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!