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2008 PSP World Cup Trade Show
Since the demise of the Paintball Industry Conference that accompanied the International Amateur Open, the Paintball World Cup trade show, has become the primary point at which many new products and brand lines are launched. Common feedback from store and field owners, large to small, milling about the trade show has been that although people are still playing paintball, and many fields are doing well, it's been a tough year for paintball stores. Reports of economic doom and gloom in the media were reflected by a World Cup trade show that seemed a bit smaller than in years past. Some of the major manufacturers didn't quite have as much space, or nearly as much new product as in previous seasons, and there were fewer small companies. Some brand lines had product shown in booths of their dealers, rather than in a booth of their own. Multiple larger manufacturers also commented quietly about timing issues, stating that they had a number of new products gearing up for 2009, but they just weren't ready to show at World Cup.
So who was showing gear at World Cup this year?
Paintball Events owner Rich Chard manned his booth to let business owners know about Paintball Extravaganza. Now in its fifth year, the Extravaganza is an industry-only trade show designed to give field and store owners time to meet with their distributors and learn about their product lines. The show has expanded to include factory certification training classes from most major marker manufacturers and an incentive program for attendance – attendees get over $1,500 in credit in their accounts with the sponsoring manufacturers (typically $100 per company.) This year the show takes place in Atlanta in the early February.
Kohn Sports, a store and field out of Riverview, Florida was showing product from Redz Internal, Pinokio and provided on-site laser engraving, as well as served as the point of operations for Techpb.com.
In a combined booth both TKND (pronounced Tanked) and Zephyr Sports had displays of their soft goods lines – new designs of paintball casual wear.
Bradenton, Florida based TalkFusion sales reps provided demonstrations of the multi-level marketed software which automates the process of sending video e-mails, and delivers them as streaming video rather than attachments, side-stepping lengthy download times and e-mail size limits.
The Paintball 2 Xtremes booth was packed with recent copies of the magazine, while editor John Amodea was on hand to meet with people and gather info.
At the Guerrilla Air booth, Dan Colby was demonstrating the Myth regulator, the company's screw-in compressed air system. For those new to the game (meaning you haven't been playing since the '80s) Dan and Howard Colby really helped put compressed air into use for paintball, with Air America as one of the two first companies to seriously market and promote the switch away from CO2 for serious paintball players. Dan demonstrated key features of the Myth, which include its compact size, a shorter fill nipple than most air systems (because it is removed by a hex wrench in its center, it doesn't need extra height for wrench flats on the outside) and an easily rebuildable design. The core components of the regulator can be removed for cleaning or replacement while the regulator is still attached to the bottle. From a safety aspect, this offers the advantage of leaving the regulator body installed in its bottle, with the factory torque and thread lockers still in place.
Next door, BeOranged had a display of their products – lightweight, low friction bolts for a variety of markers, with their trademark orange tint.
Boothless, but cruising the show was Jeff Galatin of Traumahead Sports. Traumahead Sports has been at the front line of paintball video since the 90s, with its line of VHS videos from major tournaments. These days Jeff is working on Paintball GT (Gear and Tactics,) a show that is broadcast weekly on Direct TV.
PBRack is another new casual clothing name, they had with some new styles in t-shirts and hoodies on display.
New York based Understood soft-goods showed their Gat Wrap marker bag at last year's World Cup, and it's still in production this year. More of a wrap than a bag, it wraps around the marker providing padded protection in a gear bag. Their new addition for this season is the double-wide barrel holder. A stretchy terry-cloth like material (think old-school 1980s sweat bands) firmly holds a barrel front and barrel back together, so they don't bang into each other, and protects most of their surface from banging into other things while in the Gat Wrap or a gear bag. Understood is also now producing licensed apparel for Sacramento XSV fans.
Medusa Paintball had a booth demonstrating their new Evolution 800 and 1500 loader systems (not to be confused with eVLution loaders.) The Evolution is essentially a podless paintball pack. Tubes concealed within the pack store 800 or 1500 (depending on the model) paintballs up close to the player's body in a pair of arcs from the center of the shoulders down to each hip. The 1500 round model has a pair of tubes on each side, while the 800 round model has a single tube. In the center of the lower back area, the pack has a pouch for a remtoe gas system. Rather than pulling a pod from the pack and discarding it after reloading, the Evolution user holds their marker low, so that its hopper is below the waist mounted feed port. After pulling a side a hook-and-loop safety strap, squeezing the top and bottom of the feed port opens it, allowing paint to feed into the hopper. Medusa has also announced plans to launch a new marker and camouflage pattern in 2009.
Minnesota based field and store Air Assault Paintball set up a booth to display their Super Hero Series (SHS) limited edition customized Ego markers.
Every year Trademygun.com's booth seems to get bigger, with a larger and larger display wall of used paintguns There certainly also seems to be a larger percentage of the paintball player base looking for deals on used gear, and they have definitely found a niche in brokering used paintguns.
Sly Equipment had their gear on display, most notably their dual carbon barrels. With an aluminum backpiece as their base, Sly uses parallel carbon fibers to lay up the central bore of their barrels, with a weave around the outside, resulting in a very light weight barrel. Their latest models are the Deisel barrel kits, and the 09 12K wrap barrels, which use a larger carbon fiber weave pattern on their outer layers for a larger checkered pattern look.
Welt Factory has some new paint coming, but for now they've got soft goods – with the emphasis on soft. Their graphic t-shirts are made from an extra soft fabric.
New Breed Paintball also had on-site laser engraving services, burning custom graphics straight into the anodizing of player's markers while they wait.
Paintball retail megastore would probably best describe Firstcall Paintball's booth. The online retailer set up an under-tent booth that dwarfed most brick and mortar paintball stores, with paintball equipment of all types on sale, and folks waiting in line at the check-out counter. The end section of the tent, configured for separate access from the outside with a large paintgun wall was itself as big as the space taken up by many paintball shops.
Guru Gunstands showed off their products – marker stands cut from sheet material providing easy flat storage, but quick lock-together set-up (like those wooden dinosaur skeleton models museum gift shops love to sell) for sturdy marker stands.
Ultimate Paintball brought none other than – paintballs.
Energy Paintball had their full display of their alkaline batteries targeted specifically toward paintball use.
From the NPPL to the PSP to the CFOA, Derder has been producing DVDs packed with paintball game action. Their booth had their full line, as well as their accompanying headbands and other soft goods.
KM Straps, makers of pretty much any design you can imagine woven into a goggle strap, and other soft goods and accessories, added an on-the-spot custom touch this year with an airbrush artist in their booth, ready to add an artistic flair to shirts, hats or anything else with.
Virtue's booth was full of their soft goods, and their new OLED boards. In addition to adding organic LED displays to their boards for the Shocker, MARQ, Ion and Angel (with windowed grips where needed) Virtue's got a couple of new features up their sleeve as well. Training modes in the new boards are designed to help players drill to improve their game. The Ollie Lang drill mode is one of several, and it times how fast a player can pop out and shoot after the board generates a tone. The time until the tone is random, and the drill is meant to get help players improve their pop-up and reaction time. Also on-board is a radio link, allowing the boards to activate a product they have coming soon – Virtue for the HALO.
After launching four new markers in 2008, taking their line-up to 6 production models, Smart Parts new stuff for this World Cup came in their accessory lines. Power Pak LiPo rechargeable 9-volt batteries are compatible with their full marker line and deliver 700 milliamphour charge life with either 2-battery chargers designed for players, or an 8-battery charger for field owners using the Vibe and SP-1 as rentals. The All American spiral ported barrel is now available in a more affordable single-piece version, as well as a Freak barrel kit front with mount groves giving it compatibility with BT Paintball's APEX backspin generating barrel extension. Another sign of adjusting to the current market and economy, the company now offers the Shocker Tourney board, giving SFT, NXT and Nerve owners the 5 most common tournament modes at about half the price of their Blackheart boards or similar aftermarket boards. A new as-yet-to-be named prototype of a screw compressed air regulator with stainless steel ASA was also shown to dealers.
The bold new product at the BT Paintball booth was the TM-7. Released earlier in the year, the TM-7 features a polymer body styled after H&K's newest submachinegun, the MP-7. The TM-7 combines its milsim look and integrated stock with Mini guts. The look is very complete down to the folding foregrip, and left side thumb operated select fire switch mimicking the MP-7's ambidextrous switch. The external switch gives players the ability to switch modes on the fly, during a game, without needing to look at the marker's interface or feedback LEDs. The Mini styled on-grip regulator and internal gas hoses keep the paintball parts from overwhelming the milsim look. Also new from BT is the company's merc-vest system. Molle style combat vets allow for custom placement of pockets, holsters, pod pouches and other components. The rest of the BT marker line, and their integrated loader systems were also on display.
Uber distributor KEE Action Sports display had much of the company's soft goods and accessories under their Empire branded trailer, with their most prominently displayed markers being the Mini and Dangerous Power G3.
Hater Paintball has grown beyond just their original Hater Sauce paintgun lubricant. Their booth full of paintball fashion looked like it could have been lifted out of any mall in America and dropped in at World Cup – with display windows full of mannequins. Their new Hatred board for HALO loaders offers radio linked operation with their matching circuit boards for a variety of paintguns.
Lunched in the spring of 2008 as a subsidiary of Smart Parts, DLX Technology had its World Cup Debut with the Luxe, a marker released in the spring. The DLX booth, styled after a Roman temple, offered a demo space for the DLX staff who showed their marker's features including a hoseless design and backwards compatible vertical ASA (the hoseless reg can be replaced by a standard reg) and unique voice menu system allowing the marker to be adjusted with its internal joystick in English, Spanish, French, German or Russian. Along the side of the booth, a Luxe Disassembly contest had players taking out the marker's ball detents and removing and disassembling its bolt and valve system with out tools in a race to get the shortest time. Saturday afternoon the best competitors from the week came together for the finals. The winner was Matt Stewart, who was able to to strip a Luxe valve and detents in 3.48 seconds during the finals, winning the grand prize of a new Luxe.
Sandana is definitely back. Their neck covering head-wraps and Venomwear camo patterns were top paintball fashion in the early 90s. After a bit of a hiatus they are back on the sceen, and had a full line on display.
Killa Products had their line of unique magnetically driven ball detents and custom eye covers for a wide range of markers.
Exalt is another new line of shirts and paintball attire to pop up at this year's World Cup.
Crossfire's booth had their screw-in compressed air systems that are the company's standby, with both high and low output pressure versions. They also provided information about their in-house hydrotesting and tank refinishing services. They continue to expand their line with new and less common tank sizes and shapes while still delivering a DOT certified cylinder, and offered their reg swap program at the event, where players could swap out the reg on their air system for a Crossfire reg with factory certified installation.
Patrick Spohrer of Monkey With A Gun gave a whole new meaning to paintball video when he teamed up with Bryon Benini of the Ironment to produce the documentary Push. Follow up productions including Sunday Drivers, and under the MWAG name, Cereal Killers, and Heroes For A Day have showcased the style, theming and experience that Spohrer developed in the surf and ski film industry. Now Monkey With A Gun has gone live, with a live streaming broadcast of the World Cup. Starting on Friday of the event with a free day of viewing, the Monkey With A Gun Webcast also offered the weekend, including the finals, as a pay-per-view experience. While not the first streaming video from a paintball tournament, Spohrer described the pre-production plans for World Cup as “doing it right.” Hosted by ubiquitous paintball commentator Matty Marshall, the show involved six live cameras for fast-cut views of the field, with a professional score graphics package and even views from the pits. Product interviews and highlights from around the trade shows were shot to fill the breaks in the action, and the broadcast didn't just go to the Internet. Cable and video repeaters throughout the trade show area offered vendors the ability to show games live in their booth so players who were shopping or learning about new gear wouldn't miss out on the action.
Arizona based Custom Products displayed their accessories for leading brand markers, with ASAs, mount rails, feednecks, compressed air systems, triggers, and more.
Procaps Direct had their soft-goods and of course paint on display. Prototypes of new pants had just arrived at the start of the trade show, and should be in production in time for the holiday season.
Canadian XO and Florida based Severe also had booths, with their paint, as well as soft goods distributed in conjunction with it.
Nelson Paint company, still in the game after bringing out the original paintball that RP Scherer manufactured for them to go with their Daisy built Splotchmarker – both of which were responsible for the invention of the sport. Their booth also had the eye-catching display of an Eclipse launcher. Capable of firing shotgun loads of several paintballs at once, or Nerf projectiles for anti-tank use in scenario games, the Eclipse Launcher can rapid fire from a rotary magazine, or the magazine can easily unstrap from the launcher and be linked with others for belt fed operation. Initially designed for launching shark repellent canisters at sea, the launcher has found a fun niche in paintball.
Adrenaline Games' booth was located in its traditional spot at the west end of the trade show, providing central access to all of the fields. As owners of the Sup'Air line of bunkers, they provided all of the field set-ups used at the tournament, and also showcased Facefull magazine and it's younger scenario themed spin-off, Jungle.
The Mac Dev crew made their annual trek from Australia to show their products at World Cup, supported by their Miami based Mac Dev USA staff. While the Droid released last year remains as their spool valve marker, the stacked tube Cyborg saw a redesign this year. Dubbed the RX Cyborg, it has a fully enclosed bolt with no space for dirt entry. A cap and sleeve at the rear of the marker's top simply twist and slide to remove, bringing the bolt along – no need to pull a vertical pin. The ram and valve system also come out almost as quickly, by unscrewing their cartridge from the rear of the marker. Additionally, the marker has lost some more weight compared to earlier Cyborgs. The Shift barrel kit is an insert based barrel system allowing the same front and bore sizer inserts to be used with a single barrel back for each thread standard. Also in the Mac Dev booth was SpoGear's new VersaShell system for HALO loaders – a body that disassembles easily for cleaning and has a modular top opening for a feed gate or flip top.
Planet Eclipse has now complimented their populer Ego stacked tube marker, with the new GEO spool valve marker. With a heads-up display in the back of the grip like their previous markers, and an option to switch between mechanical and optical triggering as well as spring or magnetic trigger return, the GEO is aimed at the high-end market. Its bolt assembly consists of three main parts and can be removed without tools from the rear of the marker. While most spool valve markers have their bolt and valve as a single unit, the GEO has a new dual-spool arrangement. Gas flow from the air chamber to the breech is controlled by the valve function of the bolt closing, while flow of gas into the air chamber is controlled by a second spool valve located below the bolt. Both the bolt and lower spool valve are controlled by airflow directed by a solenoid valve acting as the system's pilot. Separating the the moving parts allows for the supply of gas to the marker's accumulation area to be cut off when it is fired for high efficiency, without needing as many dynamic bolt seals as designs when the two parts are combined. According to Planet, the GEO only has 3 dynamic seals, reducing its risk of first shot drop off (FSDO) caused by bolt stick. The launch of the GEO didn't leave the EGO sitting though. The 2009 Ego has been lengthened to allow more airspace for its valve chamber, and the quick-exhaust valves have been eliminated from the design, replaced by a new solenoid valve built to provide even better exhaust times. The same dual switching and trigger return options from the GEO are also found in the 2009 EGO.
Tippmann Sports hasn't left product releases until the end of the year. The US Army Alpha Black they were discussing with media and dealers in 2008 did indeed materialize, and has been selling through the year as an entry-level priced marker with the durability of the Model 98 valve system in an M-16 styled body. The Model 98 Platinum also came out this year and was on display, with its more modular construction it offers a wider variety of upgrade possibilities than the original 98. The E-grip for the X7 was another of the company's 2008 launches, with a thumb actuated select fire lever allowing players to switch modes on the fly quickly and easily during a game. The rumor mill at the tournament was full of discussion about a prototype of a new marker that was shown to dealers and select industry members, but went missing before the event was through.
The Proto and DYE booths had the requisite clothing lines, and the Ultralight Proto Matrix Rail and SLG as well as the 2009 DM markers with their self cleaning eyes, but what drew the most attention were new gogles and the Rotor. The newest version of the DYE Invision goggles – i4 have an even tighter profile in the past, and have done away with the previous design of separate goggle and mask. The integrated frame and mask now hold a lens that mounts from the front (rather than fitting into a channel) and locks in to square clips on either side of the head, just forward of its soft ear protection pieces. The new design allows lens changes in seconds. The DYE Rotor managed to stay a well kept secret until the crew from San Diego let the cat out of the bag. It is a low-profile loader, very football-like in shape. It is made of semi-flexible nylon polymer material similar to loaders of the mid 90s, giving its body the ability to flex and resist cracking at the cost of not being see-through, though its clear lid and a pair of replaceable (fashion color tinted) windows in the back give a view to how full it is. The Rotor runs on three “AA” batteries. Instead of the clamshell design common to many loaders, the Rotor is made of a top and bottom half, the two halves lock together without tools. When open, the entire interior is accessible for cleaning. The rear internal deck has a spring loaded flap that lies flat to provide maximum space when full, but tips up to roll paint toward the feed mechanism as the loader empties. A crown shaped feed wheel has openings to allow paintballs to fall through it and down to a counter-rotating spiral arm that sweeps the paint to its center and down the feedbeck. The entire system is driven by a planetary gear that is spun by a gear drive system in the motor/battery pack. The gear system has a spring loaded tension gear that presses a switch when the paint being pushed by the spiral arm feels resistance. When paintballs fall out of the loader and the resistance goes away, spring pressure pops the gear back in place, the switch resets, and the motor once again drives the rotor to feed more paint. Pressure on the spring is adjustable to allow the user to set just how much tension to put on the ball stack. Impressively all of the major components remove quickly without the need for tools. Although a few loaders faced problems on the field attributed to out-of-spec fuses that should not be an issue in further production runs, the unexpected appearance of a new loader so different than existing products was well received.
Angel Paintball Sports booth had the company's softgoods as well as a table top paint cage to allow test-firing (much cleaner with reballs) inside a store – just slip the barrel in the opening in the front of the cloth mesh cage, and fire at the strips of hanging cloth which catch and slow the ball to a stop. Angel clothing, and of course their latest marker - Angel One Fly were also on display.
Click HERE to visit the World Cup trade show photo gallery.
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