Monday, August 26, 2013

New Sighting Reports - Walmart, Los Angeles Area

Coop has been busy perusing the shelves in Los Angeles, warriors! He turned up several sightings at a local Walmart there. Just some pic spam of the most notable:

The NERF Cyber Hoop has arrived in LA Walmarts. We're hearing a lot of good reports on this things from readers like you. Sounds like they are a hit at sleepovers and daytime get-togethers alike!

Another Xploders blaster on the shelves. This Xploderz Sneak Attack is designed to let you shoot around corners. It also lets you choose one, two or three rounds at a time. We haven't met an Xploderz blaster we like yet, so maybe this will break the mold?

It's the NERF Mission App Cradle. We'll be testing this thing out soon and looking at how it enhances your game play versus the Tek Recon app and on-line game.

In other news, our Tek Recon kickstarter reward just arrived at the office today. More to come on that! ~Chris

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rapidstrike Stands Still - Write-up On Flywheel Activator Problem

So I ran into a little problem the other day at work. I took the Rapidstrike, among other blasters, to our company picnic. A lot of the folks got a kick out of them, but somewhere along the line, the Rapidstrike quit working. Sad day!

Found a fix though: Turns out there's a little tab inside where the magazine (what NERF calls a clip) feeds in. That tab is meant to be depressed by the magazine when its inserted into the blaster so that the circuit is closed and the Rapidstrike flywheel activator will work. I'm sure that those of you who love to take the blasters apart will already know that part.

It took me a bit to figure this one out, mostly because I was busy with work, etc. First I just dumped in for more batteries, just to see. But that didn't get me anywhere except poorer. The jam access door was closed, the magazine was seated in the blaster and there were no darts stuck on the flywheel -check, check and check. This may not be a common problem, but it turns out that if you slam the magazine into my blaster, that tab I mentioned will get shoved behind its plastic housing and the blaster will not work.

I took the smallest precision flathead screwdriver I have and wedged the tab out from behind the housing again. Luckily, there is no damage from that operation. I was able to recreate the problem by slamming the magazine in or pushing the tab in manually. I also took a phillips-head precision driver and made sure all of the screws in that area of the housing were tight. They are.

NERF is awesome to send us these products to test out early. We'll probably be grabbing another one on our own to see if we can recreate some problems with it too. If this turns out to be a repeat problem, it may be one of the few downsides I have found for this particular model.

After this fix, there haven't been any other problems! ~Chris

Tek Recon Responds to Our Un-boxing

Hey Warriors!

We held off on this article for a bit to get some more perspective on the blaster and to watch Tek Recon's developing responses. We did the unboxing a couple of weeks back and found a few things we didn't like, but other things that grew on us. Can't wait to get the Kickstarter rewards so that we can give these blasters the tests they deserve!

Glad we waited because Tek Recon has thrown up a play-by-play response to the un-boxing. They popped up 5 organized comments to our points on to the video on Youtube. We're going to break it down.

"Part 1
As always TEK RECON Command is listening and learning from all of the feedback provide by the TRibe.
Please trust that we are working very hard to address all comments. While we are very proud of our overall performance of the product, we are committed to ongoing improvement and hearing back from the TRibe on challenges they have experienced, and even better yet suggestions on what our users believe can make the experience even better for all the fans for a truly great play experience."

From the close attention they are paying and the passion that has been demonstrated in their videos, it's easy to believe them. Sounds like they are here to stay. I think they do want to put a great product out there and Click Click BAMF is totally willing to keep trying these blasters out. We have a Battle Pack on the way from their kickstarter campaign and will get some good skirmishing going when those arrive! 

"Part 2
In regards to the amount of ammo included, we are surprised to hear that some in the community are unhappy about this. We over-designed the clips with a maximum capacity so that you the user could determine how much ammo you want to load into it.The Hammer Head & Havok include more rounds than any other at their respective prices.We have also made additional rounds affordable so that you can easily maximize the full capacity of the cartridges to whatever level you decide is right for you."

I am surprised that they are surprised. They've been pimping how great their ammo capacity is going to be. When you open the app and choose a profile with a Hammer Head blaster, it automatically assumes that you are loading 25 rounds. Why would the user decide to load a lower amount of ammo on a regular basis other than being short on ammo? I am sure there are some reasons, but I doubt that they'd be common enough to call giving you, the user, less than a full compliment of ammo a good thing! Would I want to buy more of their affordable ammo on top of this full compliment I expect? Yes, please!

"Part 3
As far as performance, we are very proud of our rapid fire and that is why we call it out right on front of package. We encourage users to get used to the firing mechanisms either using the trigger or the pump as having 2 unique ways to fire the blaster takes some practice to get use to how best to optimize this."

You could read this as "our blaster is complicated to use" or "you aren't doing it right". Interesting, . . . we didn't call them out on any problems with firing. Seems pretty straight-forward. You can dial up the intensity to fire farther, but that also makes the thing a little harder to fire. As alluded to in one of their videos, you are essentially negotiating between rate of fire and distance with this dial. We are still testing this feature out.

"The reason for the powder on the NRG Rounds is to ensure smooth loading and firing and as one of our fans pointed out that latex gloves have a similar coating on them."

The powder notation makes sense. I think it's rather effective, in fact. After firing the native rounds several times, I haven't notice a problem in loading the things. And yes, the magazine feels great when you seat it into the blaster.

"Part 4
The TEK RECON APP has received some great feedback and we are constantly thriving to improve the experience. The jumpiness you experienced could be for a variety of reasons that we are investigating , but obviously older devices may not be as smooth and all other applications should be closed. An update for iOS and a new Android version of the app within the next couple weeks based on feedback demonstrating our ongoing commitment to continually improve the play experience."

I'm glad their app has received some great feedback! For me, the jumpiness continues. I have an iPhone 4 which is noted as a compatible phone on their kickstarter FAQ, so it needs to work. If they need to retrograde the app for users like me, that's fine. I figure the update they promise will work it out.

"Part 5
The Smartphone mount is designed that, when properly used, will prevent smart devices from falling out. We would suggest that in the video it was not depressed fully to create a tight grip on the device and we are happy to show how that is possible. As such, we are creating a video that will demonstrate how to properly insert a device, and how to ensure that the activator is properly aligned to work as it is intended."

LOL. "You're too stupid to press down on the top." Not quite how they meant it, but  . . . yeah . . .

I'll look forward to seeing their video. Especially for their info on how to get their activator to work. You should see all of the stupid people who work with me at a news station (including the engineers) that can't get this to work right either.

Tek Recon hit a bad note with selling their blasters before supplying their backers, considering that their pitch was to use our money to get these things on the shelves in the first place. Props to Laser Gnomes on sticking to their guns. To be honest, I don't have too big of a problem with Tek Recon being distributed to retail stores at the same time their office was getting the rewards products to ship out to backers. Yes, I agree it lacked class, but it's something that just happens when working with retailers and distributors. You can't hold off launching the product to suck up to people on social media. If the product is good, the demand will remain regardless. 

The biggest problem I have is their original video on kickstarter. If you watch the launch of their campaign, Tek Recon comes off as having two fully developed blasters that they are showing off. They indicate the need for crowd-funding to get this developed product to the shelves. Graeme Bisset says they've been in development for two years. I am glad that they are continuing to develop and evolve, but I don't believe the product now is what I feel was advertised as ready for stores in the original video. Good thing or bad? I refuse to pass judgement yet! ~Chris

Friday, August 16, 2013

Office Wars

Hey Warriors!

I saw Bazookafied's entry about office wars on the Tactical Tag blog and it got me thinking about the people at my work. I started to bring some elite pistols to work a few months ago for the occasional co-worker that needed a dart. We've been so busy with fires, floods and other breaking news that we don't get a lot of good conflicts going. I am working to change that!

There's nothing like a little fun in the office to kill the stress of a hard day. Every one is usually a really good sport and people like to mess with foam blasters since they can't really hurt anybody. I usually wait to sneak them out until the other managers aren't looking though ;)

Check out the reaction to the MEGA Centurion when I put it out in the newsroom on July 4th weekend. I kind of got that hunter in the duck blind feel from shooting out of our radio studio.

Maybe we'll get a good war going at the office when the Tek Recon kickstarter package comes in. I got 4 Hammer Heads for Click Click BAMF so that we can test out the app and blasters against each other in two man teams! ~Chris