Saturday, May 31, 2014

Season 9 is off to a STELLAR Start!

New Park, New People, same awesome game!  The Midwest Laser Tag Association has kicked off it's 9th Summer Season of weekly games with a wonderful potluck cookout followed by a great set of team games.  I think I was most happy with the turnout of new players, who proceeded to school the veterans in the "Vets vs n00bs" game we did midway through the event.  There were 30 total players, many of which we picked up at a game I helped host for a group of high school and college kids at the beginning of the month.  It was great to see that kind of retention and interest from that group.  In general, there are more new players inviting other friends to this.  I'm sure if we played the "7 Degrees of Separation" game, we'd see a much more diverse group today than we did when we started 8 years ago.

Because we had a bigger group, we weren't able to get a ton of games in.  We started with a classic Team vs Team battle in the middle of the park.  Next, we did that "Vets vs n00bs" game which, while still a lot of fun for the 8 veterans we managed to have... was more of a wash than we expected.  I managed to take out 7 players before I was finally tagged out but we just couldn't hold 'em!  After that we did another Team vs Team game followed by a "Protect the VIP", which we haven't done since... like... Season 2 or something.  I was the VIP, no weapon, wearing a Laser Challenge Team Force front and back vest with 10 hits on it.  My team was supposed to get me safely to the other side of the park.  As it turns out, my team wasn't so good at protecting me.  5 minutes into the game, I had already been shot 4 times with no real successful plan to get me safely through the park.  As the team started to fall apart, I decided to disappear into the park by myself.  I had made it pretty far, and even managed to get past several of the other players, who were more focused on shooting up my team than finding me.  Eventually, I was caught (after I was about halfway there) and then gunned down.  Still had a great time!

The other bit that made me a bit proud was the next morning.  Our youngest player (the one in the red shorts next to me in that first photo up top) is one of my neighbors.  Great kid, super enthusiastic about this, and he always has some super secret plan to fill me in on.  He even brought some Pop Ice popsicles to share with everyone at the end of the game.  His mom shared a picture of something he wrote at school and my heart kinda melted.  The message reads "Iikec mic becos he has lasr tag gamse." which, when translated, reads "I like Mike because he has laser tag games."  I'm pretty sure that's also a picture of someone shooting a laser tag gun above it.  Good to know I've got a pint-sized fan thinking about this stuff even when we're not playing the games.

So between THAT, the games, the turnout, the food, and everything else... I'm incredibly happy with how things have turned out so far!  Next week is our 8th Anniversary Game where we'll have our throwback gear and return to our old stompin' grounds.

Friday, May 30, 2014

ZS Longshot: Fact-finding

Image courtesy of Basic Nerf
With great news comes great doubt!  Lots of fans have been putting the announcement of the ZombieStrike Longshot CS-12 under the microscope trying to find things that make it "phony", but I'm actually not a skeptic this time around.  Normally, I'm right up there with the doubters and non-believers.

My buddy over at Basic Nerf has a great close-up of one of the main perpetrators of this news: the Box Art.  Apparently, Gas-Mask Asian Man has the blaster all wrong.  Put aside the fact that he's holding it all goofy-like and there's proportions off with the art.  However, the proportions are the only thing that's off with this.  The Bi-Pod-less front, the top-mounted Tactical Rail, the orange-beyond-doubt scope, it's all "technically" correct... which is the best kind of correct!  If we go by the Sidestrike box art, there shouldn't be a Nerf Logo printed on the bottom of the shell... but the blaster does have this detail.  Long story short: the box art isn't a photo of the product.  It's a cartoon drawing by some guy in a cubicle.  Not exactly an information bible if you ask me!

The next bit I've seen is the worry that "There's no range claim!" but there really haven't been with newer ZombieStrike blasters.  I think we can all expect a "75 ft range claim" as standard performance from a Nerf blaster now.  After all, the N-Strike Elite lineup has been out for nearly two years now, so leaving that bit out on a box isn't really important anymore.  The new Cam ECS goes on to brag about 85 feet, so there's obviously a little more of a push for folks to pick up this new piece of hardware over the other flywheel blasters on the market, another reason why I think we're not seeing range claims posted.  It's better to think "Wow, this thing can shoot 85 feet" and then look at the others and not see a range claim at all.  It makes that 10 extra feet seem like a lot more to the buyer if they're not in-the-loop about the 75 ft bit.  Not EVERYONE is a detail freak like the rest of us! ;)

The other bit I've noticed is that the ZombieStrike logo is a little different.  There's definitely more of an outline to it instead of the filled-in look the other releases have featured... but I don't think it's a sign of phony-ness.  Let's not forget all the changes we've seen with badges for a logo refresh halfway through the lineup.  The N-Strike logo that's still sitting on the back of the Longshot is a testament to that, as things have changed since 2006.

There's also a dispute about darts.  The decorative markings on these darts is similar to concept art we saw on a "Hammer 5" concept some time ago.  "Deco Pack" ZombieStrike dart sets have been out for awhile now anyways, so I'm not sure why it's earth-shattering to see a different style come out.  Since the logo featured on the Longshot is a little different from what's on the current Deco darts, it makes sense that they'd change that.

The rest of the signs look legit.  There's a promo image with a white background that's spot-on for Hasbro.  The box is consistent with the newer ZombieStrike stuff that we've seen with the blue Nerf logo in the corner.  Sure I love the Longshot, so I could be biased up the wazoo... but there's too many facts that point to the right side of things for me to question it's legitimacy.

The Longshot is Back! New Internals??

I really don't think anyone saw this coming... but I awoke this morning double and triple checking my sources.  I've already seen sources all over from SmythsToys to Basic Nerf to Reddit articles.  Apparently, this news has been circling around since last night.  Looks like The Nerf Longshot CS-6 has been rebranded the ZombieStrike Longshot CS-12.  Oddly enough, there's no fold-down bipod... just some holes, actually.  This should make adding a shotgun priming handle, like the Xplorer one, that much easier (no need to remove what isn't there, right?)

There's no "Longshot" logo on that bar near the front barrel either, just a blank panel.  The old original N-Strike logo still dons the adjustable stock as well.  Color wise, it's in that same blue we got the SledgeFire in and it's apparently a Target Exclusive.

I suppose I'm most interested in the internals of this.  There hasn't been a new Longshot in several years since they were discontinued in 2010 in the United States, and those were the days before the Elite blasters were around.  Nowadays, a HammerShot out-of-the-box can outshoot a stock Longshot, so I'm willing to bet there's an internals upgrade in there.  The question is: HOW powerful will this new set be?

Awhile back, I did a test with the Elite Longshot that I built and pitted it up against a stock Elite Retaliator to see if my Elite-ified blaster could hold up to the real thing.  When I did the second Elite Range Battle, with the Retaliator modified, performance was surprisingly similar.  Could these potentially new Internals serve as an even BETTER platform to work from?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Cam ECS - Dual-purpose Blaster?

When news of the Nerf N-Strike Elite "Cam ECS", a lot of folks were kind of underwhelmed by the ancient technology the video camera seemed to work off of.  As such, they were also a bit floored by the expected prices ($70?) for this new battle-cam blaster.  Me, being the crazy nut that I am, was thinking one thing: make it a Laser Tag blaster!  Well... I think this blaster might have potential to be another Dual-purpose blaster.  "What do you mean by that, Mr. Bazookafied?"  Sit down and hear me out!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

An Unlikely Duo

One of my first acts as "husband" was to free the back porch of the very face of EVIL.  A wasp was building a new home on the side of my home, so I decided how to lay waste to his plans.  Flyswatter?  Nope, he'd be expecting that.  Can of Raid?  Nah... chemical warfare is SOOO 1918.  I had cooler, much more interesting plans than that!

Inspired by Ellen Ripley's cunning use of a Flamethrower attached to an M41A Pulse Rifle in the iconic Sci-Fi film Aliens, I decided to pair a Nerf Titan AS-V1 Rocket Launcher to a Super Soaker Hydro Cannon.  My thought was that the Hydro Cannon would fire first, drenching the wasp so he would be unable to fly at first.  Then the Rocket Launcher would smash him into the wall before he could dry off and make his escape.

So I gave that jerk the old "1-2" and he was down and out for the count.  It was pretty fulfilling using this unlikely duo to defend my home!  Thanks for the tip, Ripley!

Monday, May 26, 2014

I'm Back!! PLENTY to talk about!!

Hey everyone!  Hope you all had a great weekend!  Figured I'd check back in with a few updates for ya as I get back into the swing of things.  Among those things, there is now a "Mrs. Bazookafied" in my life and she's fantastic!  The wedding and reception really couldn't have gone better and it was really amazing seeing all the planning and preparations come togeher.  We've had family in town for our wedding, so we've been catching up with them and celebrating our new lives together.

Amidst the celebration, we did manage to sneak a game of Laser Tag together with some of my groomsmen and relatives, which was quite a bit of fun.  With only 8 players, the games were quick and fun... but it also allowed us to rediscover the insanity that is "Free-For-All".  For the last few games, we all set the blasters on Solo Mode, started together in the middle of the park, and used the 10-second countdown to run and hide before the game began.  With bigger groups, the Free-for-all usually turns into a "hide-a-thon" and whomever stakes out a spot the longest and survives wins!... lame.  But with only 8 players and limited time to run and hide, the game actually played out really well.  It was a lot of fun rediscovering the simple-side of laser tag and just going out in a blaze of infrared glory.

I would've had that event planning video up, but my computer decided to reformat my SD card from my camera and delete a bunch of videos I needed to finish that project, so I shall redo that footage and complete the video later.  There's also some cool projects on the way, both in-progress on my workbench and in the planning pipeline.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wedding Wishes from SBNC

Probably one of the only times I've gotten ever-so-misty-eyed watching a Nerf video and it came from an Aussie.  One of my favorite blogs out there, Southern Brisbane Nerf Club, posted an awesome shout-out video to me for my wedding.  I've even shown it off to family members who keep saying "Who the heck is Bazookafied he keeps talking about?" as they watch him sling darts across the ceiling.  Better yet, head on over to SBNC's Facebook Page and give it a look.

Al I've gotta say is THANKS to that crazy Australian Nerfer who managed to make this big kid red in the face and incredibly grateful to have gained such great friends through these hobbies.  It means a lot, bud!  Thanks!

Monday, May 19, 2014

It's Pulse Rifle Time!

I've had this project in and out of the shop since 2009.  It's my M41A Pulse Rifle the iconic Sci Fi blaster from the 1986 film Aliens.  It's gone through several different versions since I originally started building it, including Laser Challenge V2, Laser Challenge Radar Extreme, and plans for an Arduino-run system that could do whatever we wanted it to.

With that Arduino plan, we wanted it to mimic the abilities of the famous Xenomorph gunslinger that it was in the film.  95 rounds of 10x24 Caseless ammunition.  The handicap for this insane ammo capacity and RoF was to be in it's reload, much like the LTX DMR.  Drop the mag, reload sequence begins, put it back in, 95 more shots of blink-and-you're-dead firepower.  The hit sensors for compatibility with Lazer Tag brand stuff were being installed inside the vents underneath the main barrel, on top of the sight rail, and on front of the blaster... so you'd still shoot at the gun to hit the player just like in the other systems.  For compatibility with Laser Challenge, you'd just turn those sensors off and wear external sensors like everyone else.

Well... it's been almost 5 years since the Pulse Rifle Project started.  I think it's about time to just nail in the features and call it good.  With the technical problems of Arduino beyond me, I'm planning on just doing what I do best: recasing.  However... I'm hoping to build it around a Phoenix LTX board and potentially pick up a RapidFire Accessory board (there are a few folks in the hobby who know about this) so that I can replicate the quick firepower of the Pulse Rifle.  Regardless, I'll start with refinishing the sensor arrangement we had originally set up with the Pulse Rifle.  From there, I can hopefully finish this thing up so I can go back to using, in my opinion, the best looking blaster out there!

Below are linked videos of this blaster through the years.

Baidu is "Not Quite Dead"

I had almost forgotten how good it felt to wake up and check one of my favorite Aussie blogs to see some unreleased blaster show up in China!  That's right, Baidu is apparently still at full-steam ahead for getting their hands on upcoming Nerf blasters ahead of schedule.  This latest batch features the Nerf N-Strike Elite Demolisher 2-in-1 and the Nerf ZombieStrike SlingFire.

Aside from the incredible jealousy I'm feeling right now, there's nothing really new to glean from these two blasters.  We've seen photos before, we know how they'll work from the demonstrations from ToyFair earlier in the year.  But seeing them in the flesh means two things.  1: some kid in China is having the time of his LIFE shooting his friends in the head with that rocket.  2: these are probably on that "It's supposed to be out in the Fall, but it'll be more like July or August" release schedule we've gotten used to.  One of those "Coming on 09-09-14" things that'll be here long before the actual release date.  

In the meantime, I keep seeing Orange Stryfes wandering around... and it makes me worried for the Demolisher's aesthetics.  Earlier photos of the Demolisher showed an Orange-on-Not-quite-as-Orange colorscheme that helped break up the Safety Cone look.  However, these photos from Baidu show more of a "ORANGE EVERYWHERE" look to 'em.  The Demolisher will certainly need a paint job to look good at all if you ask me.  Having one blaster the same color the whole way through leaves something to be desired in the way of seeing the details in the shell design.  And let's face it... the Demolisher's good looks are half of it's appeal in the first place!

Monday, May 12, 2014

T-Minus 10 Days

In going with the "Behind Schedule" theme from last week, I'm still alive... but super busy.  I WILL, however, have that Event Planning video done before the 22nd.  Other than that item, don't expect too many updates for Tactical Tag until the end of this month.  Essentially, the new video will be my last production as a bachelor.  More than likely, the next update will cover the Midwest Laser Tag Association's Season 9 Opener happening on May 30th.

So, instead of making you think that Tactical Tag has gone the way of the Dodo because of a lack of updates, I figured I'd fill you in on what's going on.  Somewhere between burning 200 CDs as wedding gifts, putting in New Carpet, and cleaning up from the latest round of storms to pass through the Midwest... I'm just a little swamped!  

Long story short:  New Video before May 22nd.  I'm gettin Married.  Then back to business!

Monday, May 5, 2014

You Missed One!

Currently my favorite Nerf Blasters for the Office are small arms like the Jolt, Sidestrike, NiteFinder, and... the top contender still... the Firestrike.  Availability, price, and that annoying red light that you can tease coworkers reflexes with (even if you don't have it armed) are among the top points for the Firestrike.  It's also incredibly easy to modify and make more powerful, which works well for an office warfare scenario.

Regardless, the blaster of choice does seem to be front-loading single-shot blasters.  Magazines seem to get in the way for these quick engagements and bigger blasters are tough to conceal.

Today, my face caught plenty of the darts dished out by one of our better shooters in the office.  He did miss one, though...

Behind Schedule

Just figured I'd pop in about a few things that are running behind more than I had expected.  First, production of the LTAR Accessories we've been working on is a bit behind schedule.  Combat testing on the prototype parts we have has been going well.  While we do have the Lens Adapter complete, we still don't have the N-Strike Stock Adapter in a 3D model yet, just the prototype that I built.  Once a 3D model is completed, we'll print one out and test fit it to make sure that it works as flawlessly as the original.  Then we'll make any tweaks needed (like we did with the Lens Adapter) to the design.  We'll repeat this process as needed until it's right and then put 'em up for sale.  Originally, the plan was to have both of these finalized and ready in time for Season 9, but we're behind with the Stock Adapter.

As the Lens Adapter has been gaining attention, we have also gotten quite a few questions about the lenses we have been using for those.  LazerBait has built the sniper lenses we have been using for several years on our blasters, including rifles like the "Ultimate LTX" and LTX EF5.  I'm contacting him to see if either A: he will build more for sale or B: he can release instructions on how to build one properly.

I'm also still working on my "Event Planning" video that will answer your questions asked a week or so ago.  I'll have that video up and running soon, but there's a little more editing and things I need to fix before I can publish it.  I apologize for all the delays, but we will have stuff ironed out soon enough!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Laser Tag: The Hill

Holy cow... this new park has QUICKLY made it's way into my Top 5 for locations for Laser Tag.  It's nestled into a neighborhood and essentially is a gigantic leg-muscle-shattering hill with all kinds of tough terrain, tall trees, and low cover.  My buddy Eleri tagged along to help me run this event for a local High School/College Music group and we had a blast getting annihilated by this demanding hunk of land.  I'll surely be sore for a day or two after this event!  The trails that weave through this mound of earth are for recreational mountain biking.  There were maybe 5 bikers the whole day, so we didn't get in their way at all.  The rest... well... these photos should tell the story!