This adjustment is made by turning the locking knob on the left side of the housing. Slide to the desired position and turn to lock. There is a scale on the outside of the CSM for reference. With some experimentation in the field we should be able to come with a set of dimensions to be used for medium to long range targets.

The work on this project is currently ongoing.

So there you have it!  Not only will there finally be a board that can "unlock" the LTX's potential for an insane RoF, but there's also an awesome custom-built unit with adjustable settings being built by CTDYNE to put this new ability to work in a wide-range of situations.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Darts, Mags, and Reloading for Nerf

Do you ever have a thought and just run with it?  Do you ever catch yourself thinking up the most EFFECTIVE loadout possible... only to realize that your theory doesn't quite work out in the real world?  Not only has this happened to me in Nerf games before... but it flat-out happened during filming for this video.

The topic centers around reloading Nerf blasters between "Quick Reload Clips" and front-loading blasters.  I use the Stockade (front-loading) and Stryfe (Magazine fed) blasters to face off in a race to reload.

Sometimes when you set out to accomplish one thing, your result isn't what you thought it'd be.  However, it's still a result and still something you can step back and take something from it.

This video is sort of an example from that.  You'll quickly have video-proof that I really don't rehearse/think these things through... as the plans sort of change as the test results come through and I think up more scenarios and adjustments needed, only to figure out that it's kind of impossible to nail down the result I was looking for.

Just check it out after the jump.  You'll see what I mean!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Laser Tag: Skirmos Mark I - Prototypes & Demo

Several months ago I signed on through KickStarter to support the Skirmos Laser Tag development. This is an Open-Source system being developed by enthusiasts for enthusiasts, so it's been lots of fun seeing Skirmos take shape. From the design of the blaster to product features, the evolution of this system over the last few months has been fun to watch!

Today, the Mark I made it's debut on YouTube. After a successful run on Kickstarter, they managed to include even more features than originally projected, so it's a nice treat to be getting a little more than what I bargained for! While the aesthetic design has evolved from a FAMAS-looking design to something a bit more Master Chief worthy, the system seems much more polished and easy to use. Even the prototype in the video using a 3D-Printed shell seems like all is going well.

The addition of a Weaver Rail system along the top carry rail will be especially useful for mounting optics. As I was reminded at the Halloween Game I did with the MLTA a few weeks ago, trying to aim a blaster covered with bright LED lights can be difficult at night, so having targeting optics will be a must. The clear shells of Skirmos mean team Identification will be easier than ever, so I'm interested to see how that plays out with our group. I'm also excited to see and hear what these blasters are performing like. The Full-auto feature is blazingly fast and the sound effects are spot-on! Still, I'm most looking forward to the Open-Source nature of how this system works and the potential it might have.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Crossbolt Questions

As many blogs, websites, and news sources around the Nerf Nation have reported, there's yet ANOTHER crossbow-based blaster on it's way to shelves.  This latest one, the N-Strike Elite Crossbolt, is a bit more puzzling in terms of how it works, but has also been spotted for sale on the site.

Originally, the Crossbolt was part of the handful of blasters featured on a larger image that was leaked in September of 2014.  Most recently, the MEGA Cyclone Shock (as reviewed by our friends at SBNC), is out and about, so one-by-one, they are becoming a reality.  However, there's a cloud of confusion currently around the Crossbolt.  There's really only one photo of it out on the interwebs that simply shows a bullpup style magazine-fed blaster with a gray priming handle on top, a tactical rail on the bottom, and bow arms on either side.  Personally, I think it looks awesome, but then I try to figure out how it works.

Many fans have been going off of the "It says 'real crossbow action' so it must be string-powered" assumption, but the Crossfire Bow in the ZombieStrike lineup says that too... and it's not actually using the crossbow bits to fire.  The only other bullpup-style blaster in the N-Strike or N-Strike Elite lineup currently is the Rayven, but this appears to be a manually-primed blaster.  It also lacks any signs of being battery operated like the Rayven (no accelerator trigger for the flywheels or battery box) so that strengthens the idea that this is some kind of plunger-system blaster.  Considering the space things are in, there's got to be an arm that sits above the magazine that moves the dart into position.  Then there appears to be two jam doors on the top side of the Crossbolt.  One is over the magazine well but the second seems to be over the middle portion... presumably where the mysterious internals are.  The bow arms are in-line with the barrel too... which toys with the idea that it is, somehow, a functional use of "crossbow action".  Suddenly, that idea of it actually utilizing the bow arms to sling a dart forward start to make sense.  Does the priming handle simply move a faux string back and forth while plunger internals do all the work?  Or could a string-based firing system actually shoot a dart to Elite ranges?

That deadly mix of "not enough information" and "we're basing this off of existing tech" information start to conflict with one another.  After being fed Flywheel after Plunger after Flywheel blaster over and over, it's tough to accept the possibility that this could be using something new.  There is, after all, that Nerf SlingShock that's coming out that looks to utilize functional strings to launch that dart... so there are newer ideas at work in the Hasbro office.  And with all the faux bows that have been out there before, there's nothing really trustworthy about "real crossbow action" other than just being a fancy selling point and not an accurate description of how it actually works.

The other bit to the puzzle is availability.  With no other photos of this blaster in existence at the moment, and with no sightings or leaked photos showing different angles, it's hard to believe that it is currently listed for sale on the UK site for Amazon.  This 12-Dart blaster has supposedly been available since last week... but still no other photos or information exist.  The plot thickens!

What say you, Nerf fans?