The Blaster In Question #0021: Hammershot

HAMMERSHOT

ZOMBIE STRIKE

Zombies: everyone’s favorite guilt-free shooting target.  In just about every iteration of modern zombie fiction, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before everyone has a gun and is lighting up the undead left and right.  The fine people over at Hasbro certainly took notice of this trend when they started the Zombie Strike series of blasters back in 2013, a product line that persists to this day, which is a feat in and of itself.  So what laid the groundwork for such a line?  That’s what we’ll be looking at today with the Hammershot.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Hammershot was one of the very first Zombie Strike blasters, released in 2013 alongside the Sledgefire.  The Hammershot is a 5-round revolver style blaster, which, itself is nothing new.  What sets the Hammershot apart from other blasters like the Spectre REV-5 or even the Strongarm is its priming mechanism.  Instead of a traditional priming slide which would require a second hand to operate, the Hammershot uses, unsurprisingly, a hammer style of prime that can be operated entirely one-handed.  If you read my previous review, you’ll know that the premise of effective dual-wieldable blasters is quite alluring to me, so it should come as no surprise that I own a couple of these, thanks in part to my boy Ethan.  The outer shell of the blaster is entirely original work and has a lot of really nice layering of plastic which gives it some visual depth.  This is also helped by the use of this super cool, very subtle swirly metallic orange plastic which I believe is completely unique to this blaster.  There’s some interesting texture work going on too with the faux wood grain and faux cloth wrap on the handle.  I was skeptical of the cloth wrap at first because I thought it looked goofy and sort of out of place, but ergonomically it works just fine with no harsh lines or edges.  The handle itself is rather long, extending well past the bottom of my hand, but the extra length does provide a nice amount of surface to grip while working the priming hammer with your thumb.  As something of a side note, the distribution of weight around the trigger as well as the larger grip make it very easy and entertaining to spin the blaster around your index finger like a gunslinger.  In doing so, I’ve managed to fling mine into the floor several times without so much as a scratch, which speaks to the build quality of the blaster.  This is probably largely due to the relative simplicity of the internal mechanisms and outer construction.  Unlike blasters such as the Spectre, the Hammershot has no barrel or stock attachment points though it does have a single attachment rail along the top of the blaster.  The blaster performs admirably with shots flying far and hitting with substantial force.  I would recommend it more for outdoor play and advise caution before using it to light up your younger siblings unannounced.  The Hammershot comes packaged with 5 Zombie Strike green Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the Zombie Strike line was first announced, for me, the Hammershot took the back seat as far as my attention goes.  There had been more than a handful of revolver blasters over the years and the premise of the shotgun style Sledgefire overshadowed the Hammershot.  While it’s true the Sledgefire may be the more mechanically interesting of the two, it’s hard to deny the sheer utility of the Hammershot.

 

Advertisements

The Blaster In Question #0020: Voidcaster

VOIDCASTER

ALIEN MENACE

If I had to attribute my love for toy blasters to one thing, it’s wanting to recreate my favorite video games in real life, one of the most notable examples being the Halo franchise.  These two were brought together a couple years ago when Mattel gained the Halo license for its BoomCo line of blasters.  The thing is, while trying to create accurate replicas of the in-game weapons while also fitting them around recycled, but mostly functional mechanics, they ended up being pretty disappointing, not really doing a good job on either front.  Cue Hasbro who launched the Alien Menace Nerf line, seemingly as a direct counter to Boomco’s Halo branded products.  I’ve already reviewed the Ravager from the series, but today I’ll be taking a look at one of the line’s brand new additions, the Voidcaster.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Voidcaster was released in 2017 as part of the TRU exclusive Alien Menace line.  If you’ve read my review of the Ravager from the same line, you’ll know that one of the blaster’s highlights were the amount of fine detail and texture work put into the shell.  The same is true for the Voidcaster which sports faux ray skin, bone, and even crystalline elements throughout it’s uniquely molded shell.  Internally, the Voidcaster borrows its primary mechanism from the Snapfire 8 of the Dart Tag line.  Unlike most other blasters, the Voidcaster does not require batteries nor does it need to be manually cycled between shots.  The large trigger —which takes up almost the entire length of the grip— uses its long pull to push the plunger back, releasing it once the trigger has been compressed fully.  Aside from using stored air pressure in a tank, this is the only way I am aware of to achieve a semi-automatic blaster without the need for batteries.  The blaster has 4 barrels linked via smart AR.  The overall shape of the blaster is reminiscent of the iconic plasma rifle from the Halo series and the 8 dart holders on the bottom portion of the blaster, when fully loaded, resemble design features of the needler from the same games.  The blaster feels solid in the hand but it does suffer from a lack of secondary grip points, making one-handed firing practically the only option, however, the semi-auto nature of the blaster means that dual wielding is not a problem.  Accuracy is a bit of a weak point for the blaster.  By extending the trigger down the front of the grip, compressing the spring is much easier than with a single finger trigger, but it also means the blaster jostles around a fair bit when firing, more so if firing in rapid succession.  Because priming the blaster relies on the grip strength of the user, and because it is a toy for children, the spring driving the plunger is not especially strong and as such, power and distance are noticeably sub-par compared to more conventional blasters.  This is definitely an indoor blaster and if you can manage to get your hands on two of them, I highly recommend dual wielding for busting into your younger siblings’ rooms and blasting away.  The included darts are a little frustrating for someone like me who has to keep blasters with the darts they are meant to use.  In this case, given the 4 barrels and 8 dart holders on the blaster, I would have like it to include enough to completely fill all available spaces, but sadly it only comes packaged with 8.  Additionally, the previous 2 Alien Menace blasters came with darts that had grey bodies and purple tips.  The Voidcaster’s included darts are grey with blue tips and, as of me writing this, are the only ones with this color scheme.  Available Alien Menace dart packs only feature purple tips.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was very excited for this blaster since it was announced in Nerf’s pre-Toy Fair press release.  Between then and now, though, there had been basically no word on it.  I was caught quite off guard when I found it at a TRU in South Carolina, so much so that I bought it then and there without a second thought.  It’s a really fun snappy little blaster with some really cool aesthetics, and it’s only enhance by the addition of a second for your other hand.

The Blaster In Question #0019: Lumanate

LUMANATE

REBELLE

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.

The Blaster In Question #0018: Glowshot & Bowstrike

GLOWSHOT & BOWSTRIKE

N-STRIKE

With a line of products as vast as Nerf’s, you know every little thing can’t be AAA gold tier amazing. So how do you make the low tier blasters stand out to potential buyers? Often a lower price point to make them more accessible, but you can also add in gimmicks. Given the functional and punctual similarities, I will be reviewing two such blasters today, so let’s take a look at the Glowshot and the Bowstrike.

THE BLASTERS THEMSELVES

The Glowshot and Bowstrike were both released in 2016 as part of the N-Strike line. Both blasters work in essentially the exact same way, omitting their respective gimmicks which I’ll get to later. They are both single-shot barrel-loading blasters which fall into the “in-line jolt” variation of the oft-copied jolt reskins. Not really a whole lot to say about it. It works, it’s simple, that’s about it. Neither blaster is really a great performer, as these were branded for the regular N-Strike line even after the Elite series had been around for a few years. They’re both definitely better suited for indoor use and/or taking pot-shots at your younger siblings. Both blasters come packaged with 3 Elite darts. Now what makes these blasters unique?

GLOWSHOT

Initially, looking at the GS, you may notice that its outer shell is a semi-transparent material (mine is white though a green variant also exists). This is critical for its gimmick which allows the blaster to light up with a few green LEDs inside the shell when the switch on the back of the grip is pressed. Thecolor of the outer shell does not affect the color of the lights, nor is the light-up feature needed to make the blaster shoot. It’s purely aesthetic and requires 2 AA batteries to make it work. The grip on the GS is a little small and my pinky just barely fits onto the handle. The light switch can dig into the webbing of your hand a little but neither of these are surprising nor are they deal-breakers given the price point.

BOWSTRIKE

The BS takes a slightly different approach to its gimmick, which does not require any batteries at all as it is purely mechanical. Like the GS, it’s completely for looks only but is activated upon priming the blaster. When the priming handle is pulled back, the grey “bow” arms and sight pop up. They then lay flat again once the blaster has been fired. The BS also features a much smaller than usual grip with all the same issues as the GS as well as needed a bit more sculpting to accommodate the thumb. As it stands, there’s something of an edge that can become irritating if the blaster is held for any considerable amount of time.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As with most of my reviews, I like to drive home the point that these toys are still a lot of fun even with their problems. You really have to take the whole picture into account. These aren’t meant to be competition-grade laser guns. They’re goofy little plinkers, and in that regard, I think they do a great job. Plus, I’m always for making Nerf more accessible.

The Blaster In Question #0017: Motofury Rapid Rally Set

MOTOFURY RAPID RALLY

NITRO

One of the most prominent trends in Nerf marketing is the considerable groundswell surrounding the release of a new type of ammunition.  It happened with Vortex, it happened with Elite darts, it happened with Accustrike.  This makes the substantial lack of hype for the new Nitro series curious.  Ok, maybe not that curious once you realize that Nitro is doing something completely different from the Nerf dart blaster lines.  That something is cars.  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really grabbed by the premise of Nitro, but the launchers themselves were similar enough to the dart blasters that I was willing to give it a try, so today I’m looking at the Motofury Rapid Rally set.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Motofury Rapid Rally set was released in 2017 as the flagship of the Nerf Nitro line of car launchers.  It uses a flywheel system to fire the foam cars, much like any of the numerous flywheel Nerf blasters, however, it only uses a single wheel as opposed to the pair of wheels seen in blasters.  I guess in a sense, you could say this is the Stryfe of the Nitro line, but the comparisons really stop after the use of flywheel propulsion.  As with all of the Nitro launchers, the underside of the launcher is flat and designed in such a way that prevents a car from being fired if its not on a flat surface.  At least, that’s the idea.  It’s not difficult at all to press in the rev switch on the bottom of the grip with one hand while holding the launcher with the other, although I’m not really sure why you would want to.  It should be pretty obvious that cars handle rolling along the ground much better than being unceremoniously chucked through the air.  Keeping its intended position in mind, the Motofury feels solid in the hand, or rather, on the floor.  This is the only of the Nitro launchers to use a detachable magazine to feed cars into the firing mechanism as well as the only electronic launcher.  It does feel a little weird getting prone on the floor in order to shoulder and aim the launcher as instructed, but there’s nothing stopping you from launching cars from a regular seated position.  Speaking of aiming, the Motofury features a flip up sight for maybe aiming, I guess.  It’s just a single sight with nothing else to align it with so it’s effectively useless, but you do feel a little like a sniper lining up a shot if you bother with the sight at all.  For the most part, launched cars travel pretty straight and at high enough velocity to be fun, but not enough that you’ll hurt anybody or damage anything.  One complaint I have with firing the cars is that there is a considerable delay between when the trigger is pulled and when the car actually exits the launcher.  For someone used to the quick, snappy response of Nerf blasters, this delay can seem like a misfire and pulling the trigger again before the first car has been launched can result in a jam fairly easily.  The MotoFury requires 4 AA batteries to work and comes with 9 cars in 3 styles, and a 9-car magazine.  Now that would be fine and dandy if it were just the launcher, but what makes this a set is the extras that come with it.  Included in the box are 4 red barrels, 4 crates, 4 tire stacks, a high jump ramp, and a long jump ramp.  The random obstacles are pretty plain.  You can set them up and crash cars into them and that’s about it.  The ramps, however, are quite fun as they dramatically affect the trajectory of cars that reach them.  As you can imagine, the long jump ramp makes the cars fly pretty far through the air and the high jump ramp gives them considerable height.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This was an impulse buy for me.  I was at a local TRU with my boy Ethan looking for any of the newest wave of Nerf blasters.  I didn’t find any of them, but there was a sale specifically for Nitro products.  I was curious about the line and the extra 20% off was enough to get me to pick up the Motofury and I’m glad I did.  It’s not a Nerf blaster, but it’s a lot of fun.  I don’t see myself getting any more Nitro after this, so I don’t mind splurging just a little to get the top of the line.

The Blaster In Question #0016: Deploy CS-6

DEPLOY CS-6

N-STRIKE

This may come as a bit of a surprise to you but I love Nerf blasters.  Shocking, I know.  As such, I like to keep up with the Nerf community of fans, while perhaps not in person, but at least for news and updates.  If I have one problem with the Nerf community (sweeping generalization) it’s the seemingly arbitrary hatred most members have for certain blasters.  If you read my review of the Crossbolt, you probably picked up on some of that.  This week, I’ll be looking at another widely hated blaster, the Deploy CS-6.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Deploy CS-6 was released in 2010 in the N-Strike line, not Elite, just regular.  As with most clip-system blasters of that era, the internals are largely identical from one to the next.  The Deploy’s selling point was its unique collapsible design that allowed it to be stored or carried in its more compact “flashlight mode,” a design choice that I suspect was made in response to the growing hype surrounding the real world firearm, the FMG9 from Magpul.  In flashlight mode, there are only 2 controls.  The first is the on/off switch for the single tiny red LED which comprises the flashlight portion of the blaster.  The second control is the deploy button on the top side of the carry handle.  This is where it gets interesting.  Pressing the button causes the flashlight/magazine well portion of the blaster to swing down to the left, and the stock portion to shoot backward, exposing the grip and trigger.  This was very exciting for me the first time I saw it because, at the time, I was deeply invested in the game Mass Effect which features, among many other things, folding/collapsible guns.  Also, things that fold up are just cool.  That’s a fact.  It’s clear that the design of the Deploy was intended to be compact so some dimensions like the length of the stock feel a little small, but still perfectly usable.  The sideways-facing magazine is a little finicky and not quite as smooth to operate as the Raider CS-35 but it just takes a little practice.  The blaster can also still be used with the magazine well facing up although this does block the sights.  I only have 2 real complaints about the function of the blaster, the first being that said magazine well does not lock into the downward position, so running around with a big old drum magazine sticking out the side means it’s going to bounce quite a bit.  Second is just a problem inherent with the material, it creaks an awful lot, but with that many external moving parts, it’s not really surprising and is certainly not the deal breaker I’ve heard it described as.  For its time, the Deploy’s performance was respectable.  Nowadays, particularly since the launch of the Elite series, it doesn’t quite hold up.  Darts hit moderately hard at close range but quickly lose momentum and end up diving into the ground.  This probably isn’t helped by the ammo as clip-system blasters were still using Streamline darts.  Take all my complaints about Elite darts and cut the range back to a third and that’s Streamlines.  To be honest, I doubt you’d get much of a response from busting into your siblings room and blasting away with this.  It’s definitely an indoor blaster.  The Deploy comes packaged with a 6-round magazine, 6 Streamline darts, and a sling.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Deploy has its problems, that’s true.  But none of these are enough to make me say it’s a bad blaster.  In fact, back in my collegiate Humans vs Zombies days, this blaster saved my figurative life a number of times thanks to it’s folding design which meant it could be tucked into a backpack with relative ease.  So no, I don’t agree with the Nerf Community on this one.  If you really don’t like the Deploy, send it to me, don’t chop it up with an axe and blow up the remains.

 

The Blaster In Question #0015: Apollo XV-700

APOLLO XV-700

RIVAL

I don’t think there was ever a more anticipated Nerf release than there was for the 2015 debut of the Rival line of blasters.  The N-Strike Elite series was already considered to be the performance driven group of blasters with just a few gimmicks here and there.  Rival took that even further with entirely new hardware built from the ground up with zero gimmicks to provide what is likely the best out-of-the-box foam blaster performance available.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of the two premier blasters from the Rival line, the Apollo XV-700.  Let’s get right into it.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Apollo hit retail in 2015 alongside the Zeus MXV-1200 to kick off the Rival brand.  I mentioned earlier that these blasters were entirely new and I meant entirely. They fire the golf-ball inspired High-Impact Rounds instead of traditional darts, which greatly contributes to their performance potential.  The magazines were also completely new, unsurprisingly, which in the case of the Apollo, meant we got the first magazine-fed Nerf blaster that loaded through the grip like a proper pistol.  Holding the Apollo in hand really gives away the fact that Nerf was really gearing these products toward an older demographic than their typical audience.  The grip is large and solidly made.  The priming handle on the top of the blaster requires a considerable amount of force to cycle it but it does make a very satisfying racking sound like cocking a shotgun, and it gives you a good idea of exactly how powerful the blaster is even before you fire it.  The Apollo has a short attachment rail at the front of the blaster for accessories, although it should be noted that it is a proprietary Rival rail and not the traditional Nerf rail found on dart- firing blasters.  The body of the Apollo extends a good ways behind the grip and can be effectively shouldered like a stock, which makes it odd in my opinion that the designers behind the blaster didn’t put one in.  That is one of my two very minor complaints about the Apollo, the other being that the priming handle prevents any kind of sighting along the top of the blaster unless you happen to have one of the awesome Rival Red Dot Sight attachments (sold separately) on hand.  Either way, these are petty complaints that do very little to sway my opinion of the blaster overall.  Being released alongside the Zeus, the Apollo definitely feels like it was intended as a sidearm and it can work as one of those if you should choose, but it can also hold its own as a primary if you feel like running it as one.  Reloading is super fast with the Rival magazines and with a little practice, you can fire off rounds in pretty rapid succession.  As with pretty much all Rival blasters, the Apollo is an outside blaster.  Shots travel fast and far and hit hard when they land.  Unless you have very very forgiving siblings, I would recommend not busting into their rooms and opening fire with this one.  It kinda speaks to the power of the blaster when Nerf feels the need to release full face masks for the Rival line.  The Apollo comes packaged with a 7-round magazine and 7 Rival High-Impact Rounds.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ll be completely honest, I was expecting this review to be one of those counterintuitive moments where the blaster is awesome but the review is kinda dull cause it’s just me going on and on about how great the thing is.  Hopefully I didn’t bore you too badly.  When Rival first started hitting shelves, they were just about impossible to find anywhere in my area.  My boy Ethan managed to pick up a Zeus for me fairly early on, but the Apollo took me a good month or so of regular Target, TRU, and Walmart stops to find one.  The whole ordeal was a major pain, but I gotta say, it was super worth it.

The Blaster In Question #0014: Spider-Man Rapid Reload Blaster

RAPID-RELOAD BLASTER

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

Spider-gun, spider-gun, radioactive spider-gun. Ok, so it’s not radioactive, and the proper term is blaster, but it is indeed a Spider-Man blaster. Nerf and Hasbro in general have had several iterations over the years with varying mechanics and degrees of commercial success. Given the recent release of the Spider-Man: Homecoming film, I thought it was appropriate to review the tie-in Rapid-Reload Blaster, so let’s get right into it.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Spider-Man: Homecoming Rapid-Reload Blaster was released in summer of 2017 to coincide with the July release of the movie. The exterior of the blaster is completely original and deco’d up to look like a part of Spider-Man’s costume, complete with straps for mounting to the user’s wrist. The internal mechanics are a mix of old and new, using a smart AR system arranged in a unique setup. The actual barrels that hold the darts are part of the detachable 3-round clips that let you reload quickly from the included clip holster, hence the name. The priming slide serves two purposes, first being to prime the blaster, obviously. It should be noted that the priming pull is very short, but I’ll get back to that in a bit. The slide also functions as the ejector for the clips by pushing it towards the front of the blaster. The blaster is one of the chunkier Spider-Man blasters I’m aware of, given the complexity of the internal mechanisms. The barrels protrude far enough forward that they cover the user’s palm, making grasping anything else while wearing the blaster clumsy and practically impossible for larger objects. This eliminates the use of this as a tactical backup blaster for Nerf wars and such, which was a popular use of the previous model of Spider-Man and Venom themed blasters. The rapid reload feature, while novel, doesn’t work quite as smoothly as I might like. The idea of jamming the blaster onto the clip holster to load a clip as the instructions suggest falls apart when you realize how much hand-eye coordination it must take to accomplish that effectively. As I mentioned earlier, the priming pull is exceptionally short, and fairly light, which means performance from the blaster is mediocre at best, and laughable at worst. Clunky form factor, awkward loading, and disappointing performance, that leaves just one thing left to consider. While this was clearly not designed as a competitive, performance driven blaster, it works quite well as a playing pretend kind of toy. Sure, you’re not gonna be sniping people from 50 feet, but you can still bust into your siblings’ rooms pretending to be Spider-Man and give them a sound pestering. I think that should be the main use of a blaster like this. All that matters is that it shoots something. The Spider-Man: Homecoming Rapid-Reload Blaster comes packaged with a clip holster, 2 3-round clips, and 6 funky Spider-Man darts, which even feature uniquely molded dart tips.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

You may have gathered that this isn’t my favorite blaster out there. It has plenty of issues, but that’s not to say I hate it either. It still has a decent potential for fun, just as long as you know exactly what type of play the blaster is suited for. Once I found that out, I began enjoying it a good deal more. Can it swing from a web? I don’t know. That’s a really odd question to ask. You’re weird for asking it. If I had to guess, though, probably not.

 

The Blaster In Question #0013: Dual-Strike

DUAL-STRIKE

N-STRIKE ELITE

Variety is the spice of life or something.  It keeps things interesting.  But what if you’re in the middle of a foam conflict and you find yourself thinking, “Something new and/or exciting better happen right now or I’m gonna lose it”?  The answer is simple.  Use the selector switch.  What does that mean?  Well, I’ll tell you.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Nerf Dual-Strike was released in 2016 as part of the N-Strike Elite series.  The mechanics present in the Dual-Strike are mostly reused with one big exception that I will get into later.  The blaster fires from one of two sets of three barrels linked via a smart AR system.  The interesting part is that one set of barrels fires standard Elite darts while the other fires Mega dartsOn top of that, you can manually control which type of ammo you want to use via the previously mentioned selector switch on the right side of the blaster.  The switch is quite clearly labeled so you know which setting it’s on.  It’s actually pretty impressive that the switch works as well as it does since it’s not uncommon for more complex smart AR setups to want to eject darts prematurely if there’s even the slightest increase in air pressure.  Since I’ve had the DS, I haven’t experienced any air interference from one barrel group to the other, so kudos to Nerf on the engineering behind that.  Now on the other hand, I do have a few mostly subjective complaints about the exterior of the blaster.  I’m not a fan of the style of priming handle on the DS.  I realize it’s simple and just works, but I really don’t like how it sticks way out the back of the blaster when it’s primed.  There are other Nerf blasters that use this same method of priming and I don’t like it on any of them either, all the way back to the Nitefinder.  I just wish there had been a more elegant solution because I know it’s possible.  Also, while the grip is mostly fine, the notch just below the trigger where your middle finger is supposed to sit is way too narrow for my hand, so instead of my finger getting a secure, comfortable hold on the blaster, I have one finger sitting on a random raised edge.  It would have been better if this had either been moved down slightly or just removed entirely.  Again, mostly just my personal preferences, but I figure you must at least slightly value my opinions since you’re most of the way through this post, and if you are, I appreciate that.  There’s also a single attachment rail on the top of the blaster.  As far as functionality is concerned, at it’s most basic, the DS is a more complicated than usual 6-shot pistol which is pretty oddly proportioned to boot.   The Elite darts fly reasonably far and hit as hard as you’d expect a blaster in the Elite series to hit.  The Mega darts, however, don’t have the power behind them that they would have in a dedicated Mega blaster, so shots leave just a little to be desired.  Overall, I’d say the DS is best suited to indoor use for those times when you can’t decide just how mean you want to be to your younger siblings.  The Dual-Strike comes packaged with 3 Elite darts and 3 Mega darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Dual-Strike is one of those kind of hard to place blasters.  It felt more like a proof of concept rather than a product made to fill a niche in the market.  That being said, it’s plenty of fun for just messing around.  I just see the idea behind it having more potential than the final product we got in the end.  Add that to all this switch and DS talk and I feel like I’m writing up a Nintendo press release.

The Blaster In Question #0012: Rey Jakku Blaster

REY JAKKU BLASTER

STAR WARS

Why does everyone want to go back to Jakku?  It does’t make sense to me, especially in regards to today’s review.  Yes, Rey is from Jakku, and yes, she uses this blaster, but she never has the blaster ON Jakku.  Why is it named the Rey Jakku Blaster, then?  Beats me, but let’s get past that and take a look at the thing.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Rey Jakku Blaster was released in 2016 as a tie-in to the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.  The shell of the blaster is completely original but the internals are identical to the Han Solo Blaster which was released at the same time.  Both of these blaster, in turn, are largely the same as the Mega series Magnus, just chambered for standard Elite darts and holding 4 rounds instead of 3.  Due to it being a licensed product, it is entirely devoid of any Nerf branding aside from a mention on the box, opting for the Star Wars logo as well as the crest of the rebel alliance.  The blaster is based off of the NN-14 blaster that Rey receives from Han on Takodana, AFTER they have fled Jakku.  The toy is substantially larger than the blaster in the film and, sadly, is not chrome but simply white.  Additionally, there is a sizable grey boxy part that sticks out the back of the Nerf blaster that is not present on the original from the film.  I understand that it needs to be there in order to house the internal mechanism, but it does alter the form factor quite a bit from that of its inspiration.  It seems like the proportions as a whole had a rough time being translated to a functional Nerf blaster.  Even the grip feels oddly oversized.  It’s not terrible, but it definitely doesn’t help, especially with such pronounced edges along the profile.  I’m also not sure why, but there’s an attachment rail on the underside of the blaster if you really wanted to accessorize, I guess.  Functionally, the blaster works just fine.  In fact, I might say it feels better to operate than the Magnus because the loading port on the RJB is long enough to fit a dart without having to bend it or load it at an angle.  The prime is also a good bit smoother than that of the Magnus, but this may be because of the severely weaker spring.  As such, operation is fine, but performance is pretty flaccid.  This shouldn’t be surprising since Nerf needs to keep its core products competitive, but it’s still a little disappointing.  The range from the RJB is laughably short if you see it fired outside, but even indoors, it’ll hit the floor about 10 feet short of a target across the room.  It’s fun for plinking and playing pretend, but unfortunately not much beyond that.  The RJB comes packaged with 4 blue Star Wars branded Elite darts that have transparent tips which is kinda cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I don’t know if this has come across, but I have quite an interest in weapon design.  After seeing The Force Awakens, I do remember liking the little silver pistol that Rey has and thinking it would be easy to throw together my own prop version.  Then Nerf came along and handled it for me.  Sure, it’s not perfect, but I enjoy it, mainly for the novelty of having a Star Wars gun that actually shoots, and sometimes that’s all you need.