Another month, another Melbourne HvZ event. A variety of reasons resulted in a reduced amount of enjoyment for me personally, but the event overall went quite well otherwise.
EDIT: PLEASE READ THE ANNOTATIONS AT THE END OF THE REVIEW. THERE WERE ERRORS IN THE ORIGINAL REVIEW, AND I DISCUSS THEM THERE.
I buy lots of impractical, useless blaster products. I keep all of them because I’m learning something from them, plan on using them in wars (because getting a hit with a blaster with 5′ ranges is hilarious), or because there are other fun uses. This, however, is the first time I’ve ever returned a blaster product to the store for a refund. Having bought, modded, and used the original, I wanted to know if the new model was any better. It turns out the model is the exact same, aside from the drum and the new look, but for more money.
It Looks Good, Which is Nice…
The Terrascout Recon comes in black, with all the orange and grey accents you’d want in a Nerf toy. It’s the exact same size as the previous version, and is powered off the same 9.6V NiMH rechargeable battery. However, this version also comes with a 35-round drum. The drum isn’t noticeably different from previous iterations.
Basic operation remains the same – you use the remote control to steer and aim, and press the trigger to fire. Lightly to fire one dart, continuously depressed for a volley. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.
Operations were less than stellar, however it’s quite possible I had a dud. Video streaming to the remote is expected to lag, but seemed to be worse here than in the previous model. Trying to fire single darts is a chore; you have to hold down the trigger a few seconds to even fire a single dart, not “press and release” like the manual says. Rate of fire and dart velocity are comparable to the previous model. It’s still a Rapidstrike on treads, after all.
The camera, meanwhile, is the same 480p camera that was on the original (the original press release advertised 720p, but was in error). It’s serviceable, but ultimately works for guiding the vehicle as opposed to recording your hijinks. While it’s quite possible to get usable footage, given a brightly lit area, in that regard you’re better off strapping an external camera to the blaster.
Test Footage from the Terrascout Recon:
In-game Footage from the Original Terrascout:
Part of my initial confusion and upset attitude came from remembering the 720p tidbit. The below footage from a war was originally rendered in 480p – I even bought an old Terrascout as of 11/15/17 to confirm the operational specs of the camera. But when I went back to the original videos that were spliced together for this montage, they said 720p. I believe I somehow looked at the footage in a video editor program, and somehow saved it over using higher settings. Doesn’t make for better resolution, it merely blows up the original.
I found the Terrascout Recon on the way home from a Humans v Zombies game. One day later, I returned it to ToysRUs. There is no reason for the new version of this to exist, for $229. I should note that the store’s system said this was a promotional price, so the actual price after introduction could be higher, assuming that’s true, At the moment, the old version is still available at discounts down to $129, complete with the better camera. In addition, as of this posting, ToysRUs has all Nerf items at buy one, get one 50% off, meaning you could get two of the original for less than the price of the new version. You can even modify the old blasters, to boot.
After getting comments from a Hasbro engineer that worked on this, I have to apologize about several factual errors on my part. Between mistakes in assuming the camera resolution in the old v. new models, I trashed a feature that wasn’t there in the first place. Aside from cosmetics, the old and new tanks are exactly the same. In addition, my Terrascout had lots of extra noise even when the tank wasn’t moving, but this is in all likelihood a defect in mine, not in the line as a whole. I still take major issue, however, with the pricing. If the new version really does appeal to you, then by all means buy it. However, I’d much rather buy multiples of the original for the same price as one of the new versions.
Buzz Bee’s newer mag-fed blasters have been a very popular addition to their lineup, typically featuring flawless cross-compatability with Nerf’s mag system as well as easily modifiable internals. The Thermal Hunter feels like a culmination of all their springer work, offering a pump-action, mag-fed blaster which, if their other blasters are any indication, will also boast significant modding potential. Furthermore, the Thermal Hunter also boasts a unique gimmick, in the form of a “heatseeking” scope. Naturally I was very much looking forward to get my hands on one.
Disclaimer: This blaster was sent to me by Buzz Bee Toys for review. I will do my best to ensure that the review remains as objective and unbiased as possible.
It’s been a busy few weeks! But in between regular stints at work, I’ve been doing weekend trips to various HvZ Invitationals. What follows is a brief summary of the games, some video (more to be uploaded later), and some thoughts on the blasters I’ve been testing and seeing.
Le Moyne College – Rick And Morty
This invitational wasn’t originally on my radar, given various car issues. But with some luck, I was able to drive all the way to Syracuse, NY. Seeing as New York State has a rather strong HvZ community, it turned out to be one of the best experiences I’ve had.
The day consisted of missions themed around various elements of Rick and Morty, including retrieving the dog Snowball’s testicles and bringing back Jerry from Jerry Care. The day ended with a battle to take down Unity, where naturally all the remaining humans died. It was also a different experience in game play; zombies simply respawned thirty seconds after being hit. My Ohio-based experience in HvZ means zombies respawning on the fives, or with the help of a special. The constant reappearance of zombies kept me on my toes the entire day.
In addition, I did get the chance to try some other blasters. Mission one split groups into revolvers only and bananas. Yes, bananas are totally great tools for fighting zombies 😛 As such, the first mission was run with a Buzz Bee Zenith/Adventure Force Exact Attack. It performed admirably, as expected.
Later missions I used the Zuru Xshot Turbo Advance, which I reviewed about a month ago. It really is a starter kit for HvZ games, especially the $25, 148 dart package. It doesn’t shoot as far or as accurately as I like, but that’s not a completely fair assessment. As a longtime modder, I usually use or make things that have range and accuracy above what I’d buy in store. Adjusting my expectations and shooting much closer led to the Turbo Advance performing just fine.
Youngstown State University – Also Rick and Morty
Two similarly themed events, two weekends in a row? That’s called having zero coordination for themes 😛
YSU ended up being a smaller invitational, not least of which was because of scheduling issues. The only free weekend was also at the same time as the Athens weeklong game. Even so, it was a fun game, with lots of creative ways to keep the players occupied. From specials we had to find ways to kill (or avoid, only to have them come back and bite us at the finale), to a special Jerry escort mission involving areas going boom, it was a great game. Myself and one other friend ran the Boomco Halo Blaze of Glory, to great success. It’s essentially the perfect HvZ springer, especially with a supply of 40 dart clips.
Ithaca College HvZ
I’m still editing footage from this game, but it was a great one. With a nice wedding theme, it brought the idea of “escort mission” to the extreme. In all cases, though, the escort part made sense, and the NPCs could generally fight back. It also helped that I had a sock ninja copilot for the entire journey – most of my drives are solo, so it was a nice change of pace.
After spending one mission going socks only, and another with the Dart Zone Ballistix Power Ball (which worked splendidly as an HvZ primary), I did something incredibly stupid and got myself killed. Remember, regardless of your interest, if if looks and smells like a trap, it’s probably a trap 😛
After that, though, I spend the rest of the time doing my best zombie impression. After spending part of one mission as a tank (NY style tanks are simply dart immune) and the finale with a sword, I ended up with ten kills out of a total attendance of at least sixty. Not too shabby, for someone who doesn’t like playing zombie. The game itself had some issues as the day went on, but nothing that can’t be solved simply by more experience in balancing the game.
It should be noted that Boomco has a huge following in Ithaca for HvZ, and the Blaze of Glory was everywhere, along with several Flipbows. Games like this make me upset that Mattel didn’t work to bring “normal” blasters out sooner for the Boomco line.
It’s been a great season for Humans v Zombies. All three of these games were great, and it’s been fun seeing how other regions do their games. In addition, it was a nice change of pace at Ithaca playing zombie most of the day. Just because you don’t like doing it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be the best zombie you possibly can be!
We had a really good turnout for this month’s MHvZ event, which allowed for some good games. There was also quite a variety of different blasters present at this event.
All in-game photos courtesy of Dylan McDylan.
Back in July, Mattel made a splash with a prototype, pump-action Boomco blaster. Modeled after the “Blaze of Glory” unlockable weapon in Halo 5, it gave hope to Boomco fans for the line’s survival. Now, after arriving at ToysRUs, it’s in our hands.
The Blaze of Glory is surprisingly light, with colors and detailed molding on both sides of the blaster. Automatically, that beats Hasbro as of recent, with their lack of detail on the non-display side of the shell. The blaster is as long as the Rapid Madness, but with the handle farther back and the clip in front. It comes with an eight dart clip and sixteen darts, and claims 60′ ranges on the box. A bit disappointing, considering the ToysRUs website listed 70′ as of this posting.
The handle is surprisingly large for a dart blaster, a nod to the fact that not all Halo fans are young kids. In addition, the pump grip is nicely textured and easy to slide back and forth. This area also features an interesting choice in design v. engineering. That entire area of the shell has detailed molding, so the grip rides on four plastic rollers. This allows for smooth action without wearing into the shell. They’re also very small, and are easy to knock loose if you choose to open up the blaster. Be very careful.
The Warrior Within
The Blaze of Glory, as a pump action blaster, led to the design of a sled mechanism for priming the blaster. There’s only ~1.5″ of draw on the blaster, and ~.96″ of diameter on the plunger head. As such, a decently strong spring is a must for ranges.
The priming sled also has a mount for the blaster’s slam-fire mechanism. An extra lever is placed between the trigger and the catch, and it moves out of place when the blaster is being primed. Upon completing the motion, the lever is tilted by a depressed trigger, releasing the plunger. The clip advancing mechanism resets the ratchet on the pull back, and moves the clip on the forward motion.
The picture of the internals is only part of the picture, however. Due to the desire to make an accurate scale model of the in-game weapon, the clip and plunger sit all the way forward. This leaves a massive amount of empty space in the shell. Feel free to integrate whatever gizmos you so desire.
Like the MA5 Assault Rifle, a flap on the right side opens up as the clip advances through its slot.
Make It Better?
Internally, the plunger assembly is held together with metal pins. This makes upgrading the spring a trial in patience, if you’re even able to get the rear pin loose. Seeing as a spring replacement would not be quickly possible, I opted for a spring spacer. After cutting a slot into a 5/8″ length of 3/4 PEX, I pried the plastic open enough to slide over the plunger rod, then pressed the ends together. It sits perfectly inside the plunger tube’s back plate. 3/4 CPVC could also be used.
Even with the spacer, the blaster does not reach full compression. Any more work, however, will wait for an extended use in HvZ and a reopening to spot any stress points in the plastic.
Boomco darts perform somewhat differently from foam darts. They have a smaller diameter, but also weigh 40% more than standard Nerf Elite darts. That, plus their weight distribution, equals a dart that maintains velocity while being very accurate.
The Blaze of Glory, when completely stock, averaged 50 feet per second (fps). It sounds low, but the improved flight means that angled ranges were (in this case) 62′ on average. With sniper clips (clips with the vent holes filled in to provide a more complete barrel), velocities increased to 60fps.
With the spring spacer in place, normal clips averaged 62fps, while sniper clips averaged 71fps. This is nearly on par with the stock Flipbow I regularly use for Humans v Zombies games.
Note that while it appears awkward, using 40-dart clips is a breeze. Due to the large handle and hand placement, you exert more than enough torque to counter any overhanging weight in the front.
At $40, the Blaze of Glory is a solid entry into the Boomco line, and a long-needed pump action blaster. Stock ranges are slightly disappointing compared to most current foam blasters, but the ammo accuracy somewhat makes up for the range. The rate of fire is vastly improved thanks to the slam-fire, and the possibility of spring replacement makes for a formidable Humans v Zombies primary, as well as some wars. It’s also a well-made replica.
Should you get one? Depends if you use Boomco, or are a serious Halo fan. I bought two, if that tells you anything!