Last month I received an email from Brandon Mijokovic, VP of Operations for iCombat Laser Tag with a unique invitation to tour the iCombat headquarters in Waukesha, WI. This sounded very interesting as I have never had the chance to see the inner workings of a laser tag manufacturing company. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to learn more about this brand of laser tag and also to use the visit as the catalyst for another tag trip, this time leading me to play in three more states including Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.
When I arrived at the iCombat office building I was really excited to learn more about this company. I met Brandon first and then was introduced to the marketing and design team as well as to Ocie Mathenia , VP of Sales who were all working on the top upper level of the office.
Then we went down the stairs to the lower level where Brandon introduced me to the software development team.
After a preliminary tour of the office I had the chance to sit down with Brandon and Ocie who were kind enough to take some time out for an interview to discuss the iCombat company and their position within the laser tag industry. I learned that iCombat has a great deal more to offer than just a tactical game. Their equipment has been used to help with law enforcement training, they have a non-gun option for kids and they are making strides towards bridging the gap between tactical and traditional laser tag. Listen to what they have to say...
After our interview I got a chance to see and try some cool new products. When we walked through the downstairs offices I saw something that Brandon was also seeing for the first time...a prototype for the irShotgun.
And I had the chance to try this out for myself.
This was a lot of fun and so different from what I am accustomed to. Their tactical line has a tremendous amount of realism. I appreciate that they let me try some of the new things they are creating. I was also especially excited about seeing their latest addition, the Invictus, which they will be showcasing at IAAPA next week. The Invictus is a more traditionally styed phaser with the game with multi-colored lights and everything needed to play built right in. It looks a lot more like the laser tag I am accustomed to.
And it sounds more like a traditional laser tag game too, and yet completely fresh and new.
This is a product I can get excited about! Although I am gaining an appreciation for tactical, this new phaser really has a lot of appeal to me as a person who plays a variety of traditional systems. I really hope there is a site close enough for me to play this soon.
Additionally Brandon showed me some of the other products from their tactical line. Everything was quite realistic in appearance. You can see how some of the products modify Tippmann paintball guns.
And I was interested to learn that they had made special vests for tournament play, however these were not sold to customers.
It's obvious that they are always working on new innovations here.
And it was interesting to see how things go from prototype to product. For example, I saw the "bucket"...
...which was an early step towards the creation of the Dominator tubes which I was familiar with from playing some Domination during my recent travels to Washington.
It was really interesting to get this behind the scenes look at the iCombat headquarters. Many thanks for the invitation and the tour!
When I left the offices in Waukesha I headed for Universal Electronics in Whitewater to visit one of their manufacturing plants.
Although at this point most of the manufacturing is done in their East Troy factory I was still able to see what takes place at the plant. Mike hooked me up with a smock and safety goggles before entering the facility.
I got to see what was going on inside the manufacturing plant.
And see some of the iCombat equipment that was boxed up and ready to ship.
And after I left it was just about time to return for my session at the iCombat company operated field where I would be able to play a few games...and by a few I mean 14 game rounds over the course of about an hour! I definitely got to experience a wide variety of game options.
I arrived at the field on Friday afternoon.
And then Ashley and the staff got me all set up to play beginning with setting me up with a membership card.
And with some time to kill before we started I enjoyed shopping for some tag swag to take back with me.
Ashley then gave me a tour of the playing field starting from the observation deck and then walking through a pretty impressively decorated "city" where I was told a Hollywood designer had put together the look behind "Battlefield Baghdad" which was the theme of this arena.
They got me suited up with the irM4 including headband and vest and I played with a small group of employees who taught me about the games as we went along. I experienced quite a few game rounds including Team Deathmatch, Sniper, UBL, Juggernaut, Blackhawk Down and Domination. My favorites were Sniper (I'm sure that's no surprise to anyone who reads my blog) and Domination, which I had enjoyed learning previously in Seattle. Here's how we fared (stars on the left indicate the games I got MVP, however to be fair we were only playing teams of partners).
I learned quite a bit since it was my first time with a few of these game formats. Many thanks to the iCombat crew that I played with in Waukesha!
And big thanks to everyone at iCombat for inviting me out including owner Rick Jensen who I didn't get to meet personally, but who I understand saw the article about me tagging in Alaska and that was what sparked the invitation that got this whole adventure in motion. I had a wonderful time and can't wait to play iCombat again!
Comments or Questions?
Websites: www.tiviachickloveslasertag.com and www.photonforever.com