Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring Game: Great Success!

I like!  Very Nice!  Clap Hands!  Great Success!  But seriously, we couldn't have asked for a better spring game for the MLTA.  Mother Nature provided us with 70° weather, I provided the gear, and 26 players provided the FUN!  This is probably the best turnout I can remember for an off-season game for our Laser Tag group, so it was exciting to see such a great mix of familiar faces and new friends.  I think we got a few of the newbies hooked on it too, so hopefully they come back for the regular season!

We met at my home at 5:30 and went around back to set up our base of operations.  Crates of equipment, spare batteries and tools, an adorable puppy, you know... the essentials.  Most of our "high tech" gear is still in development or getting repaired, so the playing field was pretty even as far as range and performance was concerned.  It made for some interesting shootouts during the course of the evening.  We played 6 games total, utilizing different parts of the park to stage games.

For the last game of the night, we managed to plan a "Veterans vs n00bs" game, but this one was different.  The team layout was the same.  There were 6 Veterans (all players who have been with us for at least 7 years) versus the rest of the remaining players, which pretty much had us outnumbered 3-to-1.  It's a pretty standard setting for our Veterans vs n00bs game, and it's usually pretty difficult to hold 'em off.  What usually helps the Veteran Team is forcing the other side into a bottleneck so they can take out multiple targets at once.  It's usually the make-or-break tactic for winning against the horde of new players.  To raise the stakes, we decided to split up the n00bs into two teams surrounding the Veterans Team.  This made it much more difficult as the Veterans were spit up with 3 watching each side.  There really wasn't any sort of terrain that we could force the bigger team into, so things were much more spread out and difficult to track.  However, the main advantage the Veterans team had over the mass of attackers was cover.  Making use of that, changing positions frequently, and nightfall helped cloak those movements, too.

Usually, by the end of a Veterans vs n00bs, either the Vets get overtaken or we squeak by with a few guys still standing.  This time, while I still think it was more difficult than other games, we managed to have all 6 guys survive the fight!  Granted, we were all pretty low on health, but it was fun leaving the field with the same group we went in with.

All-in-all a GREAT set of games, but a bit of a sweet ending for the veterans who have stuck through with us all these years.  I'm really looking forward to our upcoming summer season!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Wartime Weekend!

Buncha stuff happening over the weekend!  With Captain America: The Winter Soldier coming out on April 4th, my costume is nearly complete!  Work on the center star and stripes should finish things out with that.  The arm-pockets on the shirt I was using did need to be removed, unfortunately, but we removed those last night.  It's been tough finding a dark enough blue fabric to match the shirt and pants that I already have to use for the costume, but we did manage to nab some at a local crafts store.  I'm planning to go in-costume along with a bunch of my friends to the midnight showing, so we've got less than a week to stitch things up!

I'm personally psyched for this, not just being a big fan of the Cap, but also because I've heard a LOT of great reviews about this film.  I've also heard that this latest installment by Marvel sets up The Avengers: Age of Ultron perfectly, so it should be cool to see what that entails.

Then there's also a Laser Tag game tomorrow at the new park!  With 20 guests signed up already, it's looking to be probably one of the best off-season games for turnout that I've ever seen!  I think the fact that temperatures are expected to break into the mid 70s for the first time this year is helping attendance.  Plus, it's been awhile since our last game, so folks are itching to get out and enjoy some outdoor laser tag again.

I'll probably be too busy to check in with anything until Monday, so have a great weekend, everyone!  Also, don't forget about "Shot of the Week".  We had an awesome entry from Bobololo for last week's winning shot.  Week #3's winner will be selected Monday Night!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

MLTA Season 9 Planning

Since 2006, the Midwest Laser Tag Association (formerly Omaha Laser Challenge Association) has hosted weekly games during the summer months called the "Fight Night".  15 weeks, 15 games, tons of fun!  For the past 8 seasons, we've held games at Mission Park West.  For Season 9, there's a lot of changes in store!

For starters, we're changing locations to a new park that's right behind my home that I purchased in August of 2013.  We've already played a couple of games at the new park to test it out, including our Halloween Game, and things really went great!  There's also a Spring Game coming up this weekend that'll also make use of our new surroundings before we start up Season 9 in May.

The park is ideal for a couple of reasons.  Having a home that backs up to the playing field gives us a couple of advantages.  You don't have to walk half a mile to use a bathroom, there's a nice place to chill out and wait for the next game to begin, there's access to my workshop for quick repairs if needed, the list goes on and on.  Plus, the park offers a unique dynamic of easily being able to be split in different ways to change up the playing field.  There are technically two parks there (you can see it in the map to the left), so we can use the top park, bottom park, or blend the two together depending on what we want to do.

Next on the docket for Season 9 is finally having accessories available for the popular LTAR (Lazer Tag Augmented Reality) blasters that are on store shelves now.  We've been working on adapters that will allow players to easily add on popular enhancements for these blasters.  There's a Lens Adapter that serves as an excellent platform for adding on long-range lens assemblies.  We're also developing a weaver-rail adapter and stock adapter that will be able to mount a Nerf N-Strike Removable Stock.  Players are always asking veteran players to build a blaster for them, but we rarely have time to fill these requests.  With these easy add-on accessories, players will be able to customize their LTAR they way they want to without making a complicated mess of things.  Making modifications accessible to newer players is a key component to getting folks hooked on this game.  It's one thing to show up, borrow a blaster, and go home when it's all said and done.  However, if you OWN a blaster, and you build it to suit your needs, you're more likely to want to get out there and put it to the test week after week.

Lastly, with the new park location, we'll have the opportunity to reach out to a new community, too.  At the few games we've had, there are already local kids joining our ranks and using their park like they never have before!  Since our first two games at the new park, my neighbors have been asking "when is the next game?  We want to come play again!" so it's exciting to hear that.

Between the new park, new players, and new gear, there's a lot to get excited about for Season 9!  I'm working with our players to figure out our schedule for the summer, but it's great to have so many things to look forward to this summer!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


The Shot of the Week winner for Week #2 features the wild Bobololo in his native environment.  Blitzing the competition with a ball-busting ball blaster!  But this is no ordinary Buzz Saw or Reactor.  This is the PULSATOR PULSATOR PULSATOR PULSATOR!!!

::ahem:: The Nerf Pulsator was released in 1998 under the "Mega Blitz" lineup and fired 6 Ballistic Balls.  Instead of using a trigger, you'd pump the front handle as it's two barrels shifted in and out to fire sequentially one after another.  If you're not familiar with the hilariously 90s commercial, have a looksee below.

That's all great and good, but what does Bobololo think about this blaster?  Why go out into the wild with such a loose cannon?

Monday, March 24, 2014

March MAGNUS!!

Photo by SBNC
While the basketball tournament is going on, I'm gonna dig into my Magnus.  Not just because it's a good idea to pump some more power out of the Office Dominator, but also because "Magnus" sort of sounds like "Madness"... so it makes for a good title of this post.

Honestly, I'm not sure what I'll end up doing.  It could be as simple as some performance mods.  Could be as complicated as a magazine mod or integration.  I have no expectations going into this other than to make this thing better.

This blaster has been stored in my office drawer for awhile in it's stock format.  I think it's about time I changed that up!  It's darts are getting a little beat-up too... so maybe I should pick up another set of MEGA Darts while I'm at it?  Or I could just convert the thing to fire normal Elite Darts.  We'll see!!

LTAR Display!!

There's a lot of plans for the Midwest Laser Tag Association's 9th Summer Season, including the launch of our adapter parts for the LTAR to make modifications for players more accessible.

Among those developments, I'm also excited to start working with Dustin Westaby with an LED Display for the LTAR.  I followed production in the Lazer Tag Modders Facebook Page and it really looks like something that'll be a good option for players who have wanted that sort of readout on their blaster... but not wanted to deal with the iOS Cradle to hook up a phone or iPod to see that information.  This also still allows the user to use the iron sights on the LTAR, which is generally preferred for aiming than using the App-blaster method.  Dustin has already made an ammo counter that resembles the readout from a Halo Assault Rifle that looks quite good!

The new ZZLT Display can display information for Shields and Health, just like the Digital Display.  The big difference between the two is the number of wires used in construction and hosted gametypes. The Digital Display is really great syncing to the LTAR for unhosted gametypes. It can still do hosted custom games too, but you have to manually enter the numbers in. It is not ideal. The ZZLT, on the other hand, has a direct serial wire to the main board and has access to all game info. It supports all game modes by communicating with the tagger over the LTAR's headphone jack, just like the iOS device would.  This is the display circuit originally designed by "Izzy" on theYahoo: Lazer Tag Team Ops Players Group.
The ZZLT Display will be featured on my LTAR-AR, as it works flawlessly with the current adapters that are already on it.  The lens adapter (complete), stock adapter (in progress) and Weaver Rail adapter (in progress) are all being worked on by our group to produce and distribute to fellow Laser Taggers that will make modifying these blasters to each individuals personal taste that much easier.

With that said, it's time to blow the dust off our Laser Tag Armory and have a game at the new park!  This coming Sunday (March 30th), we'll host games out of my back yard that opens up to the parks we'll be using.  It'll be a good opportunity for me to get a good system for hosting these games at the new location, too.

Friday, March 21, 2014

SOTW Week #2

So the first winner for the "Shot of the Week" has been up since Monday.  Haven't seen many entries since the first one, so either you guys are stumped... or you're too busy admiring that sweet ride of theirs!  Regardless, post up your best photos, Nerf & Laser Tag related, and we'll see who's pic will get picked!

Remember, you can submit entries one of two ways.  Either go to Tactical Tag's Facebook Page and upload a picture there or comment here on the blog with the URL to your picture and use "SOTW" in the comment.

Winner for this week will be posted on Monday, March 24th!  Good Luck!

'Assasins' Go Too Far

There's always been this "gun" scare in America.  Kids with black painted water pistols getting shot by police, 'gunmen' holding a Gas Station clerk at dart-point, things can get crazy on both sides.  This latest bit hits home for me, since it occurred in my hometown of Merrimack, NH.  I even know the detective, a good family friend when we lived there, who was interviewed in the report of a local High School tradition that may be getting out-of-hand.

WBZ Boston covered the local story.  "Charges Possible in Merrimack, NH High School 'Assasins' Game".  I'm familiar with the game myself.  Senior students are given the name of another student they need to nail with a water gun.  It's a game that students look forward to every year, but sometimes things can get a little out-of-control.  Sneaking into homes, catching someone in their car, there's all sorts of sneaky tactics that the Seniors use to win the game.  Everything is fun and games until someone gets hurt.  While that hasn't happened, an incident involving this game got some news press when a teen backed into another persons car while they were playing.  Property Damage, Breaking and Entering, Trespassing, there's all sorts of problems that can rear their head from taking this game too far if the students aren't careful.

Incidents like this, especially when they get press coverage, just make the issues surrounding "guns" worse.  There are already a lot of laws, both here in the US and abroad, that are restrictive.  From something as simple as an "Orange Tip" law to something as serious as banning certain types of projectile-based blasters like Airsoft and Paintball.  While kids keep pushing the envelope, laws get tighter... and less reasonable if you ask me.

As much as a pain as it might seem to those Seniors who have been waiting for their chance for victory in this local rite-of-passage to water things down (pun intended), these incidents just give ammo to lawmakers to make more restrictions. There's a certain point where folks that play need to stop for a minute and think in the real world about how their actions could effect others.  It's much bigger than "I backed into a car".  Games like 'Assassin' are a LOT of fun to participate in, but black-painted water guns in full camo while you're breaking into someone's house or backing in to someone's car isn't just a bad idea on a local level.  The repercussions of things like this could get much worse if some level of caution isn't taken into consideration.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

When I'm not Modding...

So it dawned on me that when I'm not modifying Nerf or Laser Tag blasters... I'm modifying everything else.  From my cars to my home, if it's mine, I've gotta leave my mark on it.  It took me a little bit, but I took a step back, I was able to see that these hobbies just illuminate what I do everywhere else.  Even my office at work is unmistakably mine.  So when I'm not modding... I'm modding!

When it really comes down to it, I value being unique.  I take pride in creating and strengthening my identity as an individual.  This is the only Blog out there that focuses on Nerf & Laser Tag.  I'm the only person who's turned a Super Soaker into a Laser Tag Sniper Rifle.  It's not that I crave fame or attention so I do things to stand out, but that I like leaving my mark on things.  I used to use my hobbies as a way to relax and enjoy my free time.  So when I didn't have time to do that this past week because I was painting the living room and working on my car, you'd think I'd be stressed out... but I had a familiar feeling of accomplishment when I was done.  That's when I realized that this hobby of tinkering with stuff lies deeper in my character.  It defines me, which is what really drives me in whatever I do.

There's another part to just modding though that really pays off for me.  To me, there's no better reward for putting time and effort into something than to go out and enjoy the results of that work!  I practice a tough lick in my basement and then go play with my Big Band and nail it on stage.  I get a new stove, cook a meal on it, and then enjoy it with my fiance.  I work on the car all weekend and then go take it rallying.  I get an awesome mod completed on a laser tag blaster and then host a game with all my friends to play.  There's great satisfaction going out and feeling the effects of what you worked on.

I used to be unbalanced and two-sided with this.  I loved my hobbies and hated to work on anything else.  The disconnect I had between the two widened and I didn't find enjoyment with everyday life.  But as I grew, I found that when I took a step back and found out what I really loved about my hobbies, I applied that drive to other things in my life.  Cleaning up the house, taking care of the lawn, going to work, etc... I put my abilities to make my hobbies better to making everything else better, too.

I suppose what I hope you take away from reading this more than figuring out who I am, but letting you explore what's really important to you.  When you figure that out, I believe you can put your talents to work with just about everything and enjoy what you do more often.  For many of you reading this, you're probably on the same page as me.  We like to create, to take pride in the work that you do, and to make a name for yourself.  My Music, cars, games, photography, costumes, home, and my future with Mrs. Bazookafied, they're all reflections of what's at my core.  In staying true to all of this, I've managed to stay happy and upbeat even through the tough times.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Skirmos is Happening!

Earlier this month, I put in a plug for Skirmos Laser Tag, a Kickstarter project for that awesome FAMAS-looking system.  Well, as it turns out, they've nailed their $60k goal!  Thought it was especially neat to see a bit of a "shout out" when they thanked folks who had promoted 'em.  I honestly didn't think this blog's logo would be among Gizmodo, SparkFun, and the other great sites on there, so I'm proud to be relevant enough for that.

More importantly, I'm excited to see this project moving forward so rapidly!  There are still more Tiers of funding that could further enhance their project, so there's still great reason to keep flying a flag for them in this time of FUNDamental backing.  Better software development, options, and other extensions of their already great base-product still need to be "unlocked" so there's still time to give what you can if you see fit.

Check out the Kickstarter project.  Better yet, check out the video below.  It shows you all three of the guys behind Skirmos and gives you a better understanding of the project, their goals, the development process, and just great insight to the direction of this Laser Tag system.  I've backed 'em, and also put in my claim for a few of these.  I'm hoping to find other backers who will also have a few sets of these so we can enjoy them together.  It'll be awhile before anything hits the ground, but it's exciting being a part of something I feel strongly about and the potential of connecting with others who share that idea.

Friday, March 14, 2014

LTAR Accessory Prototypes UPDATE

We're continuing to develop these parts designed for external hardware upgrades for the Lazer Tag Augmented Reality (LTAR) blaster.  Today's latest installment is designed to replace the iOS Cradle attachment points to mount a weaver rail and N-Strike Removable Stock.  Most of these larger prototypes are designed with a "skeletal" look to them to keep costs down.  To test how they fit in the real world, the dimensions are kept the same, but since there's less plastic being used, they are cheaper to have printed.

This particular one has a few "upgrades" from previous versions.  The Weaver rail is a solid addition but there's also an extra harness point on the design at the back where it would screw into the existing Battery Tray Door for added stability.  On previous designs, the piece would lift up from the connection points under stress from the shoulder stock when it was in use.  As such, the anchor point over the battery door will prevent that issue from coming up.  The measurements for this feature weren't QUITE right, so we'll be adjusting the design appropriately.  That's what these test units are for!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

It's Nerf or Not Really?

The longstanding slogan of "It's Nerf or Nothin" may be changing. Hasbro Inc. is in the process of securing the rights to "Accept no Substitutes" recently.  On Friday, March 07, 2014, a U.S. federal trademark registration was filed for this new slogan with a trademark serial number of 86214007.  It's still in limbo, but the description does seem to carry with it the entire Nerf lineup.  "Toys, games and playthings, namely, basketballs, footballs, soccer balls, baseballs, volleyballs, balls for games, sports balls, bouncing balls, rubber balls and flying discs; toy dart and ball shooters and foam toy darts and balls for use therewith" pretty much covers the entire brand.

What say you, fans of foam?  If the old slogan is to pass the torch, is "Accept no Substitutes" a worthy predecessor?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Shot of the Week!

If there's one thing I actually enjoyed about the Nerf Nation Facebook Page was their "Shot of the Week" series that they'd do with fan-submitted photos.  Although it wasn't always consistent (sometimes I think they honestly forgot about it) they'd post up the best fan-submitted photo on their Facebook page.  While my blog side of Tactical Tag doesn't exactly have this ability, the Facebook page for it certainly does.  That's why I'm starting up a weekly photo contest replacing what Nerf Nation seems to have forgotten about.

Here's all you need to do!  Upload your photo to the Tactical Tag Facebook Page or, if you don't have Facebook, you can share a URL of your photo as a comment on the blog.  Any post will do, just label it as "SOTW" or "Shot of the Week" in the comment.  Either way, I'll pick my favorite photo each week and feature it as the banner for Tactical Tag.  If it's especially awesome, I'll feature it here on the blog, too!  I'll probably just do that if there's some kind of cool story along with it like if it was from some big game or part of some killer mod project.

Having trouble thinking of a cool "SOTW" worthy picture?  There's lots of different things that I find cool.  Neat blaster arrangements (like the Red Strike Recon pictured above), action photos, building some neat modification, a big group shot of everyone at your event, or even just being a complete GOOBER.  However, if there's one thing that grinds my gears... it's grainy photo quality stuff.  You could have a Longshot integrated with a RapidStrike with a Laser Tag module and a Titan Rocket Launcher integrated with IR LEDs that fire a "hit" signal on impact... but if the quality of the photo is terrible, I'll probably go with something else.  I'm pickiest most when it comes to stuff like that!

Contest starts THIS WEEK!  Every Monday I'll post up a new winner!  Good luck, everybody!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Outdoor Nerfin'

If you're just now joining us, I usually do my Laser Tagging outdoors and my Nerf games indoors.  It's just the way I've done things for awhile.  Outdoors, you can make use of the +500 ft ranges and precision accuracy that Laser Tag offers.  Indoors, the ranges of Nerf make more sense to me... plus it's a lot easier to recover darts in an enclosed environment.  However, with a new backyard that's got a few wide-open portions where an outdoor game would make sense, I'm planning my first big outdoor Nerf game as the weather warms up.

Tactics indoors are very different from those outdoors, so I'm wondering if any of you who have done both types of scenarios have any tips or advice for how to approach things differently.

In general, I tend to carry far less ammo indoors since it can easily be retrieved.  Outdoors, I'm thinking I'll need more ammo, loaded into magazines ahead of time, to be effective outdoors.  Accuracy will likely plummet with the ranges we'll face outdoors, so as a result I'll probably burn through more ammo anyways.  That'll probably mean that I should get some of those MOLLE-based pouches to put on my rig to carry more ammo into battle.  Usually my pouches for Laser Tag on my rig are for batteries, First Aid, my phone/radios, flashlights, and carrying a few tools in case a quick repair is needed in the field.  Most of those pouches are pretty small, but there's certainly potential to carry more which is why I think doing something like Basic Nerf's setup would be a good idea.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Skirmos Laser Tag

Usually when a Kickstarter project comes up, I raise an eyebrow no matter HOW awesome it looks on the surface and then dig deeper.  This one hits home, since it's a Laser Tag system that admittedly looks pretty awesome.  It's Skirmos, the "most advanced open source laser tag system."

It looks like a clear glowing FAMAS with a muzzle designed by Duck Dodgers in the 21st-and-a-half Century.  This system takes the realistic look and ruggedness to play outdoors like airsoft, while having the accuracy, feedback, and programmable game types seen in some Laser Tag systems (Lazer Tag Team Ops comes to mind). They state the final design of the systems will include accurate iron sights and a rail system for attachments as well as shooting ranges that exceed 500 feet.

Skirmos has preset game types, but the beauty of this system isn't just in it's killer-good looks... it's in the software.  Because this system is "open source", players will be able to create their own game types. Skirmos would have an auto-builder, a drag-and-drop program to quickly and easily create new game types which is part of the goal for the additional funding that Kickstarter would provide. This means that it will involve minimum to no programming whatsoever on the part of the player.

With Skirmos, the software controls the hardware. You can alter pretty much every aspect of the game. It all communicates with the host, while the guns communicate with each other through radio. Skirmos reads input from the trigger, reload button, the IR and RF sensors. Each player is assigned a special ID, so you can control friendly fire, or even assign the ID different traits like more ammo or less health.  Essentially, it's a laser-tagger's dream inside a shell that would make an airsofter need to change his pants.

This is something our group has messed with on several occasions, but the fellas who have put in the time with Skirmos have made a consumer-available product that needs a little more backing to it.  If everything goes to plan, you could have Skirmos by winter of 2014, but that's only if their financial goals are fulfilled.  These guys have put in thousands of hours into developing Skirmos, so I could think of no better way to utilize the network of Laser Taggers I've met through working on Tactical Tag than to give 'em a push from my blog and Facebook page.  I'm a pretty critical person, but I really think these guys have got something here.  Check it out and see if you can help 'em move forward with this great project!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

NEW! NERF Rhino-Fire

This just in from the land of Copyright-ness!  We've got a new name for a blaster secured by Hasbro.  According to, the "Rhino-Fire" name has been trademarked for Hasbro as a "Toy dart shooter and foam toy darts for use therewith".

On Thursday, February 20, 2014, a U.S. federal trademark registration was filed for RHINO-FIRE by Hasbro, Inc., Pawtucket, RI 02862. The USPTO has given the RHINO-FIRE trademark serial number of 86198748. The current federal status of this trademark filing is NEW APPLICATION - RECORD INITIALIZED NOT ASSIGNED TO EXAMINER. The correspondent listed for RHINO-FIRE is HASBRO, INC. of HASBRO, INC., 1027 NEWPORT AVENUE, PAWTUCKET, RI 02862 . The RHINO-FIRE trademark is filed in the category of Toys and Sporting Goods Products . The description provided to the USPTO for RHINO-FIRE is Toy dart shooters and foam toy darts for use therewith.

No pictures or other information, obviously... but I wouldn't expect something with the name "Rhino" to be a small pea-shooter blaster.  The old Max Force lineup had some animal names for blasters, but I don't expect those making a comeback.  In any case: speculate!