Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rant: Blasters- What really MAKES it for you?

Airzooka. "can you mod it to shoot darts?":P
Regardless of reports boasting some serious performances, the upcoming Vortex series from Nerf has many of the fans split on the new type of disc ammunition; it seems that we've all become so accustomed to foam darts that even Nerf can't make this alternative ammo seem appealing.

Fans are always going on about distances; it's this pursuit that resulted in modders existing in the first place. Blasters like the Longstrike get absolutely slammed despite it being recognised as one of the best looking blasters Nerf have ever released mainly due to it's ordinary performance (and really, it's not even that bad) and people are always so caught up with how far things can shoot that they'll even go as far as building their own home made blasters. Ugly as sin, but damn they go far..

It's been demonstrated that distances can be achieved using alternative ammo- it's confirmed that X-ploderz blasters get some serious range compared to foam; Jakks Pacific's upcoming Max Force line is reported to hit 100feet ranges out of the box with glorified spitwads. Nerf's Vortex is looking like it'll do similar distances with their new XLR discs. And yet the critics are still sceptical- mainly because of the fact it's not with foam darts. Whenever any new blaster comes out, the first thing everyone asks is "can it be modded to fire foam darts?"

Interestingly enough, one of the biggest debates on Nerf is "Nerf vs Airsoft". Airsoft doesn't shoot foam darts either, and yet we entertain the notion of Airsoft being something that deserves consideration as a 'rival'.

What's even more puzzling is the concept of stefans and other r+d put into creating better darts with more weight and more robust foam than the traditional stock variety. We're no longer comparing apples with apples now are we?

So what is it that's really important to us?  What about the way the blaster looks? We at UT tend to put a lot of weight on aesthetics above all, but I admit if this was the only aspect we cared for, we'd not bother getting projectile blasters and just stick with glorified props. Nope, we need it to shoot.. SOMETHING. We cut our teeth on water blasters and always have laser tag warm to our hearts; sure we're loving foam but I admit I really enjoyed poppin' out marshmallows at my long as we can get some confirmation of a tag, we're happy:)

I'm interested in hearing your views, fellow taggers. What's really the clincher for you? What's important to you when purchasing a blaster? And what is it about those lil' tubes of foam that excite us so much?


  1. Wait, wait, wait. Did you JUST call Homemades (thats right CAPITALIZED) ugly?! Pssh! let me prove you wrong. This guy is one of the Homemade GODS:

  2. I think the only reason people aren't going after x-ploders is because they don't have a trigger and you can't play inside. I'll definitely be going after the vortex guns just because I know that Hasbro has had a good reputation as being a very good toy maker that hasn't made a gun I have been disappointed with.
    The only reason why foam is so great is because it's one of the more reliable ways to play a casual game of tag with your friends. That's really just the reasons why i stick with nerf products instead of going on to something different.

  3. @Soloz1 ok, I stand corrected:)

    You do have to admit though that's not a common occurrence though:P

  4. It's a great debate that can really only boil down to opinion. Whether it's Airsoft, Nerf, Laser Tag, Spitwads, Paintball, or even a disk, folks will side with opinion. I don't really think there's a right or wrong answer, just preferences that each different type of blaster can cater to.

    And with preferences and opinions can also come stubbornness and criticism. These are what fuel the debates... if you can call them that sometimes. Regardless of the flames flying in the remarks in these "debates", it still really just boils down to what people prefer. It just so happens that some folks get caught up in what they think is best and will argue someone to the death who disagrees.

    My advice is to Tag with what works for YOU! Getting caught up in trying to prove it's supremacy over something else isn't going to get you out there and enjoying the game.

  5. As far as I'm aware, stock darts are still the baseline (simply because they're cheap). I'll readily whip out the arsenal of spray paint if I think I can improve a blaster's aesthetics (or if I've removed the AR, then it needs to look deadly), but I feel the new DT's look good as is so they don't get anything. Otherwise I care about the median of power (not necessarily range) and accuracy. Here in the US (dunno about AUS) we have a growing plague of stinkbugs which I've found are highly vulnerable to a restrictorless Switch Shot firing flat-head Buzz Bee darts.
    As far as range goes, a restrictorless Recon get 105 feet. That's good enough for me.


  6. So long as a blaster has good value for money, decent range (ie 10m is great) and ok accuracy (CS blasters excused) and it's useful indoors is fine with me. I just prefer foam darts because I have loads.

  7. Water gun= bath time (just fun, little violence here)
    Lazer tag= OMG LAZERZ (Star wars, other sci-fi battles)
    Dart= faux bullet (IE James bond, war re-enactment, zombie shoot-outs, matrix)

    Disc= umm... aliens?

  8. Vortex is a response from Nerf that I think directly addresses the issue that modders put forth. What amazes me though is that a lot of modders aren't excited about something that has the potential for extremely long stock ranges.

    I don't mod, but I love reading about them. Its the physics that I love the most about it. In fact, the more I read into modding, the more I actually began applying those lessons into the real world, and its thanks to the analogies that modding air pressure-based blasters provided that I finally (and its about time) understand exactly what provides performance in an internal combustion engine.

    The Vortex ammo I beleive is ingenious from a physics point of view. Take a frisbee, shrink it down, and toss it. It generates lift in flight at lower projectile velocities, making it safe for close range without creating the huge amounts of drag that a dart does, allowing it to also fly far. Imagine what's going to happen when we stick high voltage batteries in the Nitron; what kind of ranges are we actualy going to be able to get when we get that little disc spinning fast? Its gonna take some tweaking, but I can't wait to see what modders are going to be able to do with the Vortex line-up.

  9. First off, you try building a homemade blaster before criticsing anyone. It's not that easy to make them look nice without spending hundreds of dollars. Second, the reason people use homemade darts isn't just about range. Accuracy is another bonus. Take the Buzz Bee Big Blast. When modded, it gets ridiculous ranges of about 120 feet with stefans and is fairly consistent. When using stock streamlines, it still gets high ranges (~100 feet) but is very inaccurate past 30 feet. As for the longstrike, the reason modders don't like it is not because it gets poor ranges, but because it's yet another reshelled recon. It is decent for an indoor war, but I could pay the same price and get a raider, or a lower price and get a recon. All of the following use essentially the same plunger set-up as the recon:
    Recon CS-6
    Raider CS-35
    Longstrike CS-6
    Deploy CS-6
    Alpha Trooper CS-18
    Speedload 6
    Quick 16
    If you add the clear and sonic versions, that's a grand total of 12 blasters with the same plunger mechanism that is known for: poor ranges, fragile, and inefficient.

    In my opinion, ranges are not everything. I value looks to some degree (would anyone go to a war with three cardboard boxes stapled together that shot darts?) but I would rather use something that's fun. The magstrike is one of my favorite blasters. It only gets about 60 feet (compared to the 90+ foot ranges of plusbows, longshots, SNAPS, etc.) but is fun to use. The stampede and raider are probably my two favorite clipped blasters, even though the raider is a re-shelled recon (slamfire and super drums, am I right?) and the stampede is a magazine fed automatic nitefinder.

    Really, if you ever go to a war with modded blasters, you're gonna be left out if you have a stock deploy or maverick. Basically, I don't think range is the number one priority of mod, it is an important factor. Also, if you ever read the mod write-ups at NHQ or NH, most people class their mods in three categories: primary (high range, usually single-shot or has a hopper/chopper/RSCB) secondary (medium range, high rate of fire, lots of ammo) or sidearm (a pistol or pistol-esque blaster)

  10. I have always liked the dart tag line. They get good ranges and are very durable. My first sets of blasters were the eliminators, strikefire, and furyfire. The only n-strike blasters i have are a raider(which already only shoots about 1/2 of its original strength-i have only had it for about 4 months)and a barrel break(shoots about 2/30). N-strike is more for looks while dart tag is more for hittig your opponent.

  11. What I love about UT is the way you guys always know just how to push readers' buttons hard enough to get robust discussion. You guys don't just write up about blasters being good or bad, but you also add that element of thought-provoking spice!

  12. In some ways, the fact that new blasters like Xploderz have new firing systems actually makes me want to buy them. I have an Xploder, and I like it. I will get vortex blasters even though they aren't darts, and I like foam. If a water blaster is new and innovating, I will get it. (like the Thunderstorm, even if it doesn't get good range.) As long as it hits somebody, I'm happy. It can't make a mess, though, or parents will get mad. As for modding, it is downright addictive. I started modding, and I like it just because I get to tinker and experiment with physics. I noticed the same pattern in a friend I introduced to modding. I will also play paintball and airsoft, but maybe people enjoy foam because it doesn't hurt you as bad. (Some modded blasters excluded, my couplered big blast can be a little scary) Side note: buzz bee darts are great at killing bugs.

  13. cry me a river over all of that "reshell'd recon" garbage. They're toys. Good modders take something not so great and turn it into something awesome. They don't sit back and whine that a toy manufacturer hasn't designed something to make it easier for them to rip their toy apart and alter it. My modded Alpha Trooper kicks butt in any outdoor battle.

    I need a blaster to have a trigger. Xploderz and even these new Max Force blasters lack that, so even though they look cool, they don't have a trigger so they just look like a prop.

  14. I think the main doubts the modding community has about the vortex line is that they don't yet know what they can do to improve upon it. modders don't specifically want something that performs exceptionally well stock, they want something that with work they can personally make better, otherwise there's no point (take the longshot for example, it's not great stock, but can be amazng when modded).

    and on the topics of homemades, the "holy grail" of homemade blasters isn't something that looks good, or necessarily fires the furthest. both of these factors are important, but so are many other properties such as durability, safety (overpowered blasters are banned from most wars) and ease to make. the most successful designs are those like the +bow and the rainbow, which require easy to aqquire materials and common tools to make. homemades like boltsniper's work are simply too complex for many people to build. an example of a homemade series that combines all the factors very well including aesthetics is 3DBBQ's JSPB range. these are made out of standard pvc parts and a few simple valves, but yet have great semi auto performance and, with his paintjobs, pretty awesome aesthetics:

    so overall, i'd have to say modding is more about getting as much as possible out of a blaster, rather than going for "range-one-upmanship", so the vortex range may be out of favour with a lot of modders.

    ps. nobody likes the longstrike because frankly it sucks and is really overpriced. i've used one before. it fired about 10ft and then the bolt fell off. in the uk they cost £40, which is twice as much as a recon, and they're about twice as bad...
    pps. 105 ft recon with only arr? don't make me laugh. 105ft isn't possible with any recon mods at all, unless you did some serious internals replacement.

  15. We decided to blog in response to the question. Thanks for bringing it up!

  16. the vortex series is very impressive imo. It won't replace the nstrike series because they have very limited modding potential supposedly. I know that many people love their darts and may be hesitant, but honestly if your a nerf fan and haven't tried one yet, you can get the proton single shot for 7.99 at toyrus. its def worth it considering you spend that much on a large meal at most fast food places, and its way more fun...