Friday, July 12, 2013

Rant: Nerf Zombie Strike 2014 lineup.. yeah cool but..

From the 2013 lineup. Preview of things to come? or not..
Ok, Straight off the bat- I'm a completionist so no doubt I'll end up with all of the new Zombie Strike gear, no question. Nerf, you have my money. However, after a few hours and some sleep in between my 4am post on the new Zombie Strike kit, I've managed to sit down and really look at this new line up a little more carefully, and I have to concur with a few of the comments already made by some readers that there's something about the release of these new blasters that just doesn't quite sit right.

And so I think it's time for a good and hearty rant piece:)


For me, my initial response to the Zombie Strike line was that it was a nod to aesthetic modders- So much of the styling is already done already and this was Nerf's attempt at creating a role play universe per se that these blasters belonged. It's like up until this point, Nerf was about blasters themselves and fans were left to their own devices as to whether they were going imagining realistic style mil sim, sci fi futuristic aliens, steampunk or whatever with their games. Now we've got a line that actually suggests the world where they belong-  these are used against zombies, with blasters that look raw and makeshift almost in their aesthetic design. Zombie apocalypse? hells yes:)


What was also interesting was bringing out a relatively "grown up" theme to blasters as well. Zombies traditionally are in the realms of horror- they're the walking dead and they're supposed to be scary and therefore something your standard 8yo kid is not supposed to be exposed to. Not any more:) Whereas before official marketing has shied away from adding any form of conflict or parallels to real guns, this is the first time I can think where they've officially acknowledged Nerf as being about shooting at someone- even if it is something that's already dead:)

And it's purely a role play thing here, because as much as formalised games like HVZ are all about zombies in theme, as far as a game is concerned, it's all about bootloads of firepower, which none of this line actually have. There are no 35 plus drums here.

When we first got word of the new Zombie Strike blasters, the first thing that really stuck out for me was their original styling; they actually looked faux post apocalyptic:) The "bandaged" hand grips and rough looking designs were pretty novel in the Hammershot, and they continued on with the Sledgefire. The types of blasters they were also fit in with that neo-western feel that we always associate with zombie apocalypses and we were also seeing all new firing mechanisms with the Hammershot being hammer cocked (and in turn able to be dual wielded) and the Sledgefire with shell holders and firing 3 darts at a time. Original designs, new firing mechanisms, consistent with theme, all and all, and enthusiastic two thumbs up from the UT stable.

Now this 2014 lineup.. well I dunno. It seems to be the upcoming new gear is a different beast entirely and seems to go against this completely. At first, the first thing you see is "OOH CROSSBOW" and yup, that fits into the zombie world we know and love like a glove, and so I think that was what pretty much set the tone for excitement and interest of the new line until after a few more glances and I was "err hang on.."

So let's talk about said crossbow, or the official name of it being the Zombie Strike Crossfire- it's pretty awesome looking. I mean, I love it, I want it, it's cool, as I've said earlier- crossbows are the new black. It pays homage to the old school crossbow by firing darts rather than big foam arrows (and they even mention it in their press release with the "iconic crossbow action to the Nerf line for the first time in almost twenty years) and it actually looks like they've designed it as a crossbow in mind, as opposed to a blaster that they just stuck a crossbow head and string. What is different however, is its styling doesn't look as in line with the Hammershot and Sledgefire, and as noted by My last Dart, appears to feature the mark of N-Strike Elite in the grip, suggesting this blaster was originally designed as an Elite blaster first.

It's got the stock attachment nub at the back, and it doesn't have the faux bandages around the grip; the green and orange and grey make it almost look like a Vortex blaster! Bottom line- for ours it looks more "polished" and less post apocalyptic than its previous Zombie Strike peers. An N-Strike Elite repaint perhaps? (can it even be called a repaint if it's never been painted as an N-Strike Elite blaster in the first place?!:P)

The other new dart blaster in the Zombie Strike lineup is the "Side Strike" and it's a single shooter, sort of like a re-imaging of the old N-Strike Scouts. It also features the N-Strike Elite logo in the grip and has no faux bandages and again deviates from the post apocalyptic styling of the original Zombie Strike blasters. In fact you could easily release this in N-Strike Elite blue and it'd look right at home. I do like the tactical rail at the bottom of the muzzle, but it makes no sense for it to be for a front grip, so here's hoping Nerf bring out some light accessory that'd be at home in this position.

An interesting marketing/design move is to introduce Vortex into the Zombie Strike lineup; Vortex for me has always been sort of sci-fi futuristic and I always saw the XLR discs visually emulating laser beams, so bringing them into the post apocalyptic neo-western front seems like an odd decision. These ones for me look like a blatant repaint of what look like were to be originally part of the Vortex black/white and red schemes. Their designs are very much similar to the Diatron and they look way too high tech/futuristic for the world that the original two Zombie Strike blasters have sort of presented. They also have no visible tactical rails, no faux bandages and all and all nothing to say they really belong in this space.

That being said, appreciating the blasters themselves, I do really like the Fusefire's chunky design and its continuous firing mechanism is pretty cool for easy reloads (hopefully on the fly). The discs on these are said to be 'glowing'  but there's no mention on batteries like a firefly unit but that transparent bar on the top might be for lighting them up. The Ripshot and Ricochets look like glorified Protons being single shot and for me nothing exciting.

Finally there's the N-Force Blade. As a sword, it looks pretty. I like the design though again, it looks like it's a repaint of something that belongs in another universe (Thundercats? Voltron? just something else!) other than zombies. When I think of blades in Zombies, I think of machetes, or axes, or knives or even cleavers and baseball bats but not really full length swords.

Maybe Nerf are creating a new Zombie universe for these blasters to sit in- but on closer inspection, it does seem to be that the Zombie Strike Hammershot and Sledgefire were designed by a different crew to the rest of the lineup. All of the points for originality and difference for those bad boys unfortunately go a little begging in the new gear. If this had been through Baidu leaks, we might have said "these are pre releases" or "prototypes" and cross our fingers for the final product, but this is official word from Hasbro, so it's looking like this is it.

What's important I guess for blaster fans is there are new units coming in the foreseeable future, but as far as a theme to tie them all together, it seems somewhat disjointed. Of the 2013 lineup I really like the Hammershot and Sledgefire, but as far as the 2014 line is concerned I just wish they'd maybe taken a bit more time with the release and made them more true to the zombie theme.

Still, there's a lot of new gear to be had, and oh yes.. I shall have them:D

Note- Official word from Hasbro Australia- Hammershot and Sledgefire will be released October 2013 in Australia, with the 2014 line TBA.

34 comments:

  1. A crossbow is cool and all, but it's still a glorified single shooter. And a big one at that. Definitely roleplay. Practical applications are limited.

    Great post though.

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    1. I'm gonna guess you're not familiar with the type of modifications that people have done on the original Nerf Crossbow. Hopper and RSCB clips can be used to turn single-shot blasters into rapid-firing blasters. Additionally, a lot of single shot blasters are more powerful than clip blasters and the like, for example the Nite Finder.

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    2. But said things can be done MORE EASILY to other blaster, or ones that come with mags stock. So your argument is pretty much invalid in this day and age.

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    3. have you noticed there are no clip fed blasters here? Low capacity blasters are definitely not for HVZ.

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    4. @Justin L: Many people are tempted to run through a whole mag at once on zombies, so single-shot blasters help keep ammo consumption to a minimum, just make every shot count.

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    5. you guys are gay all of you ha ha ha.

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    6. no we aren't were all just dummies that are bored

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  2. I also don't get why Vortex is being used here. If you were gonna do repaints, Barrel Break and Rough Cut would fit in nicely.

    I think I'll just go with the first two and then maybe the crossbow for fun. The others are nothing special.

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  3. That Fusefire would have looked boss in the Vortex white scheme. Now it just looks like someone shat on it.

    Great rant Pocket!

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  4. HVZ is more than just firepower, it's skill too. But I get what you're saying. None of these would be of any use to an HVZ player.

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    1. Or CAN'T R :P

      Loser.

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  6. Bring back Maxx Force dammit. Dart shooting Alligator FTW.

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  7. Some of what we are seeing could be test builds that they just have elite badged shell molds around that they could use for prototyping. It's still 5 months till the new year and a lot can change, I wouldn't get too hung up on the aesthetics of the 2014 releases yet

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    1. The problem is that these are the "official" images accompanying the "official" press release so it's unlikely they'll be changing the moulds anytime between now and Spring 2014. Manufacturing takes time so it's likely these blasters are already being made as we speak and getting ready to go. As Pocket says, if it were leaked through the chinese then we might think they could change it, but it's from Hasbro.

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  8. Agree on all points. I was quite interested in the Zombie Strike blasters after the Sledgefire and Hammershot but none of these look remotely the same. What's with the N-Force sword? It should be a single blade one at least. ZOMBIESTRIKE YOU HAD SO MUCH PROMISE!

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  9. There kinda IS a rail on the Fusefire, the transparent bit on the top you mentioned sure looks like one, you can even see the orange spring-loaded locking bit they have on tactical rails.
    I think you're right about many of these looking like they should be in Elite Blue or New Vortex White. Looks like Hasbro's analysts decided that zombies sell and took half the future blasters for N-strike Elite and Vortex, made them green and threw a Z in a crosshair onto them.
    To me the Crossfire seems to fit the theme. The grip has a nice wooden colour, though the green of the rest of it seems a bit off, though I could say the same for the blue of the Sledgeshot. I REALLY hope there is more than just this coming to Zombiestrike in 2014 (hopefully MLD's Winchester Rifle rumour?) but this is already a lot, even if it's not that great.
    The sword... it should be a machete. Or better yet a chainsaw or baseball bat.
    Also, many Nerfers are for obvious reasons also FPS fans, and one rather popular FPS series with zombies (Any of the Call of Duty games made by Treyarch since World at War) have laser-weaponry (which I think of Vortex as too). You probably have heard of the Raygun, even if you haven't played the games. So energy weapons aren't as much of a stretch as it seems.

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  10. I myself was never interested in the Zombie Strike or Rebelle lines of Nerf. For one, my sisters never liked guns and simulating warfare and all that. Talking about boys and looking for bugs were more suitable for them. Nerf was always made for men, so for me, it was dumb of Nerf to introduce the world of warfare to the opposite default gender of the art.

    The Zombie Strike. I can see where Nerf is coming from, how they're targeting the college kids playing "Humans vs. Zombies," but again, If you're going to go on specifics like "This gun was made for humans vs. zombies," it's kind of misleading and keeps me waiting for a new line that appeals to everyone. N-strike for example. Nobody complains, until there's a POSSIBILITY that you can shoot with a DIFFERENT COLOR in your hand...Let's just go with something that everyone likes, and it will attract ALL crowds, the girls, the zombie players, and the 13 year-old boys who want to have a little simulation fun.

    I'm not totally interested in the crossbow, since what I look for is distance. That's my main thing. If you price a gun at $49.99 and it is a single shot pistol that fires 200 feet, sold. Ancient weapons like bows, crossbows, cannons etc. don't go as far as REAL guns in the real world, so it seems the same for me in the Nerf universe... Oh well, that's what I think.

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    1. Nerf introduce warfare to women? Putting aside all of the female US Marines that can and will kick my ass, never heard of Queen Boudica have you?

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  11. True that the crossbow doesn't match the hammershot and sledgefire, which is disappointing.. but once I get one and put a praxis stock and nitron scope on it... I think it will look too amazing for me to care.

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  12. I'm rather disappointed with the 2014 lineup almost seems like they had a ton of vortex blasters left over and decided to paint them in ZS colours. I hope theres stuff they arent showing yet that is more along the lines of the Hammershot/Sledgefire - WHERES THE WINCHESTER!!!!!!

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    1. Im not positive, but I'm beginning to think the Sledgefire has taken the place of the Winchester we were all waiting for, since it does have the 'broomstick handle,' etc.

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  13. Pocket, interesting thoughts as usual! Agreed the Hammershot and sledge fire look like totally different designers did them, they actually look designed not simply coloured in...
    I think there are a number of things that need looking at that are influencing this line.
    There is a nod to HvZ, but I think most of the styling and marketing cues are coming from computer games. Lots of kids play zombie games, they are in many of the most popular games. Just look at the number of CoD zed videos on You Tube. The enemies on minecraft, which is huge in nerf's core market, include zombies.
    I realise many of these games are aimed at older people, but kids play them.
    College HvZ, big as it is for older Nerfers in terms of numbers, is still small potatoes in toy marketing terms, as is RPG/Cosplay.
    As a fan I share people's annoyance at the lazy re paints in the rest of this line, but I think the NIC is missing the point slightly with these, they are a cheap way of extending the reach of nerf beyond its core 8-12 year old market.

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  14. If you use multiple tag rules then the Sledgefire could helpin HvZ as a sidearm. The good blasters seem like improvements on fan fav. blasters. The Sledgefire is a better Barrel Break. It reloads faster and fires more. Hopefully it has a three step trigger, if it does then it would be awesome. As for the Hammershot it's a Spectre that can be dual weilded. Also the barrel is expossed so reloading is easier. These blasters are good sidearms. As for the lack of clips it gives a good personality. As for the crossbow, depending on the internals it could be modded into a sniper. I wouldn't recommend this line for HvZ.

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  15. Yeah these are glorified side arms really...that triple shot updated barrel break seems like the only good thing; also at the one above me that crossbow is most likely gonna end up being a single shot long range sidearm (there is no snipping in nerf!). Also pocket; I so agree with this rant...nerf is getting to the point where it is all about targeted audiences to make extra cash ( I hope they don't become the greedy type of toy makers...).
    -Iceshadow

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  16. Instead of the sword they should have made a cricket bat, would be way more fitting IMO

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  17. guys who have to stop living in the delution that Hasbro is making blasters for the NIC .... Hasbro make kids toys ... the NIC which is prob a very small minority of sales turn them into sporting items... END OF STORY.

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  18. Agreed, we do seem to forget that Nerf Blasters are a toy that has been jacked for sporting use and not the other way around. If anything some entripinerial(guessing misspelled all to hell) NIC members wish some start up cash should try to make their own line of blasters, made by the NIC for the NIC. Just an idea as I'm pretty certain none of the models on the boxes have ever shown up for an NIC war.

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    1. It depends. There are people that run stock Nerf wars. AFoN as an example just held one. I for one care about the ascetic look of a Nerf blaster and I lack the skill to do cosmetic mods, I also lack the time to properly mod internals so should I ever host a war it'll likely be stock or close to it.

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  19. Think you missed the point I was trying to make(guess that's what I get for posting at midnight). I'm saying that the NIC has people who are talented in all of the areas required to if they got together with the money needed produce a line of stock blasters that fit the wants of the NIC. To be honest we as a group of people have been lucky & have become spoiled with the N Strike line. Fact of the mater is Hasbro designed N Strike for 8 & up but I'm certain up ment 12 maybe 13 & we were lucky that the designers made something that made us say ah cool.

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    1. The NIC definatly has the skill to make a line of Nerf blasters (Have you seen how simple the mechanics are?). the main thing is getting the money to make the parts, to package, shipping, marketing, bribes to get stores to sell them, hiring people who are jerks who would only work on this for money.

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  20. How come England and Australia always get the new nerf first? :( It's not fair to me.

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  21. I've always thought, that because N-strike Elite is remakes of there old N-strike Blasters, shouldn't they remake them all? Apparently, yes. But i originally thought they would all be in original blue elite format, but actually, they are in three formats, elite blue, zombie strike, and elite mega (as the case may be). Which is weird(and kind of cool). And for your info, your right. Vortex does not belong here. Thanks for the post.

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