Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Taking Nerf back to Basic

Some people rarely need a big introduction. They have such an impact on their field, they leave critics silenced, and fans craving for more. This is one individual in the Nerf Internet Community that hits the nail on all counts.

Al Pacino in Scarface
Few in the movie industry have reached such an accolade. The actor Al Pacino is such an individual, and as a movie buff I'm a massive fan. He starred in Scarface (1983) - an Oliver Stone scripted masterpiece about a dude who takes over a cartel. You will be hard to find anyone who dislikes the movie, from the acting to the scripting - it's pretty much an awesome movie that everyone needs to see! - whilst this might seem a little off track, I assure you it's not.

Al Pacino is...
If Hasbro ever shot a foam movie in this genre, they would most definitely of liked Al Pacino to played him. So who could it be that is one of the Big hitters in the Nerfing world?
From his loadout tips, to ever popular Blog breaking news, down to his foam battles on YouTube - fans have quickly grown to love him, his Stock opinion and continue to loyally follow him.
His passion continues to inspire many to pick up a blog or start a video - he had the very effect on me. 
He is a member of the Panda Squad - an Elite Foam Tactical Unit...
It is with much pride I present a behind the scenes interview with The One, The Only...

...Mr Basic Nerf!

My Last Dart: Please introduce yourself, and where you're from to Nerf fans that are not already aware of the awesome work you do.
Basic Nerf: Hi I'm known as Vigilante, and I run the fan site called Basic Nerf. I'm from Southern California, USA. I'm just a 20 year old guy with a blog and a love for Foam shooting toys.

 MLD: So what is Basic Nerf and how did blogging come about? What do you enjoy the most about it?
Basic Nerf: The name of my blog, Basic Nerf, refers to the lack of or little modding content on my blog. It's a Nerf blog mostly about stock foam blasters and toys, so my reviews are written with a stock audience and for the most part a lack of modding in mind. I also post videos people make that relate to Nerf, write articles, and cover Humans vs. Zombies things when I can. You'll also be able to find Nerf news, as well as photos and videos of my latest Nerf games as well.
Basic Nerf: I created the blog on January 27, 2010 in my physical science class. We had came back from the Winter Break, and right before that I invited a decent amount of friends to come play Nerf in some of the school halls. I provided most of the Nerf equipment, and we had a lot of fun. While bored and thought drifting in class, I realized that I was passionate about Nerf. I was following (and still follow) a lot of Hip-Hop blogs at the time (2dopeboyz, OnSmash, illroots, Nahright were the main ones I followed) so I decided to just combine blogging and my love of Nerf together.
What I enjoy the most is the comments that people leave and discussions I have with people online about Nerf It helps me realize and remember that there's a bigger Nerf world out there then what I see and experience. It also helps validate what I do and keeping me going to make more content.
MLD: How did you get in to Nerf and can you remember your very first blaster? and does that blaster currently sit proudly on top of your mantel piece?
Basic Nerf: One day while walking down the halls of Kmart in April or May 2009, my best friend and I stumbled upon the foam blaster aisle. Our first purchases were the Buzz Bee Rapid Fire Tek and Tommy 20. As soon as we saw it we knew it would be the item that helped us re-create our childhood imagination of gun fighting. We brought them to our friends at church, and we loved them. They've since lost their interest for Nerf, but mine as been strong through the years. The first blaster I ever bought was the Buzz Bee Rapid Fire Tek. I spray painted it all black, but eventually overtime the catch spring on it broke. I ended up just throwing it away. Heres a photo of it that I used for my Rapid Fire Tek review.
(Taken by Basic Nerf)
MLD: I know you are very much a Stock gamer, but have you ever tried to mod? How did it go? do you have a pic of artefact BNv1?
Basic Nerf: My first successful mod was the Maverick AR removal/penny mod. It's a very easy mod to do, and most modders recommend it to people as their first mod. I don't have a photo of it, since I've also modded other Mavericks before and they're all mixed up. But it went well.
MLD: When did you start filming games? Was it something you always planned to do?
Basic Nerf: My friends and I actually filmed our first game that we played! And pretty much the ones that came after that as well. If I remember correctly, we only had 4 blasters, and there were about 6 or 7 of my church friends. So we had the people not playing record video. You can find a few clips from the first couple of games that we played in this trailer I made almost 4 years ago.
So I guess it was something I had always planned on doing, not for the primary reason of getting a lot of views, even though it's nice. It's mostly to connect to other people and share the human experience with others. Sharing your joys, pains, laughter, and sorrows helps connect the world, bring people closer, and possibly teach someone else out there something new.
I also like to watch video and remember the memories and the various moments that you just seem to forget over time. Video helps you collect and remember this, another reason why I'm into video so much. I've also been a long time member of a sports forum called, and they've been making sports highlight videos for about a decade so far, that another reason why I'm into video.
MLD: You use GoPro as camera of choice - is there a reason why you use this kit over others? Any plans to upgrade it? If so what are you looking at?
Basic Nerf: I did some research online and looked at video samples of the GoPro and Contour cameras. The lighting seemed a bit better in the GoPro videos, plus the Outdoor edition Headstrap just seemed right for the Nerf action that I wanted to capture.
I actually just upgraded this month to the GoPro Hero3 Black Edition, so I'll be shooting most of my new video with that.
Basic Nerf  rocking his GoPro kit with head rig
MLD: What camera do you use for photography? Are you looking to upgrade anytime?
Basic Nerf: I usually use my Samsung Galaxy S3 for photos, or take screen caps out of the videos I take with the GoPro since they're such good quality. If I'm feeling a bit more fancy or need another camera to shoot video with, I'll use my aunt's Lumix DMC-TS2.
Since I'm mostly a video guy, I don't feel like I need to upgrade anytime soon for a new camera. Plus with the GoPro Black Editions 4k and 2k video resolution settings, you can get awesome screenshots from video.
MLD: Of all the games types you have played - do you have a favorite scenario?
Basic Nerf: Tough question. I'm a big fan of the Siege mode by friends and I came up with one day, but I also like Team Deathmatch. It's the simplest of game concepts but at the same time gives enough direction and purpose to have a more serious game mode then just shooting your friends.
MLD: Do you have a favorite video you have shot to date?
Basic Nerf: That's a good question. I can't really say I do, since each and every one of them is different and means something different to me. But my first batch of videos on another channel will always have a special nostalgia feeling to it. (heck this whole interview has been full of nostalgia.)
MLD: You seem to be real active playing games - How do you help keep things fresh for both yourself and people you play with?
Basic Nerf: Once in awhile we'll try a silly game type or new game type:

Basic Nerf: Also playing in new environments and places keeps things fresh. Even playing old game types in new places helps give them new life.
What I've noticed that helps a lot is that with my particular group of friends, I won't be able to see most of them until we gather to play Nerf. Putting an emphasis on the social aspect of the game will help people come, even if they're not passionate about Nerf. You have to worry less about trying new game modes since the company of everyone will be a big part in enjoyment.

(Screenshot is from my second indoor game I hosted between friends and associate's.
About 24 people played, and not everyone is in this frame)
MLD: Do you prefer indoor battles or outdoor?
Basic Nerf: I prefer indoor games. Due to the facts that your protected from the elements, dart cleanup is easier, wind doesn't affect your shots and your for the most part your able to not harming other people accidently who are just trying to walk by. Also long range blasters and accurate shot attempts can almost go out the window here, since most indoor games are going to have a lot of cover and goes from room to room. Strategy and positioning are now the two biggest factors in these indoor Nerf games. Since I also like close quarters combat, I would have to pick an indoor environment if I was given the choice.
MLD: Do you have Game Marshals? Or if players manage themselves - how do you best manage to avoid disputes?
Basic Nerf: Whether we notice it or not, a lot of people look to the game hosts are marshals or referees. Since they went through the trouble or organizing and inviting people, it's kind of an un said rule that they have to settle disputes. Whenever I get out in games, I walk around recording the game on my camera as well as referee and call out hits. Ever since I've had my camera I've been doing this, even at the Nerf events I don't host.
The general rule of thumb is to call out a hit if you see it, and to admit if you got it but the other player didn't call it. A big part of installing a fair play environment is having friendly game hosts and inviting people who play fairly. These things go a long way in things like taking your hits and accepting calls from others. This also helps avoid disputes.
MLD: How do you go about choosing a new blaster? Does it have to match a certain style? are there certain requirements?
Basic Nerf: I've invested a decent amount of time, energy, and money into Nerf's clip system, so I would like for my new blaster to be clip fed. My playstyle involves a lot of rushing, in your face action. It should be a rapid fire blaster so that I can spit out shots and get those hits quickly. It has to be able to be reloaded easily, so I can fire off even more shots fast and get back into action when I run out of darts in a mag.
It should also be light, and if possible able to fire it off with one hand. This makes escaping and firing on the move much easier for me. I would also like if it had a solid feel behind it. I don't want to be running around with something that'll feel like it'll break if I drop it. At the end of the day, it has to perform well in battle and stress situations. And right now, the Elite Rayven matches all these requirements for me.
(Photo taken by friend Madeline F. for Basic Nerf.)
MLD: How do the new blasters Hasbro releases impact your gameplay? Is there any area currently lacking in your opinion?
Basic Nerf: For my own personal gameplay and loadouts, I've really been liking the Elite Rayven so far, it feels like a good upgrade over the original one. Overall, each new blaster Hasbro releases gives us more options to play with, and more chances for different sorts of blaster fun.
I think Hasbro/Nerf has been putting out a solid amount of blasters, and the Elite line isn't even a year old yet. I would like to see a blaster with a shield on it, just to be something different. I remembered they teased a Nitron with a shield on the back of one of the Elite blaster boxes, and we saw a Rampage with a shield photo online before. I also wish that they would sell the 20 disk mag that came with the Nitron separately, I think that would help the interest, excitement, and sales in the Vortex line.
MLD: I remember you shooting an awesome HvsZ game which was your first HvsZ game right? How was it? Can you help paint the picture for anyone who has never tried it?
Basic Nerf: I've been to 4 different HvsZ games, and I actually was head administrator and organizer for the last two I played in. Experiences will be very varied. In my first HvsZ game I was trying to take everything in, but there was way too much to observe and process as a first timer. I just ran with the group, covered everyone's back 70 per cent of time, and at the end got a bit into some trouble with Zombies. You can read more about my first ever experience here, complete with some photo and video.
(Credit: Taken by Basic Nerfs friend EC)
MLD: Are all the rules set in stone for HvsZ or is there room for innovative ideas? Holy Water Super Soaker? Anything stopping me from going full melee Dusk Till Dawn style?
Basic Nerf: The number one rule that's always set in stone is don't be a fool. Other then that the rules are open to change as see fit but the game's administrative team. Super Soakers probably wouldn't be allowed due to the fact that not everyone would like getting wet. Melee weapons would also most likely be banned due to broken game mechanics. Also combine the fact that not everyone follows the rules, and you could have people swinging those Nerf melee items pretty hard and ruining people's fun.
I seen posts on the HvsZ forums of being thinking up ideas such as claymores, video camera robots, aerial video cameras, and alarms all as potential zombie defense items. But when dealing with an "undead" sort of enemy, most of those ideas usually go out the window. The Human side is always looking for ways to improve their loadouts however.
And the mods and game organizers are always look for rules to change or equipment to give the zombies to help make things more fair against the increasing amount of great Nerf blasters.
(Photo taken by friend Ferris M. for Basic Nerf)
MLD: What is a good loadout for a HvsZ game? Why in your opinion?
Basic Nerf: A blaster with a high capacity and high rate of fire, and the back up ammo for it, should serve you well in HvsZ. The secret to a good HvsZ loadout is to make sure your quick, efficient, and skilled with it. Raiders, Rampages, Alpha Troopers, Stampedes, and Rayven's are a couple of blaster examples that I can think of that I've seen in HvsZ videos and games myself and ones that I would trust myself.
I gotta recommend socks though, just keeping them in your off hand can save your butt if your blaster fails and the zombie gets too close to you. They're cheap, easy to use, and easy to get. Socks saved me from zeds twice in the 2012 Summer Camarillo game, and two more times in the Winter 2012 Camarillo games.

(Screenshot from video taken by Coop of Click Click Bamf.)
MLD: Is modding a big importance to HvsZ? Or can stock do just as well?
Basic Nerf: Modding is a big part of HvsZ. A lot of people like playing for the human side and enjoying the equipment that they get to use. Like a lot of Nerfers, they'll want to improve on it's performance and try to do better with them. You can play HvsZ with stock stuff as well, but things like the Elite line and Elite darts make that less of an issue. Modding just opens more options for you as a human player.
MLD: What kind of support could Nerf give to the HvsZ genre?
Basic Nerf: I think that the Hail-Fire was a shot at giving the HvsZ guys some support. I don't think the average Nerf player needs or uses 144 shots in a single game. An "Elite Stampede" would be very popular with the HvsZ, and even regular Nerf community. The ability to rapid fire, along with great ranges and an included high capacity mag count (something like the 3 18 dart mags that came with the original Stampede) would be a great HvsZ blaster. The Hail-Fire was a bit on the bulky side and the mag rotation is iffy when loaded with all full 18 dart mags.
Even putting up an official sort of public statement or having Representatives visiting an area to play the game would go a long way to make the public more aware of the game. I do know that the company is aware of the game and the market that it brings though.

Basic Nerf with Cal Poly Pamona Humans vs. Zombies
organizer Garrett Porter

MLD: What are your views on Dart Tag? Would you like to see the age category opened up?
Basic Nerf: I thought it was a nice idea. It seems like a solid way to make Nerf more "official" and accepted as a sport, but then their support for it just sort of died last year. One of my most viewed posts on my blog is a simple copy and paste of the Nerf Facebook post of them saying they don't have plans for a 2012 Dart Tag tournament. And within that post are lost of people wanting a Dart Tag tournament. I think at the end of the day if Nerf makes a good product, people are gonna respond well to it and buy it. And if it's not a good product, then people won't respond well to it.
Their 2011 Dart Tag line was a nice addition to the Dart Tag series and I really liked the ideas they had with the built in magazine in the Speedload 6 and Quick 16. However they just jammed a lot, and I honestly can not recommend that anyone buy them unless they want to waste their money and be disappointed in them. The Snapfire 8 is a solid piece of equipment, but I feel like it's kind of getting outclassed by the new Elite stuff released recently due to their greater ranges. If it was released in the USA a year earlier, it could have been greatly used in games and it's release would have helped promote the Dart Tag line more. When I used it indoors and in close engagements, I felt comfortable with it and love it's ability to use one handed, as well as no worries about needing to prime it after each shot. 

Basic Nerf: (I had just hit my Praxis friend on a headshot. This goes to show you how comfortable I was using it in close quarters and against opponents.)
I believe when they had the regional tournaments, the open play areas didn't have an age limit. I would definitely like to see the age category opened up a bit more in the competitive play though. It would allow more participants and help show the public eye that Nerf is for people of all ages.
MLD: Is there any chance of fans seeing Basic Nerf hitting up some Dart Tag videos? (TRUus say Dart Tag is dead in the water so they refuse to hold future tournaments until that changes)
Basic Nerf: If the next Dart Tag Tournament comes to Southern California, I don't see why not. I think the last regional tournaments closest location to me was Utah. And thats on the far side. If Nerf/Toys R Us wants to make Dart Tag more popular, I think they should combine the Elite performance and even some of it's ideas and the dart tag ideas. Imagine a Rampage firing dart tag darts? Or even a Hail-Fire? Maybe invent Elite Darts with a Velcro tip? That would make for a very interesting sport I believe.

Camarillo 2012 HvsZ Event
MLD: With the new internals and fly-wheel tech we are seeing right now in the Elite range, what do you feel is the next evolution to blasters?
Basic Nerf: Haha aren't you the one who went to London Toy Fair 2013? You should be able to answer this for us, not me. But on a more serious note, it's a bit tough to answer that since the N-Strike Elite line isn't even a year old yet. I can only assume that the ranges will continue to get pushed up and they'll keep designing bigger and higher capacity mags and clips. But for the moment, I'm enjoying the Elite line and it's blasters right now.
MLD: I loved your video helping Nerf fans how to prepare for a battle or HvZ game in a loadout and gear - what kind of accessories support would you like to see from Hasbro Nerf? How would these impact on your game/the people you play with?
Basic Nerf: I think more kinds of stocks and sights would be good. I almost feel like theres a shortage of stocks in Nerf right now. I really like, and still use, the Raider stocks. The last USA retail blasters were the Praxis and Reteliator I believe, but I'm not really a fan of those. In my opinion it would make people more comfortable with their blasters, and thus make people perform better in games.
Also we're still waiting for that Elite pinpoint sight to come over to the States. The original was not only cool looking, but it had some use as well. I think that theres a market of Nerf people who want to make their blaster look cool, or maybe even cosplay with the added accessories on their blaster. I don't think sights would make people automatically aim better, since Nerf darts aren't the most accurate things. But in a similar way to the stocks, it would make people more comfortable with their blasters, and thus make people perform better in games.
Camarillo 2012 Winter HvsZ
MLD: You're still experimenting with the GoPro dualcams, but for anyone who is looking to start filming games, what advice can you give? Any errors you made at the start that would help others avoid making?
Basic Nerf: If your using the GoPro camera, I highly recommend recording your Nerf games at 1080p aka medium view, especially outdoors. It gives a more zoomed in look then the Wide view of 720p. This allows you to see the action more clearly. Also in post production, you'll be able to keep more quality then if you zoom in then with 720p.
As of this interview, 60fps viewing is still not available on Youtube. Videos uploaded at 60 fps get downgraded to 30 fps anyway, so you might as well just spit your final product out at 30 fps.
In low lighting, the less fps you capture at, the better lighting your video you should have.
If you don't have a head cam or helmet cam, you could always try mounting a digital camera to your blaster or putting one up on a tripod somewhere when you play.
MLD: When will we see "Basic Nerf or Nothin' " tshirts?
Basic Nerf: Mmm thats a good question. I wanted to start making some merchandise in 2011, but things came up and I honestly forgot about it until you asked. I would have to say someday, but not anytime in the foreseeable future. (MLD: If any fan has ideas for designs get in touch with Basic Nerf!)
Prepped for the onslaught! Camarillo HvsZ
Quick-fire round:
Fav soft drink?
Basic Nerf: Root Beet!

Dialling a takeaway what you choosing? Chinese / Sushi / Pizza / Curry / Subway
Basic Nerf: It's gotta be pizza!
Rock, Paper, Scissor?
Basic Nerf: I like rock. I used to collect them as a kid. And as a side note, this game is a very easy way to match up teams to start off Nerf games. Just pair people together with similar blasters or loadouts, and have them play this game. Winners go on one side, losers on the other, feel free to edit the teams as you see fit after that. But you can start playing much faster from here.
Slam-Fire, Flywheel or N-Force?
Basic Nerf: Flywheels. I like the sound they make and I also like the fact they you can mostly use them with one hand and not have to worry about pumping or re-priming something each time.

I want to thank Basic Nerf for his time and sharing with fans an insight into his thoughts and passion for Nerf . I hope budding cam stars got some valuable tips for recording their foam battles and HvsZ'ers learnt a thing or two :)

Credit and permissions for photos used in this article given by Basic Nerf.


  1. No wonder he hasnt posted a vid for a while, you've captured him and been interrogating him all weekend! Hope u got all his inside info too :-)

    On a totally seperate note, I saw a good deal on a hail fire in sainsburys, £21. I frequent, but not a member of any forums so thought id give a heads up here.

  2. I must admit, being compared to Al Pacino is quite flattering. Thanks for the opportunity to do this interview!