Friday, May 24, 2013

Tek Recon - High tech blaster tagging!

Ever wish you could have some kind of online intergration for your blaster wars? like having a smartphone mounted as a kind of heads up display that can track team mates, enemies and add another element to your gameplay? I've always tinkered with the thought, but so far not even Nerf has really touched that idea. Enter Tek Recon, a young company designing blasters to not only have smartphone mounts, but also the app to go with it, allowing you to do all the above mentioned wishes, and a little more.

I've actually been following the Tek Recon storyline since it was unveiled at the NY toy fair some time ago, and it does look like they are doing it right. I'm actually pretty keen to see these roll out, the blasters fire little rubber band type ammo with what looks like good accuracy and range, they're easy to use, look really awesome, and the smartphone mount looks like it will adapt to any smartphone, not just an iPhone or iPod Touch. What really catches my eye though, is the quality of research and development that has obviously gone in to creating the Tek Recon blasters so far. I've already mentioned the blaster designs being superb, but the app also has some great features, customisable crosshairs, firing sounds, the ability to "scan" flags and targets for different game types, GPS integration, you name it, they've thought of it and done it. What they are missing, however, is some funding. They need some funding to finalise the app, do some marketing and really, just to get these blasters on the shelves.

How can you get your hands on a Tek recon blaster and help get these to the market? Kickstarter. They've got a kickstarter project up, and they're over half way to their funding goal of $50,000. some of the rewards are really awesome too, you can choose from a single blaster, to battle packs, to packs with flags and blasters, even a pack where you fly to the Tek Recon film set to appear in their nest commercial!

I'm already behind this project with my pledge on a limited edition Havoc blaster (only 75 available) and I do hope this reaches it's funding goal, so check out the video and get behind it!

Tek Recon homepage
Tek Recon Kickstarter

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: Nerf Strongarm and Firestrike

Side arms aren't normally my thing, other than for designated pistol rounds at wars, or for shooting random stuff around my house when boredom kicks in, But I still collect them nonetheless. This week I have a Nerf Strongarm and Firestrike, both falling under the N-Strike Elite banner. These are both locally bought grey trigger versions.

Let's start with the Strongarm. Looking at the Strongarm, you can instantly see that it draws it's inspiration straight from the Maverick. I never really liked the Maverick that much, it's small and weak reverse plunger firing mechanism, design flaws and lack of modability made me move on to other blasters pretty quickly. But the Strongarm is very different and addresses the gripes some people had with the Maverick.

Aesthetically, It looks like a refined Maverick, of course. The top rail has been moved from the priming slide to above the turret, where adding accessories won't impede on priming the blaster. The small barrel opening has been widened, and the right side has a cut away in front of the turret so that jams can be cleared more easily. The turret now pops most of the way out and can be spun easily while it's popped out, and can be rotated manually one by one when loaded in the blaster, this is something that used to require a mod known as the "roulette" mod on the Maverick. The sling loop on the slide has been made bigger and the hand grip now features one as well, along with a small extension for people with bigger hands.

Performance is where this blaster shines as a six-shooter. even though it's a grey trigger version, ranges are still hitting 50+ feet with what feels like a very light spring load. Like the rest of the Elite line, Nerf have opted  for a small direct plunger system, giving it much more potential than similar sized reverse plungers. The air seal against the back of the turret is good, with a foam pad pressing against the turret as it fires. What really has been a fantastic improvement over the Maverick is the inclusion of a slamfire feature, allowing you to fire off all 6 darts in very quick succession. Elite ranges, mod potential and slamfire capability would allow the Strongarm to be used as a decent back up in tough situations, particularly if you really just need to buy yourself a few more seconds to reload your main blaster. That's the whole role of a sidearm, right?

Orange Mod Works already have a pre-order for a performance upgrade kit to suit the Strongarm, which also provides 20% discount for their future "external mod kit" (I have no idea what this would entail). So at under $15AUD, This blaster is a great addition to any nerfer who liked the Maverick or likes a manually primed sidearm, but I would not discourage anyone else from buying one either.

Right, now the Firestrike. This too obviously takes it's cues from an older N-Strike model, the Nitefinder. It always had a tough task bettering the already well rounded Nitefinder. On the outside, the layout has changed and overall the Firestrike has become a more compact unit. The light and dart holders from the Nitfinder are features that have been retained in the Firestrike but have been condensed and more form a part of the blaster rather than looking like add ons. The activation for the light is now a standalone mini trigger below the main trigger and can be operated independantly from the firing mechanism totally. The hand grip has been shortened and is less wide due to the move to AAA batteries powering the light. Priming and loading are still manual actions much like the Nitefinder. It is a very good looking little pistol that could be holstered easily, but it is a bit small for my hand size.

What is disappointing about this blaster, however, is the performance. I know this is a grey trigger version, but I still expected similar power to the grey trigger Strongarm. This is not what I got. The spring load is very light, and ranges I'm getting out of this are even inferior to the Nitefinder. I would say that I only got 30 feet maximum from the stock blaster, not something I would put under the "elite" banner. Upon opening up the blaster, I found out why. Comparing it to the Nitefinder, the draw is shorter, the plunger tube is slightly smaller, the barrel has an air release hole, the plunger head has a fair amount of dead space and the spring is pretty weak. Of course, there is an air restrictor as well. It's obvious that all these things will add up to reduced performance but I do feel the move to a shorter and smaller diameter plunger tube is something that will not allow this blaster to exceed it's previous counterpart in performance.

Overall, the Firestrike is a fantastic looking blaster, but at the same price as a Nitefinder, I would only recommend the Firestrike over the Nitefinder if there was a requirement for something that can be holstered, or if you can't find a Nitefinder. It's disappointing that a once sought after blaster has an elite counterpart that is 2 steps foreward on the outside and 1 step backwards internally. Anyway, that wraps up this review, hope you enjoyed.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Review: Modified Nerf Stryfe

Kicking off another review today, we have a Nerf Stryfe. Released a few months ago in the U.S (but not yet here?) this blaster has made some waves, being touted as the ultimate SMG style blaster. I was pretty impartial to it as I already had a few flywheel blasters, so I never sourced one out when they were first released. But that changed. I picked up a modified Stryfe from Brisbane Nerf Group's Clem, and started having my eyes opened to why this blaster is so great.

So what's under the hood? nothing too extreme. The wiring has been replaced with thicker wire to handle a higher voltage, safeties removed and Clem also provided me with 4x 3.7v Trustfire rechargeable batteries and charger to boot. A lot of people run this setup and do very well with it, however, using all 4 trustfires tends to kill the motors early, so I run 3 to be safe.

Externally, this blaster doesn't come with much out of the box. It's just the blaster, 6 elite darts and a 6 dart elite mag. pretty disappointing that Nerf keeps going down the road of having tactical rails on their elite blasters without actually providing anything to put on them, but it has potential. It's a kind of a large pistol size, with a rail on top to fit anything and one below the barrel that really only fits a foregrip or something like a Slydev Jolt holder. additionally, there is a barrel adaptor and stock adaptor, which makes this more versatile than the Recon/Retaliator. It features a rev-button below the main trigger and directly forward of that is the mag release button, very sensible. The right hand side of the blaster from the rail is wider than the left to fit the flywheel system in. While this does reduce the overall width of the blaster, it looks a little strange, and the left hand side looks a bit bland by comparison. There's also 2 loops for a bandolier strap, one above the barrel and one at the base of the grip. Jam door is located on top and is a front hinge style. Overall, it's not the prettiest blaster I've seen but the build quality is great, and it does follow the Nerf Elite styling and allows for a wide range of customisation.

Customisation did you say? There is a ton of different options for this blaster, you can turn it in to an SMG, a full rifle, there's even a mod out there that allows you to fit a Nerf Rough Cut as a masterkey shot gun under a Retaliator barrel. BAD ASS! Personally, I like the foregrip, 25 dart drum and Lightning Storm stock. I do wish I had an Elite pinpoint sight for it though.

Performance? well, mine's modified. but the performance out of this is fantastic for a flywheel blaster. it's not as crazy loud as I thought it would be, but it is still pretty noisy. It doesn't bother me though since I've got other blasters that I go all sneaky-ambushy with. range tops out around 100 feet but at that range it's pretty inaccurate and is really best used as suppression. close range accuracy is good, especially when you have a drum mag and a rate of fire that could match a slamfire or full auto blaster. Semi auto fire does make your finger a little tired though. Really, the roles that this blaster excels at are CQB and suppression. There is not much you can do when you're stuck behind cover and you have someone coming at you with a screaming Stryfe, raining down a torrent of darts. You either run away, or... yeah that's pretty much it. The video below will give you an idea of what it can do modified with 3 Trustfire 3.7v batteries.

The Nerf Stryfe has a ton of potential as demonstrated by Clem's work on this blaster, but out of the box I'd say it's pretty disappointing. If you're thinking of purchasing one of these, be prepared to do some modding and have a few parts to put on it to make it your own.

Edit: sorry about the lack of light in the video, I will try to do another video to replace this one some time this week.