Here at the Blaster Labs offices, we have a little game we play called “cup.” It’s a completely juvenile form of entertainment that is NOT approved by any toy manufacturers, the FDA, Michelle Obama, your mother, or anyone else. It involves a foam dart or disc blaster of your choice, a single plastic cup, and one pair of optional safety glasses. We’re not going to tell you how it’s played, because we don’t want a lawsuit. But suffice it to say, you don’t want to be the one to have to wear the glasses.
We share this brief departure into “not-entirely-safe things to do with foam blasters” for a reason. And that reason is to introduce you to the Buzz Bee Range Master, our new king of the “cup” game—a contest where accuracy is everything.
Although generally seen as impractical outside of movies and video games, the ability to “dual wield” (use two weapons at once) has nonetheless been a much sought-after capability rarely found in foam-based blasters outside of complicated and noisy battery-powered models. In fact, the only other non-battery powered, single-handed blaster in the entire Nerf arsenal to-date is the Toys “R” Us exclusive Snapfire 8.
It was with no small amount of anticipation then that the Nerf Zombie Strike Hammershot (and its re-shelled twin, the Rebelle Sweet Revenge) came to market in August of 2013. And, like many reviewers before us, we’re pleased to confirm the Hammershot meets or exceeds those expectations for a one-handed wonder. It would be notable even if the Hammershot’s single point of distinction was it’s ability to be primed and fired one-handed. But fortunately, it’s a very well-rounded blaster in other regards, as well.
We covered everything in foam, water and IR blasting that Toy Fair NYC had to offer—and we’re just getting started!
It’s now been two weeks since the Blaster Labs team blitzed the American International Toy Fair on February 16, 2014 in New York City. We thought it an appropriate time, then, to take a look back at a few of the highlights from the show, and to thank a few of the people that made it so memorable (including a special bonus for fans of Nerf and Blaster Labs!).
If you’re just joining us, or perhaps didn’t catch everything we posted, here’s a quick highlight of some of our most memorable experiences:
- World’s first hands-on time with new Tek Recon Predator.
- First detailed images of all-new Rebelle product line.
- A glimpse of the Demolisher with a 25-round drum.
- An unexpected laser tag system from Think Geek.
- Incredible 300-foot distance claim from a $15 wrist-rocket by Zing.
- Wicked reloading demonstrations for the new Zombie Strike Slingfire.
- First close-up video of new Nerf-branded Combat Creatures Attacknid.
- A surprisingly engaging hands-on experience with the Thunderbow.
- VMD’s Cannon Commando outgunning the Attacknid.
One of our most memorable visits at the American International Toy Fair was with the folks from Tech 4 Kids, where we got some brief hands-on time with the all-new Tek Recon Predator—the most aspirational blaster in the Tek Recon line-up, with a claimed range “exceeding 100 feet” and a maximum ammo capacity of 100 rounds. Interest in this new blaster has been strong, so with the generous support of Tek Recon’s PR folks, we’re pleased to now be able to provide some additional details about the Predator, along with a closer look at what makes it so unique.
First, the news: the Predator will ship with a fully packed, 100 round magazine standard for $49.99. These will be the current, standard-velocity NRG rounds, though the Predator is capable of firing any type of NRG round, including the new shorter and longer range types. We are also pleased to confirm that, according to Tech 4 Kids, the Predator will hit the claimed 100’ ranges on the max distance setting using the original NRG rounds.
It’s actually a lot cooler than it looks.
We’re not going to lie. When Hasbro first announced the Nerf Mega Thunderbow, we thought the Mega brand had already jumped the shark. For starters, the proportions of the Thunderbow just looked goofy. And to some degree, it felt like Hasbro was just blatantly trying to ride the wave of culturally-inspired bow-like products that are currently hitting the market, rather than giving Nerf Nation what it really wanted—a flagship Mega product that didn’t embarrass itself like the Centurion.
We still feel the same way. However, after having spent some hands-on time with the Mega Thunderbow at the American International Toy Fair in the off-site Hasbro exhibit, we came away with a newfound respect for the Mega line’s first bow-based product. The progressive pull back system gives the toy a very tactile quality, which is paid-off by being able to fire the huge, whistling Mega darts up to a claimed 100 feet (the first time this kind of range has been claimed by any Nerf product apart from the Centurion).
Let’s get this out of the way: the N-Strike Elite Nerf Cam ECS-12 is the new blaster no one asked for, at a price no one seems interested in paying, and with technology no one believes is appropriate for a device released this decade. Nonetheless, the new Cam ECS-12 is very likely the “mystery blaster” that UK Nerf spotted at the UK Toy Fair, and according to Engadget, may indeed be Nerf’s “big ticket” item for the year, despite widespread hopes and dreams of something more spectacular.
Having now had a week to recover from the disappointment felt at the near-complete lack of new product announcements from Hasbro during Toy Fair 2014 (other than confirmations of products previously announced or otherwise leaked online), we decided it would be appropriate to take a step back and reflect on what exactly is coming our way later this year—to consider some of these products on their own merits, versus merely dismissing them for not having met our collective (and lofty) expectations.
Blame it on Daryl Dixon or Katniss Everdeen, but we’re seeing quite the resurgence of interest in the trusty bow and arrow. And Hasbro, ever one to hone-in on current events, isn’t about to miss out on the trend. Forget the original Crossbow from 1994, or even the fun-but-aging Big Bad Bow. Today, we have no less than the Rebelle Pink Crush mini-crossbow, the Rebelle Guardian Crossbow, the Rebelle Heartbreaker Bow, and the recently announced Mega Thunderbow and Rebelle Agent Bow, all set to be on store shelves next to each other in the not-too-distant future. So, naturally, it’s no surprise that Hasbro’s Zombie Strike line would also get a bow-type product of its own, which was delivered in the form of the Zombie Strike Crossfire Bow earlier this year.
Much has already been said about the origins of the Zombie Strike Crossfire Bow having likely been rooted in the Elite product line, what with its angular lines and embossed “N-Strike” seal in the handle. But you know what? Who cares. It looks great in the Zombie Strike color scheme, even if it’s missing the faux cloth-wrapped handle of other Zombie Strike products. And besides, it fits in with the whole Zombie genre better than the Elite theme, anyway (after all, how many modern-day combat operatives still rely on crossbows?).