Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mr.1835Link's Collection - Video Feature

(Link) Here we are, at last! S.O.F.T.'s first TRUE video feature is live and running. It's a teaser video, until we can get the 360 view/demo and range test videos, up and running. Hope you guys like my tour! :D

EXCLUSIVE Preview: S.O.F.T. Is Going 'Elite'... :P

(Link) Wow, never saw THIS one coming. Thanks to our other admin, Alex, we have been promised an EXCLUSIVE double review on TWO new blasters - the Elite Retaliator and Rampage. And yes, they're the 75ft versions. Except the twin review up in the next few days.

All hail Alex! :P (I'm gonna go hide now.) :P

Dart Tag Official Competitor's Jersey - A Photo Essay. :P

(Link) Since my trip to Melbourne, I've had a chance to properly examine a product that highly held onto my 'intriguing section' of my brain :P which is the DT Jerseys. You may have noticed in Nerf's official ad's that the competitors (or actors, for all I know, they might not have never touched a football :P) and I've landed my hands on both styles, Blue/Black and Orange/Black, to compare and examine. Rather than me do all the work, I think I'll let the photos do the talking. :D (Don't worry, I'll add comments.)

Packaging is plain and simple, just a few wires attaching the 'holy grail' to the packaging. :P

The shirts themselves CERTAINLY look the part. When I slapped on my blue jersey for the first time, I felt... AWESOME. They make you feel and look like a real DT player. And, if I was brave enough, I'd walk into a store, and someone will say: 'Do you work for Nerf?' :P

I think we all know the purpose of the shirts. See the dark black areas, shaped like hexagons? These 'patches' are designed for velcro for the DT darts to 'attach' to, as a scoring system for DT matches. These work brilliantly, as they won't come off without a good, hard yank. :P

I think Blue looks fetching, don't you? :P

The orange though, still looks pretty spectacular. :)
The shirts, themselves are very comfortable to wear. Ventilation is included under both armpit area and down the sides to increase airflow, which is great in my opinion. :) Some of our bigger members might have a little trouble squeezing into one though (I have them both in Extra Large, and they fit me just fine. My little brother's friend though, that's a different story. :P)

Just a colour comparison for you guys. :D

Both styles, I found at Highpoint Melbourne Shopping Centre - Big W for $20 each. Not bad for a awesome shirt :D

Which team will you pick? :P

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Review: Nerf N-Strike Spectre REV-5: Shooting with style!

[Alex] Surprise! :) I’ll be your reviewing host today as I not only write my first S.O.F.T. review, but also complete the “2010 Trio” blaster reviews with my favourite side-arm: the Nerf N-Strike Spectre REV-5! Why is the Spectre my favourite side-arm you may ask? Well, read on and you’ll not only find out why I like it, but maybe discover that you’ll want to pick one up for yourself if it’s not in your arsenal yet :D

Like the Alpha Trooper and Barrel Break, the Spectre was released in 2010 and is a Target exclusive in Australia. It comes with five Sonic foam darts, a barrel attachment, a shoulder stock, and of course the complimentary instructions on how to drive this slick blaster.

When you first look at it, you may think “…it’s just like a Maverick!” which you would mostly be correct (…mostly o.o), however there are a few key differences between the two which I will cover shortly. But first, let’s take a look at the Spectre on its own.

The Spectre is a spring and plunger powered blaster that uses a rotating ammo cylinder in a ‘revolver’ design. It comes in the traditional N-Strike yellow, grey and orange colours. Holding it is comfortable; a tiny bit front heavy due to the ammo cylinder, but if anything it adds to its character. To me the Spectre has a certain charm to its design and how it handles; like a futuristic cowboy’s revolver, or a secret agent’s stealthy sidearm. I often find myself practicing gun-spinning and holstering; it just feels natural for it. For me there are few things cooler than pulling it out for a quick-draw, firing from the hip at an enemy mid-battle and hitting them in one shot!

*Ahem*… back to the analysis! The ammo cylinder can load up to five Whistlers at once. Akin to the Maverick, it uses a button on the side to unlock the cylinder which swings out to reload. Once filled up simply push the cylinder back into position and the Spectre is now loaded. 

Again, like the Mav, the Spectre uses a grey priming handle on top. Pulling it back until it clicks will cock the blaster, and then releasing the priming handle will snap back to its resting position. Pull the trigger and let the fun times roll >:D

From here on I thought it may be prudent to provide a brief comparison between the Spectre and the Maverick, so let’s have a look at their design.

While the Maverick seems to be a bit curvier in areas such as the ammo cylinder, the trigger area, the grip, and the underside of the shell, the Spectre looks more rigid with straight edges and minimal curves – even the dart cylinder is less bulbous and more pentagonal. 

The Spectre is longer by a few centimetres, but this is due to the added barrel attachment connector. The Spectre also boasts the shoulder stock capability, whereas the Maverick has neither. The Spectre trigger grip also has a sneaky little gap at the bottom where you can clip on items such as the Bandolier to help carry it around. 

One drawback of the Spectre compared to the Maverick is it only holds five darts instead of six. I feel it’s not a HUGE problem considering the advantage that the ammo cylinder is smaller in size. In fact when you compare the Spectre and the Maverick side-by-side, the Mav is… well, rather tubby. I’ve got holsters that the Spectre fits into very nicely, but the Maverick is either a tight squeeze or just won’t agree. The width difference is a little over a centimetre, but it is noticeable.  

A key difference in operation is the Maverick turns the cylinder over to the next dart to fire upon pulling the trigger, whereas the Spectre does NOT. Instead, when you pull back on the priming bar THAT is when the cylinder rotates. The Spectre seems to have a better plunger-to-cylinder seal, resulting in more efficient air flow, and I find it tends to have less misfires than the Maverick. 

Another advantage the Spectre has is the tactical rail is now no longer on top of the priming bar handle, but instead placed in front of it. This means you can finally put a rail attachment onto this pistol-sized blaster and NOT have to detach it or avoid tearing it off in the middle of cocking it. (Trivia: the Recon also has this problem; but partially solved this by its barrel attachment having dual tactical rails on top and bottom.)

Back to the attachments that come with the Spectre. The barrel extension is designed *like* a Silencer giving off a very stealthy 007 or Hitman vibe. I highlight *like* because it is not a REAL silencer; it will not make your blaster fire quietly :( however it still looks absolutely slick and seems to be a popular barrel extension for many other compatible blasters (in particular the Rayven :P) …but there is ONE useful function that this barrel offers that none of the other ones do, and that is it does not reduce range as much, if not at all!

The short story is all other N-Strike barrel attachments are designed for streamline darts meaning narrower barrels. Darts have a tendency to bounce against the walls of the barrel, causing friction, causing loss of range. The upside of this is it generally helps accuracy. 

The Spectre barrel however is a much wider diameter (to accommodate Sonic / Whistler darts), plus it is shorter than the Recon or Longstrike barrel extensions so the chances of a dart hitting the inner walls are much less if not nil. This all means that less dart bouncing (if any) = less loss of range, or in most cases I find there is NO loss of range at all! It is very handy for blasters like the Rayven for these reasons.

Next up; the Folding shoulder stock. As the name implies, it can fold up to keep your blaster nice and portable while carrying it, then unfold it when ready to steady your aim! 

The way it works is when deployed / extended you pull it back away from the hinge and it will unlock. You swing it around and then push it back towards the hinge to lock it again. I must say the functionality and practicality IS neat and works well, as it also doubles as a carry handle!

It is a fairly long shoulder stock, but the ‘padding’ part that goes into the shoulder is not very large like other shoulder stocks. It seems more appropriate for kid-sized physique (obviously) or people with small shoulders / armpits. I’m not a large fella, but I do seem to find this one a bit tricky to keep still in a comfortable spot. I understand this is to help keep the stock small... but it's personal taste I guess :3 In addition, this one does tend to wobble from side to side a little bit – but rather than being due to thin / flexible plastic spokes like the Recon / Praxis stocks, it’s more the hinge design that causes some movement.

It is great buying a blaster that not only can take extra tactical accessories for customisation, but comes with its own (bonus points when they are unique to that blaster). I much prefer that rather than having the whole ‘each sold separately’ trauma or when it comes with the same accessory stolen from another blaster. (Example: the Barricade has a shoulder stock adaptor but originally came with no shoulder stock. It was only until much later it was especially released with the coveted yellow coloured Raider stock).  On the flip side because of the extra pieces, the cost is much higher than a Maverick. I still feel the performance and handling improvements of the Spectre alone justifies the higher price though.

I give it a 9 out of 10 Whistler dart score. The only negative half-scores being the higher price plus being a store exclusive making it harder to track down. Then the Folding stock – as versatile and intriguing as it may be – it’s a tad wobbly and uncomfortable for my taste.

Overall, the Spectre is a worthy ‘upgrade’ to the Maverick; a very well rounded revolver blaster worthy of any avid collector and foam fighter’s arsenal. The Maverick will never truly be replaced due to its iconic place in the world of Nerf, however the Spectre is designed with extra performance and customisation in mind; the smarter tactical rail placement, the more efficient cylinder rotation and priming systems and even small details like the slimmer design and bandolier clip ring are all valued additions. The attachments I found the Silencer barrel to be an excellent aesthetic touch without inhibiting performance, whereas the Folding shoulder stock is great if you do need the compact portability. 

At the end of the day, the Spectre is a fantastic side-arm to compliment your load out, and I highly recommend you give it a spin and see for yourself!

Just a little extra pic to finish with; another ‘tacticool’ setup I like the look of :P

Please comment below on your thoughts or suggestions for the Spectre or this review :D we hope you enjoyed reading this!