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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hasbro: Just Missing the Goalposts

The below is a guest post written by our friend in Houston, JP Roth.  Editting and formatting by Animal.

Lately, Nerf has been on a bit of a roll when it comes to the more “casual” games. While they are never going to be able to compete with homemade blasters, things like the Rapidstrike, Stryfe, and Elite Alpha Trooper have been very well-received by the HvZ crowd and presumably by Nerf’s traditional target audience as well. It’s very easy to say that, outside of the fiasco that is the unfortunate Centurion, Nerf has never been better.

Not that Rapid Strike, the other one
Source: SBNC
And yet, they still have managed to fail to adequately address one vital area of, well, Nerf (foamsports, HvZ, RvB, what-have-you) that has left people spending money elsewhere. Hasbro would undoubtedly like to increase their profits, which makes this lapse even more baffling. I’m talking about “gear” and accessories here, people.

(Author’s Note: It should be made blatantly apparent that virtually none of this applies to NIC-style wars, where actual Nerf-brand products don’t feature much if at all, and where a single pump-action hoppered primary is really all a player will ever need barring breakages.)

Recent Innovations

It’s true that there’s been some really good stuff that’s come out lately. The Battle App Tactical Rail Mount was a stroke of genius, replicating something people have been making themselves for some time. It’s nice to have something that works well and matches the color scheme of the Elite line without requiring painting. If only the App were actually worthwhile, this would likely be a home run for all the iPhone/iPod owners out there.

The Elite Pinpoint Sight likewise has rave reviews and appears to be as good as the original version. It’s just a pity that it hasn’t been released in the States. Yet another baffling decision, particularly since it’s almost certain to have been a relatively good seller—but what do I know about marketing?

Likewise in the vein of recent releases, we have the Zombiestrike Blaster Sleeve, which is tailor-made for the Sledgefire. If Sledgefires were actually viable in any sort of game, this wouldn’t be a terrible idea (and yes, I know that there are exceptions to every rule—I’m planning on using a Sledgefire with the LaserGnomes shells as a “fun” blaster for HvZ). Luckily the sleeve can be customized to an extent, and the fact that it can hold a Pyragon with a drum securely makes it really quite useful, although I doubt that was what Nerf intended.

Source: Bay Area Nerf
There’s also the Range P.A.K. and the Mobile Mission P.A.K. Both of these are decent ideas, but lack a little something in implementation. The Range P.A.K. is designed to hold six 12-round clips and a number of loose darts. This is a wonderful idea, but where, exactly, can one purchase 12-round clips? Oh yeah, they only come with particular blasters. 18-round mags can be purchased in just about any store with a Nerf section, but they won’t fit into a Range P.A.K. without modification. I can’t help but draw parallels to hot dogs and hot dog buns here.

Make the gear work with what can be purchased separately. It’s entirely possible to modify a Range P.A.K. to be an amazing piece of kit that works wonders for a player, but it shouldn’t be required.

The Mobile Mission P.A.K. is more of a travel case than anything else, so I’m not going to go into too much detail here. It’d be nice if it were a bit larger to accommodate things that weren’t a Stryfe.

Success is Sweet

Source: Nerf Wiki

There is one area where Nerf has really made some major success—the Rebelle Sweet Revenge. The holster here is just a great addition to an already pretty great little pistol, and will be addressed later on in this (likely already-too-wordy) article. The only complaint here is that ambidexterity would have been nice. I can understand the design decisions against it, but who doesn’t want to wield two pistols from time to time?

So Where Should Nerf Go?

There are a couple of areas where Nerf is just shy of the mark, and with a few small improvements, they would be able to provide a reasonable product available where their blasters are sold. Add-on sales would be inevitable.

Let’s look at the ubiquitous sling. The Nerf Bandolier (now available in Elite Colors) can perform this role adequately, but the fabric is a bit coarse for my oh-so-sensitive skin. With just a bit of a redesign, this could become far more useful than it currently is.

Source: Blastersmiths UK
Likewise, something of a universal holster would be much-appreciated by the more serious Nerf crowd. If it could handle a Hammershot, Sweet Revenge, Snapshot, and Strongarm, the bases would be covered and people would be pretty darned chuffed. Make it reversible or something for ambidextrous use and you’d be set.

A drop-leg holster that could hold a Rough Cut and/or Sledgefire would likewise be a good idea and useful.
And while we’re at it, let’s discuss clip storage in general. As mentioned, the Range P.A.K. can be modified into a really rather useful belt pouch, but a purpose-made shingle to hold, say, three 18-rounders would be a rather amazing piece of device, suitable for both children and adults.

This, on shelves, in the US.  Make it happen.
Source: Nerf Wiki
Also, let’s see more tactical rail accessories sold separately. Additional sights, actually-useful red-dots, flashlights, and what-have-you would all be purchased readily by the HvZ crowd. The old non-Elite Barrel Break dart holder would likewise be an easy five bucks spent for those of us using front-loading blasters.

And, for the love of Pete, bring the Elite Pinpoint Sight over here to the US already.

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