(last updated 14-07-13)
Every day we get dozens of emails and posts asking us a multitude of questions. We came up with the idea to post a FAQ that answers most of the questions in one place. It's not saying we don't like getting emails. Just that.. maybe this would help answer a big chunk of the queries out there!
What is Urban Taggers?
Urban Taggers (UT) is a blog community dedicated to the love of toy blasters, be it Nerf, Super Soaker, Lazer Tag and the odd marshmallow or rubber band gun. It is written from the perspective of people in their adult years who still love playing with toys.. mainly because they have the money to do so and because they CAN. Complimenting the blog (urbantaggers.blogspot.com) is an official Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube channel. We chose the name "Urban Taggers" because Urban suggests it's in an inner city backdrop- ie an apartment, and Taggers is about tagging your opponent, not killing, or inflicting any form of actual pain.
Where are you from?
Urban Taggers hails from Canberra, ACT and contrary to popular worldwide belief, IS the capital city of Australia. It's actually a pretty small town, around 330,000 people.
Who is Pocket Esq?
Pocket Esq is the main writer of Urban Taggers and was the one who started the blog in the first place. He refers to himself as a 'kidult' which is an old marketing term from a few years ago that refers to professional adults with "Peter Pan" tendencies about growing up and maintain genuine interests in things they had as a child. Pocket is a Communication/Advertising graduate from the University of Canberra and has had a multitude of jobs in his life, from working in retail at Toys R Us (one of his first jobs) to being a suit salesman, perfume consultant, wedding DJ, group fitness instructor, professional graphic designer and marketing consultant in a previous life. his official day job is a user behaviour specialist which involves a lot of hanging out with people to understand their needs and listening to them talk. A lot.
He's been 12 years old for over 15 years:)
Are there more of you?
Yes, but noone's as passionate about maintaining a toy blaster related blog as Pocket is. It basically consists of a motley crew bunch of people who hang out at Pocket's apartment and voice their opinions; even Pocket's very understanding dear girlfriend has her two cents worth. And sometimes we poach feedback from our contacts in other Nerf communities, like our good friend Neil from the Canberra and Southern NSW Dart Tag crew. Most of the crew prefer to just play and shoot, scream out their feedback and opinions, and Pocket does all the typing. Things may change over time, now that UT has a much larger fan base and the rest of us want some of the kudos too- you've already started to read posts from Grid, JT + Greg- regular couch surfers of Pocket's apartment:) (we all use the 'Urban Taggers' account)
What content is posted on Urban Taggers?
Urban Taggers specialises in news, reviews and information on toy blasters, mainly Nerf, Super Soaker and Lazer Tag. It's true our writers like a multitude of different types of toys, including action figures, LEGO, video games and radio controlled vehicles but UT is mainly limited to toy blasters. We generally prefer to review and promote blasters we have experience with or own ourselves but occasionally will report on new products that are on the market if they're innovative or interesting. We do our best to write all of our content and take our own photos ourselves and spend a lot of time listening to our readers. It's our slant, our take on the blaster arena and we pride ourselves on being honest and objective and a puppet to no-one.
There are fantastic blogs out there that address the mechanical/technical side of toy blasters, (specifically "modding") and there are those that address them from a parents' perspective for their children. Our perspective? We personally take the "guys who never grew up" angle; it's all about harmless yet ridiculous freestyle out of the box fun that never takes itself too seriously. Regardless of your age, throw 3-4 grown up guys together in an apartment and throw in a few toy blasters and you'll see what happens next. Baseball caps are worn backwards, action movie quotes are thrown around, dive rolls over the couch are almost essential.
Why don't you get into mods?
Look, don't get us wrong, we love mods and the amazing things people have done to improve their gear. It's just not something we ourselves get into. It's too much work, takes too much patience and requires EFFORT. We're essentially pretty lazy after we finish out day jobs and you really don't want to see Pocket with a screwdriver, let alone ANY handheld tool cos he's pretty woeful in that area:P
We occasionally see cool mods and feature them but they have to be something pretty special. The fact you popped your air restrictors might make your blaster shoot further, but unfortunately it's hardly revolutionary news for us. Show us a mad well done paint job (that's well done in OUR opinion), or attach a hand held wand blender to the bottom of your Longshot and you'll have our attention:)
But Mods are sooo cool! Stock blasters suck.
Sigh. In the close quarters space of our playing area (ie Pocket's apartment and underground carpark) Stock blasters are just fine. Appreciate outdoors wars require the distance, but we don't do outdoor wars. And as far as modifying blasters so they are powerful enough to inflict pain? Nah not really our thing either. Honestly, you'll get soooo much cooler technical mods stuff from Nerf Mods + Reviews and Modworks, or aesthetic mods from Johnson Arms than from what we could ever do (hence why we ourselves go to their pages!). We're acknowledging our limitations. Seriously. You're just grinding metal. Ease down.
What's your favourite blaster of all time?
Hard one to say, depends on whether you're talking about just foam, or water and foam and infra red. Water blasters is really where our hearts lie (Ok JT loves paintball but that doesn't count). Super Soaker CPS 2000 for the win.. though I don't have one anymore. :(
Isn't Nerf for kids?
Yup. It is. Absolutely.
And anyone else who likes it too. There comes a time in everyone's life though where they have to decide when are they going to do what they WANT to do and stop worrying about what "society" thinks of them. A grown adult playing with toys is pretty harmless compared to a whole lot of OTHER hobbies. It's relatively inexpensive, doesn't hurt anyone and gives them fun- so who gives a shit what is supposed to be for "kids." It's shows maturity to have a hobby and be proud of it, rather than being a sheep who's been lead by what they're "supposed" to like and do. Just cos we like toys doesn't mean we don't have jobs and families, pay taxes and act grown up in other areas.
Aren't you a bit geeky to be doing this?
Yup.Absolutely.And what do you mean, a "BIT"? This is geeky in spades, friend.
Did you know the most popular TV shows this year aren't Law and Order or NCIS. Game of Thrones peeps. Walking Dead. Geeky has never been so in before and it's all over our culture. And most people are just geeks in denial. I can honestly say I have NEVER seen a toy blaster sit idly on a coffee table or office desk when surrounded by a group of people without someone, if not everyone picking it up and having a go. This includes my bosses, clients, even the cleaning dude. That's what UT is about- blasters for the masses. Or if you're taking about actually BLOGGING about it? Well.. it makes me happy. That should be enough:) Don't be afraid to be seen as geeky, everyone's just envious:D
What's with the crazy Photoshopped images?
Pocket was a graphic designer in a past life and thinks it's funny. And as for all the photos of babes with Nerf blasters- we like babes and we like Nerf blasters so it makes sense. There's nothing pornographic about them; you wouldn't get any worse off in the window of a lingerie store or on Saturday morning music videos. We marvel at how people can feel it's ok to simulate military situations and depictions of war, but show a thigh or two from an image probably scanned in from their mum's Who weekly magazine and they get crazy. The pics also set the tone for the blog. We're not deliberately alienating kids from UT (hence the "not pornographic images" claim) but we are saying we as toy blaster lovers aren't kids ourselves. We say this, as opposed to mentioning anything about maturity- there's nothing mature about us, really:)
There's also less of them in the past 12 months if you've noticed; they were fun at the time but we're probably considering different approaches now:)
Don't you think these toy blasters glorifies guns/war/killing?
It depends in who's hands. Not in ours. There are those who really enjoy the thrill of shooting and simulating wars and kills. In our hands, they're more about the fact they're amazing TOYS that shoot projectiles. We don't look to hurt or harm anyone, we don't even look to pretend to kill anyone. Throwing a stone at someone is a whole lot more malicious and painful than these toy blasters could ever be as far as we're concerned. We specifically chose the term "Taggers" for this very reason; it's not going for the kill, (or even the hit) it's going for the tag.
::Pocket here. My Dad was a former soldier and in turn became so anti war and killing that I have never looked to glorify war or killing in any shape or form. "Why would you want to even pretend to kill your friends" was what he said to me growing up, and so do understand there is nothing exciting or satisfying for me about hurting someone else. When I showed my Dad my Stampede ECS the day I received it, he looked at it and laughed, but had no ill feelings towards why I had it or my motivations or intentions with it. I'm not a violent person; I learned that from him.
How do you find out all of your information?
We have developed a pretty good relationship with a variety of sources worldwide. Some were originally eBay sellers, some were from e-tailers or actual toy store managers we have met on our travels. We use Google a lot to chase down/follow up leads and read a lot of newspapers:) Nothing just comes to us, we spend a lot of time trawling for our intel, be it by accessing forums and other sites, to chatting with our readers. It's very rewarding to find a new lead, and we take pride in chasing every lead down ourselves personally.
How do you get blasters before anyone else?
We'd love to say we've got corporate spies and covert operatives who sneak into Nerf HQ and steal them or something as exciting as that, but it's not at all like that. UT's a blog, we've got a good rep, some of our sources are genuine contacts who just want to help us out and sell them to us; or sometimes they're just merchants where it's just a whole lot of negotiations and throwing around decent amounts of cash to get them first. Sometimes we're REALLY lucky and get a test unit for free, but MOST of the time, we end up paying more than the eventual shelf price, JUST so we can report it to our readers first.
When it comes to toys and gear we've always been early adopters and thus have gone to great lengths to get the stuff; in the old days almost all of our Nerf was bought online from overseas sources because domestic stores just didn't stock the things we wanted. To be honest anyone can do it; you just have to be willing to be persistent and relentless (mind you this does not translate to just asking "where do you get it from" and "give one to me" over and over!)
Some of the blasters aren't even ones we'd personally want/use ourselves, but it's for our readership that we do this. It would be a hell of a lot cheaper if anyone else out there was willing to buy them for us and just supply us with the intel, but we believe it's better we report and review from our genuine experiences rather than taking it from someone else or worse, a PR press release! Which ties into...
What's the real story with 'Pocket-gate'?
We thought it was awesome when we heard this term for the first time- it refers to that crazy time back in early 2012 when the news of all our early release news and obtaining unreleased blasters became known to Hasbro US and they decided to take steps to stop this from happening. We were approached by Hasbro AUS- the first time we had ever received any recognition or contact from them and were offered a box of much coveted Pinpoint sights to give away to our readers if we could supply them with our address. We obliged, but within two days we received a "cease and desist" letter from their lawyers instead and then following on from this on Sunday afternoon, representatives/investigators of Hasbro showed up at my apartment to demand my sources of information for where I was getting this new material from.
Embarrassing for them was when with my hand forced, I revealed it was pretty much using Google, eBay and some chinese websites which at the time were not well known to western countries such as Tao Bao (China's version of eBay) and Baidu. The news of all of this went pretty viral and was covered by a lot of the fringe news sources like Gizmodo, Reddit, Engadget, Crikey just to name a few. It appears to be a massive coincidence and a case of the left hand not talking to the right, as Hasbro Australia genuinely wanted to send out the Pinpoints- it just happened at the same time Hasbro head office were sending their lawyers after me:P We did end up receiving the Pinpoints after all of that, and we gave many of them away to readers.
The whole thing was crazy, but it definitely showed how a little blog in a small town in Australia can make waves internationally; it also really changed the climate of toy blogging today as by forcing my hand to reveal my sources, it's not just me who's got the news- people are a lot more savvy about Googling these days and now frequenting TaoBao and Baidu is commonplace and there's no longer any mystery behind it. The Chinese are also switched on to this- I don't get these blasters anymore as they're asking for pretty ridiculous prices now:(
I have a blog too, can you link to us on Urban Taggers?
We get this request quite a lot; happy to consider your proposal but we can't promise anything. You'll get a much better chance if your blog is 1) your original work- ie you've taken the time to write and research your own quality posts. 2) offers a unique perspective- what makes your blog different to anyone else's 3) has a solid amount of content that demonstrates you're actually committed to wanting to bring info to readers and not just develop ego-ware. We promote sites/blogs that will provide a service to our readers that differs from what's on UT and doesn't require us to replicate it again. For example.. isoaker.com has more water blaster reviews than we ever could; bazookafied.blogspot.com is really well written with a stronger laser tag tilt and with mods we'd never be able to replicate, and basicnerf.wordpress.com shares our ethos but offers a different perspective.
When we first started out, we had a readership of about.. 5 (including one of our kids and maybe Pocket's mum) and have spent a fair amount of work getting it to the level it's at today. We've only been around since July, 2010. And we don't do it because we care about our traffic numbers, we do it because we want to genuinely get good quality information about toy blasters out there. What we're getting at is.. it's not that hard to get readers if you're passionate and willing to put in the effort. Writing to us demanding we link to your blog that has 2 posts and promise that it will be "cool" isn't going to provide any benefit to our readers. Sorry. We admit it also puts our noses out of joint when people spam our readers in the comments section or on our FB page with links to their own blogs. We make a practice to rarely do this, as it's a social media faux pas to attempt to use another blog/Facebook page to gain traffic and very much frowned upon. Please don't do it.
Can I have access to your contacts?
See above- if you want to have contacts, go find them on your own. Seriously though, we don't have contacts. We don't like press releases and we'd rather find information out ourselves with our own slant/honest opinion to them than just be regurgitating 'official' PR material where possible. These days everyone has a 'contact'- which is fine but here in Australia if we relied on waiting for official info we'd be waiting around for a long time and generally said info will be out of date. We have also learned over the years that the contacts who reach out to us are the ones who appreciate what we do and don't actually want us to be handing over their details to people. Sorry.
Can I be an Urban Taggers affiliate?
Um.. to be honest what does this actually mean? Basic Nerf coined this phrase way back when, and since then I get a lot of startup blogs asking for this. I don't really know what this means other than maybe just the linking part? I think it'd be good if we did all have some sort of affiliate network where we could share info and all be complimentary of one another, but it's really not like that yet. Maybe when we develop a secret handshake and a showbag, I'll let you know:)
When will the *insert blaster here* be available in the US/ UK/ Singapore/ Australia/ Guam/ etc
Blaster distribution really isn't our forte- and to be honest it doesn't mean a whole lot to us either. A blaster COULD be officially available in your country- doesn't mean you're going to get one. Your local store might only have 4 in stock, and the die hard uber Nerf affectionato will probably beat you to the store at 8:59am in the morning and buy them all first. We personally have NO idea when things are available when; (Pocket especially is a farkin' demon at acquiring gear from anywhere, he's relentless) we normally spend a lot of time emailing, negotiating and getting our sources to agree to send it to us from whatever country they're in that DOES have said blaster. It's not cheap, but that's why we're grown ups with day jobs:)
Our recommendation is if you really want a certain blaster, you're going to HAVE to either A) have a mad crazy network of family and friends all over the world willing to hunt them down for you in different toy stores OR buy online. We TRIED to offer a service to do this for our readers with 'Bruce the Nerf Arms Dealer' but it became too much of a headache to maintain. So m'fraid you're just going to have to work it out for yourselves.
Can I buy your *insert blaster here*?
Our gear isn't for sale. We attempted to import a lot of blasters from overseas to help out our fellow Aussie Nerfers; unfortunately it became too much of a hassle and we were left with many blasters that were double the price they are now in stores, thanks to people pulling out at the last minute. In the end, all we can do is stress time and time again that if you want something bad enough, you're just going to have to work out a way to get it and be willing to either pay higher prices, or buy online. Try eBay and Amazon, or just pick up the phone and call around. But we're not going to sell you ours; especially the unreleased ones:)
Why do you have wrinkly hands?
I assume they are referring to Pocket:P This especially comes from our YouTube channel; and we're glad you all notice the important things about our Nerf vids:) We never in turn reply and ask why you're parents allow you to be so fat, why your room is so messy or why you talk like Barney from the Simpsons because we're always conscious that there might be a sensitive reason for it. So Pocket, sorry for embarrassing you, but do answer this "important" topic for our readers..
Why are you such a bad shot?
::Pocket: Again, this one's probably for me personally. Try holding a camera under your chin while firing a blaster and you tell me how good a shot you can be. After a few vids we finally got ourselves a tripod, and stopped trying to shoot AROUND the camera. Also.. I'd rather everyone thought I was a crap shot and left me alone. I don't like the pressure of having to prove myself. Especially to a fat 11 yo kid who's only got two Nerf blasters!
Why do you play with Nerf? Nerf is for losers, Airsoft/paintball is so much better.
We hear this all the time.
1) Airsoft isn't available in Australia because it's illegal. In fact, tell you what- come visit us and bring your Airsoft guns and we'll see how hardcore you really are when you're in a room with Customs:)
2) That's an opinion- but personally I don't like pain when playing. Some people enjoy pain, but they have websites for those types of people:)
To be honest, I've never really met anyone who is really into airsoft/paintball as their primary hobby that I'd consider to be .. "cool". To a degree, we're all just playing soldier and because of that, I don't see how your "playing" is superior to anyone else's. Want to shoot real guns? join the army. Might have to be able to knock out a few push ups first, sunshine.
Why do you play with Nerf? Nerf is for kids, try getting a real gun.
We also hear this all the time.
I actually don't like real guns. I don't like having the power of killing in my hand. In fact, the less realistic a toy gun can look, the more I like it. (unless it looks like a potato or wart hog) I like toy blasters because of the innovative toy element, and maybe a bit of role play thrown in. Getting a real gun doesn't mean I can run around and wave it at my friends. It's getting a licence, using it at a range, putting it into a safe..just so I can shoot it at a target. I'm just too lazy to do that. Playing COD is one thing, but in real life, guns are loud. I don't like things to be loud.. unless I can dance to it.
Why don't you go to organised events/play HVZ?
I just don't enjoy them. I dunno, I love the blasters themselves and their roleplay element- I also love the madness of jumping around my apartment and shooting guests and hiding behind the couch. But anything with rules per se kinda doesn't excite me. Except laser tag- that's awesome fun:)
Nice story. I hope you can sell the movie rights to that one.
Over time I've tried to be as accommodating and friendly as possible but come on! Frankly telling me this fails to impress me and just puts you in the douche category. You can't believe..? I can't believe you think playing with toy guns deludes you into thinking you're some sort of keyboard special forces elite soldier. It's true, I don't know a whole lot about real guns, but I guess I find their Wikipedia entries kinda boring:)