There’s one thing that Nerf keeps trying to do that I don’t think I’ll ever understand, and that’s attaching cameras to their blasters. They tried it with the Battlescout and that was no good, but that was hardly their first attempt at this particular gimmick. That one also suffered because the blaster itself was pretty crap, but what if they had tried using an actually decent mechanism as a starting point. Well, in that case, you end up with the Cam ECS-12, which I’ll be reviewing today. Let’s check it out.
THE BLASTER ITSELF
The Cam ECS-12 was released in 2014 under the core N-Strike Elite line of blasters. It was built on the old standby semi-auto flywheel mechanism we’ve seen again and again. The main draw was the integrated “battle cam” that could function more or less like a scope while also being able to take photos and record video of whatever Nerf shenanigans you might choose to get up to. With the 4 buttons just below the viewing screen, you can power the camera on and off, play/pause, skip forward, and delete files. The actual capture button is located on the left side of the blue fore-grip area so you could press it from a firing position with your thumb (or index finger for lefties). Rather wisely, the camera is run off its own entirely separate bank of AA batteries so having the cam on or off doesn’t affect the performance of the blaster at all and the two can be operated completely independently of each other. The down-side is that the camera is just the worst. It only captures images and videos in a tiny square format which matches the tiny square screen on the back end. Videos also capture sound using a built in microphone which, as you can probably imagine, sounds horrendous should you do something stupid like rev up the flywheels ever. The video feed to the screen always shows which format (photo/video) the camera is set to and how much capacity is left on the SD card as well as a square crosshairs reticle for aiming, I guess. None of these actually get recorded onto any photos or videos, so that’s nice at least. Turning the camera on, you are greeted by a Nerf logo on screen and a bizarre series of sound effects which I really can’t understand what they’re suppose to be. If you don’t touch any of the camera controls for about 5 mins, the blaster will start beeping and you’ll see a countdown from 10 on the screen, at the end of which, the whole thing explodes. I mean, the camera auto shuts off, but you still have to hear that beeping so it might as well. The slot for the SD card is on the forward left side of the “scope” and comes with a 4GB card already installed. There was also originally a big orange shade on my blaster above the viewing screen, but It’s not really necessary and I found it flopped around and annoyed me so I took it off. That’s probably enough about the bad camera, let’s end on a positive note. The shell of the blaster is all original and boy does it look good. Sure the barrel is kinda long and that slightly reduces its performance, but it just looks so sleek. In all honesty, if Nerf tweaked the shell to get rid of the camera, and by extension drop the price substantially, I would buy another one of these in a heartbeat. Some Nerf designs, while cool and I love them, can feel weird and goofy in hand. This feels like a rifle, and I like it a lot. It definitely gives it a more aggressive feel without being cartoonish and as long as you don’t intend to actually record anything, the video “scope” can make you feel like some sort of high-tech Halo-esque cool guy when you bust into your younger sibling’s room with it. The Cam ECS-12 comes packaged with a 12 round magazine, 12 Elite darts, and the 4GB SD card. The blaster takes 4 AA batteries to run and the camera takes another 4.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
This blaster got everyone super excited when Nerf first showed it off because, let’s be honest, it just looks cool. The thing is, people got very unexcited when they saw the $75 price tag. As such, hardly anyone bought one. I managed to grab mine on a Black Friday sale for much less than MSRP, but I don’t know that looks and feel alone would have made me shell out that much money. All this just makes their later attempt with the Battlescout all the more baffling.