Nerf Challenge Review

I usually review blasters and the like, not actual events. However, since Hasbro has partnered with Kilburn Live to make the Nerf Challenge event, it seemed like a good thing to write about after experiencing.

To be clear, I did have an invite to the earlier media party at the LA Nerf Challenge – I simply couldn’t make it due to my regular job. However, thanks to some really cheap overnight flights, I was able to spend a few hours experiencing the Nerf Challenge as a customer. Is it something worth flying to? Probably not; I’m just weird like that, and it’s a touring event anyway. Should you try it if it’s nearby? Possibly. It will be a fun time, but it all depends on what you’re looking for and willing to pay.

See the official website here.

Taking over LA Live

The Nerf Challenge takes up over 50,000 square feet on the LA Live Event Deck – most of it is in what is essentially a giant event tent. A few items like the Human Foosball were outside, but most of the exhibit is contained in the structure. Walking in, you’re faced with lines on the right for getting wristbands and such, and a few employees handing out protective eyewear. Nice touch.

After getting in, you’re faced with lots of fun and games; events like human bowling, the basketball shooting booth, and several blaster ranges await. They don’t take too long to do (individually), but there are quite a few of them.


Even so, the real excitement is a short walk farther, with the various blaster arenas.

CTF, Team Deathmatch, Free For All, and…Ultra?

The arenas are fun, as you’d expect, and they aim for essentially an even playing field for everyone involved. The Rival-based arena, Strange Cargo, issues everyone a Hypnos. Games go for five minutes, with respawns turned off for the last minute. Meanwhile, Blast Man Standing gives everyone a Triad and makes them grab their ammo from the arena (with a couple hidden Disruptors). In that game, there are 25 revives total, with all tags after #25 being permanent. Dodge Blast pits attackers and defenders against each other with Mega blasters, with the attackers pushing to hit various targets. Finally, the Capture the Flag game occurs in the Urban Playground – everyone gets a Disruptor, and tries to grab both flags from the other side of the arena.

The Rival Arena worked well, with everyone playing the entire time (and reloading off the floor as needed). Blast Man Standing also ran well, with easy instructions and lots of adults just having a fun time. Dodge Blast as a format worked, but had technical difficulties – the targets weren’t registering correctly, so scoring was disabled. Capture the Flag, however, needed some tweaking. Obviously kids are going to shoot at each other regardless, but the rules that day followed standard, in person capture the flag rules, including being immune to tags unless past a certain point. That works in a large space with people running around. With entire teams armed with blasters with range, not so much. Also, there were only two real corridors of movement between the two sides, limiting any sort of tactics to “hope they fire all their darts and have to run off to the refill station”.

But What About Nerf Ultra???

I didn’t take any pictures here, as (for the three hours I was there, anyway) it wasn’t operational! I know, jokes will ensue, but in terms of promotional events, I’m sure it’ll be effective. Each Nerf Challenge stop (other cities will be visited) will have its own Ultra Championship that attendees can enter. The best scoring players will get invited back at the end of the city run for a shot to win $5000.

Overall Thoughts

The event itself was a lot of fun – I was surrounded by everyone from families to youth groups to adult friends hanging out and just having a good time. It’s obviously a more casual affair than the games I usually attend, but still fun, with lots of little things to do between blaster battles – including stopping at the pop-up Nerf shop.

Is it worth attending? That’s a harder question to answer, because the prices are up there. Using rough ballpark numbers here, 3 hours of Active Play plus one blaster arena game comes out to $30, and you can buy more arena play on-site. VIP tickets, with 3 hours of play anywhere (plus VIP lines for faster access) are $80. That’s a high price to ask of anyone. I’m spoiled by having so many nearby Nerfers that do wars in the park on weekends, and I know of so many places with already-established Nerf battle businesses that charge far less for more play time against other people. However, a sizable but spread out Midwestern city is a far different environment than downtown Los Angeles in terms of play opportunity. I know I sound like I’m trying to put a positive spin on the situation, but I can genuinely see people that live in the area wanting to spend a few hours doing official blaster battles and activities with the kids or other fans. And I can only assume that future Nerf Challenge stops will also be in densely populated areas.

Is it fun? Yes. Is it worth the hole in the wallet? Your mileage may vary, especially if you have to travel many miles to get there.

One Final Note…

Apparently my leaving Los Angeles coincided perfectly with a Santa Con. This was definitely not part of the official Nerf event.