People really, really like to record themselves shooting things. Do a quick web search on "gun camera mount," and you'll find a huge range of companies selling frames that will let you get a gun's-eye view of your hunt. The same thing holds true for the much more innocuous Nerf blaster. Instructions for making your own Nerf camera mount are all over YouTube, and the company itself sells an inexpensive iPhone attachment. Neither of these options, however, is quite as slick as the Nerf Cam ECS-12 Blaster's tiny built-in microphone and camera, which we got a chance to try out at New York's Toy Fair.
You're not going to take quality pictures or video with the 0.3-megapixel ECS-12. You're just not, especially when compared to an iPhone or GoPro. What you will get is charmingly grainy footage straight out of a 1970s action movie, recorded to a no-nonsense SD card. I spent the previous night getting shot down in Titanfall, and the little recordings were like a less embarrassing version of the replays that showed me just how I failed to see my killer.
The blaster isn't coming out until fall of this year, so we saw a prototype with some obvious flaws. Hasbro's toy-repair team needed to tweak it before it would start for the first time, and the interface is still a mixed bag. A record button on the barrel is highly convenient, even if I kept hitting it by reflex and accidentally truncating my videos. The rest of the interface, though, is controlled by four buttons that don't yet have labels — and definitely aren't intuitive enough to go without them.
The Nerf Cam is the kind of thing I would have spent hours making terrible movies on as a child, even if I'm not sure my parents would have been on board with the roughly $80 price tag. Even now, watching the camera swing around the room in recorded footage reminds me of a time when my imaginary firefights weren't confined to a screen. I'm almost certainly not going back to those days, but I can't say I'm not tempted.
Photographs by Dante D'Orazio. Video by Zach Goldstein.