Five or six years ago a coworker invited me to go play basketball with some guys he knew. I hadn't played basketball in a while, but it sounded like the other guys hadn't either, so I decided to go. My coworker lasted just one day of basketball, but I ended up playing with these guys that I didn't really know for a couple of years. One of these guys, Pat, lives near me. He develops games for consoles, which is right down my alley, so we've become friends over the years.
In addition to developing games, Pat is quite the entrepreneur. He's the guy behind the Razorba back shaver (laugh all you will, but he's sold a ton of them) which I put up on BBspot, but it's not really a geek product. A few months ago, he told me about a new product he was developing. It was a laser-guided office missile launcher. I thought that this was definitely a product I could get behind.
Pat was kind enough to give me one (OK, not really that kind since he wanted me to put a review on BBspot, but he is a nice guy and a sharp dresser) to test out.
The Striker II is substantial. It's solid. It doesn't feel like it will fall apart at the slightest touch like most toys. The launcher comes with three foam missiles . You can take off the foam missiles and just launch the plastic inserts, but be careful cause they're hard and they hurt (trust me on that one).
Now, laser-guided is a bit of a marketing weasel. There's a laser (a powerful one too, so don't look at it directly) on the device, but this isn't a smart bomb. It does give you an idea of the general direction you're launching.
Striker II comes with two interfaces. The full version with 3-D GUI and sound effects and a basic version without all the bells and whistles. There's not much to say about the lite version of the interface, so I'll concentrate on the 3-D version.
On the GUI interface you can set various Defcon levels, set off the klaxon, blast the siren and even turn on a countdown. On-screen levers move as you rotate the launcher around and the fire button depresses when you set off a missile. When you press fire one of the missiles in the 3D window launches as well as the physical missile on your launcher. The USB communication only works one way so sometimes the GUI can get out of sync. It automatically reloads the on-screen missiles, but it doesn't know if you've reloaded your physical launcher. That's a bit disappointing, but not all that important.
I only have one Striker II, but Pat tells me you can connect as many launchers as you have USB ports. I can just see the news story now about some office worker barricading himself with a bunch of USB hubs and missile launchers. "We're on lock down!"
This isn't my set up, but it's much more impressive: Five launchers in action.
I'm not a programmer, but if you are an API has been made available to mod or hack your device. I did a bit of hacking myself, but of the physical kind. I modified my missiles to maximize distance. I'm going to ask Pat for some more missiles so I can do some more prototyping. I've also considered taking the launcher apart to see if I can put in a more powerful spring. Since I work in the basement alone, I have to launch the missiles really far to hit anybody.
Conclusion on Toy: It's a solid toy and a lot of fun to shoot off the missiles. I can imagine it would be even more fun with coworkers to shoot at.