Saturday 7 February 2015

Toy Fair 2015 - Your Questions Answered

A few weeks prior to the London Toy Fair, we asked the community for questions. Questions that we would then ask the Hasbro UK representatives and attempt to get them answered. Not only does this give everybody an opportunity to get involved and find out a little more, but it also buys us some time with Hasbro and makes it seem like we're not just there to play with toys (I don't think we fool anyone).

Saturday 24 January 2015

NERF MEGA Magnus - Orange Trigger vs. Grey

Ever since the MEGA Magnus was announced, I knew I wanted one. I had a feeling that even on it's worst day, it would be the first useable blaster to come out of the MEGA range and actually have a use in game.

The keen eyed among you will know that we were the first to announce the MEGA Magnus' UK release date on our Facebook page. But with that came the sad confirmation that Europe would receive the grey trigger variant that we all feared.

In this article we will discuss the differences between the orange and grey triggers and scientifically determine how much of a difference there actually is.

Warning. Science Content!

EDIT: I should explain at this point, this article was written well over a year ago, just after the release of the Magnus. For some reason that is beyond me I never actually got around to publishing it.

Since the Orange vs. grey debate has popped up once again, I thought I'd share my investigations.

For those of you that don't know, some territories (mainly Europe and Australasia) have laws that specifically limit the energy transferred by projectiles for toys. The specifics of these rules are still unclear but it suffices to say that the MEGA blasters enjoyed in the US are too powerful to comply with these guidelines, hence, the MEGA blasters sold here in Europe are 'dialled back' and are noticeably wimpier than those found in the States. That is what is meant when people refer to 'varients' of NERF blasters such as the Magnus. The US version (the more powerful one) will have an orange trigger and the European one will have a grey trigger.

But what exactly is the difference between the two?

The obvious hypothesis would be that the grey trigger blasters will have a weaker spring. This would tone it down enough to conform to the guidelines, but keep manufacturing costs down. Let's face it, if Hasbro had to completely redesign a blaster to conform to one set of rules, they simply wouldn't release the blaster in that territory.

Let's Get Down to it.

Well, in hand the prime on the orange trigger MEGA Magnus is noticeably heavier yet there is no obvious difference in performance. I played with them both for a bit and I couldn't really see much difference in the way the darts flew. The orange version seemed to have a bit more 'punch' but I couldn't really see that effecting range.

Opening the blasters up, I noticed that the breech for the EU Magnus is also grey. I did a few measurements but I can't see any obvious differences between the two breeches. I feel that there must be a reason for the grey breech otherwise they wouldn't bother. My guess is that the grey Magnus has a weaker AR spring along with the weaker main spring. Without butchering the breech I can't really know for sure.

Removing the spring is pretty easy but it is soooooo much longer than I was expecting. This spring is way longer than anything I have seen in a NERF blaster before. At 168mm it's even longer than a Longshot spring.

In comparison, there is very little visible difference between the two springs. They are pretty much the same length, they have the same number of coils but crucially there is a 0.1mm difference in the wire thickness. Can this really make that much difference? Can it?

Now for the science bit. Grab your lab coat, we're going in.

So what is spring rate and how do we measure it? Spring rate, (otherwise known as constant) is the change in the force that a spring exerts, divided by it's length. Or, put simply, the amount of weight needed to compress a spring by a certain length.

The simple way to calculate the rate of the Magnus spring is to set up some simple apparatus and take some simple measurements. We need to know the free length for the spring (168mm in this case), we need an object of known mass and a ruler (or rule if you want to be all sciency).

The method is simple, apply the mass to the spring, measure the compressed length, do some maths. Below is a picture of the rig I built to apply the mass to the spring. I basically used a length of PVC with a heavy object attached to the end.

Now we simply measure the compressed length of the spring. Do this for both springs and record the result. If the orange trigger version IS stronger, theoretically it should be harder to compress and so the compressed length will be greater.

Now for the maths part. I had to trawl through all of my old engineering texts to find the answer to this. It's been a while since I used formulae.

By inverting Hooke's law, we can find the spring constants using the data we have just collected.
k = spring constant, F = weight of the object, L free = free length, L def = compressed length

Throw in all of our data and we get the following results:

Orange Trigger = 333 N/m
Grey Trigger = 257 N/m

There you have it. The orange trigger Magnus has a spring that is 23% stronger than that of the grey trigger version. That is a very significant amount.

But what does that mean in real life?

We gave both of our Magnus' (or is that Magni?) to Foam Data Services for some more science. Tom ran them over his chronograph to give us a real idea of how big a difference there is between the two.

After firing 30 darts out of each blaster, we can take an average from the test and compare the results.

Orange Trigger = 71 fps
Grey Trigger = 60 fps

So there you have it, grey triggers suck, orange triggers rock.

K'Nex K-Force

K’nex. You’ve most likely heard of them.

They’ve been a company selling their trademark sticks and connectors in a variety of forms for 20 years. And recently, they’ve decided to go into blaster technology with their K-Force lineup for 2015.

I had the opportunity to talk to their team at London Toyfair, an extremely enjoyable experience that has landed them in my good books.

Monday 19 January 2015

Official Announcement - MEGA Rotofury

Last week we got wind that a big announcement was due this week ahead of the UK Toy Fair which UK NERF will be attending on Thursday.

If I'm honest I was a little sceptical, assuming that it would be official news about one of the N-Strike pistols that are coming out of the woodwork.

Fortunately, I was wrong!