In general, I’m a fan of the aesthetic choices that go into most Nerf blasters. By and large they are styled after sci-fi interpretations of regular firearms and that’s cool, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it “pretty.” Today’s blaster is the complete opposite of that. My initial reaction to seeing it was something along the lines of “Wow, that’s a pretty gun.” This blaster is none other than the Lumanate, so let’s take a look.
THE BLASTER ITSELF
The Lumanate was released in 2016 as part of the Rebelle series. Similar to the blasters from last week’s review, the mechanics of this blaster are really nothing new with most features being taken from blasters like the Triad or Messenger from previous years. It uses a front loading, 3-barrel smart AR setup with an inline plunger, keeping everything pretty simple. The real points of distinction for this blaster are the shell, first of all, and the light-up feature that works with the darts specifically provided with the blaster. As you probably figured out, I’m a big fan of the work on the shell of this blaster. It has a lot of really nice flowing lines and smooth surfaces as well as some eye-catching transparent blue accents on the side panel and trigger. Sadly, only one side has the blue panel, leaving the other a plain white which is a little disappointing. Just below the cool blue trigger is a hot pink button which activates the blaster’s light-up feature. Truth be told, this was pretty disappointing too. Initially, I expected the entirety of the transparent blue panel to light up when the button was pressed, but instead, there is a single UV LED in the transparent orange muzzle of the blaster. What this does is it “charges” the special glow-in-the-dark tips of the included darts which is intended to create a kind of tracer effect when fired. It kind of works, kind of. Not really. The tiny LED only exposes about a third of dart tip (not the whole dart, mind you, just the rubber piece at the end) when turned on. It’s one of those features that technically works, but doesn’t add anything practical to the function of the blaster. The light-up feature requires 3 AAA batteries to operate but is not integral to the function of the blaster otherwise. Coming back to the work on the shell, the smooth curved lines make the ergonomics of the Lumanate rather enjoyable. I can see how the hand guard in front of the grip might make holding the blaster cramped and uncomfortable for some people with larger hands, but Rebelle products consistently have smaller grips than those in the N-Strike Elite series, so it’s not surprising here. The size of the grip does lend to the overall very compact feel of the blaster in hand. The Lumanate has an attachment rail on the top of the blaster for accessories. Putting the disappointing light feature aside, the actual blaster works pretty well, especially compared to other Rebelle blasters. Darts travel a decent distance given the blaster’s size and hit with the usual amount of force. This blaster is probably best suited for indoor use because regular darts won’t respond to the UV light, and the 3 that come with the blaster are all you can get without buying a whole new Lumanate. If you don’t mind messing with the color scheme, though, the Glowstrike darts from the Star Wars: Rogue One series of blasters will also glow.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I was really excited to pick this blaster up at first but became gradually less enthused when I discovered the extent of the “illumination.” Even still, I was very happy with the overall looks of the blaster and feel of it in the hand. It really reminds me of something the Asari from Mass Effect would have designed, and anything that helps me pretend I’m in Mass Effect is a winner in my book. Honestly, my biggest pet peeve with the blaster is the name. Why they spelled it “Lumanate” as opposed to “Luminate” I guess we’ll never know. I guess if that’s my biggest complaint, though, that tells you my opinion of it. It’s good. I like it.