Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tek Recon: Flea Market Special

Comes with all this, except I lost most the NRG rounds.

Tek Recon, where do I begin? I started out with no enthusiasm at all, and slowly began to get more excited as information came out.  Being frustrated with Hasbro for lack of information, and even denying products existed, it was refreshing to find a company that was actively reaching out to the community and interacting with it. The app kept sounding better and better, and while I was still not totally sold on the ammo, I was willing to give it a shot.

It’s tough to think of when I’ve been this disappointed in a blaster before, it borders on betrayal.  First off, in hopes of a company really potentially being made for my age group and having the potential to grow into a competitor for Nerf I donated to the KickStarter campaign.  For $60 I would receive a Hammer Head and a Havok. I wanted to test both blasters, and Shawn got a kit that included four Hammer Heads targets, and some other cool lookin’ accessories so we could promote it to our Nerf/blaster enthusiast friends.  Tek Recon was good with sending updates on their Facebook page, and via e-mail. Like this beauty I received August 6th:

“We're in our final stages of our APP development and we'll be releasing it in late-August. We are incredibly excited to unveil the App but want to make sure it's just right first! Thanks to all our fans for your continued interest in Tek Recon. We'll be posting on FB when our APP will be released. 

 In other news - we're hoping to be getting our KickStarter rewards into our office soon! We'll let you know when they arrive & we will start shipping out the rewards as SOON as we can!”

So when they announced not long after that the app was available for download on iOS I was ecstatic! I even updated my iPhone from iOS5 to iOS6, something I’d not wanted to do for various reasons. I made the sacrifice for the Tek Recon App though. Sure none of my friends had iPhones, so we couldn’t really test it out, but the app was satisfying. It delivered mostly what they had promised and gave us a taste of things to come, not only with app updates, but hopefully with the blasters.

Hm... No mention of ranges on the front...
Then it happened. I was at Kmart of all places. KMART! It was just sitting there on a shelf, inconspicuously mismarked with another toy’s price tag beneath it for $14.99: a Hammer Head. I quickly purchased it and of course it rang up at it’s actual price of $19.99.  No problem right? I still found this guy, in a retail store, my excitement was palpable. I would get a look before all people online, who donated to the KickStarter. On the drive home it started to sink in. I FOUND IT IN A RETAIL STORE!!! Waitaminute! I donated on KickStarter, they just sent me an e-mail saying that they were just getting their KickStarter rewards into their office. If they had these babies shouldn’t they have shipped them to US?! Those of us who had faith in and backed the company from the beginning?! I’m sure Kmart put them on shelves before they were intended to be there, but the fact that people, not even myself, were not receiving these for their donations was pretty infuriating. Sure, maybe they were waiting for all of the products to ship to them to send out their KickStarter so people could get complete packages, but there were folks who donated just to get one Hammer Head! I hadn’t heard of them receiving anything yet! That was the whole point of the KickStarter, to be able to get these things before the masses! But the disappointment doesn’t end their dear readers, not by a Longshot (See what I did there? It’s capitalized because it’s the name of a Nerf blaster! =P).
...Or the back.

So, I get the thing home, and open it up.  First obvious thing I noticed is this thing feels CHEAP! Second thing I realized is it only comes with 15NRG rounds. THE BLASTER HOLDS 25! It’s emblazoned in huge letters on the front of the box! Where most blasters advertise the distance, it tells you capacity. In fact, speaking of distance, I couldn’t find a single spot on the box where the distance was advertised. The front just says “Max Distance” like that’s supposed to mean something.  Come on, Nerf at least gives me enough ammo to fill up whatever magazine comes with any given blaster! Darts are at least large enough to recover, these things are going to be getting lost left and right and you can’t even give me enough to fill up my $20 blaster?! Bad form guys, bad form. 

It's a little hard to load these things
The ammo is a little difficult to load up but one of the only satisfying features about this blaster is inserting and releasing the magazine. It clicks in very reminiscent of a real firearm, and the ambidextrous magazine release is located in what I feel is a good spot in the bottom of the trigger guard. When you release the magazine it doesn’t fall out, but rather pops out an inch or so. There’s a spring that pushes it out a little, and while it will come out easily if you’re running and holding it vertical, if you hold it horizontal while replacing the mag it’ won’t fall. It’s just a snazzy little feature that actually feels cool.  If you were waiting to get to all the positives, you can pretty much leave now.

The trigger is way too far away from the handle. I have small hands, but I can barely get the tip of my pointer finger in position to fire this thing. It’s definitely not as satisfying as being able to wrap your finger around a trigger and exert a firm, full amount of pressure per shot, and you need to with this blaster. I have small hands, but I have much larger friends than I, and they all agreed with me on this point.  It’s uncomfortable, and with an “Ages 8+” on the box you have to wonder how kids will be able to wield this thing without using two hands.
Look at this reach!

Next up: The “pump action trigger” beneath the barrel. The regular trigger is referred to as the “rapid blast trigger” on the box, when it takes much longer to operate than the “pump action trigger” for some reason. I guess they just couldn’t think of any good “cool” names (hint: call it a “trigger”! It doesn’t need any cool name!) Regardless of what they call it, the pump feels grossly out of place, especially on a pistol. It would have made much more sense to put a “slam fire” like feature on the “slide” of the blaster. This at least would have felt better. The pump itself is supposed to look like some sort of tacticool accessory like a flashlight or laser pointer. Why not just make this a rail so you can attach accessories like that to the blaster?! Instead, with a bulky pump grip on this pistol, you can forget about trying to holster this thing. Since it doesn’t prime then shoot like a Nerf blaster, if you do try to put this in a holster with any substantial grip the blaster will go off.  You don’t need to hold down the trigger while pumping; just the simple act of pumping fires the blaster. This is a feature better suited to rifle type blasters with considerable more length, and even then I do like needing to pull the trigger to set this off.

The top of the phone mount.
The “real action recoil” is a joke.  While trying to be innovative, it comes off as feeling gimmicky and cheap.  The ergonomics wouldn’t be terrible if that trigger was closer. The Phone mount while it seems to hold my phone (with case) rather sturdy, it feels like there’s a lot of potential for things to go wrong.  I don’t like the Nerf app, but at least their mount holds firm AND protects your valuable electronic devices.  The muzzle looks weirdly huge. This is due to the phone mount. They could have chopped down a bunch of extra space, made the whole thing a bit more streamlined and used a rail to attach the phone mount instead of adding height to the front of the blaster, then not filling in the barrel and leaving you with a hole that looks like you’re going to blast golf balls out of this thing. The ammo is tiny, easily lost and hard to feel when you've been tagged. Oh yeah, also the “stylus” attachment that is supposed to work with the recoil to tap your screen so the app registers when a round is fired is terrible. Simply put, it doesn’t work. While vertical adjustment of the phone mount is easy, the horizontal adjustment is difficult, and the stylus seems to be either constantly touching the screen, or just out of reach.  Also, the app assumes you loaded a full magazine, which, OH YEAH YOU ONLY GAVE ME 15 ROUNDS!  Then you have to tap the screen to show that you’ve reloaded. WHATS THE POINT?! In game I want to reload quickly and efficiently. I don’t want to have to find the corner of my screen and tap it to signify I’ve just put in a fresh mag. That’s the problem with this being a physical to virtual conversion. If you plugged the phone into the blaster you could relay this information like shots fired and reloads electronically and not have to worry about hiding a stylus in a thinly veiled attempted to achieve “realistic recoil”.

The bottom device mount and stylus.
Finally, the NRG rounds.  I saw a few iterations of these throughout the process and honestly wish we had gotten the fat doughnut shaped ones instead of these things. They aren’t quite rubber bands, but they lack the mass some of the prototypes seemed like they had. As for ranges, well I want to say they are getting ranges as advertised, but again there’s NOTHING on the box that says anything about ranges.  So, in not advertising them I suppose you can’t complain.  I’m hitting about 30ft flat on “low power”. Now here’s where things get interesting. The “power selector” doesn’t actually put more power behind the round to give you more distance. Instead it just ARCS THE SHOT FOR YOU! Yes, if you put it up to full power, the round springs out and, instead of going straight forward, arcs in the air (potentially missing a target in front of you) to get the max distance it can.  Thanks guys. THANKS! I had no idea if I arced it they would go farther! DUUUUH! It’s a horrible feature that should have never been included. If you can only get 30ft, either go back to the drawing board or say that you get 30ft.

All in all I can’t find anything that would make me want to run this blaster in ANY game EVER. If/when my Havok comes in, I’ll likely play with it and give a quick review, but I can’t imagine that things will be much different from this guy.  Ranges can’t really be increased or decreased since the potential power comes from the round and not a spring or something that is upgradeable, so we’re pretty much seeing max performance here.  For those of you who donated to the KickStarter like myself, all I can say is I’m sorry. I think the app is cool and I’ll likely be using it with a Nerf blaster. I really feel like they are doing something no one else is with this app, but it’ll stop being supported when the blaster line inevitable fails. Maybe they could focus on their app and just charge for it and have 99¢ in-app power ups for purchase. But really, it’s not worth it to buy these blasters just to see the app do well. Maybe they can sell the technology to Hasbro and the Nerf app can offer actual features. But seriously guys, don’t buy this, I feel like I’ve been swindled. 


**Range test video coming soon... if we can find enough NRG rounds -_-**


  1. Dang! I had hope in these blasters! looks like I'll have to save my money for that revonix360... :(

    1. same here time to enjoy the rest of the nerf stuff

  2. Well fuck this I super feel cheated.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Cheers for the review Josh, I think you've got some points wrong (accuracy - we know it fires from the bottom of the barrel not the middle/top so it gets a lot of getting used to, the rounds are going to get lost, so you need to invest in more rounds if you play outside).

      My gripe is the logistics thing for those that backed the Kickstarter not getting them early. Mail out to fans who backed it FIRST then retailers. I asked them what is going on, they said K-Mart broke the street release date. They must know from research or feedback stores screw up on release dates. The other problem is not getting a full clip of ammo, not good at all. I was under the impression this would change after conversations urging them to change this. Aaand the App assumes you have a full clip - not good. Perhaps they will factor this in the next roll out.

      My honest experience was increased ranges using the Power setting, and the Speed whilst not as smooth as the Nerf slam-fire, it works well in its own way. As a Nerf slam-fire user, you will be in for a bit of a shock. The ranges I experienced saw positive increments as your slid the Power switch across, and was not my finding that it arc'd the shot. If it does that, then I had no issue with it in terms of accuracy or range.

      The Hammer Head I handled was heavy, and far from cheap feeling. Same goes for the Havok. It's concerning this is your finding, I hope we have not seen some kind of last minute switch. I don't know why the apparent change has happened? Real weird. Like Buzz Bee fails, they have some gems, lets hope it works the same way for Tek Recon.

      I guess this might be why bloggers have not got their pre-Kickstarter packages. They are going to get a hard schooling in what fans want, and whilst this is going to be a hard curve for them to put right, this is going to hinder their popularity in a big way.

    2. If you saw the first Havok prototype at the Toy Fair, the mag is different and the gun is a darker green, there WAS a last minute change, the box also said how many feet it can reach (in the Havok's box, 80 Feet) and were different, yes, they probably cheated.

  4. wth this is totally not what I bought in to give my money back

  5. hmm, I'm going to remain on the fence about this until I get one, then I'll see for myself

  6. Not sure what BAN are hating on this for because it has been covered at length what it comes with. MLD you just an innocent like us, we just been cheated yeah

  7. I have to say I'm very disappointed in the product and feel that not enough testing was done in the design of this product. The idea was good but execution poor.

    First off, I was a kick-starter backer and the product was in stores before sent out to backers. I was in both Wal-Mart and K-Mart yesterday and picked up a Hammerhead at K-Mart and a Havok at walmart.

    The pin mechanism that touches the screen works about 35% of the time and when it does work, it will some times "double shoot" and move the ammo counter down more than it should have. This is beyond frustrating.

    My biggest issue is with the guns themselves. I don't think they did enough testing with the new NRG rounds. They barely ever fire straight and at max distance they were sometimes just falling out of the gun a little after my feet. There is absolutely no way to be accurate with this thing. When I changed the dial between the firing modes I saw absolutely no difference in range.

    Needless to say, I will be returning these to the respective stores I purchased them from and unfortunately it's a little too late for the kick-starter.