Sunday, October 4, 2015

Thanks everyone!

Hello, world! I'm Bazookafied (go by "Zook" for short most of the time) and one of my big hobbies is modifying Nerf and Laser Tag blasters for recreational use around town with friends and colleagues. These games have been great social outlets and are safe and convienent enough to play just about anywhere and I am, at heart, a tinkerer. So messing with these blasters has been a fun hobby of mine for quite some time.

After four-and-a-half years of writing articles for Tactical Tag, I'm hanging up the mantle of blog-ness.  I'm still messing around with Nerf and Laser Tag, still hosting games, still following my favorites, but I just don't see much of a point to continuing the blog any longer.  I would rather leave it as-is as a resource than drag it out and scrounge for content.  There are smarter, more active, better equipped fans out there for these hobbies and, should I do anything earth-shatteringly awesome, I can just post it up on YouBook or FaceTube without feeling obligated to fill the time between projects with needless posts and queries.  

I used to think all the "great Nerf blogs" were dying because the writers were growing out of these admittedly kid-oriented hobbies.  However, in the time that I've been doing this, there's been an obvious shift in focus online from blogs and websites to social media outlets.  Much like MySpace, Geocities, and Message Boards, the blogs are slipping away as Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Facebook, and YouTube come to the forefront.  I can't fight it, and I won't drive this blog into the ground just to keep a steady trickle of content going for it.

I can't avoid these hobbies that have been such a big part of my life.  Friends and relatives simply expect me to host Laser Tag games in the back yard or to come across a dart in my house from an impromptu battle.  That's just me.  So don't think I've "outgrown Nerf" or "graduated from Laser Tag".  I'm still a big kid driving fast cars to get to my 9-5 job to come home to my wife and puppy in a house full of grown-up things and a garage full of kid things.  It's just time to quit pretending that it's important to keep the blog going.  This page will always be here.  My Facebook page will stay up.  My YouTube channel will continue to have n00bs claiming all sorts of things about Elite Longshots.

For those who have followed this, whether it was recent or from ages ago, thank you for your support.  I have made and hope to continue friendships forged through the connections of this blog.  Following their projects and games keeps me going and helps fuel this hobby with helpful insight and encouraging results.  

For those who missed this train, I hope the information between April 15th 2011 and October 4th 2015 is useful for you!  That'll be all for Tactical Tag on the blog side of things.  It's been a lot of fun!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Where is Modulus headed?

When it was first leaked in that "2015 Blasters Photo" spotted in the Summer of 2014, the Nerf Modulus was one of the few that caught fans attention.  A new lineup.  A rifle design.  This is gonna be good!

Now I'm not saying Nerf Modulus hasn't been good.  It's flooded the aisles with accessories and given us a decent platform blaster.  Now there's more on the way with the Recon Mk II and the Ion Fire, so the ECS-10 is getting some company to share all these accessories with.  But, ever since I figured out what Modulus was supposed to be (accessory combinations that are OVER 9,000!!!!) I've always thought... "Well isn't that what N-Strike and N-Strike Elite have been doing?"

To a certain point, no.  While the N-Strike blasters have always had some kind of accessory attachment via removable barrels, removable stocks, or tactical accessory rails, there hasn't really been a plethora of accessories available.  Unlike Modulus, the only way to really get accessories was to buy the blaster that they happened to come with.  Want a foregrip?  Buy a Retaliator.  Want a barrel that looks like a silencer?  Buy the Spectre.  Want a Dart Holder?  Buy a Barrel Break (we know that's probably the only thing that sold that blaster).

Modulus and N-Strike then, on the surface, are very similar... and I had a hard time trying to figure out what the point was.  The ECS-10 is a beefier Stryfe.  The Recon Mk II is a reworked Recon/Retaliator.  The Ion Fire is a Sharp Shot with a tactical rail.  Where these lines differ (aside from the obvious coloration changes) is how they're marketed.  Where N-Strike and N-Strike Elite have the option for accessories, the emphasis has been on the blaster itself.  Yes, there have been a few accessories released on their own, but for the most part, you buy the blaster and you're done.  Modulus is pretty much aimed at that same market, BUT now they can buy accessory upgrades to suit how they want the blaster to look from the start.

Look at it this way.  When other lines have made their debut, there have been several blasters along with it.  The Vortex release is a good example, boasting four different sized blasters from the start.  The Modulus lineup started with ONE blaster and a plethora of accessories from the start.  Right out of the gates, Modulus boasted over 1,000 combinations with their initial release for the ECS-10.  To some, that means WAY more variety in what they can do to build up their blaster.

The marketing itself is much more clever with this.  Much like the rest of the spin-off lineups with Rebelle, ZombieStrike, Doomlands, they usually take a blaster design that already works and just put it in a fancy shell.  Different colors, different designs, same guts.  Those who are completionists... those who are OCD about their stuff matching, they draw on that to get you to buy the same Stryfe twice (or three or four times).  But then there's a step further with this "Buy More of the Same" pitch.  Not only do you have to buy the new colors and designs, but there's a whole world of accessories that you can buy to outfit your blaster the way you want.  They're bundled, so you still sort of have to mix and match if you want something specific, but I bet Nerf plans on making more money off all the accessories you can add to Modulus, N-Strike, Rebelle, N-Strike Elite, ZombieStrike, the list goes on.  It's all compatible with their existing blasters anyways.

So where is Modulus headed then?  It could replace the N-Strike Elite lineup on shelves as the new mainstay "tacticool" lineup.  The combinations, the availability, this really has the potential to be bigger than the beloved N-Strike lineup.  In fact, I sort of made the mistake of thinking that Modulus was it's own thing until I noticed the "N-Strike" logo at the top, so it's more of a continuation of the N-Strike lineup than a replacement.  It's simply going from N-Strike to N-Strike Elite to N-Strike Modulus (from the looks of it).  With fewer blasters and more accessories, there's plenty of room for expansion.  For the small majority, and I was in this minority when the Modulus lineup came out, it really just seemed like the reshell game with a different brand and extra accessories.  Many fans don't realize how far the customizing game is going for Modulus.  They've moved this from the shelf to the site with Amazon.  You can literally build your blaster from the ground up instead of going to the store and being limited by what is packaged together or what is available.  It's really a game changer for Nerf.

But for most Nerf fans, Modulus is a whole new realm of fun with customizing blasters.  With more blasters planned and the lineup seemingly doing well, it's not going away anytime soon.  I don't mean to play crystal ball, but I think it's safe to say that Modulus is poised to take the top spot for the shelf.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Blaster Report - 9/6 Gameplay

It seems like every time I do a game I've got a different setup.  So, for the foreseeable future, I'm going to list details of the blasters I used in the games and report on how things went.  This report is for the game held on September 6th.  The Blasters used were the Demolisher and the Vagabond.

I used the NERF N-Strike Elite Demolisher 2-in-1 blaster as my primary for all of the games except the pistols-only rounds.  My Demolisher was fitted with a 35-Round Drum and a Strike-and-Defend Pistol Stock.  The only modification to the Demolisher was the power supply, as I was using four Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA batteries.  The Pistol Stock had it's AR removed and was using a stock spring.  Pretty light modifications.  I was using normal N-Strike Elite darts of varying codes.

For the games I used the Demolisher with, I found that my performance and accuracy were very similar to other flywheel-driven blasters with power upgrades.  There was a Rapid Red and a Stryfe with Ultrafire batteries that I found myself up against pretty frequently and, while my spool-up time was longer, the power and distance I was getting had me on seemingly even terms.  Ranges seemed to be between 55-65 feet for average engagement distance.  Accuracy was fairly consistent and I only experienced two jams the entire day.  Both instances were mag-feeding related and occurred with older darts, so the blaster itself was very reliable.  I carried 4 Rockets into battle with me and only managed to hit somebody once with it.  The Rockets move slower than the darts so they seem much easier for opponents to dodge.  This was further supported by the fact that my only rocket kill was at an engagement distance less than 15 feet.

The Strike-and-Defend Pistol Stock performed very well both as a Pistol and as a shoulder stock.  It was sturdy and provided a good amount of comfort during battle while aiming the Demolisher.  I only managed to use it as a Pistol when I was reloading and the performance of the Pistol didn't seem bad.  I was only using it when targets were closer than 20 feet and it was fairly accurate.  I did notice that, during one instance, I grabbed a Koosh dart off the grass to fire back at my opponent and it seemed to shoot straighter than the Elite darts.  Throughout the evening, I managed to pick up 4 or 5 other Koosh Darts to load into the Pistol or my Demolisher to fire back and I was impressed every time, so I'll likely be picking some of these up for future battles.

In the last two games of the evening, we switched to a Pistols-only game.  I opted to go for my new NERF Doomlands 2169 Vagabond.  No modifications were made to the blaster and I was using mostly Elite Darts (unless I could manage to pick up a Koosh dart here and there).  The Vagabond's range was impressive right from the start.  The accuracy seemed pretty decent, too.  Since the Pistols games were on the playground area, I didn't really have an issue with range.  Most engagement distances were between 30-40 feet and the Vagabond had no issues there.  I never ended up using the Vagabond's Slam-Fire feature, but single fire had no jams or firing issues.  I did find that reloading the Vagabond seemed easier than other rotating barrel pistols and the design of the barrels seemed to help make quick reloads easier.  The games were fast paced, so the ergonomic issues I had noted before in my reviews weren't noticeable due to the short amount of play time.

It's odd for me to use mostly unmodified blasters, but after using these in the games we had, I was already pretty happy with their performance.  I'll probably do upgrades for them later but I was pleased that they didn't mitigate my success in the games.  I'm also growing increasingly interested in Koosh darts based on my experience with them.  I had already been reading up on them and heard good things but I'll probably be finding some to load up for the next round.

With weather cooling down, I'm hoping to do another game or two with the Nebraska Nerf Legion soon.  I'll use a different setup for those and list my findings with those, too!  See ya next time!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Post War Report 9/6

Over Labor Day Weekend, the Nebraska Nerf Legion met up at Southridge Meadows Park for a fun evening of Nerf! This is the first time I've hosted a Nerf game outdoors and my first outing with the NNL. I must say I was very pleased with how everything went and met a lot of great people. From Ralston to Norfolk, from Lincoln to Omaha, we had players show up from all around the area to sling those familiar foam darts all across the park.

Our first game was a simple team match in the middle of the park. Two teams of 7 squared off in a one-hit-kills elimination game that revealed the power of many of the customized blasters present. There were some epic shootouts between trees, as the dart pickup in the aftermath revealed localized areas of extreme dart spammage. After that first match, and after spending a good chunk of time retrieving darts, we decided to run some quicker games in the playground in the park. We ran several rounds of Attack & Defend and "Pistols Only" matches that proved to be a lot of fun.

You'll also notice that in nearly every photo I have of gameplay that there's a Corgi running about. Our new puppy (the small black, tan, and white Corgi) had a ball chasing players and her friend Weasley (the tan and white Corgi) around the park while we played. I imagine the players enjoyed being around these friendly playful pups during the games given their playful interaction with them.
We wrapped things up earlier than we hoped thanks to a strong thunderstorm moving through the area. Actually, when the players were polled to vote if we should do one more or call it a night, I was surprised to see an overwhelming support to play another round as the thunder rumbled overhead. After one more pistols round in the park, we grabbed our gear, picked up the darts, and ran for the cars before the downpour kicked in.

Despite the hot weather and the early finish thanks to the storms, I think it's safe to say that this event was a rousing success.  I didn't know if we'd have 5 people or 55 people, but I can't think of one complaint after the great time we had yesterday.  14 people made it perfect.  Big enough teams to run games, small enough size to manage easily.  Plus there were some cool blasters and setups on-hand.  From RapidRed / Hornet integrations to tactical vest layouts that would make an airsoft player blush.  I was also very happy with the new friends made at this event.  Connecting with other players from around the state, seeing the mods first-hand, and exchanging fire in my backyard park together made for a fun evening.  I'm looking forward to more outdoor engagements with the Nebraska Nerf Legion!

Friday, September 4, 2015

NERF First Order Stormtrooper Blaster

Here comes another Trilogy!  In true-out-of-order fashion, Star Wars is hitting the big screen again.  First they made Episodes 4, 5, and 6.  Then they made Episodes 1, 2, and 3.  Starting in 2015, Lucasfilm hits us again with Episodes 7, 8, and 9.  And if there's one thing you can ALWAYS bet on with Star Wars films... there will be plenty of merchandising opportunities.  Star Wars the T-Shirt.  Star Wars the Lunch Box.  Star Wars the Breakfast Cereal.  Star Wars the FLAME THROWER!!! (Please tell me you're getting the reference)

So here comes some new merchandise!  Nerf has come out with 3 blasters for the September 4th release of special "The Force Awakens" toys.  Of these blasters, the largest is based off of the Nerf Rampage (2012).  This First Order Stormtrooper blaster has all the same features of the Rampage, including Slam-fire, tactical rail, and stock attachment.  It comes with a 12-round All White clipazine that uses Elite Darts.  The Darts that come with this are red and have translucent red tips to look like "Laser Blasts!"

The grip, stock, and general size feels a little smaller than a normal Rampage, so larger users might want to stick to their existing blaster instead of shelling out another $30-$35 for this Star Wars version.  It's not a direct reshell, either.  I found this interesting.  The layout of the pump, the trigger, and the stock point are all slightly different from it's N-Strike Elite cousin.  It still loads from the side and can use other N-Strike Accessories and Clip / Magazine sizes.  I found this one at Target.

Below is a video review going over all the features as well as outlining differences in side-by-side comparisons with existing Nerf blasters.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Unintentional Advertising

When I first looked at buying the home I live in now, there were a number of things that had me excited about it.  The location was great, the neighborhood was inviting and friendly, there was a big park in the backyard for hosting Nerf and Laser Tag games, and there was a nice big garage waiting to be fully utilized.  The garage has become my "office" with all sorts of space for my workbench, massive armory, tools, parts, and my beloved Subarus.  Covering the entire north wall of the garage were panels of pegboard that I mounted hooks and holders for Screwdrivers, Power Tools, and everything in-between... but since there was SO MUCH space, I decided to fill the unused portions with some of my favorite blasters.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I happened to put my blasters underneath the light for the garage door on the side... so at night they are illuminated.  Also, since it's on the north wall, in the mornings when I have the garage open, the sunlight lights up that wall, again displaying my collection.  In the two years I've owned the house, I can't tell you how many neighbors or even a random passerby have stopped to ask about them.  Just the other day I was doing some cleaning in the garage and I went inside to grab some water.  When I came back out, a fleet of boys were standing in front of the garage inspecting the display talking among themselves "That tan one is a sniper rifle!"  "I think my brother has that orange one, but it's different."  "What's that rocket thing?" so I spent much of the morning explaining each blaster and fielding their questions.

Adorning my wall is a Crossbolt, Elite Alpha Trooper with an OMW kit, modified SledgeFire, my "Van Helsing" SlingFire, my LTX DMR, the soon-to-be-modified LawBringer, a modified Demolisher w/Strike & Defend blaster stock, the ELV2, and the Blue "Unity Power System".  And with the upcoming Nerf War in my backyard, I took this opportunity to plug that event to get some more players with us.  I never intended for my pegboard wall to be an advertising asset, but it's certainly been working!

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Real Deal: Elite Longshot

Since the term "Elite Longshot" is one of the top search keywords that has brought viewers to this blog, I figured I'd chime in on this latest bit of news.  As spotted on the Toys R Us UK website, Nerf is recoloring the long-time fan-favorite Longshot CS-6 in "Elite" colors.

Why is it a top search keyword for my blog?  In case you've missed it, I've now built TWO "Elite" Longshots that have made the rounds on the internet.  While this official version doesn't look to claim any Elite performance on it, and most of us can easily assume it's still a stock Longshot on the inside, it is pretty cool to see Nerf's "legit" version look so similar to the ones I had built before.

The first one I built in 2012 when the N-Strike Elite lineup was making it's first debut to the Nerf blaster world.  It didn't feature the front-gun or scope and was a powered-up blue Longshot with some white stripes to match the then-new N-Strike Elite blasters coming out that summer.

The second "Elite" Longshot I built included the front-gun, changed the scope to a Pinpoint Sight, and replaced the priming handle with a pump-grip.  It also featured upgraded internals and a slightly different paint job that lined the white stripes up with existing N-Strike Elite accessories.

The official Nerf version looks most similar to my 2nd attempt at building what I thought an Elite Longshot would look like.  The white stripes with the black logos are almost identical between the two versions and the orange jam door and details along the top are all there.  Even the grip is the same dark gray that I used off of a Yellow Longshot.  Their buttstock isn't nearly as detailed as I would like, but I do like the darker color on that.  Obviously the pump-grip isn't happening with the Longshot from Nerf and it would've been nice to get the Elite Pinpoint instead of the big plastic "scope", but overall I do like that there's a legit version coming out.  Some internal upgrades will get it shooting just like my custom-made versions.

However, this does do something a little odd for my blog.  Since 2012, I've been getting all kinds of "Does Nerf actually make an Elite Longshot" questions and accusations that my creations were "fake".  There was (and still is) a lot of hype around these blasters I built.  And while this still isn't really an Elite Longshot, my Longshots seem like they've lost a little of their charm.  Even though I could say I was looking into my crystal ball to predict the future with these, making something that I thought would "never be" is a tad disappointing to me. Will it kill traffic?  Who knows, as I'm not really concerned with that.  I'll just keep doing my thing!

On the up-side, at least I'll can hope that the "build me an Elite Longshot" or "will you sell me yours?" requests will come to an end.  I can't say I'll miss that!  I might try to pick one up and give it similar "Elite Internals" treatment like the others, but it's just not the same when you're mocking up a blaster to look like the real thing.

Here's all my Elite Longshot videos I've made over the years.
Elite Longshot Progress Update #1
Elite Longshot CS-6
Retaliator vs Longshot
Retaliator vs Longshot (2)
ELV2 Progress 1
ELV2 Progress 2
ELV2 Complete

Saturday, August 22, 2015

War Prep: Public Armory

We've got a big outdoor Nerf War planned for Labor Day Weekend coming up.  While I expect most people to come out with their own blasters, I still want to share the handful of blasters that I have on-hand that I don't have enough hands to operate at once!  AKA: time to prepare a Public Armory to share with our players!

In case you've missed it, here's the details for the upcoming game!

Of the blasters I have to share, there are several that have been modified and I want to make sure that, if someone is borrowing a blaster, that it's still good for 'em.  Some of my modified blasters have seen some use and need some repairs or adjustments made so they're problem-free for whomever is borrowing them.

So far, I've got pretty much every current blaster available to loan out, but I'm wondering if I should break out my older N-Strike blasters, too.  Many of them were modified to improve the dismal ranges they used to get but, ever since Elite blasters set the bar higher for performance, many of them still have trouble keeping up with newer gear.  I could expand the Public Armory from about 10 blasters to loan out with my current setup, but by expanding it to include older gear, I think I could host a 20-30 player Nerf Game all on my own!

I thought I'd ask what fellow Nerf fans do for large-scale events like this.  I don't want to be stuck providing everything, but I also still want to have a successful event and equip our players with good blasters if they don't have one.  Either way, it's been enjoyable so far spreading the word and gearing up for this big event!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Straightening things out

A post I made on August 15th seemed to have more response than I anticipated... and perhaps not in the way I had hoped.  I figured it was time to address a few things.  Not exactly certain on where to start, so I'll start with the post itself.

My overall intent on making the post was to highlight and support fellow Nerf fans who, based on the widening gap of exposure compared to another channel, I felt should get more attention for the quality of the content they provide their viewers.  Specifically, I meant to promote Coop772, Drac, and Bobololo.  In doing so, I also threw Nerf Boy Productions under the bus by using his presentations as a drastic contrast to the kind of information supplied for reviews of Nerf blasters for those that I intended to support.

The entire article was actually sparked by the realization of the huge gap in viewership between two very different types of "reviews" of Nerf products.  I brilliantly overlooked the fact that, even though young adults / college age / older kids who play with these toys that Nerf is intended for use by children.  This can obviously reflected in that viewership gap that, at first, was surprising.  Instead, I was under the impression that people were actively seeking out Nerf Boy Productions over the reviews of Coop 772, Drac, and Bobololo and, after taking in the backlash of comments, it makes sense.  There are more kids borrowing mom (or dads') iPad to watch YouTube videos made by other kids about toy blasters than there are older kids (or young adults?) to look up informative and objective reviews about toy blasters.  My thoughts represent a small percentage of those who enjoy this hobby like I do.  Essentially, I was caught up in the concerns of a niche market and missed the mark.  Had I figured that out first, I probably wouldn't have even bothered making a post like that to begin with, as my concern would've been invalid.

Regardless of whether I should or shouldn't have made the remarks that I did, an underlying issue rose up that I think DOES need some addressing.  How the community seems to have responded to this is very mixed.  On the one hand, a lot of you helped me realize my short-minded take on things and I thank you for that.  On the flip side, there were a lot of fans who took this opportunity to bash on Nerf Boy Productions, Bazookafied, Drac, whomever.  There was a lot of mud-slinging going on and, while I may or may not have been the direct cause or fuel for these kinds of actions, it's still not an acceptable response.  Flaming, trolling, and general bashing isn't conducive to a positive outcome.  As some have pointed out, I should have talked to him to improve his content or at least offered advice to enhance the reviews before throwing Nerf Boy under the YouTube bus.  And, while I would hope that the remarks of a tiny blog like mine wouldn't hurt a giant channel, it's still something that I agree I should have followed a more helpful approach first.

Perhaps that's what bothers me most about a situation like this still.  I had the opportunity to try to connect with a fellow Nerf fan, regardless of our different views, and inadvertently started a big mess.  With the kind of exposure, consistent content release time, and availability of products at his disposal, Nerf Boy Productions has the potential to be a great channel.  There could be a balance between the excited ether that comes over nearly everyone who owns something new and the fact-centered analysis of these products that could be objective as any.  I kinda blew that chance the way things have panned out.

When I take a step back from this, I not only realize that the original intent of my blog was mostly lost and overshadowed by the response of NBP bashing, but I also find that my approach to addressing this and the entire "original intent" was kind of a moot point to begin with.  Want me to apologize?  Sure.  I kind of just did.  Want me to shut down by blog?  Nah, I'll keep doing my thing.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Honest Reviews > Ignorant Endorsements

So today I was watching some Nerf reviews and trying to get different perspectives on the latest round of products that were launched for the Summer of 2015.  For me, my regular watchlist currently consists of Coop772, Drac, and Bobololo.  We'll call them my "Big 3".  There are other great reviews out there, but I always find myself checking up on these three frequently because of their consistency, accuracy, ability to get new content out quickly, and (above all) their honesty.  But every time I watch a review on YouTube for a Nerf Review, there's "Nerf Boy Productions" that comes up.  And yes, I can hear your eyes rolling from here.

Awhile ago, when I got my FlipFury, I was a bit disappointed by the flip-barrel mechanism.  As such, I decided to forgo the ZombieStrike Doominator as I suspected this issue would only be worse with four barrels flipping instead of just two.  Still interested in if my worries were true, I checked up on my "Big 3" for their reviews on the Doominator.  At the top of the search list (as usual) was Nerf Boy Productions version of the Doominator Review.  Skipping this has become second nature, so I scrolled down to find my usual suspects.  However, I had to double take at the number of views listed.  This search was performed on August 14th of 2015.

For the Doominator Review, here's how the Big 3 stacked up for their video views (this is over a 2-week period).

5,320 Bobololo
96,872 Drac
104,859 Coop

And then there's this.

414,480 NBP

Even a math class dropout can combine all three of the reviews I actually watch and figure out that NBP has a considerably higher amount of views... than ALL 3 COMBINED.  I figured "oh what the heck... maybe it's worth a chuckle to watch and THAT's why there's so many views."  I proceeded to watch it.

As usual, the Nerf Boy himself proceeded with his sales pitch endorsement, performed a hilarious range test at his resort, and concluded that the blaster was totally awesome and recommended.  Nothing short of what I had expected.  12 minutes of my life wasted to watching him ignore the comfort issues with slam-firing, or the rotation issues right out of the box, or the loading issues, or the sub-par ranges.  Pretty much every issue that the honest reviews of Bobololo, Drac, and Coop touched on were completely unmentioned in his mindless dribble.

I'm sure there could be a political debate about how this is "mirroring society's ignorance to the facts" or what-have-you, but just in terms of Nerf... this is bad.  When a kid making awful reviews about products is getting more than DOUBLE the views of three proficient and knowledgeable reviewers, something is incredibly wrong.  I could add in other great reviewers sites to my list and STILL not come close to the kind of exposure that Nerf Boy Productions has managed to achieve.

Fight the power?  Post "u suck u stoopid" comments all over every video?  Write a letter to the editor?  Nope.  Not really anything I can do to stop it from happening.  However, I can at least attempt to reach people who are actually in-tune with the Nerf world and URGE you to support good channels and outlets.  Southern Brisbane Nerf Club, Bay Area Nerf, there's a ton!  Perhaps, in educating Nerf fans of good reviews, the NBP banter won't get quite as much exposure and we can actually help people make informed decisions. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Doomlands Blaster Comparisons

The Doomlands 2169 Blaster Lineup made it's debut in August of 2015 as a Target Exclusive in the United States.  It introduced two cyber-western themed blasters: the Vagabond and the Lawbringer.  They are both the same style/color, both are about the same size, and both use pre-existing internal layouts from previous Nerf blasters.  With the similarities mounting, I had a tough time trying to decide which one to get.  Truth be told, I'm still having trouble deciding even after taking a hard look at each.

Here's a review on both of them in a side-by-side comparison.  Included are links to each blaster's individual review.  Check out the battle of the Doomlands Debut Blasters!  It's Vagabond vs Lawbringer!!

And, if you're not into video reviews, here's my written comparison notes.

So there's a $7 difference in price between these two blasters... so right off the bat, the Lawbringer ($34.99) can almost look like a bargain (or the Vagabond at $27.99 is overpriced) because it comes with double the darts and can hold a total of 24 darts if you count the storage in the stock.  However, this review went further than numbers.

The Vagabond, while smaller, has better range and performance.  It is slightly easier to load in 6 darts than the 12 in the Lawbringer's rotating barrel.  However, it is not the most comfortable blaster to wield, especially in long-duration games.  The angle of the grip is fine but the design of the grip itself is the culprit.  There are raised bumps and grooves that aren't ergonomic and the seam between the clear plastic and gray plastic around the trigger guard.  The pump grip is fine, and reloading is easy thanks to the raised ridges around the barrels to flip through and reload.  The reload is easier too, thanks to the design of the side-barrel opening that makes the Vagabond look so mean!

The Lawbringer is much more practical in terms of ammo, comfort, and ease-of-use.  It's one-handed operation with those much-loved HammerShot internals means you have a hand free to reload darts into it's 12-dart barrel capacity.  The grip is considerably more comfortable than the Vagabond, too.  While the shoulder stock isn't long enough for most users (almost as short as the Retaliator) it does hold an additional 12 darts.  Between the comfort and capacity, you can last awhile in a game over the Vagabond... but it lacks a decent punch.  I was surprised to find that the smaller and cheaper Vagabond can out-shoot the Lawbringer.

Objectively speaking, I do also like how the Vagabond looks better than the Lawbringer.  Between it's killer looks and better out-of-the-box range, the Vagabond is a more satisfying buy in my books.  However, the Lawbringer is only $7 more and it's a more solid blaster all-around.  In a long-duration battle, the extra ammo and comfort of use will get the technical win, but I still LOVE how the Vagabond looks and that punch that it has.  

NERF Lawbringer Review

To bring law to an apocalyptic wasteland, you need some firepower.  How's 12 darts in rotation hooked up to a hammer-prime rifle with an extra 12 darts stored in the stock?  You can confidently waltz into battle with 24 darts at your disposal... and you'll need 'em!

This is the Nerf Lawbringer from the Doomlands 2169 lineup.  It's a Target Exclusive and, just like it's Vagabond brother, it's got this cool cyber-western design to it.  Tucked away inside and peeking through a clear panel on the side are Nerf Hammershot internals to wind through that 12-round rotating barrel.  The Lawbringer is also equipped with two tactical rails on top with a fixed barrel and stock reeling in the design.

It's a good comfortable blaster that could JUST use a little more power to make it great!  Check out the review below to see all the details!

Monday, August 10, 2015

NERF Vagabond Review

Here's how it is: Earth got used up.  Vash the Stampede?  That's right.  He's the dude with the $$60,000,000 on his head. Well here’s another great moment in the legend of Spike, famous bounty hunter and dog walker.  If I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die historic on the fury road!  Any of this sounding familiar?  Then yeah, you were pretty stoked when news broke of the newest Nerf blaster lineup: Doomlands 2169.

With a Summer 2015 Debut, this cyber-western lineup starts as a Target Exclusive with the Vagabond (in this review) and the Lawbringer.  Firefly, Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, Mad Max, it's kind of got all of those wrapped into a new design kick for Nerf blasters.  Count me among the many who were excited to see a new blaster theme go in this direction.  As I mentioned in this rant about Reshelling, there's really nothing new inside the debut blasters for Doomlands 2169.  One is a rifle version of a HammerShot with double the rounds and the other is using internals from a Guardian Crossbow.  And yet... despite the fact that there's nothing new on the inside, I can't help but love what they've wrapped them up into.

Sure, it's not the most ergonomic or comfortable blaster to use.  Yeah, you could accomplish the same thing with other blasters that you might already have, but there's no denying the attraction on the outside being a big selling point for Nerf's newest lineup.  That's very true of the Vagabond, which is a 6-Shot Long-barreled Pump-Action pistol.  I already have a blaster that does what the Vagabond can do (my trusty Strongarm) but there's something wildly different about wielding this cyber-western pistol that makes me feel like a Space Cowboy.

Check out my video review to see what this wannabe bounty hunter thinks of the Vagabond!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Nerf War on Labor Day Weekend!

Live near Omaha, NE?  Consider this your formal invitation to a big Labor day Weekend NERF WAR!!  We're meeting up at Southridge Meadows Park with all our friends so I thought I'd let Tactical Tag readers know, too!

All the Event Details can be found on the Omaha Nerf League Facebook Group page or on this Event Page.  While there will be gear on-hand to borrow, we encourage players to bring their own gear and darts (as we likely won't have enough to equip everyone!).  Our group has traditionally only done small matches with friends, so this is the first time we've opened it up to the general public.  We're excited to see everyone!

RANT: The Nerf Reshell Game

Tale as old as time.  A manufacturer builds something and then utilizes it's core components to make something else.  From Computers to Cars to Buildings and Blasters, it just makes sense.  So when Nerf releases a "new" blaster, take it with a grain of salt.  Sure the outside is exciting and it probably has a tactical rail but I'd be hard pressed to see ground-breaking new designs tucked neatly inside it's shell.  It's something that hit me when I visited Target this week (it's currently August of 2015 for those of you reading this in the age of flying cars).

On the one hand... WOW!  Look at all these new blasters!  There's the new RotoFury for the Mega line.  The ZombieStrike lineup has the Dooooooooominator (thank's Bobo!).  Oh and look there!  A whole new lineup called "Doomlands 2169" with some Cyber Western stuff!  And who could ignore the gobs of Modulus products all over the shelf space.  Accessory packs galore!!  It's all new new n- wait a sec...

Isn't that Doominator just using the same tech we saw in the FlipFury?  Huh... and it looks like the Vagabond is using the Guardian Crossbow internals.  And yeah, I guess that Lawbringer looks great, but it's really just a HammerShot with twice the ammo capacity.  Well, I mean the Modulus is a Stryfe... again.

Suddenly the "newness" wears off and, as I look at the shelves, I try to figure out which one looks the coolest (I nabbed a Vagabond).  It's still good, since the blasters all work well (although I haven't seen great reviews on the Doominator) but I was expecting that excitement of ALL these new products right in front of me to last a little longer.  Unless you absolutely NEED a new design on the exterior to add to your massive Nerf Blaster collection, you probably already own a similar blaster at home.

That's exactly what happened when I got home with the Vagabond.  I'll have a review up later, but in the 24 hours I have owned this new blaster in a new lineup... it already feels kinda old.  I already have a great 6-Shooter Pistol that can do Slamfire.  It's called the Strongarm and it's a great blaster!  Mine has been lightly modified to have a bit more punch for range but I've used it a bunch since I got it.  So whatever modifications I do to my Vagabond... it just feels like more of the same for performance gains.  Would I pick a modified Vagabond over a modified Strongarm?  Tough to say.  Would I pick two HammerShots over one Lawbringer?  Probably.  Would I pick a Stryfe over a Modulus?  More than likely.

I suppose what I'm hoping for in the future is something that WORKS differently.  Make a stand-out difference in a blaster, like the SledgeFire!  Lots of fun to fire, uses cartridges, has a nifty prime.  Sure it may not be the most ideal blaster to use all the time, but what made it fun was how different it's operation is from any other Nerf blaster.  The Rival line is very different for Nerf, and there's some cool innovation going on there, but I'm more focused on dart blasters since it's what I already have a plethora of (and what I tend to prefer).

The Reshell Game has been done a bunch and I suppose this latest "Loot Drop" of Nerf Products for Summer of 2015 seems like more of the same.  Perhaps that's because the new designs are in the new Rival lineup.  Perhaps there's just demand for the existing blaster tech.  Perhaps I'm just bummed that the high of owning this new Vagabond wore off so easily when I realized my Strongarm is doing just fine without an extra 6 inches of plastic.  Either way, Nerf knows exactly what I'll do: keep getting these blasters.  They still look great.  They still work great (a few exceptions, but nobody is perfect).  And they still fuel my random battles with my 7-year-old neighbor.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Special August Bulletin!

Attention Tactical Tag readers!  This is a special bulletin concerning activity for the month of August.  Due to unexpectedly high levels of cuteness (and derpy-ness), Tactical Tag will be a little pre-occupied with a new puppy.

This is Daphne!  She's a 9-week-old Corgi Puppy who, besides being an attention sucker to begin with, does require a lot of attention.  From house training to feeding to playtime, Daphne is keeping my wife and I very busy.  Until we can get a routine figured out and she is more independent (she needs to be supervised a lot!), my free time is kinda sucked up.

For an example, she is very keen on devouring Nerf darts... which I discovered when I was testing range on modifications I've made to the Strike & Defend kit I reviewed earlier.  Instead of seeing how much of an improvement to range I had, Daphne made it a point to run a "Seek and Destroy" mission.

I'll have more content up later, including Doomlands 2169 stuff and the wrap-up of our 10th Summer Season of Laser Tag games, but I thought I'd let you all know that Bazookafied is a little tied up with puppy parenting!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Nerf Modulus "Strike and Defend" Kit

This is the Nerf Modulus "Strike and Defend" kit.  It comes with a flip-up shield that can attach to an N-Strike Tactical Rail and a Pistol (includes two darts) that can attach to a N-Strike Stock Adapter and act as a sturdy stock.  It's an interesting accessory in that this is Nerf's first stock that can be used as a blaster.

My initial impressions were quite good to begin with.  As a blaster, this pistol packs more of a punch than I was expecting.  There are a few comfort issues being used solely as a pistol but it is actually a very nice sturdy stock on my blasters.  It can even still shoot a dart while it is attached as a stock (which I wasn't expecting it to do).  The "Defend" side of this kit is rather lame.  The Shield seems more like an afterthought while the clear star of this kit is the "Strike" side of things.

For details on size and features of this kit, go see the photos on Tactical Tag's Facebook Page.  This includes comparisons with other N-Strike stock sizes and pictures with it on other blasters.

Click the link below for the full video review of this kit!

Friday, July 24, 2015

REVIEW: Nerf Rhino Fire

In spring of 2014, the name "Rhino Fire" was spotted as a new Nerf blaster, but no pictures accompanied this information (unless you count my April Fools joke).  Later that summer it was revealed to be a double-barreled drum-fed tripod-mounted behemoth, mimicking the look of an Anti-Aircraft Gun.  When it was released in the fall, it came with a hefty pricetag and not-so-encouraging reviews on the 'net.  Frequent jamming and quality issues plagued this D-Cell Battery powered monster and, as a result of the price and the issues, I easily crossed this one off my list and skipped it.

Fast forward to the Summer of 2015.  A stagnant Nerf enthusiast is waiting impatiently for the new Doomlands blasters to start showing up when, lo and behold, a friend of his finds a Rhino Fire for stupid-cheap and buys it for him.  Great!  The issues from the initial release must have been rectified since last fall, right?  WRONG!

Check out the video review after the jump!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Too Hot? Switch it up!

I'm not sure about the rest of the US (or the rest of the world for that matter) but weather forecasts are expecting a string of 90-100 degree temperatures with humid muggy conditions for the entire week in the Midwest.  We are smack-dab in the middle of my Omaha-based Laser Tag group's summer season... but instead of melting this Friday evening for our weekly game... we'll be staying cool.  For the first time ever, we'll be trading our electronics for some H²O!  Sure it's not what we usually do, but I'd rather have people come out and have fun than have 5 people show that will collapse of heat-exhaustion a half-hour into the game.

This week we're gonna cool off with some Super Soakers in an epic Water War in the same park we would normally be playing Nerf or Laser Tag.  While I don't have an arsenal of Water Guns to loan out like I usually do, I do have a back yard that conveniently shares a border with the park we play in, so getting refills on water for our blasters will be easy.  It should be a fun change of pace.  I'm not sure how we'll actually run the games... or if it'll just be mindless soakage, but I know it'll be fun and I know people will have a good time!

This year I've been getting a little bent-out-of-shape on my hobbies.  I quickly realized that, instead of getting worked up about numbers and turnout and the like... that it should be about having fun regardless of whether it's 5 people or 35 people.  This Water War is just an easy way to switch things up and help us focus on what's really important: having a good time.  When plans don't go your way, switch things up and just focus on enjoying the time with whoever shows up.  There's no point in getting down on statistics or technicalities if people are having fun.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ten Years in the Making!

On July 3rd, most people were impatiently waiting for their Independence Day celebrations.  Cookouts, Fireworks, and get-togethers were planned for this big American weekend.  While the rest of the country was waiting, we were busy getting a leg up on celebrating the only way we know how: Laser Tag!

We kicked off the 10th Annual "Independence Eve Blast" with our usual pot-luck cookout.  I think this is the first time we've ever had dogs and babies at the game, though... so we all had a lot of fun!

We also enjoyed record turn-out for the event.  We had 32 in the picture but picked up another 5 through the rest of the event, so I was pretty stoked about the support we got.  I've been complaining recently of low turnout numbers but this event made me realize that these events are more about the games, it's about getting together with everyone.  Whether there's 5 or 35 players, it's still a good time.  In the same way that Nerf and Laser Tag enthusiasts tend to get too caught up or serious about their hobbies, I tend to get too worked up on the details of these games and forge to enjoy it.

One thing that made it easier to to enjoy was the return of some well-missed veterans.  Many good friends who have been with us from the start made it out to this event to celebrate with us.  Some of them don't even live in town anymore, so it was a real treat to reconnect with them and play alongside (and against) them in this awesome scenario that is simply known as the "Independence Eve Blast".  Many of them were THERE for the first one we held back in 2006, so it was great to have them here again!

For those who don't know, this event is my FAVORITE one in the entire schedule.  Not only is there great food and lots of fun games to be had, but the event carries with it a unique atmosphere not easily recreated.  As the evening of Laser Tag goes on into the night, local fireworks explode overhead giving a sort of battlefield environment as players battle through flashes of light, the booms of shells igniting overhead, and the thick smell of smoke and gunpowder.  Its awesome to play under these conditions to make for an unforgettable evening.

2015 marks our 10th year doing this.  Here's a video I made from last years event in case you missed it!

Hope all my US readers had a Happy 4th of July!  And I guess all the readers in other countries will want to host games on nights when there are fireworks in the forecast.  It's a grand ol' time!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Food Fight

Wanna come over?  Eh... Maybe.  Wanna have fun outside?  Uh, I dunno.  Want food?  COUNT ME IN!!

Yeah, that seems to be the solution.  I realized this last Friday at another one of our Laser Tag games this summer.  I had previously speculated that the drop in attendance was because weather wasn't really cooperative this season but, upon enjoying upper 70s with a slight breeze and mostly sunny skies on June 26th for our 6th Game this season with a mere 7 players, I can only summarize that the key to having a big event is by offering food.


Yeah the big events each year are usually those with a cookout, but I was hoping there'd at least be SOME kind of interest in just the game itself.  It's not really looking that way this season, which we are supposed to be celebrating our 10th Summer doing this.  This season looks more like "we're really not interested unless there will be food."  How do I know this?  Well, after 6 weeks of games, here's the attendance turnout.

Week 1: Season Opener (Food) 38 players
Week 2: Mostly rained out, but we had 10 people show up
Week 3: Humid.  8 players showed up
Week 4: Humid again.  11 players showed up
Week 5: Humid, but cloudy.  12 players showed up.
Week 6: Beautiful weather.  7 players showed up.

Week 7 is our 10th Annual Independence Eve BLAST with about 20 players already signed up.  The event is scheduled for this Friday.  We'll have a pot luck cookout, like we did the first week.

This next event will mark the mid-point in the season.  If it's going to take food to bribe people to come to these events anymore, there probably isn't going to be a Season 11.  Being almost 30, having a home, a full-time job, and other interests now... it's no secret that I haven't had as much time devoted to all this before.  Weekly games do take up whatever free Hobby time I have, but if I could be in my workshop getting something rolling instead of getting out there with 5-10 players every single week... well there's more productive things I could be doing with my time.

We'll see what the rest of the season holds.  Weekly games are getting to be a weekly strain, so maybe it's time for a change?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Weather Woes hurt Turnout

Since we started hosting outdoor laser tag games every summer, the one thing that is always unpredictable is the weather.  The Midwest is known for having a myriad of mixed conditions throughout each summer from Hot Humid weather to pleasant evenings to strong storms dumping buckets of rain.  While that weather IS unpredictable, the attendance with each game gets very predictable.

This season is no exception, as the weather this summer has either been rainy and wet or unpleasantly humid.  The first game of the season was cancelled due to rain.  The second game was (which became the first) had record-breaking 38 player turnout and wonderful weather with a slight cooling breeze.  The third game was pretty much rained out, but the 6 players who showed up managed to have fun watching movies together.  Both the Fourth and Fifth games this summer were very very humid and we struggled to break 10 players for those.

I'm hoping weather cooperates a little more for the rest of the season, as we're almost at the halfway point.  There's our big Independence Eve BLAST coming up on July 3rd that's a very popular event, but we're still at the mercy of what Mother Nature decides to do!