December 28, 2014

Trademark Updates!

While doing a semi-regular check at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, I came across a few new things hinting at things to come. Most notably, we have an official logo for the upcoming line of K'Nex blasters.

Meanwhile, while searching for Buzz Bee Toys (under "owner name" in the Trademark Electronic Search System), I came across several names filed on December 19th, 2014.
  • Air Tek
  • Ultra Tek
  • Ultra Rapid Tek
  • Wildfire
  • Katbird
Interesting that a named previously used by Nerf, "Wildfire", has now been taken by Buzz Bee Toys. That's what happens when you allow trademarks to die - other people can take them.

Also, Katbird is listed for "G & S: Toys, namely, foam gliders and launchers and other accessories for use with the foregoing". From the sounds of it, it seems similar to the Stunt Darts and Falcon products in the Air Warriors Flying Toys line. Perhaps aimed at girls, like the Wingz line?

December 27, 2014

Majik Shot Skeet Shooting Review

Yesterday at Walmart, in the Sporting Goods section, there was a large display of miniature table and over the door sports sets for kids, produced by EastPoint Sports and labeled under the "Majik" brand. One set was a "skeet shooting" set, consisting of both an electronic target and a foam dart blaster. Obviously, I had to buy one for science.
Evil white people, encouraging black kids to use guns! (I kid, guys, seriously...)

December 23, 2014

K'Nex Enters the Blaster Market!

Earlier this year, a leak from a Nerf Powerpoint presentation in Asia gave us a peek at Modulus, a potential blaster or series involving the assembly of your blaster from different components and accessories. But what if you want to build your entire blaster from scratch? Seems K'Nex has what you're looking for!

In the December issue of ToyNews, it is revealed that among other new lines, K'Nex will soon sell K-FORCE Build & Blast foam dart blasters, with the first products on display January 2015 at the London Toy Fair.

Quoting a spokesman from the company:
“We are so proud of the work that has gone into developing this line. From our research we know that our fans are already hugely interested in utilising K’NEX for this kind of play.

“This coupled with K’NEX’s open-ended creativity will open the door for kids to a world of customisable blasters that previously they could only dream of. This collection adds something completely different for fans of construction as well as those who love blasters – both will enjoy designing and building their own blaster as well as the fun of target practice, and, when they’re finished, it can be taken apart and rebuilt or customised in a new way.”
Given the nature of K'Nex, I wonder about the durability of these blasters. Will rough use snap your blaster into pieces? Then again, it IS K'Nex, so you could just snap it back together...

We'll see next month what exactly is in store. Start the speculating!

December 7, 2014

Toy of the Year Awards Candidates

Every year, the Toy Industry Association (a non-profit that lobbies on behalf of all member toy companies) holds a Toy of the Year competition. Essentially, it's the Oscars of their particular industry. And we have some relevant products among the finalists, if you care enough to vote for them!

Per the Toy of the Year website:
Representatives from any toy-related company are eligible to nominate products and/or properties for the TOTY award categories.

Submitted nominations contain detailed explanations of the product’s play value, creativity/originality, application of new technology, creative manufacturing processes, commentary on how the product is meeting marketplace expectations, and details of outstanding, unusual and/or creative execution of artwork, product/package design, and promotional strategy.  
An unlimited number of products may be submitted per award category, but no more than two products from the same company may appear in an award category on the finalist list.

December 3, 2014

Outsourced: Indian Company Copying Nerf

We've all seen the various flywheel blasters and near perfect copies of blasters coming out of China. Companies like Zecong Toys regularly produce these blasters, often from the same molds as the original blaster products. India, however, seems to have taken this process even further by copying Hasbro's branding strategy to the letter. Meet Mitashi Edutainment Pvt Ltd!

Mitashi's Bang! line of blasters consists of many existing blaster knockoffs, with some recoloring. They were introduced as a promotion for the Bollywood movie "Bang Bang!" in October 2014. More importantly, they have their own versions of the Nstrike and Rebelle brands (Strikers and Electra, respectively).

November 26, 2014

Zuru Xshot Pink Series Review

Zuru's Xshot brand of blasters has done remarkably well, considering their outsider status in the toy blaster universe. Nerf is always the sure bet to be on shelves, followed by Buzz Bee Toys. Even the newer BoomCo blasters have the backing of Mattel behind them. Even so, Zuru has managed to expand their sales to involve some major US store chains - Target, Kmart, ToysRUs, Kroger, Family Dollar, Dollar General. This list goes on, and it's been nice to see the blasters proliferate.

Oh look! These girls are so happy!

Zuru has also been expanding their line, albeit with simple changes in plastic color. White shells for the Zombie blasters, Yellow for the Excel blasters, and the Pink Series, our focus today.There are only two blasters, the Angel Fire (a girly Stalker dart bow) and the Mini (just a pink Micro blaster). But both of them perform well, and are well worth the price if you find them!

November 23, 2014

Lanard "Huntsman" Auto Scout Review

When Lanard brought out their Huntsman line of blasters, one item was seemingly absent in the US. Just two days ago, however, I found the Huntsman Auto Scout in a combo pack at Ollie's Bargain Outlet (somewhat like Big Lots). Finally, I can examine it myself and give my thoughts!

November 20, 2014

Prime Time Toys Talon Review

 Prime Time Toys introduced a new line of blasters this fall, under the Dart Zone: Covert Ops name. With the exception of the Scorpion (a stellar blaster in its own right, possibly the year's best new blaster according to BlasterLabs), all the blasters can be found at Sports Authority. The store closest to me finally got the blasters in stock, which allows me to review the other completely new blaster, the Talon!

November 12, 2014

Air Zone Renegade Review

While ToysRUs has been lacking in new dart blasters as of recent, one of the best surprises to come along this summer was the Air Zone Renegade. Made by Prime Time Toys, this blaster comes with PTT's version of streamline darts, and boasts ranges of 70 feet. Turns out it even exceeds that by a decent margin!

Read on for more information, as well as a basic modification for better use!

November 8, 2014

Homemade Chronograph Update: Less Math, More Shooting!

There have been several iterations of the homemade chronograph I posted earlier, for things like airsoft or the firing of spud cannons. Thanks to a bit of searching, this post led me to a better way to operate my own chrony: a piece of software called SoftChrono (click here for download).

After you unzip the folder into uncompressed form, just open it up and run the executable file to begin. Then click on settings to start tweaking!

SoftChrono was made with airsoft in mind, and was built to use the input of a single microphone. By comparing the sounds of firing and impact, and adjusting for speed of sound, etc, it can calculate the velocity of the projectile in question. Since our homemade chronograph has two IR sensors connected to the mic input in series, we can use the incoming signal in place of the microphone signal that SoftChrono would use.

Set your target distance as the distance between the IR sensors. The default retained velocity is 96%. I'm not sure if that's a reasonable estimate, but since the dart has left the barrel and is now completely subject to air resistance, it at least makes sense. So don't change that.

For the calibration, set the velocity min/max to 10 and 300, respectively. Finally, under hardware, set the microphone to the frequency (sample rate) at which the computer is going to read the input.

After everything is set, do a calibration shot. Follow the instructions, and at the end of the countdown make a shot into the chronograph. The program will bring up an "Analyze" window. (You can also bring up this window yourself from the initial menu, and open the previous ten shots for looking at later.)

When the waveform pops up on screen, you can move the lines up/down to select the "volume" at which the program will recognize a legitimate reading. Set it about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way to the top of the peak (or in this case, down to the trough), and set both trigger lines at the same level. The program should now display the velocity of the shot. Close the analysis window, and you're all set for future testing1

Softchrono will save the data for the last ten shots in the uncompressed folder it sits it. It will also show the average velocity of the shots you've taken during that session.

November 5, 2014

X-Shot Blasters Now Available Online at Target!

One of the signs that you're making it in blaster retail is when a major chain begins to carry your product, under your name. To that end, I have to give my congratulations to Zuru! Target is now carrying several of their blasters online, and at reasonable prices, especially for double packs.
While X-shot blasters have been seen at ToysRUs, it has almost always been under the TRU "Air Zone" blaster brand, not that of the original company. Let's hope the exposure proves profitable, as Zuru is coming out with many new products in the coming year!

November 1, 2014

Homemade Chronograph Writeup!

I apologize for the lack of in-progress pictures, but hopefully some decent CAD illustrations can fill in the blanks!

Seeing as a chronograph is the easiest method for objectively comparing blaster power, I set out to build one that didn't cost an arm and a leg. In addition, all the parts had to be bought locally, so as to allow immediate assembly. Thanks to (enter preferred hardware store here) and Radio Shack, I've accomplished my task.

For the full parts list and guide, keep reading!

October 25, 2014

Nerf Elite v. XD Performance Test: Retaliator

Here in the US, we're finally starting to see Nerf Elite XD blasters trickle onto store shelves. We've already had a few negative reactions to the "upgrade", however. Derpmods bought an XD Triad, only to find that it was firing far shorter than an original Triad. Chris Cartaya, meanwhile, already disassembled an XD Retaliator to find no substantial difference between it and the original version.

I apologize for the lack of pictures for this post; this is mostly going to be data. I found Retaliators on sale for $20, with a white one among them, and grabbed it off the shelf. I then proceeded to take that, an original Retaliator, and a brand new 75-pack of darts to the nearby practice football field.

October 17, 2014

Breaking News on Upcoming BoomCo, Nerf, and Super Soaker Blasters! Part 3

Finally, we'll shed light on some future soakers. Quite frankly, there's not much to expect out of Nerf these days in the water gun department, since just about everything is a syringe-type soaker. In addition, we only have one picture so far. But we at least have some names and prices.

Super Soaker Flash Flood
- familienshopping24 listing, 24,99 €
- listing, 24,99

End the constant refilling of the water tank. Here is the first Super Soaker that comes with a garden hose! Simple and straightforward; connect the garden hose and continuously splash your friends. If the garden hose is disconnected, the Blaster has normal pump function and a tank of 1.7 L to provide classic water-action.

So, it looks like there's a garden hose adapter at the very top, but at the same time the included handle looks like a Tidal Tube was slapped on top of the blaster. It will be interesting to see how this is set up, but I'm not interested in much beyond that. Isn't the point of water guns to NOT be connected to a hose the entire time?

Super Soaker Floodfire
- familienshopping24 listing, 29,99 €
- listing, 29,99 €

Rebelle Super Soaker Triple Threat
- familienshopping24 listing, 29,99 €
- listing, 29,99 €

Rebelle Super Soaker Cascade
- listing, 12,99 €

Super Soaker Microburst II
- listing, 9,99 €

Super Soaker Tidal Torpedo 2 in 1
- listing, 22,99 €

Rebelle Super Soaker Warrior Wear
- listing, 22,99 €

October 16, 2014

Breaking News on Upcoming BoomCo, Nerf, and Super Soaker Blasters! Part 2

Now for Nerf blasters! I apologize again for the haphazard way I'm putting things up, esp. to people coming here from Facebook or Reddit.

Secrets and Spies Secret Shot
- listing, 29,99 €
- listing with 3x dart bonus, 29,99 €
- familienshopping24 listing with 3x dart bonus, 29,99 €
- listing

Look stylish and stay ready for action with the Secret Shot blaster! You can carry this blaster that looks like a purse on your next spy mission. Nobody will suspect a thing until you press the button to convert it into a 4-shot blaster! The blaster comes with 1 Message Dart that you can use to write a secret message that can only be decoded with the included decoder! Give the decoder to a friend so you can send coded messages in plain sight of your opponents. If you're in the mood for a stylish shot, use your 3 collectible darts instead. Show off your stealthy style with the Secret Shot blaster! Nerf and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

After extra searching beyond the European sites, we have a name for this blaster! It would appear there are two different colors, as well, since the Amazon listing is specifically for a BLUE blaster.

Nerf Rebelle Strong Heart
- listing, 29,99 €
- familienshopping24 listing, 29,99 €

There isn't a picture available, however, there has been previous speculation about this blaster based on the Rebelle Mission Central App. Since the sites above didn't have the Sweet Revenge listed separately, I'd leave this entry alone for now. Although I find it interesting that familienshopping24 has it listed for a Spring 2015 release.

Nerf Rebelle Mini Maven
- listing, 12,99 €
- familienshopping24 listing, 12,99 €

This is another blaster listed with a Spring 2015 release date, but no picture. I'm sure we'll get more news and/or speculation in the future.

Nerf Rebelle 4Victory
- listing, 19,99 €
- familienshopping24 listing, 19,99 €

This is another blaster listed with a Spring 2015 release date, but no picture. I'm sure we'll get more news and/or speculation in the future.

Nerf Nstrike Elite XD Crossbolt
- familienshopping24 listing, 29,99 €

Finally, here's one of the blasters from the notorious Nerf 2015 slide that made the rounds on the internet. It's manually primed, and has a clip in the rear. Seeing as it appears to indeed be bow-powered, I imagine the top dart in the "clip" is brought forward on the return stroke, and dropped down in front of the primed string in the dart barrel. That would explain why there are two dart jam doors - one for above the clip itself, and one above where the dart drops into the barrel. Again, that's just a guess.

Nerf Nstrike Elite XD Sharpfire
- listing, 22,99 €

Another listing off the Nerf 2015 chart, although not with a better picture. There's at least a price listed, however.

Nerf Zombie Strike Flipfury
- listing, 24,99 €

Yet another listing off the Nerf 2015 chart, although it too lacks a good picture. Interesting to note, though, how many revolvers with changeable turrets we've had in recent years. First the Prime Time Toys/Air Zone Quickfire 12, then the Zuru Xshot Xcess, and now this.

Breaking News on Upcoming BoomCo, Nerf, and Super Soaker Blasters! Part 1

Yes, you heard that right. There's a bunch of new blasters on the way. Some look better than others, but they're all interesting in their own way. I apologize for the information overload, but info's out there, and I'm going to get it documented before anything gets taken down. So please tolerate my repeat posts to Facebook and Reddit as I get each part done!
Part 2: Nerf Dart Blasters
Part 3: Super Soakers

Let's start with BoomCo, shall we?

October 10, 2014

Nerf Cam ECS-12 Obsolete! New Nerf Camcorder Hitting Shelves

If you still weren't convinced of the lack of value presented by the Nerf Cam ECS-12 (thanks to a post from Tactical Tag), then this development should put the last nail in the coffin. Presenting the Nerf Rebelle HD Action Camcorder!

With its weatherproof case!

As with previous licensed gadgets, this is manufactured by Sakar International. Unlike many previous gadgets, this appears to originate from the Vivitar brand that Sakar purchased in 2008, a brand with a deep history in cameras, lenses, and optics in general. I myself have been using a Vivitar 787HD kit for the past two months, and it serves well as a poor man's GoPro. (Walmart link here) Needless to say, I hope that this will perform just as well.

Sadly, the packaging leaves much to be desired in terms of details, including what it considers to be HD. All I could find in terms of stats was that it has a 1.8" preview screen, a few mounts INCLUDING a blaster mount, and a charger. Yep, you can put those tactical rails to good use!

Sorry about the blurry pic. I'll get a better one ASAP.

This was hiding on a shelf at TRU for $50, and I have found nothing online about the device. Even so, I think it's safe to assume that it's of far higher quality than the 0.3 MP (640 x 480) camcorder in the Nerf Cam ECS-12. Find a Rapidstrike on sale for $30, and you have a full auto blaster with a good, rechargeable camcorder, instead of a semiauto blaster with a poor, alkaline battery-powered camera.

Ultimately, one of us will have to bite the bullet and buy one of these for testing. Even so, I think we can declare the Nerf Cam ECS-12 to be DOA.

EDIT: Thanks to user "rdewalt" from Reddit, we have more info! There's an N-Strike version as well, so as to not exclude one gender. It also has the same things in the package, and actually lists the camera specs. You know, because apparently girls don't care about that...

He'll be posting test videos in the future, so keep track of rdewalt's post!

October 3, 2014

Zuru X-Shot Excel Series Found!

For some reason, in spite of the huge blaster market here in the United States, it seems that off-brands like X-Shot are slow to make it to shelves. It's been getting better, though, and now the yellow Excel blasters are popping up in the wild!

Although the discs look like large pats of butter.

October 1, 2014

Air Hogs Sharpshooter Long Shot Review

After a bit of a hiatus hitting the books at college, I'm back with more reviews! We'll start with a toy that's somewhat of a novelty - the Air Hogs Sharpshooter Long Shot. For those who don't know, Air Hogs is a brand dedicated to R/C vehicles, aerial toys, and the like. In this case, the ~$40 Sharpshooter Long Shot is an R/C helicopter that can shoot foam darts on command.

The box claims 20' ranges (although the method Air Hogs used to test that for a flying toy is unknown) and is meant for indoor use. So it's unlikely to be useful at a war anytime soon, unless you can get someone to approve it for an awful blaster round in a large enclosed space or a day without wind. It's still plenty of fun, though!

September 13, 2014

Buzz Bee Sonic 6 Review

Buzz Bee Toys has produced a mixed bag of products this year. There have been amazing new additions like the Extreme Blastzooka (review to come), poor ones like the Predator, and simply odd and entertaining products like Gunsmoke. Sadly, the Sonic 6 is in that second group.

The light and sound is interesting in its own little way, but a six-shooter claiming only 30' ranges for $10 is disappointing. Especially since BBT's own Air Max 6 easily doubles that claim for the same price, and the Nerf Elite Strongarm claims 75' ranges for a couple dollars more. We'll take a peek inside, though. For science!

September 2, 2014

Buzz Bee Predator Review

Here we are, with yet another new product from Buzz Bee Toys: the Predator. It's a fitting name for a blaster trying to emulate the feel of a sniper rifle, and it has much of the experience down pat. Except for, sadly, the most important part: range. In the end the Predator is just another "rifle" like the Rapid Fire Rifle, Hawk, Hunter, and the (under the Air Zone brand) Foam Dart Shooter.

August 31, 2014

Nerf in 2015!

Thanks to Pocket of Urban Taggers fame for posting this on Facebook! Looks legitimate, and has some upcoming blasters shown!

Some of the blaster names you can make out, and their shapes. There's what appears to be a new "sniper rifle", a Strongarm with swapping turrets, and many other surprises. Hopefully we'll hear more in the future!

August 28, 2014

Buzz Bee Gunsmoke Review

Which is better: firing two darts, or one dart with cool effects? That's the basic difference between the classes Buzz Bee Double Shot and their new blaster, Gunsmoke. An extra $5 (for a total of $15 on the price tag at Walmart) means that instead of the second dart, an electronic unit will release a puff of "smoke" whenever darts are fired. Read on to find out what makes this blaster tic, and to see if it's worth your money!

August 26, 2014

Playskool Heroes Marvel Super Hero Adventures Captain America Shield Launcher Review

What a mouthful!

While wandering the aisles of Meijer, I decided to check the preschool toys section for any blasters meant for young kids. Turns out that even though the Koosh ball blasters are long gone from shelves, those round foam projectiles are not!


August 23, 2014

Zuru X-Shot Zombie Scope Review

Earlier this week, I decided to skip my thrifting and instead check the inventories of several large and small retail establishments. When I stopped at Roses Discount Store (one of the stores under the Variety Wholesalers umbrella), I found a blaster I had never seen anywhere in the US, even though it had been out for quite a while. (Feel free to correct me if you've seen this blaster elsewhere).

For just $10, I got the X-Shot Zombie Scope, plus six darts and six target cans. The box claims ranges of up to 55 ft. Turns out that the box doesn't lie, and this blaster has the potential for even more!

August 19, 2014

Blaster Blogs in the Wild!

I was at Walmart the other day, seeing what items were in stock. Most of the new Rebelle and Buzz Bee toy blasters had yet to appear, although I did find some of the now-abandoned Buzz Bee Splash Darts, which I bought just for the fun of it. Then I came to the R/C section and found this:

"Shoots farther, fires faster, hits harder...Period."
That's right; Skyrocket Toys is quoting the Blasterlabs review on the front of the box! Out of interest, I checked the Skyrocket Toys website to see if anything else was cited - turns out under news, they have a link to the Bay Area Nerf review.

It's pretty awesome seeing reviews from the Nerf Internet Community on packages. Obviously, since this isn't a Nerf product, it doesn't have the name brand recognition, so having a glowing recommendation from a serious site is going to help in the effort to move merchandise. I'm not saying the rest of us aren't serious. I just doubt I'll see "Buffdaddy Nerf" on a box anytime soon. :P

Congrats, Blasterlabs!

August 15, 2014

Buzz Bee Toys "Wingz" Dart Launcher Review

While the Buzz Bee Wingz Long Bow turned out to be a disappointment. it seems the Dart Launcher has far more potential. Based in part on the Stunt Dart launcher concept, it is built more robustly and performs well for a blaster its size. And for $5 at Target, it's a great deal to boot.

August 13, 2014

Buzz Bee Toys "Wingz" Long Bow Review

After sporadic sightings in the wild, I finally came across Buzz Bee's entire girls' blaster line yesterday. Naturally, I bought everything with the intention of testing the new flock. Sadly, our first product, the Wingz Long Bow, is anything but spectacular, even taking the $13 price point into account

More after the jump!

August 11, 2014

Another Prime Time Toys Update - Talon Dart Blaster

Seems these guys aren't done expanding the product line yet! As per the website:

The Dart Zone Covert Ops Talon holds 5 darts in the Powerstrike® auto-revolver and shoots super darts up to 70 feet! Quick load, pull back hammer and revolver action make this a must have blaster. Includes...
  • 1 Talon Dart Blaster
  • 5 Super Darts
  • One auto-advance rotating cylinder
  • Great for ages 6+

That's three new blasters so far - the Talon, the Renegade (under the Air Zone brand), and the Scorpion. All using their new darts, which are roughly on par with Nerf Elite streamlines.

The handle looks a bit small, but we'll see once we have a blaster in hand!

August 3, 2014

New Things at Toys R Us, and 20% Sale on BoomCo

Yup, it looks like we're finally going to get some discounts on Mattel's new line of blasters. TRU is offering 20% on the entire line this week. For some reason, TRU doesn't have these blasters marked up higher than other stores (like they usually do with Nerf blasters), so take advantage while you can!

Also of note are two items listed on the website for shipping (but aren't on any shelves yet). The first is a new Air Zone revolver, made by Prime Time Toys. The Renegade uses the new Xtreme darts (a great substitute for Elite darts, especially when the 200-pack is on sale) and claims ranges of 70 ft.

The other new item is a new entry in the Nxt Generation line of archery and hunting toys. The Gatlin Bow appears to be the next step after the Maxxforce Compound Bow, with eight darts on a turret for faster rate of fire. I would assume this uses a regular turret that rotates on the draw - Hasbro has control of the patent for "Smart AR", and Buzz Bee has a patent on file for an internal rotation mechanism for shifting the air channel (used in the Air Tek 8).

July 25, 2014

New Xploderz Blasters On The Way!

People like myself have wondered about the sustainability of the Xploderz line. They're certainly unique, filling a strange niche between dart blasters and water guns. As of recently, though, I've seen most Xploderz blasters drop off shelves or go on clearance. Turns out that the line isn't dead yet! And it's gone for a "mature" look, to boot.

More information after the jump!

July 21, 2014

Westminster Toys Cross Dart Review

The Cross Dart is a shooting toy I've seen in various forms and places. Cracker Barrel, Amazon, Walmart, and now Toys R Us. After finding one on sale for $10, I decided to grab one and see how well it performed. I was pleasantly surprised!

Looks can be deceiving!

July 19, 2014

Buzz Bee Updates - My Thoughts, and Availability News!

In case anyone missed the scoops on blogs the past few months, Buzz Bee Toys has lots of new products in the works. They've now updated their website accordingly! Blasterlabs had the privilege of getting high-resolution images of many of the new blasters, as well as prices. Many of the new blasters are just $10, including the new Blastzooka rocket launcher. In addition, Buzz Bee is joining the rush to market blasters for girls with their "WINGZ" product line.

In addition, after searching through several customs declarations, I can confirm where some of the blasters will appear! Note that this list is not indicating exclusivity - the Predator isn't going to to only be at Kmart, for instance. We just know it's going to be there.

Target Corporation
DPCI-ITEM# 086080333 STYLE# 85000 WINGZ - ROCKET
DPCI-ITEM# 086080336 STYLE# 47100 WINGZ - LONG BOW

Kmart Corporation
GUNSMOKE PO: B0GC3 ITEM: 260079874921 REF: 801M DEPT: 004

Personally, I'm excited for all the new offerings. Looking at this purely from a marketing standpoint, blasters like Gunsmoke, Predator, and Vampire Hunter should be solid sellers, with their "gimmicks" actually adding to their appeal, especially for the cosplay crowd (as well as younger kids). The Vampire Hunter and Blastzooka are both pressurized air blasters that should please modders out there in addition to the child target audience.

With the smashing success of Nerf Rebelle, I'm not surprised by the appearance of the WINGZ line, although I do question how well it will fare in sales.  In terms of performance, the Dart Launcher (a Stunt dart launcher clone) should be an excellent value, since the original blaster could easily hit 50' flat, in a small package, for only $6. The Long Bow might also be great for shooting darts; unlike the Nerf Heartbreaker Bow, this blaster looks to have an actual plunger that you pull on. That should make it both easier to aim and easier to fire.

While many of these offerings will not be competitive in an NIC-type organized war, they should be a ton of fun as stock blasters. And that's perfectly fine! It just means modders like myself will have to be creative :)

July 12, 2014

Buzz Bee Air Max Tank Expansion Mod

The Air Max blaster line, a favorite of myself and others, consists of several back-pressure blasters boasting up to 60 ft. ranges. While they pack a punch, the firing tanks are small and can only propel darts so far, even if firing pressures are increased (plugging the pump, etc).

This guide will serve as an easy way to expand an Air Max tank's capacity, while maintaining both the stock appearance of the blaster and its efficient pneumatic characteristics. Considering the empty shell space that tends to come with these blasters, this mod should be easy to install!

July 8, 2014

Rebarreling for Boomco Darts!

Mattel's BoomCo line of blasters uses a unique, proprietary dart. While the darts have excellent flight characteristics and Smart Stick material covering the heads, they're also incompatible with existing blasters. While foam darts are generally .50" in diameter, BoomCo darts are .40" in diameter. Turns out we need a different barrel material!

As a simple test, I used a 2.5" length of 7/16", 0.015" wall brass tubing as a barrel. This tubing gives a nice, tight fit for the straw-like body of the dart and stops right at the head of the dart. This is important - the rubbery material on the dart head does not play nice with long barrels, even loose-fitting ones. So for the moment, it looks as though these darts can only be front-loaded into their respective barrels or clips.

Performance, however, was amazing. Using a stock Air Zone Panther (original, large air tank) with the AR pushed back by the barrel insert, BoomCo darts were easily passing 100' with both accuracy and precision. Even at that distance, I was hitting within a few feet of my human target (if not hitting him). The darts do wobble a bit coming out of the barrel, due to the compressed air still coming out, but they corrected themselves in flight and didn't appear to suffer in the same manner as Nerf Elite darts would.

July 5, 2014

Mattel BoomCo Rapid Madness Review and Modification

As most of you know, Mattel has officially entered the blaster market with the BoomCo line! Between their Smart Stick darts and targets, industrial looks, and heavy promotion of team gaming, Mattel hopes to grab some of Hasbro's long-secure market share. How does the flagship blaster hold up, then? It's certainly not the greatest value blaster ever, but it's plenty of fun, performs as advertised, and can be improved with a bit of modding!

Say hello to my little friend!

To see another good review, look over at Blaster Labs. For further thoughts, look after the break!

July 1, 2014

My Blog's Been Cited as Evidence in a Lawsuit! Sweet!

Thanks to Robert Lewis Webbe (aka Duxburian) for bringing this to my attention!

Earlier this year, I made a lengthy post about upcoming blasters spotted online and in stores. Included in this update was documentation of several Swimways soakers that used the same molds as both current and older Super Soaker and Water Warriors toys.

That post (and thus this blog) was cited by Buzz Bee Toys in a bid for a preliminary injunction against Swimways and Target, it turns out! A copy of the judge's opinion in Buzz Bee Toys Inc. v. Swimways Corporation can be found here.

To quote page 12 of the opinion:

As evidence of the similarity between Buzz Bee’s and Swimways’ products, Plaintiff provided a February 12, 2014 post from the “BUFFDADDY NERF” blog, in which the blogger “ma[de] a large post covering air and water blasters . . . .” (Id. Ex. Z at 1.) The blogger provided pictures of Swimways products he had recently seen at Target and said that Swimways’ AVALANCE was “[a] close copy of the Water Warriors Xenon,” Swimways’ TSUNAMI was “[a] copy of the Water Warriors Argon,” Swimways’ STRYKER units were “[r]eshells of one of the original Water Warriors Kwik Grips XL,” and “there was also a piston blaster virtually identical to the Water Warriors Avenger.” (Id. at 3-4.) The blogger noted that Swimways’ toys “appear to use old blaster molds. However, they appear to have either pinch triggers, or some sort of alternative valve mechanism . . . .”

My favorite passage from the opinion:

As discussed supra, the products look very similar and, particularly when considering the similarity between each offering in the WATER WARRIORS and FLOOD FORCE product lines, this factor strongly weighs in Plaintiff’s favor. Defendant notes that the “BUFFDADDY NERF” blogger noted that Swimways’ toys “appear to have either pinch triggers, or some sort of alternative valve mechanism . . . .” (Id. at 3.) The different triggers and valve mechanisms do not diminish the high degree of similarity between Buzz Bee’s WATER WARRIORS and Swimways’ FLOOD FORCE product lines, particularly because the “BUFFDADDY NERF” blogger is likely more sophisticated than the average consumer.

Well, it's good to know I'm smarter than the average bear!

June 28, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Star-lord Quad Blaster Review

While searching for early arrivals in Mattel's Boomco line, I found a new Marvel blaster at Target for $19.99. Despite the range claims of only 25 feet, the blaster intrigued me. Here are my observations, thoughts, and internal pictures!

Is it just me, or would this make a great base for a Halo Plasma Rifle?