Playing with toy guns was something that always appealed to us boys when we were young. We loved pretending to be badass heroes like in the movies, or just acting like a Power Ranger.
So like most boys, Alex loves playing with Nerf blasters. But the difference is that he managed to take it up a notch while he was studying for a Diploma.
No, he wasn’t pursuing a Diploma in Nerf gun engineering, but he played with the toy guns with friends and gained enough interest to learn about customising them on YouTube.
He thought of the blasters as nothing but toys at first; something you just get off Toys“R”Us to play with for fun. Then, he discovered third party modification parts online, and was subsequently introduced to a local community of people who shared the same enthusiasm in blasters.
From then on, sh*t got real. Alex realised that this hobby was anything but for kids; the modified blasters were powerful and way more complicated, and the foam darts can cause actual pain when you’re hit.
Soon enough, Alex’s skills and mind became more advanced, and he didn’t want to just purchase the standard parts from other people online anymore. He wanted to push the boundaries of what he could achieve with his “toys”.
Hence, about three years ago, he got himself a 3D printer for his birthday. What an extravagant birthday gift it was, but that printer allowed him to design and experiment with different parts, and they were parts that actually worked on the blasters.
He used a computer program to design the parts, and then through trial and error, discovered what was best for the blasters.
Other local players found out about Alex’s modifications, and they started contacting him to ask if he could print parts for them. That was basically the start of a small business on his Facebook page, called Zaurko Blaster Mods.
He used to ace the subject of Design and Technology in secondary school, and that passion certainly carried over to the growth of his hobby and career. He dreamed of being designer, but his dad wanted him to study finance in a local university.
Reluctantly, he enrolled in a finance and accountancy course; but that did not stop him from continuing to design and roll out shiny new modification parts. Lucky for him, his talents would soon be recognised.
Local toy blasters manufacturing company, Jet Blasters, reached out to Alex with the intention of hiring him as the company’s product designer. Of course, he joined. Who wouldn’t take up a dream job to do something you love? Forget about that finance course.
So now at Jet Blasters, Alex is still working on his first blaster with the company, and I guess he can’t wait to see how the final product will perform. But in the meantime, look at all the cool blasters he already has to keep him occupied.
During my visit to his company, I played with both the standard Nerf guns and Alex’s modified version. Even for someone like me who isn’t very informed about these blasters, I could see and feel a significant difference.
This Iron-Man inspired Nerf Longshot blaster was able to send darts piercing through cardboard boxes. It even has a scope attached to it, giving off a Call-of-Duty vibe.
The spring in that blaster was really tight, and it required a ton of strength to even pump it and get it ready to fire. That’s why the foam darts could fly so far and hit so hard.
Not to mention, the paint job on these blasters look really sick. Alex showed me a carbon painted blaster, and I never wanted to own a Nerf gun so bad in my life.
Even if you don’t care about the performance upgrades, I think the aesthetics upgrade alone is enough to make people want to modify their blasters.
The most basic modifications to get the blaster up and running for local community play will cost you about S$250 to S$350. Don’t even think about bringing an off-the-shelf Nerf gun from a toy store to play in these community matches; you will get owned really badly.
So what does Alex think of this hobby in Singapore? He feels like it’s growing steadily and a lot more people are trying to get into the scene. That can only mean good news for him and his company.
With such a strong passion for what he’s doing, Alex can probably contribute a lot more to the community of blaster enthusiasts. So if you ever only thought of this as a game for kids, think again.