Monday, February 23, 2015

New York Toy Fair 2015 - In A Nutshell

New York Toy Fair 2015 in a Nutshell (The Good, the Not so Good, the.... What?)
Vas The Stampede

'Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.' - Norman Vincent Peale

And there was a lot of shooting (darts, rounds, water pellets, zartz) at this year's North American International Toy Fair. This makes 5 years now I've gone to the show and as always, I come back saying, "wow." So here's a quick rundown on what I saw, and some initial impressions.

Quick note: As always, this trip is not sponsored by any of the companies. No one pays to fly me out. This is all out of pocket for me on this trip to ensure I am covering what I want and saying what I need to say.

BRANDS:
There were a LOT of blaster type/associated brands that caught my eye this year. The Story So Far (in no particular order), followed by a taste/preview of things I liked (+) and/or didn't like (-). As I intend to give each brand their own post, these tidbits are shots from the hip, what I readily recall.
  • Nerf (Hasbro)



    • DOOMINATOR +++++++++ (the amount of +s are completely arbitrary, but may relay my sense of enthusiasm) 
    •  Modulus blaster by itself - (it's a Stryfe, even if you can make additions)
    • Strike & Defend blaster (Literally, a "Stock Blaster") +
    • Rival line ++++++++++++++++
    • Zombie Strike silly s Zombie Repellant + 
    • Rebelle Codebreaker + 
    • Tek Strike +
    • Rotofury doesn't have a stock -
 
BOOMco Needler - Halo

  • BOOMco (Mattel)
    • Halo blasters ++++
    • Spinsanity +
    • One of the new blasters is another triggerless/slam-fire affair
  • Zing 
    • New airborne toys/planes +
    • Firetek Styled Zano Bows +
    • Some additional roleplay items to the "Legends" line +
    • Firetek Style Sky Ripperz+
  • XC Shot/Bug Attack (Zuru)
    • Bug Attack will have included targets for additional hilarity +
    • New blasters for XC Shot (the ones with clips) were prototypes and not firing -
    • Increased ranges for XC shot blasters + 
  • Primetime Toys
    • Not much new there, as a lot is still in the works. I did get video of the Talon, but Primetime promises some new product in the next few months. They did address some reports about the dart adhesive being problematic, and insist they have since fixed the problem. Comment below if you still find Primetime Toys streamline darts to fall apart, I'm sure they'd be interested to know. The Scorpion was one of their first forays going out of the Airzone line, and they plan to do more.
  • K'Nex +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
A springer styled shotgun of their own.

    • I mean, seriously. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 
      • With a little working knowledge, I'd be interested to see how the standing K'Nex community excels with these blasters. They're built with "regular" blaster play patterns in mind, with the intent of being able to withstand a drop/fall/hit like any other blaster currently on the market. DROP TEST HERE.
      • What makes me a believer? That one of the folks that works for K'Nex made a multi-barreled blaster (that fired on a single trigger pull after priming each individual plunger tube) out of the available kits. It took some work he said, but it worked out. To me, that spoke volumes of the potential of builds in this line. With enough plungers, connectors, rods, who knows what is possible. Also, look forward to their promotion coming this spring, to really find the best K'Nex fans out there! 
  • Marshmallow Shooters

  • Marshmallow Shooters Orballistics ammo
    • ORBALLISTICS. Reportedly going to get 50' flat, and straight no less.+++
    • Foam ammo finally. Apparently the feedback was a lot of people didn't like wasting food, so this is now a thing for their line. 
  • Discovery Kids
    • TBD: they had a number of blasters in boxes, nothing to demo. The designs looked like stuff we've seen, but if the price point is right (also, they might have some interesting licenses) I won't discount them out right.
  • Moose Toys (From what they told me, they have a blaster in the works. Not your typical fare, but I'll get more info on this later.)  
    • TBD
  •  NXT (Maya Group, from the way I see it, this is a reboot of the Xploderz line)
    • This iteration of water pellet shooters from Maya Group FINALLY HAZ A TRIGGER. After all this time, and the first run with BlasterPro, these blasters get a trigger. I will admit, I had misgivings about previous Maya Group blasters, but these seemed on point. Although, paintballers might see something very similar here (at least, the gravity fed hopper shape on top. +


  • NXT Generation (Bows, crossbows, etc)
    • Some of the most solidly-built blasters/shooters I've seen, but the ammo to me leaves something to be desired. They require a closer look from me for a determination on this next set. The shotgun I reviewed was a little expensive for what you got, but it's a new year, with a new line of products. TBD

  • Ogo Sports (had a few interesting launchers, they might be good for objective-based gameplay) (N/A, as these are more for goals and objectives, and I see them as less for PvP.)
  • Hog Wild Toys (Power Poppers)
    • What is becoming a yearly standard, while these blasters are simplistic but freakin' hilarious. +
      Honorable mention, right here! Made me think of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit".

    By my count, that's about 13 different brands that made something blaster/launcher-related.
    There's a LOT of press release info to go through, photos, and videos but I'll release them all here! Stay tuned, as I will be releasing more galleries and videos this week (piece by piece, so as to not overwhelm you:)  and if you have any questions please leave in the (moderated) comments below!

    Let's connect:
    Instagram: Blasterbot1984
    Twitter: @VasTheStampede
    YouTube
    Google+
     


    Wednesday, February 18, 2015

    Nerf Rival Firing/Demo Video! Fresh from New York Toy Fair!

    Nerf Rival Firing and Demo video from New York Toy Fair
     Vas The Stampede

    Here's what you're here for:



    Nerf Rival Zeus and Apollo
     Blasters for the line:


    NERF RIVAL ZEUS MXV-1200 Blaster
    (Ages 14 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $49.99/Available: Fall 2015)

    Bring NERF battles to the next level with the mighty NERF RIVAL ZEUS MXV-1200 blaster. Simply push the power-up button, then take aim and unleash motorized blasting power on the opposing team. The powerful, precise RIVAL ZEUS MXV-1200 blaster gives fans and their allies an edge in battle and features an ambidextrous  clip loading and release button, safety switch, and fold-up sight. The included NERF RIVAL 12-round magazine is also compatible for use with the NERF RIVAL APOLLO XV-700 blaster, sold separately. Blaster is available in both red and blue and includes 12 NERF RIVAL Foam rounds. Six C batteries required, not included.

    Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and at HasbroToyShop.com.

    Nerf Rival Zeus in Red
    Nerf RIVAL APOLLO XV-700 Blaster
    (Ages 14 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $24.99/Available: Fall 2015) 

    Perfect for the heat of the competition, the NERF RIVAL APOLLO XV-700 blaster sends NERF RIVAL foam rounds soaring in the air with extraordinary velocity. To defend themselves and teammates against the opposition, pull the lever to move the RIVAL foam round into place, then take aim and launch! Blaster is available in both red and blue includes seven NERF RIVAL foam rounds. 
    Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and at HasbroToyShop.com.
    Additional photos in the gallery:
     
    Word has it these blasters will hit 100 fps, and up the accuracy in ways not seen before with Nerf blasters. While we won't know for sure 'til these are released, I'm very intrigued with the intention and design of these blasters. Additional ammo, ammo tubes, and colored masks will be available when the line is launched.
    I'll continue to update with more Toy Fair reviews and thoughts as I get them done. You can imagine, there are a lot of pictures and videos to go through! Thanks!
    Questions? Concerns? Leave them in the comments below!



    Saturday, February 14, 2015

    Toy Fair 2015 - There, and Back Again. (Nerf and More Round up!)

    Toy Fair 2015 Preview - Expectations and a look back at Blasters in 2014
    Vas The Stampede

    Sorry it's been awhile, you all! Just a heads up, while I maintain here, I am also posting content at the following:

    Instagram: Blasterbot1984
    Facebook: Foam From Above

    Just like the title says, I am here in New York City, and ready to go for another round at the New York Toy Fair. The blaster scene is a little different from last year, but there's a lot of buzz surrounding this year's show. Dare I say it, possibly even more than last year.

    NERF:

    Nerf had a hit on their hand it seems with the Rebelle line, expanding on the roleplay/bow and arrow aspect of the blasters to appeal to young girls. While I have my own opinions about gender specific toys, the line is still around, and going strong. So strong in fact, there will be a whole slew of new blasters to check out at this year's show, including the Revolution Bow:

    Image taken from Toyqueen, writing for about.com

     
    Nerf's largest release (literally) was something not on display last year, the Nerf Rhinofire. After the initial releases of the Slingfire, the Mega Thunderbow, and the Nerf Cam ECS-12, Nerf crashed through with one of the biggest, full auto blasters to date. While pricey and even a pain to reload, the blaster was a lot of fun to use.


    There is already a large amount of buzz for Nerf in 2015 as well, starting with info about the Rotofury, The Doominator, the Nerf Modulus, and most recently today, NERF RIVALS.


    The Rotofury
    Nerf Rival blaster (this is the Zeus MVX-1200)
    Nerf Zombie Strike DOOMINATOR
    Needless to say, that's a lot of blaster to look at over the weekend. I'll be back Sunday with the report on Nerf, after my visit to their showroom that morning.

    Other Brands:
     
    Tomorrow is the actual Day 1 of Toy Fair, but the Hasbro Showroom isn't open to tours yet, just a special event. That being the case, I'm going to spend time checking out the other brands such as Zing Toys, Primetime Toys (makers of the Scorpion Gatling Gun), Hogwild Toys (the Power Poppers makers), Marshmallow Shooters, Maya Group (whose offering this year might be something different, the branding doesn't seem Xploderz related but you never know), Zuru (if you bought the Vigilante), and of course, K'Nex and their K-Force. BOOMco will also be on hand at Mattel's showroom, but I won't get a look at their new stuff until Monday, during one of their media events.

    That being said, you never can be too sure what else might be on that show floor. I've seen push rockets, something called a "Titan Torpedo" (which looked a lot like the throwable Uberdart), and maybe there will be some new vehicle blasters like the VMD cars and Attacknid. But that's part of the fun of the show for me, that extra sense of discovery!

    The big release from Zing last year, the Firetek Bow
    Ghostbusters Marshmallow Shooters first seen last year, just in time for the new film!

    It's going to be a busy few days, make sure to check the social links above for live-updates, but come back here for the full writeups. Thanks for your time!


    Monday, January 19, 2015

    REVEAL! Nerf MEGA Rotofury Press Release (Fresh from Nerf!)

    ***NERF MEGA RotoFury Blaster*** NEW FOR 2015!
    (Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $34.99/Available: Fall 2015)

    By: Vas The Stampede

    "Supersize your NERF battles and dominate the field with the highest capacity MEGA blaster ever! The MEGA RotoFury blaster gives you the option of firing one MEGA Whistler Dart at a time, or slam firing a steady stream of ten darts in a row. Hear the darts whistle as they fly through the air and hit targets up to 90 feet away.  Includes 10 MEGA Whistler Darts. Available at most major retailers nationwide and HasbroToyShop.com."





    Thanks to Nerf for the image! There you have it, their Raider/Rampage gone MEGA. 10 shots. Single fire or slam. I don't see a way to attach a stock, (which I liked using on a Rampage) buuuut as always, I need to see this blaster in person before I can really comment on it. But I can admit I'm a bit excited to shoot that much Mega ammo with slamfire. 2015 is looking pretty good!

    What this tells me is that large ammo rules in my game groups are getting more and more interesting with every extension of the Mega line. What I wouldn't give though to see something like this that shoots Demolisher missiles.

    Or, can I just hope that a big release this year is going to be a full auto Mega blaster? A guy can dream. 

    Still working on my 2014 roundup, stay tuned! It'll coincide with the roundup of brands I'll be visiting with at New York Toy Fair this year.


    Sunday, January 18, 2015

    Paper Shooters: The Return! Launches January 30th!

    Paper Shooters Launches Website January 30! (Paper shooting blasters)
    Vas The Stampede

    Paper Shooters is back, and this time, with funding. After a couple attempts at crowdsourcing, the product is ready to roll out and take orders! Featuring a familiar "paper ammo" (a la Max Force, if anyone remembers), these blasters are different for a few reasons:


    + A trigger!
    + Instead of buying more ammo, the product is supposed to include a mold that people can make their own out of normal paper (which then gets loaded into a shell, that loads in to the magazine, that loads into the blasters.)
    + A trigger!
    + Customization is something encouraged with these blasters as well. Make your ammo, build your own blaster (it starts out as a construction kit, from what I understand), and the game is yours.
    +Nerf designers are part of the team working on this line.

    Some things about this release that make me a bit nervous -

    - The cost. Between $35 & $49.
    - The Clan App gets used on a wristmounted smartphone? Hrm.
    - Accuracy of the paper wads
    - Using paper wads! They got messy before, and I can see loading each individually into a separate shell being time consuming.
    - Shells/magazines sold separately, I assume. And when I first learned of this blaster, PvP wasn't a big part of the conception, as I understood it. A Clan App to track stats changes that. But until I try it all out, I can't say strongly either way if this is a good option for even casual or office wars.
    Given the past history with other brands and their mobile apps, I'm a little reserved about that until I see it. 

    Do I have reservations? Sure. But without the blaster in front of me, I'm at least willing to try it out. New blasters, new companies, new innovations can only help the hobby!

    Previous articles:


    Paper Shooters 1
    Paper Shooters 2 
     
    Countdown to Paper Shooters at their website, here.


    Sunday, January 11, 2015

    Nerf 2015 (some of it)... have you got yours?

    My Nerf 2015 pickups so far: Nerf Sharpfire, Slingstrike, Mega Cycloneshock. Still need to get my Flipfury, and waiting to find a Crossbolt.

    Saturday, December 20, 2014

    Navigate the Holidays! Nerf Goes Big: RhinoFire & Cam ECS-12

    Nerf Big Ticket Items for the Holidays:
    Vas The Stampede

    There are 2 big items out there for Nerf enthusiasts and those that love them this holiday season. If you haven't finished your shopping yet and have a big Nerf fan on your list, let's look at the two biggest options Nerf gives you this year. "Nerf or nothin'!"





    Both Nerf blasters are at a premium price, which is a lot to ask for when it comes to selecting a toy. What exactly are you getting into?

    Nerf Elite RhinoFire:

    Price: Approximately $89.97 (Wal-Mart Exclusive)
    RhinoFire blaster x 1
    Tripod x 1
    25 round ammo drums x 2
    Darts x 50
    90' Claimed Range
    Batteries not included (6 "D" batteries)

    Nerf Elite Cam ECS-12
    List Price: $79.99 (currently $67.99 at Amazon.com)

    Nerf Cam ECS-12 blaster x 1
    18 round dart magazine x 1 (orange, not the blue as seen at Toy Fair)
    Darts x 18
    4 GB SD card
    Alleged 90' ranges
    Batteries not included (8 "AA" batteries)

    How are they?

    Say hello to the 2 big ticket items from Nerf this year. Let's start with the Nerf RhinoFire. A descendant of the Nerf Vulcan, the Rhino is a big blaster compared to the other recent releases. Here is your new heavy weapons turret.
    Nerf Rhino Fire with some... extras.
    The RhinoFire has 2 mag wells, multiple tactical rails (for accessories), and a few attach points for a sling. There is a tripod that sits on the underside of the blaster. The RhinoFire tripod fits on the older Vulcan, so it is safe to assume the opposite holds true as well. Unlike the Vulcan, the front grip handle is a bit more in line with the form of the blaster, it doesn't jut out and swivel.

    The blaster is a big, double-barreled unit - the barrels alternatively pump when firing, and as some folks commented reminiscent of a turret. As such, there is a roleplay aspect to this blaster that in my opinion dictates the best practices when using the blaster.

    Usage:
     
    Firing the blaster is a little different from a traditional setup, there is an orange tab on the back handle that does all the work - a little pressure to start revving up the flywheels, then fully press the tab down to engage the pusher arm.... and unleash foam. It is ESSENTIAL to rev the flywheels first, otherwise your first shot is going to dribble out of the barrel.
     
    So yes, the RhinoFire is essentially triggerless, but that works because of the way the grip is styled. Going back to the "turret" look of the Rhino, the grip is styled for two-hand usage but also incorporates a t-style handle for quick carrying.


    Peek at the underside
    Suggested Best Practices:

    That's right, carrying. When I used the Nerf Vulcan during games, I wouldn't "run and gun" with it. As it was a "heavy" blaster, running with it felt awkward while trying to shoot. I would pick a spot, shoot, then pick up and relocate. Lather, rinse, repeat. I would avoid firing on the run due to the chains, and size. I was also firing from the hip, as the design of the blaster lent itself to that position. If I had to reload, it was a task switching out chains by myself and maintaining a stream of darts.

    With a "turret" like the RhinoFire, it is important to separate shooting and running into separate actions. Run, pick a spot, provide fire, relocate. Lather, rinse, repeat. Additionally, firing from the hip makes accessing the firing button faster, just drop your hand onto it when you wanna shoot. A sling on the RhinoFire makes this firing technique quite easy, at least for me. One other caveat is... you're going to want to carry a lot of mags. Either conscript a friend into caddying your ammo to make a 2-person team, be ready to lug around a bag and/or pouch to dump empty mags into (unless you've formed a zen-like mentality with your gear and don't mind losing stuff.)

    Ammo/magazine compatibility:
     
    As far as what magazines to use... I had best luck with straight 18-round N-strike magazines. While the firepower behind two 35 round drums is impressive, the reliability just wasn't there, darts would jam or dribble out of the blaster when using those types of magazines. Jamming was much more prevalent with larger capacity/rounded mags (including the included 25 round magazines, and the 18 round drum mag from an Alpha Trooper). The reliability issues could be due to age/lack of maintenance on the older, larger drum mags, but even the 18 round straight mags from the same time frame worked no problem. Ammo wise, I checked Elite Streamline darts and Elite Suction Cup Streamline darts in straight 18 round magazines and experienced no jamming issues.

     NEXT!


    The Nerf Cam ECS-12 is a bit more straightforward than the RhinoFire. As a semiautomatic blaster, there's already a myriad of similar magfed blasters out there in the Stryfe and the Rayven. The Rapidstrike is a full auto "rifle" that is still available, which makes the Cam ECS-12 a tough sell, especially at that price.

    So what are you paying for? 90' range, and a 0.3 megapixel camera? The awesome aesthetics?

    Let's talk about the camera. It's low-res, and if you don't already own the Nerf cradle for a mobile device, a GoPro, or some other action cam with a mount (such as the Nerf branded ones from Sakar), then this is an option. But realize there are other, less costly blasters out there.

    Here are some samples of the Cam's still shots -
    Inside

    Outside
    The camera's not the best quality. But then again, given the blaster's target audience (not including this blogger) the quality of the camera isn't so much the concern of someone looking for a gift for the Nerfer in their family. And when I discussed the camera quality with Hasbro at #NerfAllAccess this past summer, in order to keep the Cam under $100 it was necessary to use something so low in megapixels. And again, if you have a camera already, this probably isn't for you. But someone out there may get a kick out of this because it's a 2 for 1 unit. Requires no additional screws, mounts, or similar extras. And it doesn't interfere with using the sights on your blaster, as mounts tend to (unless you mount your camera under the muzzle.) This offers a streamlined camera to make recording unobtrusive.

    Eeeeeexcept when it comes to noise. Unfortunately, the camera picks up a LOT of the whine from the flywheels when the Cam revs up, which can be distracting when reviewing footage and trying to edit any footage. Caveat emptor.

    The range is questionable on the Cam as well. And yes, the box does detail in a handy graph on the package just how often the 90' range occurs, but I saw most of my flat/angled shots hit around the 50' mark, well below the advertised ranges. To me, it looks like it rarely hits 90' but since I Nerf stock anyway, that's not a big deal to me. If anything, I have more issues with the camera image quality and the audio pickup.

    What I do like about this blaster is that while the stock isn't modular, it is definitely one of the more comfortable blasters I've used in recent history. I prefer using a foregrip on it, and it is a comfortable hold. However, I can only speak for myself. Ultimately though, I see this being more of a gift for Nerf enthusiasts just getting started in the hobby, or from relatives getting their family Nerfer a present. More hardcore enthusiasts might not find much interesting or useful, given they already own a camera or have a less expensive blaster that performs similarly.

    Final verdict: If I had to choose between either blaster, I'd select the RhinoFire. It's arguably the more diverse of the two, and offers more bang for the buck. More shots per reload (depending on your loadout), different feel from a lot of the rifle/pistol variants out now, and it's overkill. While you're not as mobile with it, I see a lot more people having a lot of fun with this blaster later on long after the wrapping is tossed and the boxes are broken down.

    Hope this was helpful! Enjoy the remaining days of your shopping window :)

    FOAMME FATALES

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