Thursday, November 21, 2013

LaserGnomes 3D Printed MasterStrike Parts Review

(Crispy)

Hey everyone sorry for being so absent lately, things have been pretty crazy for me lately.

If you remember, in my Rapidstrike review i mentioned i was awaiting printed parts for a MasterStrike from LaserGnomes. They arrived a few days later and finally after finding some free time and getting a little bit of gameplay in, I owe you something.

For those who don't know, LaserGnomes are based in San Fransisco. They are big fans of saving blasters from landfill, and refurbishing and rehousing them. I myself have recieved countless blasters from them, most of which are not readily avaliable in Australia. Lately they have increased their footprint in modding, mainly making blasters hit their desired potential, and making them more user-friendly.





Below is a link to their Facebook page, the best way to get in touch and see what they have on offer.

https://www.facebook.com/LaserGnomes

I have always been a fan of the Masterkey, from when it was first produced with a Stryfe and Roughcut. I was all set to make one, then we found out about the RapidStrike. I was in love. So i held off until something came along to make it look pretty. That's where LaserGnomes stepped in.

Initial prototypes looked promising, but they continued with R&D to produce a wonderful product that is perfectly suited, and looks like it was made by Hasbro themselves.

The connector (Blue) and RC trigger catch.

Both pieces are printed out of PLA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polylactic_acid), instead of the typical ABS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acrylonitrile_butadiene_styrene)

Close up of the RC trigger catch. Has LG on this face.

Very nice printing, can barely feel the ridges between layers. 





This side has screw holes to secure the Roughcut.

The blue Integrator has two tabs to help lock it into position on the Rapidstrike's bottom tactical rail. It can be removed, but this will be difficult and can damage the tabs, leading to a reduced grab on the blaster over time. So get all your internal modifications done before you install this piece.

The Integrator in its correct position. Looks good.

The Roughcut Slam Fire Trigger piece is surprisingly the most difficult part to install. The gears in the RC need to be aligned correctly. If not it can cause problems ranging from being unable to fire, unable to prime, slipping gears, the list goes on. LaserGnomes were happy to help with troubleshooting, and I eventually managed to get it right!

Once installed, locks into position, it won't fall out.

To fire with this piece installed takes a little bit of getting used to. Prime as normal and on the slide forward, the first chamber will fire. Then slide the priming bar back until you can hear the gears realign (roughly halfway), then slide the handle forward to fire the second round. It takes time, all you really want to do is slam back and forth, because that's what we are used too. But really, this piece is great, and makes those 8 shots really worth it!

Barely a gab, much better than cable ties or glue.
The second hardest part was the cutting of the RC shell. I loke this design because it keeps the blaster more compact, and includes the clip. Also, the lack of the RC trigger makes the whole thing look a lot cleaner.



These pieces now make my primary Rapidstrike a feared machine. Thats before they hear the flywheels spin up!

LaserGnomes came up with a fantastic design, deserving of the name, MasterStrike!

Make sure you check out LaserGnomes, they have plenty of 3D parts in their shop app, as well as newly released and vintage blasters and parts on their eBay store. Make sure you look into the shells for the SledgeFire, for MEGA darts, and a single Elite dart, the SlugFire!

Hope you enjoyed reading this, and sorry for the long delay between updates!

Crispy

My personal MasterStrike!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

S.O.F.T Review - Nerf MEGA Centurion: It still has a long way to go...

[Alex] Hey Squddies, yet another over-due review from yours truly! :D

This will be my last "BIG" written review, whereas future reviews will be much shorter and more condensed :P


The Centurion has already made the rounds and been reviewed to death - almost literally - but I am still keen to *quickly* point out my opinions and ideas on the Centurion.

A quick summary about the Centurion before I leap into it:

 - First blaster of the MEGA sub-series
 - Fires the new, larger MEGA darts
 - Uses a 6-dart MEGA magazine
 - Includes a new design of Bipod
 - Features a tactical rail underneath the barrel and one on the top section of the blaster
 - Longest length blaster to-date - exceeding that of a fully assembled Longstrike



APPEARANCE AND HANDLING

Everything about the Centurion is "big" - the sheer size of it speaks for itself, as well as the new "big" darts and magazine it features. I still cannot fathom how younger, smaller kids are even supposed to carry this monster around though!

I really like the look and feel of the Centurion. It feels solid and design-wise reminds me of a mash-up of several blasters: Longshot base, Longstrike barrel and the Stampede trigger grip. The red colour is a welcome sight and the barrel's side panels design has grown on me. Holding the blaster into my shoulder feels nice and comfortable with my trigger-grip just the right distance away.

But one thing I do NOT like though is how the Nerf designers had in mind how one is supposed to hold it with my OTHER hand...



(Above) The only available large enough space for the off-hand to rest and support the size/weight of the Centurion is here: right in front of the trigger grip... it feels far too close to uphold the sheer length of the front end. But this just seems the be how Nerf envisaged the Centurion to be held :\



This is where my hand *WANTS* to go: it is a comfortable half-way distance on the blaster, without feeling like my hands are too close together.



The problem is... a magazine usually sits there to even fire the darn blaster, so my hand can't really go there. Trying to support the blaster by the bottom of the mag feels... awkward.
.

This is the only other acceptable spot for bigger guys like me; holding the front of the magazine while loaded. This still feels a bit clunky to me, but does not feel like I'm reaching too far forward either.

The Centurion would have been AWESOME if it had a bloomin' scope! Seriously; it is marketed and designed to be "like" a sniper rifle... don't give me that Call Of Duty "no scope" bull... gimme a pretty yet non-functional MEGA scope! D:<



A Longshot scope looks sweet on the Centurion... if only it was red ;_; time to get painting~



The MEGA 6-dart magazine is huge... in fact I don't like it because of its size. Even for someone with big hands it can be a struggle to un-load from the blaster, and because of its size it can be a pest to reload and carry extras around. I can understand why the magazine HAS to be so big...



...because the MEGA darts are massive too! I really like the idea of firing large caliber darts at my foes, and I am really looking forward to future MEGA blasters or mods to help improve MEGA performances - specifically "true" ranges and better accuracy (which I will cover shortly).



The new Bipod that comes with the Centurion is nice though. It folds up either front or backwards, and when deployed it makes for a good stand or support for when hiding behind wall cover or lying prone on the ground.

The only problem I find is the legs aren't quite tall enough for longer blasters like the Centurion; the back end / shoulder stock hits the ground a bit early, so you cannot aim up on an angle very high. Some have complained the legs collapse a bit easily, but I haven't had any issues with mine; it holds its position solidly unless I give it a really big intentional bump.

BLASTER OPERATION:

As many others have reported, this is where the Centurions' reputation starts to fall apart. Here is a quick list to keep it brief:

 - The priming draw action is very long - 3x that of a Longshot
 - The MEGA magazine frequently jams
 - The MEGA darts are highly inaccurate and veer off course drastically due to the lightweight tip and the two whistler holes
 - The foam tube thickness of the MEGA darts are very thin; easily prone to damage
 - The breech and loading system tends to jam / chew / tear / bend darts
 - The breech 'mouth' is made of thin and flimsy plastic. My U.S. version has already broken in two spots, and now struggles to fire darts properly.
 - The plunger tube is a reverse PT design which in short is a very inefficient system and difficult to mod without doing a complete replacement.

The biggest killer for me is that the Centurion U.S. version claims 100ft ranges (30-ish meters) ... I have only ONCE out of several hundred shots been able to get CLOSE to that. Most shots only go about half of that (even when angled up) but a few too many just splutter out. At first I thought I may have gotten a dud, or my darts had worn out, but it seems to be a familiar tale with other Centurion owners even when using brand new darts.

My breech area has already been chipped in two places simply from regular use. This happened when I took it to its first Nerf War... it didn't even last one round before it started having firing issues. I also suspect that the odd " V " shape opening in the breech is a bad design that usually bends / chews darts whenever they do not *perfectly* slide in.

One small redemption is the sound and "recoil" the Centurion makes - basically when the blaster is fired the plunger tube releases the air to fire the dart, *then* the breech snaps backwards into the open position ready to reload. This double-action gives a lovely "Ka-CHUNK!" sound and has a bit of kick behind it.

MOD POTENTIAL / IDEAS: 


This.... *thing*... seems to be designed for the sole purpose of making modders smash their heads into a brick wall of frustration. The plunger tube is near impossible to mod without breaking it open, and even then wouldn't do much to solve the issue. The MEGA darts themselves I really think it boils down to the tip being too light and those two holes for the whistle effect that causes inaccuracy. The foam tube is too thin, but possibly can be reinforced (looking into that).

What is available for "mod kit" purchasing at the moment is a simple conversion kit from Blasterparts.de to make the Centurion take regular size Streamline / Elite darts: 


BlasterParts.de Centurion Caliber Converter

There is also Xplorer's "Xarrett" kit which renovates most of the internals, including a custom plunger tube which excites me greatly :D - however at the moment you have the option of using Stefan sized darts or normal Streamline / Elite sized darts, and is a bit on the expensive side (but for good reason!): 

Xplorer Xpower kit for MEGA Centurion
So far I have yet to see a custom made kit or advanced mods that redeems the new MEGA dart system. I'd still love to use MEGA darts since the idea of firing a large caliber foam dart at an opponent for an epic Head-Shot is appealing for me -- whereas for normal size darts like Elites... that's what I have my Longshot for :P

What I plan on doing for my Centurion is foregoing the magazine system (which I find just chews and jams more than actually loading and firing...) and going for a singled approach; using a custom design breech that loads from where the jam door normally sits, and having it a proper sealed barrel system (kind of like a brass breech Longshot). My hurdles at the moment is making the MEGA darts accurate *and* fire a long distance; right now it's one OR the other, as well as finding a way to fix / replace the plunger tube system with something more powerful... maybe even a small air-tank?

CONCLUSION:


Well, it's a tough one because I really want to like the Centurion, and there are various aspects where I do. But at the end of the day it was supposed to be an awesome dart slinging machine, and instead we got a giant, unreliable, spluttering, dart chewing mess of a blaster.

From an Out-Of-The-Box-Performance view I only give it 3 out of 10 MEGA darts. I loved the look, design, feel and that recoil effect that it has, but I hate how unreliable and badly it performed.

For Nerf War Practicality (regardless of issues) it is rather impractical due to its size and limited dart capacity. *IF* it actually fired the long distances that it claimed it could *AND* be accurate, it would be a worthy foe... but since it cannot fire far or accurately, as well as the fact that mine broke during early Nerf War battle... I cannot give a dart score for War Practicality

For Modding Potential at the moment I give it a 2 out of 10 MEGA darts. Unless you want to change it to something other than MEGA darts (which even then may mean spending big bucks to do so) there isn't really anything you can mod except for taking out the Air Restrictor, which by the sounds of it doesn't help much anyways... But for me I am still determined to "get it right" somehow. The only redemption for modding is for cosmetically - I've seen some AWESOME cosmetic changes to the Centurion, like this one from JohnsonArmsProps:

JohnsonArmsProps Centurion

---


Well, I hope you guys enjoyed this rather long, delayed but eventually completed review :P just to finish up on here is some low-res *slow motion* eye candy for when the Centurion actually DOES work:

~ Alex

video

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Nerf Mission App Tactiacl Rail Mount

(Crispy)

While I have some time, I'll get another quick review in.

Up this time is a quick look at the new phone mounts. Originally designed for iPhones, certain Android phones of a similar size are able to fix. The fit onto a Tactical Rail is the strongest of all accessories out there. This thing really is solid, it does not wobble and will not shake off at all.

RS with White Stripe.




I am unable to open the Rebelle version as it technically belongs to my girlfriend, I can't actually open it. But from what i have seen so far the shell is diffent, 2 camera ports, and 2 areas for the Home button.




I cant give a proper review without the App, or an iPhone, but never mind, hopefully this can help you decide if you want the purchase or not.

Front View.

What you see.




Rubber Cushion.



I personally like it on the side.


Really bulky up top.


Unfortunately i have to modify mine for the camera to get a view of the outside world, but with the Tek Recon App, it should be pretty fun to play around with.

My phone, Sony Xperia GO. Same size as an iPhon4/4S.

It's a tight fit.

But no luck for the camera.


 Avaliable at Toys R Us Australia wide for around $25. The Rebelle version is a US Amazon Import.

Will you get one? Or are you an Android user waiting for an Android mount?

Review: Nerf N-Strike Elite Rapidstrike CS-18

(Crispy)

Sorry this review has taken longer than expected. My job has become busier, it's difficult finding spare time. The predecessor to the RS, the Stampede, had some issues. Most notably were the weight in the rear mounted battery compartment, the 6 'D' batteries needed to function and the less than spectacular stock ranges.

Thankfully the Rapidstrike is a great improvement. Let's get into the business end of the review.

Amazon order, arrived before the end of August


ContentStandard packaging from Nerf here, blaster, clear clip, 18 darts and the instructions. Everything is held in place by the standard cardboard loops, so the entire box can just go straight in the recycling.


Standard backing.

Aesthetics
Quite simply, this blaster is beautifully designed. Not only is it lighter and smaller than the Stampede, the style is much more aggressive which seems to be the trend for the Elite line. The battery compartment has been reduced to 4 'C' batteries and moved to the front of the blaster, making it a perfect area to rest your hand. The iron sights have also been improved, now featuring 3 points opposed to the Stampedes 2.

My personal RS, the other is a loaner.






Telescoping shoulder stock (Think Longshot)




There are only 3 downsides to this blaster that I have found. The first and most noticeable is the great big orange stripe down the side. All the Elites so far have a beautiful white stripe, then this happens. I don't know who decided this, but I'm not happy about it.

Brother's In Arms!


The second is that we lose a single tactical rail, dropping to 5 total. So far i haven't been able to load up all 5 without looking completely stupid,  so it isn't much of a loss after all.

The clear clip is a brilliant idea, it really is fun watching the darts disappear in no time at all. But everybody will be able to see your remaining ammo levels.

Beautiful 18 dart clear clip.


Third and final, you RS owners may have noticed that the flywheels don't reach the full speed until the trigger is pulled. This can be fixed by modding but isn't a big deal if you are just going to drop in Ultra/Trustfires.




Just some size differences.




Modding

Not everybody gets into mods, but for those that do there are already some good ones out there. First and most simple is using high voltage AA batteries ( don't use more than 3! You've been warned!)

Second, people have been painting the stripe white. Simple enough really. I'm not the best at taping and spraying, so i sat there for hours doing individual coats of white paint by hand. It turned out neater than if i had tried to spray.

Next up, we get into the guts of the blaster. Do not remove the lock behind the jam door, this actually resets the dart pusher in the event of a jam. I did this without realising and i now regret it. Moving a wire removes the initial slow flywheel spool, and removing the resistors on the motors makes this a flywheel blaster worth having by your side.

Lastly is a Masterkey mod. Lasergnomes 3D print all the needed parts (review to come!) to fix the Rough Cut securely into place, and a new trigger catch plate.

LaserGnomes Intergrator.



Fan made using LaserGnome parts.



LaserGnomes MasterStrike (Great video!)

Coolness

+ Improved version of everybody's favourite, the Stampede!

+ The best flywheels and ranges from a powered Elite blaster

+ 5 dps firing with an 18 round clear clip

Price
Avaliable now at most Big W's for around $68. Amazon.com is currently running a sale with the price at around $28 USD, if you want the 75ft version.

THE FINAL VERDICT

+ Excellent primary

+ Consistent ranges with reasonable accuracy

+ Comfortable in the hand, perfect for long battles

- High price

Content/Accessories: 4/5 darts
Aesthetics: 5/5 darts
Functionality: 4/5 darts
Coolness: 5/5 darts
Price: 3/5 darts

S.O.F.T.'s Official Rating: 4.2/5 darts

In closing, this is a fantastic replacement if you are after a new primary blaster, more suited for outdoor battles.

Crispy's Personal Rapidstrike

My RS features a hand painted white stripe, new motors with resistor removal and soon to feature the LaserGnomes MasterStrike Equipment. The aftermarket motors mean i get the performance of Trustfires using the stock 4 'C' batteries (I like the weight in the front.)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

S.O.F.T Update: Alex eases his finger off the trigger...

[Alex] Hey Squaddies, I have an announcement to make.

As of now, I am stepping down from my 'S.O.F.T duties' of doing Nerf blaster reviews.

I am NOT quitting the S.O.F.T team though (and certainly will not be giving up on Nerf :P).

I will still be around for news and updates, providing modding advice and suggestions, and particularly remaining active on the S.O.F.T Facebook page for discussions (I am pretty much always around FB anyway...)

Every now and then I will be posting up 'mini articles' and my thoughts on blasters (new and old), but no longer in the fully fledged video or written essay format.

Why am I announcing this?

The main reason is I feel I owe it to our readers. This is for all the times I have said "I will be doing the ____ blaster review soon!" ... but either takes forever or never happens. I could have very easily just not said anything and just let it slide and hopefully be forgotten. But no, I'd rather get it over with rather than let it linger and cause future problems. Plus I still want to contribute to S.O.F.T and be a part of the team - just going down a different path that suits me better.

Why did I do blaster reviews? Because I enjoyed doing them; it was a great way for me to express how I liked/disliked certain blasters, how they worked, and to give advice on whether they are worth buying or modding, and to interact with fellow Nerf fans.

But doing blaster reviews for S.O.F.T to the level of detail and quality that I strive for is simply becoming increasingly difficult to uphold. I feel very discouraged seeing the days, weeks, months go past when I last did a review, and I keep thinking to myself "I have to do another blaster review!" and getting upset and feeling like a failure over not doing more reviews.

But that's just it; I used to do reviews because it was FUN to do; Nerf is supposed to be FUN! But if things are getting stressful trying to do an activity that I'm supposed to ENJOY doing, then there must be something wrong.

I eventually came to the conclusion that I am simply not in a position to do big video or written / photographic reviews like I used to or want to; my track record of reviews for this year clearly shows that.

I organise and run Wars for my local Nerf community; the Hobart Nerf Squadron. I do a fair amount of modding where I can, not just for myself but also for fellow HNS members. As the HNS group has evolved, my time and energy has become more invested in it. Combined with the fact that my retail job requires that I work Saturdays, means I don't get a nice 2-day weekend to work on big projects or spend much time on what I want/need to do.

Outside of Nerf, I've had a lot going on in my personal life - which needless to say, I will not discuss - but suffice to say it was a wake up call on how I run and manage my life which needed some serious attention. It has gotten to the point now that I feel like I'm putting too much on my plate for me to chew through to get done. Nerf is a big part of my life at the moment, and I want to look after my hobby, but I have got to look after myself first.

So stopping doing Nerf reviews is one of those things I've decided to get off my over-loaded plate, and in doing so get the unnecessary stress off my chest. I want to keep doing Nerf related activities fun; not stressful.

However on a more positive note; I *will* be doing a mini-review in the near future; a cut down version of the Centurion review that I was working on.

The future mini reviews will be *very* short, sweet (bittersweet perhaps?) but more importantly going straight to the point about what my experiences with the blaster/s have been like, and what mods I would consider doing. It will be cutting out a lot of the "bloat" that is either really obvious or self explanatory, such as how a blaster looks or operates.

So I hope you enjoy the upcoming mini reviews I have planned, but more importantly I hope you all understand where I am coming from with this post :) see you again soon!

~ Alex.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

More New Stuff!

(Crispy)

Hey everyone,

After my success browsing the interweb and finding the Stinger and new Mission App mount, I've found some more goodies.

First up, the Revonix 360 is available on Amazon.com if you are unable to find one locally. Price is USD $39.99

http://www.amazon.com/Nerf-A36990000-Vortex-Revonix-360/dp/B00EHOKB3Q/ref=sr_1_162?ie=UTF8&qid=1379226280&sr=8-162&keywords=nerf+elite

Second, even though the seller does not ship to Australia the Rayven Stinger is down to 6 in stock.

http://www.amazon.com/N-STRIKE-ELITE-RAYVEN-STINGER-BLASTER/dp/B00F1YMO9U/ref=sr_1_163?ie=UTF8&qid=1379226280&sr=8-163&keywords=nerf+elite

Here is a quick overview from RandomShadow09.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjPkvnd8ouI&feature=c4-overview&list=UULaJSV75X5KE6rIdZkefECg

And range test.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgkQYS8q7RM&list=UULaJSV75X5KE6rIdZkefECg

Third and final, the Rebelle Powerbelle blaster has surfaced on Amazon and eBay. USD $59.99 on Amazon, and borderline ridiculous on eBay. Good to see it is confirmed and released, but the prices are certainly not worth it.

http://www.amazon.com/Nerf-Rebelle-Powerbelle-Blaster/dp/B00EYM3KMK/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&qid=1379226383&sr=8-15&keywords=nerf+rebelle

http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-NERF-REBELLE-POWERBELLE-PINK-PURPLE-MOTORZIED-BLASTER-GUN-DARTS-/161101785935?pt=Outdoor_Toys_Structures_US&hash=item25826a2b4f

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nerf-Rebelle-POWERBELLE-Girls-Exclusive-Motorized-Blasting-NEW-Walmart-/300965504673?pt=Outdoor_Toys_Structures_US&hash=item4612f126a1

http://www.ebay.com/itm/BNIB-Un-Released-Nerf-Rebelle-PowerBelle-w-Extras-Free-WorldWide-Shipping-/111170011235?pt=Outdoor_Toys_Structures_US&hash=item19e23fc063

Well, that's all the new stuff i can find for now. Enjoy, and if you find something new or get your hands on it, let us know!

I'm going to head back to the Rapidstrike review i owe you all!

Crispy.

Monday, September 9, 2013

New Nerf Stuff!


(Crispy)

Hey guys,

So i may as well make a short post on this.
I happened to be innocently trolling the Internet for shopping goodies and happened across 2 fun things. The first will cause the most chaos, and here it is.

Nerf Elite Rayven Stinger.



             

So far all we cal tell is this is a repaint, possibly similar to the Gear Up repaint. The darts are also a new colour, hopefully an upgraded Elite dart. Time will tell when these become more avaliable.

Below is a video link of these being seen in stores (Location Unknown)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPO5y0QsTcA




Next up is a new design of the
Nerf Elite Battle App Tactical Rail Mount Accessory (What an unnecessarily long name! )


This design seems much cooler than the original, and will be suitable for iPhone sized Android phones (more open area for the Camera)

I know this isnt as interesting as the Stinger, but i still find it cool.

Crispy.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mini Review: Nerf N-Strike Reflex IX-1 ('Elite' Repaint)


(Crispy)

Hey everyone!

Today i have a small review of something basic for you, until my replacement RapidStrike arrives for me to review properly.

Today we are looking at the Elite repaint of the Reflex.
Although sporting the Elite colours, there is no mention of Elite on the packaging.

I picked this up recently at the Target 20% off sale for a whopping $6.40, usually $8. I know, it's a budget breaker, but someone has to review it right?

Physically, this blaster is the same as it's predecessor internally, with only a redesigned slide and paint job. Performance wise it's exactly the same, but i am seeing a slight range increase. I think this is due to it being new, and the o-ring and lube have not been compromised.
Pretty standard on the back, nothing special.

New and old. Yes my keyboard is glowing blue, be jealous.





























Would i recommend this blaster? Probably not, it is basically the same as the original, plus with have blasters in the Elite line which are similar in size and outperform it, mainly the Triad. If you are a completionist like myself, pick one up now while on sale otherwise don't bother.

I'm sorry for this not being a long or in depth review, but it's a basic blaster. Over the next month i hope to get a Rapidstrike, Guardian Crossbow, Elite and Rebelle App Rail and maybe something else up for you.

Thanks Squaddies.

Crispy.