RIVAL (PHANTOM CORPS)
Alright, I know it would have been thematically more appropriate to do this review last week what with the whole Christmas thing that happened, but this is my (subsection on someone else’s) review site and I will do what I like. Besides, Ethan is still working through his annual haul, so it’s fine. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s have a look at the first Nerf blaster I’ve received for Christmas in, like, 8ish years. That would be the Rival Helios XVIII-700.
THE BLASTER ITSELF
The Helios was officially slated for release in 2018 but as you may have figured out, they slipped into circulation just a little early. So far it is only available in the Target exclusive Phantom Corps subset which means white is your only color option for the blaster itself. At first glance, it looks like just a revised design of Apollo and I suppose that’s not far off, functionally, but it’s certainly not just a reskin. Only the Jolt can get away with that. Like the Apollo, it is a spring powered blaster that uses standard Rival tube magazines loaded through the pistol grip. What’s different about the Helios is the addition of proper fore-grip and stock pieces, a jam door, and a new style of priming handle. Instead of being a vertical pull and push bolt handle like on the Apollo, the Helios has a side-mounted bolt handle with a spring return, so you just pull it back and let it snap forward again on its own. The whole motion is very satisfying and makes the Helios feel like an SMG or machine pistol. The fun doesn’t stop there, though, because those crafty folks at Hasbro worked out how to make the bolt handle removable and reversible, making the blaster completely ambidextrous for all you sinister people out there. Either that or if you’re one of those Ghost Recon/Sam Fisher Ubisoft properties who might need to switch hands at a moments notice. Besides the obvious benefit of just a better priming action, the orientation of the bolt handle means there’s an actually usable line of sight as well as a bunch more rail space for attachments. As with all Rival blasters, it should be noted that it’s not an N-Strike style rail, so only Rival accessories will work. They’ve also changed the style of safety from a push button on the Apollo to a switch on both sides of the blaster, sticking with the ambidextrous theme. All put together, you have a very compact, solid blaster that is just a joy to operate and feels good in hand. The blaster runs very smooth, like how you would expect an improved Apollo to run. The power of the blaster is right on par with other Rival blasters, flying straight and hitting hard, definitely not something to use lightly when busting into your younger sibling’s room. Maybe save it for when they’ve actually earned it. The Helios comes packaged with a 7 round magazine, 7 Rival rounds, and, specific to the Phantom Corps line, two colored team flags, one red, one blue. I believe the purpose is for them to be attached to your person or your blaster to denote your team when playing competitively, but I just like putting them on my bag so everyone knows I’m a huge nerd who plays with Nerf blasters.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
The Helios was a present from my parents this past Christmas. Before that, it was the Dart Tag Furyfire 2-pack when it was new. That should give you an idea of how long it’s been since I’ve found a blaster under the tree. Ordinarily I would have already purchased a blaster like this myself and so ruling Nerf out as a potential gift, but recent financial constraints have somewhat slowed my consumption of Nerf lately, but I fully intend to pick up the slack eventually, just have to see when that is.