Thursday, 21 March 2013

Pocket fulla foam - head fulla Nerf (NSFW)

"A man who could make so vile a pun would not scruple to pick a Pocket."
(The Gentleman's Magazine, 1781)

Okokok guilty as charged with the pun business.

But I like it, it keeps things funny, fresh and funky.


Godfather Michael Corleone
This interview is a great honour for me to have done. An inspiration for the blog I run, and a fuel of the passion that drives the work I do today.

Having spent a deal of time speaking to and joking around with on Skype, I coin this guy as the one and only Blogfather of the NIC - whom I follow and support religiously as a Nerf fan myself.

Few people in the NIC have a presence, and personality to boot. From fun loving articles, humorous finds, to much longed Rant(s) of the day.
"Some critics consider Michael Corleone to be a tragic hero"
A wise man once said:
"nothing worthwhile was meant to be easy"
- and how true this is. This is all coming together indeed to be more and more fitting. Having weathered scrapes as a newcomer to the Nerf Internet Community scene, to unfortunate bouts with Hasbro itself. This Blogfather much to his credit remains strong and plucky as ever. Much respect and love goes out to all those that stood by him in trying times, and nothing but shame on those that put the boot in to scrape what hits they could at his misfortune.

Who's laughing now?

It is with much pleasure that I present to you a behind the scenes catch up with the NICS most prominent and leading bloggers today. . . .

Urban Taggers   Pocket Esq.


MyLastDart: Please can you please introduce yourself and where you're from, for Nerf fans that are not already aware of the awesome work you do?
UrbanTaggers: I'm known as Pocket, and I run a lil' blog called Urban Taggers and have done so since mid 2010. I'm from a small town called Canberra, which is actually the capital city of Australia- not that many people outside of Australia know this:)


MLD: Did you get up to much to celebrate Australia Day?
UT: Australia Day - to be honest I had to do the very un-Australian thing and worked all day:P



MLD: I have to ask this - Where did the idea for all the UT Girls come from?
UT: I'd love to say there was some deep social commentary associated with it, but really it was just me having some friends who suggested it'd be really fun to do a Nerf gun photoshoot. The tac vests and baggy pants became the uniform and I started getting approached by other girls who thought they'd give it a go too. Regardless of the comments I received about how it was sexist and degrading, those photos were viewed and downloaded thousands of times worldwide. I had some dudes do photos too in the same outfits and noone questioned them but they didn't get nearly as much traffic as the girls did. I think I stuck pics of attractive girls around the blog because.. well I like girls:) 

MLD: How did you get in to Nerf and can you remember your very first blaster?
UT: I've actually had several introductions into the world of Nerf- as a kid my cousin got his hands on the Nerf Bow and Arrow (I still remember the cheesy TV ad jingle), Nerf slingshot and so I saved up my pocket money and bought the Nerf NB1 Missile blaster. None of these three weapons were really very effective in any type of battle but they were a lot of fun. Several years later in the mid 90s I picked up a Nerf Powerclip DX-1000 which was AWESOME.. but never really did much else with it.  
As far as what got me seriously into it and in turn blogging, in 2008 I picked up a Nerf Eliminator kit which came with 4 single shot blasters (these days called 'Eliminators but they're basically pre cursors to the Reflex IX-1). The idea was they were supposed to be used in a sort of "Assassin" style game which I brought to work one day and placed each blaster in an envelope and left them randomly on people's desks.  BUT.. it didn't quite work out that way and everyone just turfed their orders and turned it into free for all office battle. After a short time we lost all the darts, so went and bought a bag of sucker darts and pretty much from there on it was office Nerf battles every day till we started picking up Nitefinders and one of the single shot Dart Tag blasters. I was the first one to introduce the Maverick to the mix (it was like an arms race!) and then from there on things got serious!
MLD: Can you tell fans which blaster currently sits proudly on top of your fireplace?
UT: Every few months I have a "coffee table blaster" which is my favourite blaster of choice that sits there waiting for visitors to come over and pick up. ATM it is a Nerf N-Strike Elite Stryfe equipped with a Blue pinpoint sight, Retaliator front grip and a green Firefly 18round clip. On my actual book cases, I have a variety of custom painted blasters- a Lazer Tag Phoenix LTX and Nerf Vortex Vigilon courtesy of my good friend Brian from Johnson Arms, and gorgeous custom painted Lazer Tag Augmented Reality tagger from my brother in law Dan.
Pocket rocking Nerf Fire Vision frames - rumoured to rock them in nightclubs

MLD: So what's Pocket Esq. all about - and how did the nickname come about?
UT: Pocket was my nickname given to me by a teacher back when I was in University. Some people say it's because I am short and 'Pocket sized' or when it was on my old car (an Evo IX) it was because I was a "Pocket Rocket" but the true meaning.. well that's just something anyone who knows me well enough knows why:D It's ok, it's nothing rude or anything:P
MLD: So this leads to me ask what's the story being Urban Taggers - you've been in the NIC for quite some time now?
UT: At the time, there wasn't that much of a Nerf presence in Australia. It was literally only found in a few toy stores and probably took up about 3 shelves max, and even then the range was very limited. I used to read SGNerf a lot and see all the cool gear that was available overseas that never came here; and I was pretty frustrated that OFFICIALLY these blasters didn't exist because they weren't listed on the Nerf Australia website. Sooo I started doing some furious googling and started to order blasters from overseas and have them shipped over. This was a ridiculously expensive exercise, but I thought worth it but thought if I was going to do it, I thought it'd be good to review them and let others know whether it was worthwhile for them to do it too or not. 
The original idea I had was this thing called "Bruce the Nerf Arms dealer" where I was ordering in multiple units and selling them at no profit to others, and the idea of having a blog was more to promote the blasters I was bringing in. In the end logistically it became too much of a pain in the butt, but the blog pretty much stayed and grew from there. I was doing a project detailing the benefits of social media and how one could build a brand and a readership by using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a blog, and so that was the approach I took. It worked out pretty well in the end:)
MLD: What is your current arsenal like?
UT: Wow, current arsenal... I couldn't take a pic to be honest, I tried a few years back and it was pretty much my whole living area of my apartment. Lets say I'm a completionist, so I pretty much have everything available in the modern Nerf era including all of the repaints and variations, often multiple units too. I also collect other blasters too of the Airzone, X-Shot, Buzzbee, Launch N Attack, Max Force etc, and Urban Taggers is about all toy blaster types so I have a pretty comprehensive collection of Super Soaker and Water Warriors gear, as well as a lot of laser tag gear too (Lazer Tag, LightStrike and Battle Tag gear). It's pretty insane. I'm nuts.
The Big Bad Bow or Nerf Rebelle Heartbreaker?

MLD: How do you go about choosing a new blaster? Does it have to match a certain style? are there certain requirements it has to meet?
UT: I buy everything, so if it's new and available and I don't have it, I'll get it. That being said, as far as choosing MY own personal favs, it's very much on aesthetics mostly. There has to be an element of roleplay-ability to it, and I've noticed I tend to be drawn to blasters with either a pump action or a compact/nuggety sub machine gun look about it. I like to customise them too, so lots of tactical rails and ability to change them around is also appealing:)
MLD: How do new blasters Hasbro release impact on your gameplay? Is there any area currently lacking in your opinion?
UT: I tend to just buy everything that comes out so all that really happens when a new thing comes out is I assess it against my personal playing style, which is impromptu casual indoor apartment warfare:) 
I was about to say they probably need to revisit bows again, but that sounds like it's already happening. I am surprised they hadn't gotten into things like proximity defence devices (like some of that Spynet gear) or basically more accessories and attachments for the blasters themselves. I'd probably like to see something really crazy and novel like secondary barrel attachments like laser sights, shot gun or 'grenade' attachments- I think that'd be a lot of fun. Maybe like something that'd shoot 3 darts at the same time- that's serve as a shotgun for sure:) Or maybe some sort of tracking tokens you could attach to your blaster and then use a smart phone app to track them (but not attach the phone to the blaster) so it would be more like those trackers in Aliens. And they really need an N-Force morning star or Nunchuks. Man I want foam Nunchuks:P

MLD: Of all the NIC games types you have played - do you have a favorite scenario?
UT: I don't actually play organised games, much to the frustration of my good friend Neil who organised so many of them! One of the things I don't like is being able to stand just far enough to not be hit by your opponents and just stare at them; I therefore tend to really enjoy indoor close quarters stealth battles where you are required to sneak around a whole lot more and take cover constantly. I think it's why to be honest laser tag was always my preferred blaster format of choice.
MLD: Have you ever played a HvZ game? How was it? If so can you help paint the picture for anyone who has never tried HvZ?
UT: I actually never have. Again, much to the frustration of Neil:P I did play a Nerf version of Assassin over the space of 4hrs and it was ridiculously stressful but in a good way:P 
MLD: Can you tell fans what your loadout consists of? Why have you chosen what you have? Please give examples of x y z where the options you chose saved your tush.
UT: I never shoot from the hip, always line up my shots so my blasters of choice always have a pinpoint sight attached. My very first "fav" blaster was the Raider, then replaced by the Alpha Trooper which was also always equipped with the Spectre foldable stock. I've always been a big fan of this stock, so it pretty much gets used on all of my blasters- mostly compacted but comes out when I have the time to take a shot from while in hiding. 
I'm also a big fan of the Vortex Pyragon, which I have kitted with a painted black Pinpoint sight and black Raider stock and 20 round clip- it also has a Sly Dev tactical rail added to the side and a black recon tactical light attached.  The Stryfe with the Retaliator front grip, Pinpoint sight and 12 round clip is my CURRENT blaster of choice- sometimes with the Spectre stock attached but the yellow and blue clash too much for me:)
Mobility is everything for me, so I don't like drums, and I don't like carrying to much gear on me as I am prone to doing random commando rolls and slides all over the shop:P  I never carry a "secondary" other than perhaps a couple of Jolts.

MLD: What is your opinion of knock-off blasters? Good? Bad? Or plain Ugly? ( - Why?)
UT: I really don't mind knock off blasters- imitation is the best form of flattery, right? The knockoffs are rarely comparable and definitely never mistaken for the real thing, so I think they're more a bit of fun more than anything else really.
MLD: What can fans expect from Urban Taggers in 2013?
UT: I've had a bootload of ideas brewing for ages on where I want to take UT, but I have to admit I've got increasingly more things going on in my non-Nerf world that unfortunately take up my time and consume any spare moment I have. The Nerf world is quite a bit different from the way it used to be when I first started out- information's a lot easier to come by and I'd like to think we've all been a part of making it as such over the past few years, so these days its less about getting the big scoop and more about getting back to the base roots of having fun with it all!
MLD: Which path do you see next gen Nerf blasters going down? Where would YOU like to see them evolve?
UT: From my take, given I am more about indoors apartment style battles, the extra power wasn't necessary but I understand we were the minority so I can see why the blasters are becoming more and more powerful. I'm always more interested in quirkiness and innovation; I like to see new designed blasters that are based on more of a sci-fi feel, so more Halo/Mass Effect and less COD in styling. I'd love to see much more customisation and therefore a bootload more attachments that can allow a kid to really trick his blaster out his way. As I also cover water guns, I'd love for Hasbro to get back to the Super Soakers of the 90s and stop releasing the current schlock that cheapens and essentially ruins the Super Soaker name.

MLD: Now you're a Graphic Designer right? Is that a career you saw yourself doing from the start? What inspires your work?
UT: I WAS a professional graphic designer in a former life, but these days I am a User Behaviour consultant who also specialises in social media. I came from a communication/advertising background which is what I studied at uni but was also very much into toys and cartoons so I still draw a lot and tinker with Photoshop. I've also always been a creative lad so was into story telling- writing, drawing, the arts like music and dance but I joke I was sick the day every kid did the "how to be a grown up" class so I still believe I see the world the same way I did when I was 12 (and dress accordingly!)  As a kid I wanted to do a lot of things- I think my dream job was and always will be to design toys. Or women's bikinis :P 
MLD: Not many fans will know this, but you are bit of a fashionista - is this something you would ever pursue as a blog?
UT: Haha maybe one day. I studied Fashion for a bit and also have always been pretty passionate about that sorta thing.. maybe- we'll see:D
MLD: You're a pretty slick looking guy - Any chance we will ever see you on MTV as a presenter?
Bahhaah. I talk too fast and I mumble. And I'm a lil too old and a lil too weird for that sorta thing:P
MLD: Will fans see any YouTube reviews or perhaps your own "In Bed with Pocket" podcast?
UT: I have to be honest- I hate seeing myself on video:P

MLD: The Urban Taggers blog is a household name in the NIC - is it as easy as it looks?
UT: Well that is very nice of you to say that:) I wouldn't say it's HARD per se, but it's not something you can do and expect everyone to read overnight. I put a lot of hours into the blog and it wasn't a business, it was something I love and was passionate about. I think it's the same as everything in life- if you've got heart, you can achieve anything really. 
MLD: What challenges have you experienced to date with your blog and how have you overcome them? I can certainly say I have been met with some mixed reception. Has it been an easy ride for you?
UT: My dad used to always tell me "nothing worthwhile was meant to be easy" and oh wow does that ring true:) If you're gonna do anything worth while that hits the public eye, there's always going to be those with conflicting opinions, and some of them can be pretty vocal and nasty. I do my best to not censor any of the comments written on the blog, but some of the correspondence can be pretty brutal and you do wonder "where is this utter hate coming from?" That being said, it's the nice stuff that makes it all worth while and when you know what you're doing is actually helpful and appreciated by the majority of your readers- well that keeps it all chuggin' along. Obviously there was the infamous "Pinpoint sight" incident last year where things went pretty nuts on a crazy misunderstanding and that was pretty stressful, but in a way I actually think it changed the way the Nerf world works with Hasbro being more active in engaging their fans worldwide. It sounds ridiculously cliche but what does help you get over that sort of stuff are your readers; the ones who are loyal and take the time to write you to say thanks or that they appreciate your work. It's believing in yourself that you know you're not a malicious evil person just wanting to share your hobby with others.
And... well there's my family who are always very protective and take good care of me:) It helps to have a family full of very capable formidable lawyers. It's something I always consider in my mind when dealing with people online- you never know what someone's background is or whom they've got on their side so it's best to be nice to everyone and treat one another with respect:)
Anyone know what bike this is? - wait there's a bike?

MLD: Now I took inspiration from your good self and Basic Nerf to start up what I have today - For anyone thinking of starting a blog what tips and advice would you give?
UT: Choose an angle. Sure, you love Nerf, but what sets you apart from everyone else? I get dozens of would be Nerf bloggers write me regularly asking to affiliate with UT, but I ask what does that actually mean? What do you bring to the table that offers readers something they're not already getting? It might be as simple as just your own unique perspective. Also try to see other blogs as your kin, not you competition. To date there are no real 'professional' Nerf blogs out there- we're all just everyday folk loving the same hobby, so don't get narky and bitchy towards one another. Have faith in your own work and what you write and stop worrying about the others. And finally.. write a lot. Even I get swamped and can't post regularly, and trust me, the traffic/figures show what happens when I don't. If you want to blog, understand that if you're not posting multiple times a week if not daily, you have to accept readers will go elsewhere. 
MLD: What do you get out of the Nerf hobby?
UT: I think the thing I got out of the Nerf hobby was being able to play with and have the toys I love without having to answer to anyone about why I was doing it, and in turn being able to get some form of recognition from the makers of the products themselves. Being contacted by Jakks Pacific, Zuru/X-Shot, Launch n Attack, WowWee- all of this was just mind blowing to say the least; One of my favourite moments was receiving the email from the designers of the Nerf Vortex Pyragon, who thanked me for my review and appreciated the work I did. I don't think it gets better than that for a hobbyist, to be recognised by the designer of the thing you love the most:) It was also sweet when I finally got to work WITH Hasbro Australia in a positive tilt after years of unintentionally being considered the thorn in their side:)
I also really appreciate all the friends I've made. Many readers might think they're just one of many, but you'd be surprised how easy it is to remember names, faces and comments from so many of you and I really look forward to reading them daily- some of you who have helped make UT what it is like my mysterious pal Jason B whom is always on top of Nerf intel worldwide, or Dave from TN whom is quite possibly the nicest man in the world and whom has done so much in regards to helping me source gear from the US. I like the motley crew of misfits I've been grateful to know over the years in this surreal hobby of ours- obviously the likes of Neil whom I'm quite close to and who together really put Canberra on the Nerf world map, and then people like Brian from Johnson Arms, Angela from Nerfenstein, Jerm, the original author of Nerf Mods & Reviews, Mike from Tactical Tag, Jason from Basic Nerf and even yourself from My Last Dart- all really good people whom I've enjoyed working with. 
No girls came from this hobby m'fraid. I probably would love to do a shout out to Stephanie Russo from Jakks Pacific, representing the first toy company who embraced the blogging community and approached me with info and samples on the Maxx Force line- something very progressive and smart for the time. And she was uber nice. I think this represents my ideal woman. If anyone can get her to go on a date with me, I'll give them my Red Longshot:P
http://www.jakks.com/

MLD: Is there any chance we will see some of your creativity hit tshirts? - where can I pick one up? Any plans for baseball caps/hoodies/socks?
UT: I do limited runs of shirts and other promo gear. I might do it again. My logo rocks and does look good on merchandise, I have no modesty on that one:P I'll think about it:) 
MLD: Do you watch The Walking Dead? Thoughts for season3? If not - what should we be watching and why?
UT: I do watch the Walking Dead, but as the joke goes- "Lots of people quarrelling- occasionally a zombie appears" sums the show up. Me personally- Spartacus is totally my show. I absolutely love it. Watch it before going to the gym. RARRRRRR.

Quick-fire round:
Fav soft drink?
UT: Really trying to cut back. Probably Rockstar Pink:P Or Irn Bru
Dialling a takeaway, what do you want?
Chinese / Sushi / Pizza / Curry / Subway
UT: Either Turkish, or Chinese Dumplings/Noodles.
Egg or chicken?
UT: Um.. Egg. 
Rock, Paper, Scissor?
UT: Rock.
First 3 tracks in your playlist right now?
UT: Right now? Florida Georgia Line's Cruise, Mark Morrison's Return of the Mack, WIlly Moon's Yeah Yeah.
Slam-Fire, Flywheel or N-Force?
UT: Slamfire.
Stranded on a desert Island, bottle with 3 wishes up - what's the plan?
UT: Enough food and water to survive for as long as I was on the island, a brilliant gorgeous witty woman to spend the time with, and a button that once pressed would transport us to wherever else we wanted to go should we get sick of hanging out on a desert island:)
Your fav Superhero in 3 words?
UT: Superman- he rocks.


Best Power Ranger ever?
UT: Never watched it. Maybe the dorky yellow one cos when she said 'Sabre toof tigaaahhh' cos she was really a he. (MLD: wth... there goes my childhood crush..)
I personally think this chick is the hottest :)

Haha got to say a massive thanks to Marty for his time, I hope you all got ot know the much loved author of Urban Taggers - if you aren't already following them on Facebook check them out and hit that 'Like' button to stay on top of Nerf news as it happens.

Before we go, here's my msPaint tribute to UT:
I give Urban Taggers full permission to use this banner - really - I insist.

Oh, something for those haters still at large - be grateful you were not named and shamed, your followers would certainly have the good words of Mr Samuel L Jackson to say to you.


 
All images used with express permission from Pocket Esq (Urban Taggers)

3 comments:

  1. Awesome interview with one of my favorite bloggers of all time.

    Also, couldn't help but make a banner when I was messing around with my camera. Feel free to use it if you wish. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8105/8577043319_314e438b3a_o.jpg

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  2. Not gonna lie, Pics of hot girls with blasters brought me to Urban Taggers while searching through Google. Then the review of the Rayven with different voltages had me sold! So keep doing what you do, you're doing the hobby a massive service. On that note, more pics of hot chicks with blasters please,thank you very much! Big up UT and MLD!!!

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  3. Good job on this interview MLD. This is probably my most favorite interview that you've done so far. Pocket gave great answers with lots of depth and experience behind them. Even though you ask some stuff that you asked a lot of people, he brought a new, almost refreshing perspective to the questions once again. You also asked him some unique, relevant questions which were also interesting to read. Keep up the good work with these!

    ReplyDelete