Buzz Bee Water Warriors Losing Market Share?

Discussions of all varieties of stock water guns and water blasters.
marauder
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Re: Buzz Bee Water Warriors Losing Market Share?

Post by marauder » Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:36 am

Duxburian wrote:Hasbro has basically thrown in the towel and is not interested in producing water guns. This is the time to kick them when they're down and take their market share. BBT appears to still be just sitting there and chugging along, content with the tiny sliver they have.
I agree with this to some extent, but if you look at the new zombie watergun series it does look like they put some thought into what kids would like. I plan on doing some youtube reviews on them soon. They are definitely a step up from last year, which I think was the lowest we've been yet. Of course, it still pails in comparison to BBT, which I plan on showing in my videos; but they do look really cool...


Duxburian wrote:I still argue that the market never really tanked like everyone says it has, all the people just moved to Nerf or started with Nerf. Kids not wanting to play with toy guns outside does not explain the explosive growth in the NIC, a force so large that it now directly impacts Hasbro's business decisions and the blasters they put out. Heck, the NIC is so large that it supports multiple competing companies that sell nothing but upgrade kits and parts for a limited handful of Hasbro blasters (and not even the good ones). Meanwhile, Hasbro puts out HUGE blasters that take up crazy shelf space, they put up HUGE price points approaching 3 figures, they break all the "rules" of modern toy retail. I really don't see the difference between 2015 Nerf and late 90s water guns. Same types of people, same market. They just want Nerf instead of water guns, because all the money is focused on developing that property.
Spot on.
Ben wrote:I think part of the problem is that it's not precisely clear what Buzz Bee is doing (This is more or less the point marauder made in the OP). Maybe they dedicate a lot of time to trying make better blasters, but we don't see that they spent half their latest board meeting discussing that. We don't know what they do on a daily basis. Products in stores and social media are our only lines of communication with Buzz Bee.
Also spot on.
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isoaker
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Re: Buzz Bee Water Warriors Losing Market Share?

Post by isoaker » Fri Feb 20, 2015 12:51 pm

marauder wrote:
Ben wrote:I think part of the problem is that it's not precisely clear what Buzz Bee is doing (This is more or less the point marauder made in the OP). Maybe they dedicate a lot of time to trying make better blasters, but we don't see that they spent half their latest board meeting discussing that. We don't know what they do on a daily basis. Products in stores and social media are our only lines of communication with Buzz Bee.
Also spot on.
If, after all this time, members feel the above is true, nothing else I say matters.

As I noted in my earlier post:
However, because of this, I've generally reduced my activity here to avoid being jaded or caught up defending effort while outcomes remain sub-optimal. No number of reasons why things are as is would be accepted and I don't blame members for feeling that way. Only tangible results will do.
:cool:
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marauder
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Re: Buzz Bee Water Warriors Losing Market Share?

Post by marauder » Fri Feb 20, 2015 3:10 pm

I think you're reading negativity here where there isn't any. This was expected, and we aren't disappointed because it was expected. We are just stating the facts in regards to performance.
isoaker wrote:The download from an early March meeting.
How close are we to getting something the community would find somewhat useful again? That's a tough question. To be conservative, I'd put it at being 2-3 years away.
^Well, that's a bit promising. Maybe 2016 then.
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Re: Buzz Bee Water Warriors Losing Market Share?

Post by DX » Fri Feb 20, 2015 5:21 pm

I agree with this to some extent, but if you look at the new zombie watergun series it does look like they put some thought into what kids would like.
The Zombie line was a move to capitalize on the popularity of HvZ, a decidedly Nerf game, and it's aimed at those types of players. I've never heard of anyone allowing water guns at any HvZ event, ever. So why would they brand water guns under Zombiestrike if nobody who buys Zombiestrike has any use for water guns!? That doesn't make sense, I don't think they put much thought into that other than marketing. The Zombiestrike brand must be outselling the Nerf Super Soaker brand, plain and simple. That would imply minimal effort put into those soakers, but we'll see when we are able to acquire some.

I think most of the BBT heat is about what they could be doing better within the current limitations. It's not about us demanding huge CPS right now. There's clearly enough room in the design space for a quality XP 270 or XP 150 style soaker. The Col 2's pressure chamber and pump are too small. It would be easier to design new at this point. Look at how little there actually *is* in an XP 150. I almost think that it's tougher to build a Colossus 2 than a modern 150. Look at how little there is in an XBZ - BBT clearly knows how to design powerful things, using minimal parts, in small packages, for cheap. Their fragile trigger plate setups are kind of a head scratcher as well, when they have the wildly successful and unbreakable lever trigger design available from their 2nd gen 4Bs, Zerkers, UMBs, etc. Might I also mention that the reluctance to build larger *pressure* pumps also makes no sense with the XBZ out? The XBZ has a sizeable pump! If it were a water pump, it would move volume comparable to a CPS 1000, I'd estimate it around 30mL. BBT makes things with big pumps! Why can't they make water guns with big pumps? Clearly, kids are willing to pump up XBZs, they have way more resistance than BBT's recent water guns, and it's just air resistance. I'm so confused as to why things can't be done when they are being done.

I kNOW that BBT is a small company, I know they have limited resources, but sometimes it feels like the limits only apply to them. Tek Recon put big blasters on shelves! They came out of nowhere, from Kickstarter. That's the definition of a small company with literally no resources! Swimways put CPS 2100-sized blasters on shelves, yes that's a larger company, but they never made water guns before. BoomCo/Mattel put big blasters on shelves, yes that's a larger company too, but they never made dart blasters before. The Maya Group came out of nowhere and put HUGE blasters on shelves. Tek Recon, BoomCo, and Maya Group made entirely new product types, not quite Nerf and not quite water. That's a hell of a risk for any retailer to take on. But, they did it, and they don't appear to be constrained by price point, shelf space, or power limits.

BBT is so much going for it. Nobody likes their small dart springers other than, say Double Shots (the secondary market reflects this quite well), but BBT's air guns are second to none. 4Bs, UMBs, MMs, Panthers, XBZs, Berserkers, SSGLs, Range Masters, Air Max, goddamn BBT is king. If they were willing to go back to a bit larger sizing (4Bs vs AM1s), they could just sweep into the NIC and shut out Hasbro once and for all. There's one thing you never see at a Nerf war (NIC style) anymore: Nerf guns. Everyone uses homemade springers and BBT air guns. More air gun offerings with more power (keeping them all missile blasters helps them get away with it) would keep it that way.

If BBT were willing to start releasing large springers, they could displace homemades and make inroads into core Hasbro territory like SAMBO, stock, and HvZ wars. Larger springers can do this where BBT's mag-fed, small springers, and pistols have failed. BBT is not going to win a magazine or flywheel duel with Hasbro. But, BBT can design turret blasters with large springs that can compete. A blaster with an 18 shot turret and a beefy spring could go toe to toe with any Hasbro flywheeler. Turrets keep them out of legal trouble, are easy to produce, pretty simple vs mag-fed systems, and can offer the same kind of capacity that 10, 12, 18 round mags do. Once you get people as opinionated as HvZers into a product war, blaster A vs blaster B, you're in, you're entrenched. BBT already has experience with these kinds of blasters. A less ugly Berserker with no hood, a better pistol grip, a butt stock, a tactical rail, and a huge spring plunger tube instead of an air gun would do the trick for a flagship product.

They don't need to be complicated, there's ways to save costs everywhere. A PAS basically uses 2" PVC as its plunger tube and has very simple internals. These things sell. PAS were only available online and they were constantly sold out. They are now worth well more than they retailed for, a NIB PAS can go for over $150. That's a ringing endorsement of a blaster's value to people! Triple Shots sell well, I don't know how well, but enough that they come in multiple variants and are still in stores. RFSGs also had enough demand that they are worth more than they retailed for.

BBT could then generate real hype on social media with its Hasbro-killing blasters that are simpler, cheaper to make, and cost less to buy. Then, you have Hasbro looking like a bloated giant and playing defense deep in its own territory. Ask David, you don't slay Goliaths with resources, you slay them with strategy. You don't fan out and try to compete everywhere when you have severely less resources than the competition. You double down on your strengths and when you can compete, you go where you can offer something different, but just as effective. Models like the Hunter and the other mag fed ones offer something different, and less effective. Same goes for the pistols, anything with "Tek" in its name is the butt of many jokes on-field. But, what BBT did well is no laughing matter. Gorgons really dish it out and 4Bs make even hardened veterans run away.

I bring withering criticism at times, but it's intended to help. I've never wanted a company to succeed as badly as I want BBT to, and am so powerless. Yes, they do outreach, but it's so infrequent. The traditional, top-down model of manufacturer to consumer is rapidly eroding, even Hasbro knows this and has transformed their outreach as a result. Consumers no longer want purely transactional relationships, they want to know what's going on and to interact whenever possible, to help wherever possible. When it came out that BBT doesn't attend toy fairs because their retail partners don't attend, well that said it all right there. Hasbro goes even if there is nothing to be gained other than blogger info sessions. Hasbro built a social empire and it probably costs them very little.

When I joked on FB about how news on what BBT's team eats for lunch would be fascinating, I wasn't kidding. Getting any information from them that isn't purely transactional is difficult and we basically only have iSoaker for that. They obviously do care and I know it from the free soakers for the league, Big Bee coming on the forum directly and asking questions, the water war handbook, iSoaker's meetings with the team, etc. They are probably also very busy people. But, why wouldn't you interact with your hardcore customer base more often and expand your reach to find more of them? The NIC alone can purchase well more than 30,000 units of something, they can clear out a leaked release from every Target in America in a matter of days.

The water war community is still too small to impact anything *BUT* several of us are prominent crossover members now. The game's changing, we have consumer, social, and field influence that extends beyond the old borders. I think 2015 and 2016 in particular are going to be very interesting years.
marauder wrote:You have to explain things in terms that kids will understand, like videogames^ That's how I got Sam to stop using piston pumpers

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Re: Buzz Bee Water Warriors Losing Market Share?

Post by HBWW » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:55 pm

^ Nitpicking at a few things, I don't think mags are a legal issue so much as they are a cost and marketing issue. Hasbro themselves have mentioned in interviews the problems with separate components and having to have additional SKU's for mags. Having everything self contained seems to be the cheapest on cost, although since they're Hasbro, it doesn't really matter. You can't really get into patent wars with most of this stuff though. BBT themselves has a history of using mags around the same time as Hasbro; look at the RF Tek for example. Perhaps the real issue is with using flat-head darts; something similar to the Streamline or Elite, but as long as it doesn't even remotely resemble Nerf's look, I can't see it causing patent wars. Then again, Hasbro has a much larger legal team and has pulled all sorts of shit.

BBT's efforts at flywheels have been mediocre at best, but after seeing the Stryfe, it's really not that difficult to get a proper flywheel setup together. Those things sell for SAMBO class and are hugely popular to mod.

Anyway, good insights. I never considered the pumps too far. No look at BBT's current situation is complete without assessing what's happening in the Nerf area. Of course, this isn't telling the full picture, and I'm not sure the thrift store leftovers give a good picture either.

In fact, I'd argue that no one seems to have a complete picture of what's going on. Not the enthusiasts, definitely not the bloggers, and not BBT's marketing team themselves. I wouldn't say Hasbro does either, but they definitely have a crack-shot of a marketing team, and they clearly understand not only that they have to sell to demographics outside of young kids, but know how to do so as well. But no one wins at the rockets game than BBT; even when disregarding NIC style mods, BBT provides by far the best rocket launching products. Problem is, the XBZ is extremely difficult to find and is still not accompanied by separate rocket refill packs (they have to be ordered by SNAIL MAIL - seriously, it's 2015...), so perhaps they're not selling that well. Rockets in general don't sell that well, but BBT has a huge patent advantage going for them: Hasbro can't used pressurized tech anymore after Lonnie Johnson won a lawsuit against them. Funny how that works; they supposedly have the CPS patent but it's completely deadlocked right now!

tl;dr: Generally disregard what both companies are doing. Mod/build shit (when you have time at least) and go to wars. BBT and Hasbro are equipment/part suppliers as far as the enthusiast community is concerned. We can't do much with BBT's soakers, without an overhaul in how we build homemades. Once that happens, their blasters MIGHT be good for shells and other parts to feed into superior water weapon platforms. Nerfers do this sort of stuff all the time, and it's an approach that could work for us too since it's difficult to build frames and shells for homemades anyway.

Maybe I need to jump back to this hobby more seriously. Nerf projects have kinda taken over my workshop operations at the moment. Without people doing stuff, nothing happens and I've only been a part of that problem so far. WWN website revamp is dead in the water. No content is in the pipeline and nothing's really going on.

*sigh*
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SSCBen
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Re: Buzz Bee Water Warriors Losing Market Share?

Post by SSCBen » Sat Feb 21, 2015 1:59 pm

isoaker wrote:If, after all this time, members feel the above is true, nothing else I say matters.
I don't think it's fair to fault me for something which I was not aware of. The manufacturing issues are real, and it's useful to see ones different than what I expected highlighted. But, as you said, tangible results will be most convincing.

A few days ago I received training for the CNC mill at my local Makerspace. Eventually I'll start using this for nozzle projects, and other things. Given this and my other abilities, I'm somewhat insulated from current market conditions (if I can make my own that's better than anything else, no problem for me), though the extent by which the market influences people to join the hobby or not is still very relevant to me.

Here's another idea about what BBT can do right now if the market will improve in the future: invest in technology research. I'd be happy to offer suggestions to improve their performance based on my understanding of the relevant physics and (increasing) collection of experimental data on nozzles and trajectories (I could share much of the data and papers; some of what I have is proprietary, though). If they develop a new technology that's not usable right now but could be a game changer later, that would be a better outcome.

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