Robert "Kaiju" Manore
I was introduced to Kaiju earlier this year by several friends in the Underground, back before he went to work for Valken and I've been fortunate to get to know him fairly well since then.
One of the more interesting aspects of his personality is that most of the time Kaiju is a very happy, easy going sort of guy, but there are moments when you can see that he has a backbone of steel. One such moment was when I was talking to him about how to play the role of general at an event. I told him that I wanted to win the event and he, in no uncertain terms, explained to me
"that was the wrong mindset to have about the role and that it was my job, as the General, to help make sure the event was fun for everyone and to try and help the players create epic moments."
This was very good advice and it gave me some more insight into how Kaiju approaches airsoft.
How long have you been playing airsoft?
I’ve been playing airsoft since 2004. So 13 years now.
How did you get started in airsoft?
A friend from church asked me if I would like to play airsoft with him, his son, and his son’s friends. So I wore black BDU pants, black tee shirt, and shooting glasses. I met them at a local loading dock and was given two GBB pistols to play with.
I honestly don’t remember what they were, but I had a blast and I was hooked ever since.
What's your favorite style of gameplay?
I’m not getting any younger, but I have noticed that I prefer social games. Games with breaks and time to hang with friends. Whether it be indoors on
the local field or a milsim event. As long as I have the freedom to walk on or off the field, I am happy.
I don’t get to play social games very often because most of the time I am normally in a leadership role, which requires me to stay on the field the entire time directing traffic. So since I get few opportunities to participate in social games, it makes it more desirable and rewarding when I do get the chance.
What are your goals in airsoft?
I don’t really have any goals per say. My main goal is to have fun and hang out with what I like to call “my extended airsoft family.”
Do you have a favorite moment from airsoft?
That’s a tough one. I would have to say that it was at American Milsim’s OP Reindeer Games XV in 2016 at Fort Hood, TX. I was commander of the PSA (green faction) and we were moving from our FOB on Sunday through some
buildings. One of my friends, Kevin Tran aka Kevgru, was an in-game admin for the tan faction.
He apparently heard my voice and zeroed in on my location. Through the corner of my eye, I saw him bolt out a door of an adjacent building and into the door of my building. There were only about 4 meters of the wall before he would pop through a corridor right in front of me. The moment I pointed my gun to where Kevin would emerge, he appeared and the simultaneous shower of BBs ensued! We shot each other and both called us out, but what happened next was just instinct. We both ran to each other screaming, gave one another a huge bear hug, and started jumping up and down in synchronicity. People were looking at us like we were crazy, but it was so fun. I always tell players that serve under my command that in order to play airsoft, you have to play from epic moment to epic moment.
And this was one of my epic moments.
What do you think are the best things about airsoft?
First, the camaraderie is by far the best thing about airsoft. The friendships you make will be closer than your friendship with your neighbor. The next best thing about airsoft is that people get to play dress up and do something that they typically don’t do. For example, I know a computer programmer that was denied military service due to medical reasons, but he can still play G.I. Joe and immerse himself in something similar to get a little taste of what he missed out on. Just without all the rigors and commitments of the military.
What's your home field?
I have played airsoft throughout the US and throughout Europe and I don’t really have a home field. The one location that I have played the most is Berget Events in Harnosand, Sweden. I’ve played their 4 times. GTI in Barnwell, SC comes in at 3 times.
How would you describe your personal play style?
My play style has changed throughout the years, but I still prefer stalking. Taking it slow and moving to contact. My battle buddy, Jay Erwin aka Woodcock, always makes jokes when we move out in a formation and I am the point man. He starts narrating my movements like the Crocodile Hunter.
Do you have a favorite piece of airsoft equipment?
My favorite piece of kit is the Enola Gaye Smoke Grenade. As a commander, I call them liquid courage. You can yell at players all day long to move from cover and assault, but most of the time they are too concerned about getting hit. But if I pop a couple smoke grenades, players feel invincible.
What are your favorite fields?
That is difficult to pin down because I have not played many fields. I typically play Milsim events at remote locations. So if I had to choose my favorite Milsim AOs, I would have to say University Park in Illinois because it is so unique. It’s not the largest, but it is definitely fun and I had a great larping experience there. My second favorite location would be Playas, NM. It is open and reminds me of the Nuketown map on call of duty but at a much larger scale.
Is there a particular event that stands out for you?
That would be my second year at Berget Events in Sweden. 3,000+ players and I was a member of the PSYOPS team for the green faction. I had an in-game vehicle, which was my Toyota 4Runner and I could switch between civilian faction and PSYOPS faction. Very fun experience to play the “double agent.”
Is there a gun that doesn't currently exist in airsoft that you would like to see an airsoft version of?
I would love to see a Benelli M2 semi-auto shell ejecting shotgun!
What would you like to see change about airsoft?
There is too much-prolonged adolescence in airsoft. I define prolonged adolescence as too much privilege and not enough responsibility.
Too many players expect more, but want to give less or nothing at all. They want something for nothing and they are not willing to put in the work necessary for the reward.
You have worked in the airsoft industry for a while. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Yes, I have peeked behind the curtain in the land of Oz. It has definitely been an eye-opener. There are so many things one does not realize as an end-user, such as costs associated with tooling, distribution, minimum order quantities, and more. It was not until I started to work in the industry that a lot goes into the creation or modification of an airsoft product. So it’s easy for many players to suggest change this or that, but they have no idea the associated costs involved.
Also, I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of companies and learn their backgrounds, connections, and relationships. Many players think that working in the industry is a dream job because it is their hobby. On the contrary, you actually get less time playing the sport. It doesn’t make me salty though. For me, I honestly feel that the work I do will improve the community, and I always focus on that.
Do you think that being a veteran influences the way you see airsoft?
I don’t see airsoft as a typical veteran. Most veterans try to apply their military tactics to airsoft, but it’s not a 1-to- 1 application. So too much military tactics and not enough gaming. I am the opposite. Since I have also had the opportunity create and host events, I understand the dynamics of gaming. So even though my military experience helps me herd cats and analyze terrain, my style of tactics exploit the gaming habits of players and the environment. I call it the yo-yo effect. The yo-yo effect is the push and pulls of two opposing forces and they give or take ground based on several things, to include but not limited to, attrition of forces, hunger, meal times, etc. So understanding the habits of players and the impact of the environment, I tailor my actions to exploit that. For example, if the sun sets on my back, I will mass my faction and attack just before the sun gets close to the horizon so the sunlight is in the eyes of my opponent. Another example is giving ground in one part of the AO in order to give the opponent a false sense of victory and pushing my forces to another part of the AO.