Getting to the future (without a Delorean)
2013 is turning out to be a fantastic year for Foxhound! We just hit the 2 year mark last month and have made well over 1000 regular people into spies for a day. We have also had some very successful promotions and large group events, which is to say, there is plenty of pavement behind us and lots more to come up ahead!
What all this really means is that the equipment, especially the laser tag guns that have been the workhorse for all of our missions for the last two years, have started to show their age. We’ve had emitters go out, indicator LED’s quit, reload mechanisms stop functioning, trigger switches fail, and scope adaptors break. To top it all off, the Phoenix LTX guns we have been using were phased out last year and supplies of replacements are dwindling. So it’s time to move on to another system that will be able to take us 2-3 years down the road. Obviously there aren’t many options that are available to us to go forward. We can find and adapt an existing off-the-shelf system or we could develop our own. The latter is a bit out of our R&D price range (until Shoot The Moon has a Groupon promo), so we started looking at the former. We tried out most of the existing (and extinct!) systems out there but my background in the toy industry helped to finalize the decision that we would use the new LTAR system produced by Hasbro (owing in no large part to the backwards compatibility and hosted game functionality).
Once the decision was made, we started to look at how we could change the shape of the gun to camouflage it for use in urban environments. Over the years, we’ve found that having participants running around with a gun tends to make bystanders nervous, as well as making the participants a bit hesitant to engage each other for fear that onlookers would freak out (even if they were futuristic looking and colored “its-just-a-toy” yellow). We currently hide the LTX guns in a satchel that has been modified to blend in with the urban San Francisco backdrop, but there are limitations and we still tend to get strange looks once in a while.
Wanting to get away from the satchel style, we looked at several non-gun designs that would avoid the familiar & paranoia inducing gunplay posture before arriving at the final design.
We’re basically are going to be going with a binocular style unit with all the LTAR internals. We’re adding a Picatinny rail (to mount the red dot sight) and a camera accessory mount (for equipment such as a shoulder strap).
We’re also planning for the future by adding a removable smartphone cradle (similar to the LTAR) but it won’t be used immediately since we’re not buying 12 smartphones anytime soon. Even if we did buy 12 smartphones, we’d develop our own app to be used exclusively for Jericho San Francisco operations. (Which will be a Kickstarter type of affair coming sometime before the end of the year)
We still have a ways to go. The CAD jockey that cranked out the beautiful renders you see here also is finishing the details so we can do a limited production run of 20-30 pieces. We’re molding these because 3D printing parts this large would cost about $500 per unit (unless you know someone you want to connect me with)
I hope to have a molding prototype by the end of the summer and begin production sometime in the fall. I’ll be sure to keep you posted as we go down the road into the future!