In many ways, the proliferation of the Call of Duty generation is just an extension of ye olde Cops and Robbers, traditionally played with cap guns, rubber bands, or NERF darts. The Tech 4 Kids company is trying to bring kids' games full circle with Tek Recon, a series of toy guns. What makes these toys unique is the video game-style smartphone HUD, enabled with a docked phone and an Android or iOS app. The Tek Recon Kickstarter campaign started this morning, and it looks like it won't have any trouble meeting the reasonable $50,000 goal.
Tek Recon functions well enough as a toy gun alone. The plastic pistol and rifle look like cartoony versions of video game guns, and use a pump action mechanism to load and cock a small rubber ring into place. The company claims that the tension of the ring makes it shoot faster and farther than traditional spring or air-powered darts, while remaining basically harmless. Their smaller size allows for a greater ammo capacity (the Havok rifle holds 90 rounds) and hopefully cheaper refills.
The magic starts when you slide an Android phone or iPhone into the plastic dock. Before the game begins, you can log in to the Tek Recon servers to track your game modes, teams, and stats. At the moment the company is testing team battle, free for all, and capture the flag, complete with QR code "flags" that need to be scanned to be captured. Your progress is monitored and stored, just like an online FPS game.
What's more interesting is that once they're in place, the smartphones become a combination scope and heads-up display. The phone screen will display your remaining ammo and provide the requisite "pew-pew" and "rat-a-tat-tat" sound effects. Players can zoom and activate "night vision" and "heat seeker" filters, or engage in some team chat. Tec Recon claims that the Command app can also track enemies and teammates on radar, though exactly how hasn't been shown - I'm guessing GPS.
LaptopMag had a look at an earlier version of Tek Recon at the International Toy Fair.
Tek Recon is aiming for an August release, which might actually be viable - they've been working on the project for two years, making the rounds at various toy fairs. The Kickstarter campaign claims that the money will be used for plastic molds, app development, and promotion. The rewards are pretty good, too: $25 gets you a single Hammerhead pistol and 15 rounds of ammo. Bump it up to $40, and you get the Havok rifle and 36 rounds, plus a reserved username for the game servers. $50 gets two pistols, 40 rounds, a QR flag, and a couple of targets. $70 includes four pistols, 60 rounds, two flags, and four targets.
Limited-edition paint jobs for single rifles and pistols are available at $100, $200, and $250, but the best deal by far is the $375 Envoy pack. It includes 20 pistols in two team colors, 300 rounds, and 20 targets. That works out to just under $20 per gun, and you could equip an entire dorm floor of procrastinating college students. More extravagant backers can op for a custom-painted Havok Rifle, a reserved slot at the launch party, a trip to E3, or a spot in the toy commercial.
Kickstarter projects have a tendency to implode, or at least severely under-deliver, which is why they're rarely featured on Android Police these days. But Tek Recon looks like a unique product in the final stages of development, so we've got not real problem highlighting it - especially since the backer rewards are reasonable, and likely to be cheaper than the retail toys. Even so, caveat emptor: let the backer beware.