Friday, July 8, 2011

Review: Lazer Tag Phoenix LTX (revised)

(this was one of my first posts this time last year, but I decided to give it a bit more oomph, so here it is again.. but revised!)
Laser Tag in the home arena hasn't REALLY been able to regain its popularity in the domestic backyard market since its glory days of the mid 80's. In Australia, it's been pretty woeful; a handful of Toy Box Laser Challenge blasters dribbled in and out of stores and the dominance of Nerf foam blasters meant the new generation were disinterested and on a whole unaware of how cool laser tag really could be.

States-side, they had moderate success with the Lazer Tag brand being re-released with the LTTO line and then their successors, the very cool Phoenix LTX series of taggers. They were unfortunately never released in Australia, but that's nothing questionable decision making at 3AM in the morning and an open eBay window couldn't fix, so we managed to import several of them and to date are still, in our opinion, the best home tagging system around. Here's why:)

The Phoenix LTX was the last of the Lazer Tag line of blasters released by Tiger Electronics before they became rebranded and for all intended purposes, de-tuned under the Hasbro Nerf banner. While I think Hasbro's motivation behind this was to have all of their blaster toys under the same brand (they did this to Super Soaker too), there's nothing about "Non-Expanding-Recreational-Foam" here. 

Nerf branded packs only come with the two tagger pistol units by themselves (one blue and one an olive/orange colour) compared to the original Tiger Electronics Lazer Tag packs which included two included two Phoenix LTX taggers, two Shot Blast front accessories,two green dot sight attachments and some video game direct to TV front accessory for 'training' or playing on your own. I turfed that, given it only works with a CRT TV.. and who has one of those any more? The Nerf variety is still the same blaster and works with the attachments if you need to interchange them; in any case both packs are officially discontinued so it's a matter of scouring eBay or second hand markets to find them.

The Phoenix LTX looks tough, but it's not exactly 'pretty', with somewhat organic alien looking cues rather than military weapons styling.  It's very solid and weighty once you load your six AA batteries in the battery chamber. They originally came in two packs, featuring the blue and the gold; neither paint scheme really excites us that much. The blasters feel good in the hand and arguably can be ok for single hand play but with the weight it's much more comfortable with both hands on the tagger (especially with the shot gun attachment)  
The gameplay of these Phoenix LTX's have been simplified compared to their more complex older brothers in the LTTO line. Customising games is more limited than before; previous LTTO games allowed you to set up and host team death matches, hunter modes, 3 on 2's and keep actual scores on who shot who etc etc but the menu system was pretty fiddly, compared to a much simpler "switch" system with these LTX's. Your options are solo free for all or team games; you can select how many rounds you want to have per clip, your strength and whether you're playing indoor or outdoor. Once the game starts you can't change these settings, so boo on you for cheaters!:P

The one thing I quite liked in the older LTTO taggers was the vicinity alert- if you were in range of an opponent's tagger, you would hear an audible female concerned "danger" voice that'd alert you that you're in trouble. This was due to the fact the older blasters had two 'lenses; at the front- one to shoot and one to 'receive' data such as this. The LTX line.. doesn't have this, so you're no longer alerted to enemy presence.  I kinda liked this; it's not a show stopper but it did add to the "fark me who's got me?!" element of surprise:P
They've also taken away the medic modes as well to heal team mates, and the simulated "over heat" mode which if you fired too quickly your blaster would freeze up for a few seconds due to you being a tad trigger happy. Neither of these modes really excited me that much anyway so they weren't show stoppers.
The Phoenix LTX's range is pretty impressive; i'm quite a fan of the idea that if you can see your target and line them up in your sight, than you can hit your target.. and it's quite accurate (although you'll ALWAYS have someone yell "my gun's not working properly.." due to user error!). Firing is simply squeezing the trigger, with indicators on the side of the gun showing you how many shots you have left. 
The clear hammer recoils and flashes red as you fire.
Each time you shoot, a mechanical 'hammer' pops out and in at the back of the gun to give you a sense of recoil. The recoil hammer also lights up while you're firing- this is a feature some people like and some people don't- but personally, I'm all about the bells and whistles so I'm all for it (though you can do a quick "hack" to stop it from recoiling.. but where's the fun in that?!)  Along with recoil there is also a hit vibration tactile feedback; on other words when you shoot and get shot, you can feel it in your hand.  

If you've gotten yourself a Tiger branded blaster, you can attach the enclosed green-dot sight, similar to Nerf N-Strike Mission Kit pinpoint scope (alas no, it's not interchangeable with N-Strike) and from our experiences it genuinely DOES make a difference with accuracy.
The targeting dome.
The Phoenix LTX system is all self contained; the 'tagging' is done by targeting the blaster itself rather than an external vest. Each blaster has a red dome on top of the tagger which is where your opponents are aiming for; take a hit and your dome flashes red to let you (and whoever shot you) know!  Other than the obvious 'cheating' of trying to conceal your dome, we actually quite like the self contained system sans vest and think it's not a bad idea- if you want to shoot someone, you're also allowing yourself to be exposed at the same time which adds to the strategy of the game.  
the trigger, shield button and the thumb switch to reload.
The tagger has various switches on the sides of them to select whether you're playing indoor or outdoor and how many shots you can fire before you need to reload. You simply switch the gun on, choose which team you're on (team one or team two, and a hidden easter egg team three) and you're away.
the reload mechanism. Very satisfying:)
Reloading is the coolest. Once your shots counter is empty, a flick of a switch with your thumb on the side of the gun (catering for left handed and right handed players)  has a virtual "magazine" that flashes and pops out of the butt of the tagger. Simply slap it back in again and you've reloaded, with an electronic audible feedback to let you know you're back and ready to fire. There have been mods to disable this as well, but again, this is part of the fun!

You've also got limited shields which can be activated with your trigger finger that stops you from being tagged but also means you cannot shoot anyone at the same time either. Using these wisely while making hasty retreats and tactical positioning is vital.. and it's also incredibly satisfying to hear the "clunk" sound that the tagger makes when someone tries to shoot you with your shields on. Sucked in pal!
If you've got one, sliding on the shotblast attachment means you can inflict more damage on your opponents with one shot. A sliding back the grip the attachment primes the shotgun feature for the tagger; then it's a matter of squeezing your trigger. If your shot connects you inflict 3 times the damage of a normal shot which is a great way of adding handicaps and customising playability.. and also a way of making sure your games are really quick:P  Unfortunately this doesn't come with the Nerf branded packs of Lazer Tag Phoenix LTX but they'll still work with the Shotblast if you've got one from another tagger.

Games will pretty much keep going till one side is out of lives. There are audible responses for everything you do- when you fire, when you get shot, and when you're in danger of tagging out. A very descriptive "low life" voice tells you you're almost a goner, and a polite slap in the face with a "You're out" voice is then accompanied by a solid red lit dome; basically it tells you it's time to power down and sit down for the next game.

Now.. gush time. We LOVE the Phoenix LTX system; I can safely say hand on my heart that anyone who's played with them has become a convert; even some of the most die hard Nerf war lovers. It's fast and furious; we generally play in the underground carpark at night, but it's equally as awesome in any enclosed space (sneaking into the office after hours was just AWESOME) and the fact that if you can see your opponent you can take them down means relying on some very quick footwork to get to decent advantage points to fire from. The blasters are very accurate in both day and night; if you're not hitting your target it's normally because you haven't quite worked out your tagger capabilities yet:) It's easily picked up by casual gamers who've never picked up a blaster before and still considered huge amounts of fun; personally we played several games in the office after hours and at our office Christmas party in the Zoo and Aquarium with first timers and sessions went for over several hours.

Though they have been stripped down of some functionality in comparison to the older LTTO line, it makes it easier for them to be adopted by the casual player and thus keeps the playability high. Still, don't be alarmed if you do want something more involved, as they're still compatible with the older Lazer Tag LTTO line and can be used in hosted games that the older system can churn out.

Now the biggest issue for me with them is I personally find them pretty ugly. The weird design and hideous colours took some time to get used to, AS did the initial "where's the vest?" (probably the biggest question any first time players ask me).  I miss the proximity alert sensors for enemies in the vicinity and do kinda wish they'd included those in the LTX's.. but I guess I can do without:)

The other thing is with a Nerf blaster, you can pop one open and repair/mod with relatively ease; laser tag taggers are electronic so unless you've got some background in this sort of thing, if your tagger dies.. it's pretty much...dead for good. The rarity of these blasters also means I'm always shy about letting kids actually play with them; their parents aren't going to be too keen on footing the bill if their kid should decide to throw the gun onto the pavement or into a pool..

And that's the real doozy; the final real killer for these blasters is the lack of availability. Never released in Australia either the Tiger Electronics kit or the updated Nerf version, it meant the only way to get your hands on them is to import.. and ho-ly crap it's not cheap. Sellers on eBay are getting a tad greedy and starting to ask for some really ridiculous prices for them; that being said there are those who're more reasonable and I've seen them go for anything from 25 US second hand up to several hundred. My only thought is with the upcoming Wow Wee Light Strike line, second hand LTX's may come down in price...

If you can though, get your hands on a set or two. It's SOOO much fun and in my opinion, well worth the investment. Just be kind to them and mindful which friends you invite over to play!

Lazer Tag Phoenix LTX. Rise from the ashes..

Usability: 7.5/10
Out of the box performance: 9/10
Cool factor: 9/10
Price point: 6/10 (if you go with the 70 buck average mark)


  1. so does it come with the red dot sight, i have a friend that has the older one with the shot blast and its awesome so can you buy attachments

  2. can you make a youtube vid of this

  3. hiya pocket, not sure if you've seen this but apparently there is a new laser tag brand (not Nerf tho) coming in 2011, saw some info on it at the following link, its got a video too..

  4. I believe you are quite handy with one of these in the underground garage warfare....even made it out onto the streets as well!

  5. Even a second time around, it's a wonderful review. Though you did call the original company "Tommy" instead of "Tiger". It's somewhere in the first few paragraphs. Good to see someone still flying the Lazer Tag-brand flag! Thanks, UT!

  6. Bazookafied: Yeah, I dunno why I did that! I think I had Bon Jovi Living on a Prayer on the mind:P Fixed now, thanks for the heads up!:P

  7. @KW: Do you even read this blog? Pocket's been covering the Light Strike range since the toy fair!

  8. brilliant review! I think I might try and hunt a set down...

  9. i think the biggest questio i want to know is this, as friends have a pair of these.... are they going to be compatible with thw light strike coming out now?

  10. At Thorn, did you see the date of that post? It is from Febuary.




  13. All Hasbro needs to do is re-release the LTX range and go back to bringing out new attachments, like the rapid fire machine gun one Greg featured last year. By developing some more of those, LTX's would be back in the game and probably pWn these Wow Wee pieces of junk.

  14. Team 3 can be played with by putting the team switch carefully right in between team 1 and team 2. Put it on one team first, move the switch very slowly to the other team and when you hear "team 3", start the game :-)

    I own 24 LTX's with both attachments now, and started repainting them. 8 of them are in green camo now. I want to be able to play in 3 teams of 8 players, as 24 players is the maximum for this brand.

  15. He already mentioned that.

    "(team one or team two, and a hidden easter egg team three)"

    It'd be really hard to get 24 LTXs these days though. I have 2.

  16. Hello, so the Phoenix has become the Nerf 2 pack Laser tag system that's at toys r us? Ok, read the review on the Light Strike system, more bang for the buck what's better Light Strike or the Nerf? It seems that the Nerf comes with two guns and more cheaper? But cheaper isn't always better. It's for a two 7 year old boys who caught the Laser Tag bug so it must be roughed the Light Strike review said it was "light weight" don't know who tough it would be for a two 7 year olds. Thanks

  17. are there any host systems for the phoenix and light strike guns

  18. I tried the light strike guns. Needless to say i returned them right away for the nerf lazer taggers. While there is a lot of variety to the light strike guns, the range is not as good and it feels much cheaper. Go for the Nerfs!

  19. Are these systems (nerf) back as toys r us are selling them and Amazon is also selling them? I want the attachments but can't seem to find them.I bought 3 sets and we've had a blast with them. My wife, 3yr old, 8, 9 yr old and myself have been playing. My 3yr old has no problem with the gun and uses the 25 hit move and the rest of us use the 10 hit and it seems to work out good. but it doesn't seem these have the team 3 mode. :(

  20. Just FYI if you have any contacts in the US. Toys R Us has these going for $79us. The kicker is the "buy 2 get one free" promo they have going on. Needless to say I bought 3 sets, for the cost of 2.

    A lot of my decision is based in this review. Thanks a bunch!

  21. Does anyone know how to fix the blue gun when it picks up on everyone's gun even if not near or aiming at it? All other guns are working really well, but one blue gun is not.....please email to Love these guns and bought two sets for grandsons.....but since they are being dc'd not sure what to do with the one not working well.

  22. I bought my son the Light Strike version of laser tag for Xmas 2011 and was not impressed due to the inability for the person shooting to tell if they hit another person well...also it is way easy to cheat with the Light Strike. Returned the Light Strike guns and bought the LTX system from Amazon for 60 bucks last month. The range is excellent with these guns even on a sunny day and the gun's dome lights up bright when its hit. The dome is very visible for the other person to see they have made a hit, even from far away. When the game is over, the loser's dome stays lit and it takes the gun 20 seconds to reset for a new game. Would like to be able to find the attachments for a good price...

    Currently, Amazon has the LTX system on sale for 53 bucks vs ToysRUs's 80 dollar price.

  23. Damn.... the LTX is discontinued, same for the Ubisoft one. I found really bad review for the spynet and the light strike... Is there any good laser tag system currently available that doesn't require an iphone ?

    1. The new Lazer Tag Augmented Reality blasters actually work almost identically (features wise) to the Phoenix LTX's. You don't need an iPhone to play; without an iPhone it pretty much works well as a standard laser tag system.

      The iPhone functionality is only if u want a richer experience or play on ur own. I'd recommend this system as the quickest/cheapest way to get into it- AND it is compatible with all earlier Lazer Tag gear.

  24. This is a great article, I got three sets of these from for $29.99 a few years for my then niece's birthday party. After we used it for 3 parties at max they were promptly returned to their box and have been collecting dust in my basement ever since. They were $79.99 at Toys R Us and I thought I was getting deal then. When cleaning my basement out I thought about selling them and wondered why on Amazon NIB they are like $499.99. I guess this answers my question, I need to get these posted online for sale before the holiday season. Yowza!