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A new approach for the Manta Ray...

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#1 Falcon

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 08:32 PM

I'll start this simply with a question:

I know this is going to be an "against-the-grain" approach to ping-pong, so just bear with me. When playing Ping-Pong, which is easier to hit the ball with? Holding a pair of paddles awkwardly like this?
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Or holding it in one of various more traditional ways, like this?
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The answer is obvious (or should be...) The latter grip on the paddle is one of the several standard methods for holding a paddle because it makes the most sense in regard to the easiest way to connect the paddle with the ball. The paddle functions as an extension of the arm/hand, rather than a bulk on the side of the hand. If you were holding two paddles like the first photo, it'd be harder to move your hand to the side of the ball to get the paddle to connect. Now, for those of you who are ping-pong junkies, don't get on my case. I know there are plenty more reasons for why we hold our paddles the way we do...don't get technical with me.

Most of you probably see where this is going.

When holding a normal Manta Ray, you're essentially holding a pair of oversized, oblong ping-pong paddles similarly to the first photo. Over the past number of months since I began using a Manta as part of my secondary war setup, I noticed that I was blocking a lot of the faster and closer shots with my hand itself, rather than with the manta shield. Blocking with your hand hurts. More importantly, blocking with your hand means you're hit. Not cool. After some thought, I reasoned that when a person only has a split second to react to something flying at them, their hand will line up directly with where their eye leads, rather than taking the time to line up something outside the body with the target, as is the case with the Manta.

So today, we're going to remedy this a bit. There are tons of ways you can do this, but this is what I settled on. It's based loosely off of something very similar I jokingly flirted with the idea of over a year ago, but decided that half of a manta on my crossbow was just gh3y. Now it's a workable integration that allows me to block the way I've always wanted to, because it's an extension of the hand and arm, rather than an addition to it.

So for starters, I took one of my manta shells, and bent it over backwards and then some with my handy dandy campstove. A heat gun would ultimately be better because it won't leave scorch marks, but this was quicker, and I don't have a heat gun. I have no patience and was ultimately painting it anyway, so I dove in with the stove, and it worked.

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I formed it around a specific gun which it seems to have been made for, but you don't have to follow my form exactly.

Once you have it appropriately formed, with the curves on the sides how you want them etc., you should have a pretty good idea of how you want to attach it to whatever gun you're doing this on. It's probably obvious where the connection should go. Personally, I wanted to make mine removable, so I epoxied and zip-tied a piece of Lexan with velcro on it into the space where the join would be. It took two pieces like this to ultimately give me the structural support I needed, but I nailed it down soon enough.

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(NOTE: If you do a velcro attachment to make the manta removable, zipties are a MUST. No epoxy, JB Weld, Fishin' Glue...NOTHING holds on when pulling apart velcro. I've ripped JB Weld in half with velcro. Use both, and it'll hold.)

At this point, it's technically ready to go. Fully functional, and pretty damned awesome looking, if I may say so myself. On a quadded Splitfire it might look awkward, but in reality it's almost TOO perfect. Pumping is simple...turn it on its side, and the manta never touches my pumping arm. Same for rotating the barrels. A gun hit is virtually impossible now, and my barrels are almost impervious to getting dinged/dented by a stefan.

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As you can see, the shell extends out around the bulk of the gun, encasing it in the shield. It's just one big paddle that shoots. Makes blocking multiple shots in rapid succession a breeze, if you use it right, yet it doesn't weigh things down all that much. You just have to be careful to keep from banging it against trees/buildings/etc. too much, or the wings may snap off. That's another benefit of the velcro; chances are, the Velcro will give out and let go of the manta before it snaps.

And then, of course, I'm not one these days for something that doesn't look like it belongs, so I gave it my signature paint job, and it fits right in with the rest of the crew.

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^Complete side-to-side barrel coverage. The only part of the gun that can be hit that isn't shielded (other than being hit from above), is where your hand goes. But we don't block with our hand anymore, do we? If used right, the problem is solved, and it's damned sexy.

So in the future, though it isn't made to be installed on my turreted splitfire while the SF's on the crossbow, the Scimitar attachment will be a frequently used option in my day-to-day arsenal. At this point, my SF is as capable of standing on its own as a primary during a round as my crossbow is.

It's adaptable for other guns, but I wouldn't suggest something so large as a crossbow or other rifle-sized primary/sidearm. You have to be able to move it quickly to block, so I could see this being effective on anything from 2k's to DTG's, etc. The SF just screamed for it.

Hope you enjoyed.

-Falcon

Edited by Falcon, 22 August 2008 - 02:41 AM.

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#2 Split

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 08:39 PM

I love it. I've noticed the same flaws as you have. A heat gun can leave scorch marks too if not used carefully.

Would it be better moved back further where it would block your hand, or no? With the whole little thing you were talking about lining up your hand, it would seem logical.
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#3 Draconis

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 08:41 PM

Huh. I was completely baffled until the last pic. I suppose the real question is, how well does it perform? Certainly, we know that the Split fire performs well. But with the added mass, is it ungainly? What about as a shield? By bending it, you have certainly decreased the effective shield area.

It looks pretty awesome, though. I like it!
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#4 One Man Clan

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 08:46 PM

Bonus points for the first mod using FIRE.

I can't believe I'm complementing you, but that's pretty kick ass. Just not crazy about the turrets, but that's what you west coasters do.
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#5 Darth Gram Gram

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 08:55 PM

That looks really good. I have to agree with Splitlip though, I would think that blocking shots would be easier if it covered your hand.

Even so, it's pretty awesome.
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I'm actually really excited about these. These may be small but I think they will be very useful when I use my ninja skills.



#6 Kid Flash

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 08:57 PM

When I saw those 2 ping pong images on my screen and reading a bit I seriously thought you were going to combing 2 of them to use one handle and then put a nerf gun on them... I like the gun though!
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#7 Lt Stefan

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 08:57 PM

Very nice I love the paint, and it's a great idea.
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#8 Norther of Heaven

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 09:12 PM

Amazing..amazing work. I only wish that more guns were meant to be used as shields so we could have more mods that involve them.
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#9 Falcon

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 09:48 PM

I can't believe I'm complementing you, but that's pretty kick ass.

It's okay, I won't tell anyone...your secret is safe with me.

As for the turrets...I'll admit, I'm the only one on this coast who has an unhealthy obsession with them. Heck, I'm the only one dumb enough to put one on any and every gun I see. But I appreciate the obvious (if reluctant *chuckles*) compliment nonetheless!

For those of you wondering about moving the manta back to cover the hand...the problem with that is that then the barrels wouldn't be covered on the front end, so they'd be more likely to get hit. In addition to that, there's the problem of the back of the manta shell sticking out over your arm, which could/would get annoying. Lastly, when playing ping-pong or tennis, your hand isn't covered by the paddle/racket, yet you never hit your hand. Why? Because the target area for contact is FURTHER from your hand. If we were to partially cover the hand with the shell, it'd be bringing the darts we're blocking closer to our arm, which leaves a smaller margin of error.

Edited by Falcon, 21 August 2008 - 09:51 PM.

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#10 raw shrimp

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 09:50 PM

And i thought it was hard to get a hit on you before, now it'll be even harder....oh well.
That's pretty cool though, and seeing how well you used that splitfire, it seems as though you will be untouchable. Seems...
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#11 Cannonball

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 10:47 PM

It's definitely different, in a good way. I've never complimented you on your use of velcro Falcon. Right on.
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#12 Falcon

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 04:29 AM

I've never complimented you on your use of velcro Falcon. Right on.

I'm still waiting for it to catch on (no pun intended). If it's good enough for NASA, it's good enough for Nerf, right?

In the last 3 months alone I've found more nerf-related uses for velcro than foam, it seems. The stuff is just plain awesome. Now whatever bastard who's gonna invent silent velcro needs to hurry the hell up so I can swap all of mine out for the as-of-yet-nonexistent quiet stuff.

EDIT: Okay, so sue me. I questioned that last statement for a moment, googled it, and according to Wikipedia, it exists but is still of military-only manufacture. If anyone knows anything about mainstream silent/noiseless/quiet velcro, let me know.

Edited by Falcon, 22 August 2008 - 04:33 AM.

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#13 imaseoulman

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 09:44 AM

Definitely pretty. What kind of velcro do you use? Is there some sort of specs I should look for for similar applications?
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#14 VACC

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 11:39 AM

Deffinately an interesting take on the manta-shield. My only concern is a general one, and it is really more of topic for discussion than a commentary on the mod itself. Last year I decided to fuck around and strap a mantaray shield to one of my LNL's. I used it in maybe 2 or three wars before detaching it. Now, I honestly never felt that it gave me an advantage, fair or otherwise, as I find it so much easier and more efficient to dodge as opposed to waiting for the dart (in fact, I found myself conciously NOT dodging just so I would have the opportunity to block with the shield). And yet, despite the lack of advantage taken, I felt the use of the mantaray shell on anything aside from a mantaray itself was contradictory to the bet interest of nerf. You see, the ray has always been the only legal shield in all of nerfdom, and when you divorce the blaster from the shield, it ceases to be the same weapon. Now you can just slap a shield on anything you want. Hell, why not cover your primary in shields, or make a mantaray breastplate? I just think it is a slippery slope. I mean, I wouldn't have a problem with this gun at one of my wars, but what doors does that open for other projects? Do we make rules for consecutive manta shells, or the placement of them on certain weapons? I really don't know.

It's just something to think about.
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#15 Falcon

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 11:41 AM

If you go to Wal*Mart or Target, the stuff I use is sold in yellow packages in strips. Pretty much any velcro will work, but it really should be "industrial strength." The key to making it work is to have a large enough surface area of velcro so that the connection is solid, without making it too large. Too much velcro, and pulling the guns apart becomes a challenge. That's how I ripped off JB Welded pieces of Lexan in the past. Drillng some holes and zip-tying the pieces together over the epoxy solved the problem, but it was still a chore to pull them apart, making it hard to use effectively on the run.

EDIT: VACC makes a good point. I can't speak for most of what he said really (like he stated...it's open for discussion) but I CAN say that our general rule on the west coast is that a manta shield only counts as a shield if it is still a functioning gun as well. You can't carrry a manta that doesn't have the plunger assembly intact, for example. Like Death did when he was at Geddon 05, you don't have to ever shoot it, but the gun has to BE a gun, and have the capability to shoot to count as a shield. That being said, Body armor isn't okay because it's not a gun. At one point, a fellow clan member's manta broke, so it was no logner a gun, so we fudged by duct taping an SSPB to it. I wouldn't count that anymore, really, because you could make body armor with SSPB's taped to them. It has to be a VIABLE gun that is an integral part of the manta, and taping an SSPB randomly on the side of a manta shell isn't a usable option.

This rule analysis gives us room for integrations on the Manta, such as Sicklefin and Arachnaphobia. On this coast, the scimitar attachment is legal simply because the process has only been reversed; I integrated a manta into a gun rather than a gun into a manta. But not everyone may feel the same way. If you look at the way I'm using the attachment and compare it, it's essentially an up-to-date, attractively curvaceous version of Meow Mix's classic manta integration that older veteran nerfers have probably seen in their past lives before the general consensus of the NIC was that Duct Tape wasn't quite as cool for integrations anymore:
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Mine simply has one trigger and one pump for both turrets, and is in a smaller overall package. The fact that it is held differenty from a manta may be an issue, but I think VACC's biggest concern is simply where we draw the line with what you can put a manta shell on.

As far as effectiveness in blocking/dodging is concerned, I agree. One of the problems I've found when I whip out a manta is that I no longer dodge. I only think to block, and so when I miss, I get hit. There's little room for error when blocking. It's a long-term goal of mine to fuse the two together, so that I'm dodging more than I'm blocking. Time permitting, the eventual goal would be to be able to deal with more than one angle of incoming fire at once, because all too often we find ourselves dodging one dart, straight into the path of another. A manta user in my opinion, SHOULD be dodging more than blocking, and using the shield as a means for handling additional incoming fire WHILE dodging.

*Discuss*

EDITED EDIT:
I decided I had one more bit of input to throw in before I call it a day for awhile. In regards to where the line is drawn, it is all of course up to whoever is running the war at hand (yes, you heard me. Go to a war.) The line may be a little vague, but I'd like to set a bit of a standard that I'd personally like to see maintained.

When Baghead put his work out on the forums for his economical homemade manta shells, he set some limits. He stated that there has to be a fireable mechanism as a part of the shell for it to count as a shield, but he also set some boundaries about size. His manta shells have grown somewhat, starting with the construction of Sicklefin, due exclusively to his need to cover the increased size of the guns contained. Put simply, two standard splitfires just don't fit under one stock manta shell. But he was very clear that oversized manta shells need boundaries or they cease to be legal. A tasteful enlargement is acceptable, but only to a point. In fact, if you search, you can find that he specified maximum dimensions for those shells.

In the same way, I'd like to make a request regarding the Scimitar concept. I won't let my ego assume that any of you are crazy enough to actually replicate this, but in the event that you do, I want to set some guidelines so the integrity of a manta is at least somewhat maintained.

In the case of this thread's use of the concept, the manta's dual firing concept is maintained at least somewhat. The original intent of a manta's firing mechanism being that of a shotgun spread, ideally, should be kept intact when moving shells to foreign guns. At least two barrels, if not more.

Secondly, not necessarily to maintain the Manta Ray's integrity, but certainly its reputation, I want to address a somewhat recent example of what is, in my opinion, not okay.

Some of you may remember a dear friend of ours who is no longer with us. This is NOT a time to bash him; this is simply a time to learn from him.

Exhibit A:
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Some of you might see this gun, look at this thread, and come up with a workable version of the aforementioned crossbow's less-than-ideal setup.

Exhibit B: (note...no crossbow was harmed in the taking of this photograph. No permanent attachment was made.)
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This is NOT okay. It is cumbersome (ignoring the fact that my crossbow's already laden with excess plastic like a tank) and unwieldy, and will make blocking with the manta virtually impossible. If you make a scimitar setup on anything, I'm going to have to ask that it NOT be like this. Not just the general firing concept, but also the basic SIZE of the manta should be maintained. Long barrels sticking out the front are okay, large stocks sticking out the back...not so much. THAT destroys the manta's purpose as a viable shield, and will never be legal at my wars. I won't speak for the rest of those who host, but I'd like to request that you not defile my little project of curiosity by mounting it on the top of a rifle of any kind. I built it to take the place of my crossbow atop my splitfire as an alternate, smaller and faster setup. NOT as an addition.

Damn I need to touch up that paintjob sometime...

*sigh* End of rant.

Edited by Falcon, 23 August 2008 - 01:16 AM.

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#16 VACC

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 02:30 PM

Personally, I don't see the point in mandating two barrels, and I would never allow a homemade shield of ANY kind in a war I was organizing. This illustrates the problem with a "standard" internet ruling on such a thing.

In a perfect world we could create a ruleset that would maintain the spirit of the mantaray universaly accross all modfications thereof. This is not that world. Each war organizer can make this decision on their own. I cannot endorse the creation of any rule to be applied accross all nerf wars, let alone a complicated and somewhat arbitrary one. If you want to use the scimitar and no one has a problem with it, than go for it dude, but you can't really expect everyone to come to an agreement on this.
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#17 Langley

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 04:15 PM

If I were hosting a war--and thank god I'm not--I would have to say you can use a manta as long as you haven't increased the surface area or profile of the thing, and as long as you've got no more than one per hand. You've actually decreased the profile, so I would be totally cool with it.

Here's my thought on a homemade manta: If you could pass your homemade manta off as a real one, and it satisfies the aforementioned profile/surface area rule, then go ahead. I don't like to see people miss out because they can't find/afford a discontinued gun. It isn't fair to the newbs.

I've considered an 'Intentional gun-block rule' where you're allowed to block any darts that are coming from someone in front of you with the side of your springer pistol. Obviously, if you turned the gun sideways, you must be trying to block with it, so it's most likely intentional. If someone on your left hits the left side of your gun while you're aiming it, that wouldn't count.

Falcon, I think the crossbow is a bit large and unwieldy for a pingpong paddle.

Edited by Langley, 22 August 2008 - 04:16 PM.

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#18 Split

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 04:58 PM

Sorry to continue the semi-off-topic part of this thread, but I have to know. I feel that the best way to use the Manta is vertically, as if the stock barrels were pointed to the sky. I saw Derek (correct me if this name is wrong) doing this constantly at Apoc, and I do this all the time at my local wars when I use my manta. If one were to say, attach a manta to the front of say, a crossbow in the aforementioned manner, would you deem that legal? How about if it didn't shoot (because if it did still shoot, no one would ever use it to shoot anyway)?

It would act just like a SWAT shield in my opinion. Great for close quarters combat, and frees up the other hand. I am currently working on this project, and will use it at any war that allows me to really. What do you guys think? Is this a legal use, or no? These things aren't cheap now-a-days. :P

Edit: I do also feel that wielding the blaster with the stock barrels pointed inwards is a very comfortable way to use that, and I do agree with Falcon's conjectures about the ping pong paddle grip for the most part.

Double edit: That's seoulman. No, I am not putting it on a crossbow, but a "long-range" blaster. Basically a big gun, not a pistol. But what do you think? If it just the manta shell and no barrels or anything on the front of the blaster, where no hands were holding it on, it would be cool? I'd interested in what Vacc, Langley and others have to say on this.

Edited by Splitlip, 22 August 2008 - 06:02 PM.

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Teehee.

#19 imaseoulman

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 05:33 PM

The rules I generally enforce at my wars:
Mantas cannot be "worn;" they must be part of a blaster or held in the hand.
I don't mind if they carry one around that has no blaster on it, as long as it is being held in the hand and not strapped to an arm/leg/chest etc.

That was pretty much it. As long as the shield was directly attached to a blaster or held in hand, I had no issues. I think it's ridiculous to attach it to a crossbow, but I wouldn't ban it...just like I wouldn't ban a maverick (though I think they're completely useless)

I don't allow homemade shields of any kind. Bags' sicklefin would have been really pushing the limits, but I probably would have let it slide because the change in size doesn't seem to help performance much. If it seemed to block better than a normal manta, we'd ban it.

If somebody made a homemade manta shield the EXACT dimensions of a regular manta, I'd probably be okay with it (to make it fair to those who can't find/afford a manta), but I don't like it.

So to sum it up, if it's in a hand or on a blaster, I don't care...I just think some setups are better than others.
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#20 Falcon

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 06:39 PM

Falcon, I think the crossbow is a bit large and unwieldy for a pingpong paddle.

*Chuckle* I seriously hope you don't think I actually intended to try using it like that...forgive me if I misinterpreted sarcasm.

This thread cracks me up. It seems like I can't post a mod these days without it becoming an ethical discussion about what's Kosher in the hobby. Good times! Not gonna lie...I kinda miss the days when the response was "Hey, that's cool!" or "What are the ranges?", etc. etc.

Don't get me wrong...I enjoy a healthy discussion so long as this doesn't deteriorate into a debate. I just can't help but laugh. When I posted my crossbow, a short discussion ensued regarding what was really necessary, etc. Now we're discussing the finer points of what exactly constitutes a Manta Ray in various regions and frankly...I just can't stop laughing.

Carry on! Healthy discussion all around!

Edited by Falcon, 22 August 2008 - 06:44 PM.

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#21 Lynx

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 08:02 PM

I much rather dodge a dart or get hit when I deserved to be hit than spend the $20+ or the X hours of work to make a manta.

But I could make one out of a shower curtain liner over top a piece of precisely cut cardboard. That wouldn't be legal though...

Edited by Lynx, 22 August 2008 - 08:03 PM.

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#22 Oni Kadaki

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 12:26 AM

Eh, I don't see what the big deal with homemade shields is. They're a pain in the ass, for sure, but you can adapt to them. I've had opponents in my university form a phalanx (spanning from wall to wall) with mavericks and huge cardboard shields, completely impenetrable from the front when not attempting to fire and/or move. We ended up winning because my teammates went outside and circled around while I was posted up at a corner with my recon, keeping their heads down and slowing them down a great deal.

In conclusion, shields are annoying, and can be incredibly effective in the hands of a well orchestrated team. But they are also bulky, and take up at least one valuable hand. As such, though I personally don't use them, I don't mind when opponents do.
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#23 Aimless

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 12:36 AM

I find matches where shields, homemade or not, more interesting as it opens up more tactics and enables the use of heavy weapons that are impractical in more mobile fighting. Also, nothing is more satisfying than circling around opponents that are too confident in their shields and spraying them down with automatics. The occasional Rambo-esque full-auto rampages are fun too.
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#24 Falcon

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Posted 23 August 2008 - 01:12 AM

I'm rather enjoying this discussion...

Eh, I don't see what the big deal with homemade shields is. They're a pain in the ass, for sure, but you can adapt to them. I've had opponents in my university form a phalanx (spanning from wall to wall) with mavericks and huge cardboard shields, completely impenetrable from the front when not attempting to fire and/or move.

Sounds like you guys have loads of fun!

The main reason most people have problems with homemade shields (especially the large, roman/tower/riot shield/cardboard type) is that they're not actual nerf products, and they tend to produce boring, drawn-out stalemates and standoffs. I personally think shields like that have their place, but not at your typical large-scale open invite outdoor war. Indoors, they can make outmaneuvering your opponents via alternate entrances/exits etc. a critical part of the game, as you essentially stated, and I think that's a ton of fun. It's a compltely different style of play from what we all traditionally know and love, but it shakes things up a LOT. A lot of that tactical nonsense some people put into and on their guns suddenly makes sense. I just haven't had an opportunity for something like that since I was...umm...

*thinks hard for a few minutes*

...about twelve. Wow. I haven't actually Nerfed indoors in eight years.

Bags, if you're reading this...

Edited by Falcon, 23 August 2008 - 01:17 AM.

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