Nerf Game Report: October HvZ Madness!

 

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.

Summary

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!

Boomco Halo Blaze of Glory Review

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.

Pristine Condition

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.

Performance

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

Review: Nerf Mega Hotshock

The Hotshock is a small, simple Mega blaster that was released back in 2016. I paid very little attention to it at the time as I had little interest in Mega or single shot blasters. However, MHvZ recently introduced the Mega zombie, a zombie only stunnable by a Mega dart. As they are severely limited in number, I chose to pick up just a basic Mega blaster to combat them.

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Review: Buzz Bee Double Drum (15m)

The Double Drum, better known as the Barbarian, formerly Blizzard, is another new Buzz Bee blaster based on an older design. It is a pump-to-fire blaster fed from two large cylinders, very similar to the older Buzz Bee Sidewinder. Given I was pleasantly surprised by the latter blaster, I held some hope that this blaster would be decent, despite its pump-to-fire nature.

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.

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Nerf Nitro Motofury Rapid Rally Review

This is a review that’s been long overdue. I first got to see Nerf Nitro at Toy Fair. I’ve had the Motofury in my possession for many months, taken it to events like Foamcon, and even opened it up for science. Somehow, though, the car blaster got buried as work and life marched on. Only today did I come across it again, and realize just how much fun I’d been missing.

The Motofury Rapid Rally is the largest launcher in the Nitro lineup; it is also motorized for semi-auto, well, auto blasting. And for some strange reason, it’s ridiculous fun for people of any age.

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