For several years, both children and adults have enjoyed tagging and blasting their friends indoors and outdoors using toy blasters. Most people generally recognize NERF toys and accessories from Hasbro as the predominant name in the industry. Over the years, Hasbro has developed all sorts of ammunition like foam darts, whistling darts, and discs. Every year these projectiles fly further and faster using battery operated clips. A few years ago, there were a few additions to the blaster market with new companies, Xploderz from The Maya Group and the Razor Vapor. Xploderz and the Vapor blasters use a water based projectile for both indoors and outdoors, that are non-toxic and residue can be cleaned up with a vacuum cleaner. At Toy Fair 2012, there were some changes in the blaster market, with Hasbro developing a few augmented reality apps for the iPhone players could utilize while their device was affixed on top of a non-functional Nerf blaster and redesigning their Koosh line to bring foam ball projectiles to 4 year olds.
What I know from being in the toy industry is that there aren't just children requesting toy blasters. There are adults and gamers who are meeting to engage in real life play, and adding blasters along side their laser tag and paintball gear. For those looking for active toys for tweens (8-12 year olds) and teenagers, no matter what their preference, blaster toys are a sure fire hit.
Over the past year, I've worked with Tech4Kids, a diverse and innovative Canadian toy company, on highlighting some of their Angry Birds toys and games, while also reviewing the Magna Color, an arts and crafts activity that include pens that release dots onto a magnetic surface that can be viewed in 3D. This year, they also demonstrated to me their newest concept Tek Recon.
I haven't done a lot of coverage of blasters in the past, so I definitely wouldn't consider myself a blaster expert, but what wowed me completely with this concept was the innovation and the details Tech4Kids included in their design and execution. Tek Recon includes several different types of real, functioning blasters, that launch their own specific type of projectiles, NRG Rounds. These NRG Rounds are capable of launching over 75 feet, which at Toy Fair we had some great fun of projecting into the distance. While players actually launch their rounds with the real trigger on the blaster, in tandem they are using a free app, on either an Android or iOS device, that's affixed to the blaster to play a "real life gaming app." Using mobile and GPS technology, kids can become immersed in the game experience. The app allows players to create their own profile, engage in multiplayer modes, while utilizing scopes and radar. There's a live chat portion of the app, a screen ammo counter, and 4 vision modes: standard, night vision, heat seeker, and x-Ray. Tek Recon is the first blaster of its kind to combine real blaster play with a video game style app.
There are currently 2 blasters, the Tek Recon Hammerhead and Tek Recon Havok. These blasters have pump action and electronic firing systems that launch these small, round projectiles, over 75 feet. Tek Recon will be available in August 2013, just in time for the holiday season. Want to order your Tek Recon toy now? For the month of May 2013, Tek Recon has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise additional funding for the project, offering interested gamers unique opportunities to reserve their blasters and partake in additional perks.