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Havok Blaster | Tek Recon

Hammerhead & Havoc


Tech 4 Kids

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Looks great, but NRG rounds leave you frustrated

Review: Tek Recon by Tech 4 Kids

Tek Recon was a successfully funded Kickstarter venture backed by parent company Tech 4 Kids of Toronto, Canada. We got our hands on a Tek Recon Havok and two Tek Recon Hammerhead blasters, along with refill pack of the “NRG” (Non-marking, Reusable, Gaming) ammunition. They’re readily available at retailers nationwide, and have even been seen being sold at a discount in some stores (we got ours from Kmart and Wal-Mart).

We’ll say right up-front that these blasters look awesome on the website, and the photography and design style used by Tech 4 Kids to promote the new line is spot-on. The blasters look menacing, in a vaguely Halo-esque, not-too-distant future kind of way, with wild animal-print markings. The product branding also has a very high-tech, mil-sim look that leaves the impression that these blasters were designed by a company that has their act together and that knows their target audience. But that’s as good as it gets.

Unfortunately, with our Havok, Hammerheads and NRG rounds in-hand, the actual experience of play turned out to be a series of let-downs. The biggest problem rests with the NRG rounds, themselves. Based on what appears to be something akin to a small, fat rubber band, the rounds disappear from view almost entirely when shot, are extremely easy to lose, and seem to dissipate energy very quickly upon leaving the blaster (ironic, given what the “NRG” naming implies). In addition, when used in battle, the opponent can rarely feel an NRG round when hit, and since they are hard to see in flight, there’s very little to give a sense of actual combat or competition taking place. Adding salt to the wound, the rounds are extremely difficult to pick-up and reload when it’s all over. Since they are rubber versus stiff, they tend to roll and compress when being forced into the blaster or the clip.

…the rounds disappear from view almost entirely when shot, are extremely easy to lose, and seem to dissipate energy very quickly upon leaving the blaster

So, what about the blasters themselves? Well, they don’t look as good in real life as they do in pictures. The plastic is shiny and rather nasty looking (Tech 4 Kids claims this is a feature, as there’s some kind of “metallization” process used in the gun manufacture that allows them to refract light… but in reality, it just looks cheap). We also noticed that the green plastic used in our blasters varied in shade slightly from piece to piece, which doesn’t give confidence in the product’s quality control. We will say that we liked the rubber butt in the Havok’s shoulder stock, the metal rivets used here and there that give a feel of ruggedness, and the double-ended ammo cartridge was a cool touch (Need more ammo? Just flip it over!). In addition, we experienced zero jams with the Havok, and only a few jams with the Hammerheads. But we’ll say the dual-intensity switch (distance versus fire rate) seemed a bit gimmicky, and didn’t really add anything to the gameplay. Also, the “draw” on the blaster was very stiff, such that attempting to fire with the trigger was often nearly impossible on the “distance” setting, so pump-action was really the only option. There’s also no “cocking” or “priming” these blasters—a pull on the pump results in a shot, as does a pull on the trigger. A child would never be able to use these blasters, though we don’t expect they are the intended audience, so that’s not really a fault. The supposed “recoil” is basically non-existent (or no more significant than a typical Nerf blaster, at least).

App Screenshot | Tek Recon Ok, so the rounds are weak and hard to find, the blasters don’t live up to their billing… but what about the “app-enhanced team battles!” featured so prominently in the advertising? Well, the app is free, so there’s no harm in trying it out. Go ahead… try it. It lets you capture gameplay moments in real-time (using your camera), and there are color filters that simulate night vision, FLIR-style thermal imaging, etc., but none of them are actually functional. The coolest aspects are the real-time GPS (worked sometimes) and the walkie-talkie style comms feature. There’s also purportedly a way to track shots fired and competitors vanquished, but it seemed to rely on a physical press of a “button” from the blaster onto the phone screen, which we never really got to work right. And reporting of “hits” is left to the individual player, which is both inconvenient and prone to cheating (or simple mistakes—again, you’re not likely to even feel the rounds when they hit you).

In the end, we spent no more than a day or two with the Tek Recon blasters, and simply went back to our Nerf armory. But we’re glad to see another competitor in the space, and we sincerely hope Tech 4 Kids keeps working to refine the Tek Recon products. After all, Nerf has been refining their blasters since 1989, so they’ve had a lot of time to get it right. The Tek Recon product isn’t a bad first attempt by any means. It’s branded well, it seeks to do new things in the category, and it has the right kind of distribution and pricing. Unfortunately, in its current configuration with NRG rubber band ammunition, it simply isn’t much fun to play.

*Images are property of Tek Recon.

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  • ZergRush

    I agree, pretty sweet designs, however the ammo is small, hard to see when shot, and then hard to collect. Also, not easily felt when it hits you… unless of course it hits your face… no ignoring that…

  • Regi

    Thanks for this review. As always, you’ve covered things very well. I was a Kickstarter funder and enthusiastic early adopter of the Tek Recon products for a few reasons 1) I feel it’s good for Nerf to get some competition since they’ve dominated for almost 30 years 2) I really, really liked what Tek Recon was trying to do as far created a new experience with ‘realistic’ blasters and a polished ARG app 3) I just got into Cosplay (Deadpool) and was looking for good looking, functional blasters I could use. I even bought a couple extra sets of Havoks and Hammerheads to give to friends to have people to play against. I like that the Tac Rail could accept a Daisy Electronic Point Site from Wal-Mart.

    Unfortunately as you’ve written, the NRG rounds inevitably get lost. I DID take a note from the Tek Recon YouTube videos and rolls the NRG rounds in flour so they ‘marked’ someone if they got hit (this worked reasonably well). Fine tuning the Distance/Rapid Fire trigger DOES help a bit for range vs rapid. Pumping throws off targeting, so it’s better to get the choice setting and pull the trigger.

    Possibly the worst thing for me was the fact that feedback posted to their Facebook page was deleted, not even ‘approved’ as they hadn’t setup approval messages to their Wall. Just deleted. Only ‘positive’ things were allowed to stay. When I asked why their website link to ‘Shop’ went nowhere, it was deleted and then a week later, fixed. When I suggested better instructions on how to mount/use the phone frame, the post was deleted. When I gave feedback on their proposed ‘new’ blaster (a Havok-like iteration) – and suggested target traps like the ones used for pellet guns instead, deleted. And, yes, you guessed it, when I mentioned the NRG round loss and how Toys R Us didn’t seem to know where to stock the Tek Recon blasters (I found some in the Video Games section, some in the outdoor sports section, where the volleyball stuff was) – deleted.

    It’s a shame. With a little more feedback and some fine tuning I believe they could do so well. In the meantime, I’m picking up the Battle Pack at a discount of $22 and Havoks for $19 with all the NRG rounds I can get because although I love the product, based on their treatment of customers I’m not too confident they’ll be around much longer.