The Blaster In Question #0033: FocusFire Crossbow

FOCUSFIRE CROSSBOW

REBELLE (ACCUSTRIKE)

The Rebelle line of products and its handling has always slightly confused me.  At a surface level, getting girls into a hobby dominated by boys by making products targeted to them sounds like a good thing, exactly what constitutes a “girl blaster” is odd to say the least.  I’m not about to go on a rant about gender equality or how Hasbro should run their business, but what I will do is talk about one such Rebelle blaster, the FocusFire Crossbow.  Let’s get into it.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The FocusFire Crossbow was released in 2017 as a crossover blaster between the Rebelle and Accustrike lines.  Mechanically, it’s a 5-round revolver.  That’s it, the crossbow arms don’t actually affect the performance of the blaster in any way.  As such, you may notice that I chose to leave them off of mine.  Had I left them connected, I could store a few extra darts on the crossbow arms themselves.  The string of the bow arms is intended to loop through the priming handle on the top of the blaster which locks back when primed and snaps forward again when you pull the trigger, thereby imitating a crossbow action kind of, I guess.  The internals aren’t really anything special, but I do quite like the exterior of the blaster quite a bit, at least up to a point.  I have always been a fan of Rebelle’s smoothed, clean shell designs for the blasters and this is no exception.  The FFC has some really nice flowing lines with just a little bit of texturing on the grip that adds an air of technological sophistication into the overall grace of the design (can you tell I was an art student?), kind of like somthing I’d expect from the Asari from the Mass Effect video game series.  I also really like the paint deco on the right side of the blaster.  It’s just a shame it didn’t make it to the other side as well, like with so many other Nerf blasters.  There aren’t any places to add attachments on this blaster, but it does have an interesting integrated sight setup on top.  The blue piece can fold up or down to give you a choice of sight picture.  When folded down, it effectively acts as a hybrid peep/notch sight that’s more or less parallel with the barrels.  Flipping it up gives you a few more options as the entire piece can theoretically work as a ladder sight for angling long-range shots with a few pre-selected notches for quicker aiming, I suppose.  It’s a nice feature, but it doesn’t really help that much if at all.  I assume it was added to coincide with the fact that this blaster comes with Accustrike darts.  In theory the better accuracy of the darts could be taken full advantage of with the use of proper sights, and while accustrike darts are vastly superior to Elite darts, its still a toy, so sights can only do so much.  There is at least nice contrast between the blue rear sight and the orange front sight so they’re easy to aquire and line up.  The construction of the blaster feels solid, so no issues there.  Where I do have some issues is in the scale of the grip area.  The grip is noticeably smaller than on standard Nerf blasters both in length and thickness.  I can still fit my whole hand on the grip, which is more than I can say for some Rebelle blasters, but the notch toward the end can dig into my pinky a little.  The worst part, though, is the stock.  It’s too small to use, period.  I know Rebelle is geared to younger girls, and in general girls are slightly smaller than boys, but when my 11 year old sister can’t even use this thing, you know it’s just too small.  I would have loved it if it was a useable length, but as it stands, its just this weird extra part that hangs down and blocks your wrist.  As is the norm for Rebelle, the FFC is a little underpowered when compared to similar Elite blasters.  Not by much, granted.  You can still land some good hits on your younger siblings with it, and of course, the added accuracy of the darts helps with shot placement.  The FocusFire Crossbow comes packaged with the bow arms not attached, and 5 fancy purple Accustrike darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Sadly, it seems like Rebelle has been on the decline as a product line.  There have still been some new releases with blasters like the Com-Bow, but not nearly as much as we used to see and that does bum me out.  Sure, maybe the line could have been handled better, but the problems are pretty much all easy fixes, and I’d much rather see these issues taken into account with future releases than have the whole line disappear.

 

Advertisements

The Blaster In Question #0032: Revonix 360

REVONIX 360

VORTEX

Ok, fine.  I was mean to you guys last week so here it is, an actual legitimate Vortex review.  Some of you may ask “But Tim, what is Vortex even?” to which I would reply, “Largely unsuccessful.”  Sure, it had its fans, but not enough to keep the line afloat.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of the last Vortex blasters to see a release, the Revonix 360.  What the heck is a revonix?  Let’s have a look and find out.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

First things first, “revonix” isn’t a word.  It’s not even a mishmash of a couple real words, and that’s really rather odd for Nerf.  Even the Vigilon is arguably “vigil” and “on.”  Still doesn’t make sense, though.  Best I can tell is “revo” refers to the rotating drum aaaaaaand… that’s it.  It’s just gibberish.  The Revonix 360 was released in 2013 as part of the Vortex line of blasters.  The main selling point of the entire line was its use of proprietary Vortex discs as ammo which provided greater range and consistent flight path over standard Elite darts.  The trade-off was the speed of the projectiles themselves which could be outrun by an enthusiastic glacier.  As with almost all Vortex blasters, the Revonix launches the discs by use of a spring-loaded lever that would effectively flick the discs out of the chamber instead of a more traditional air plunger mechanism.  What makes the Revonix unique is its style of magazine which holds the discs perpendicular to their flight path until one is loaded into the chamber by pumping the fore grip.  Within the magazine, the discs are held in 5 stacks of 6 which cycle through the blaster.  The drum magazine is fully integrated with the blaster, so you have to reload the discs one at at time through either of the ports on the sides of the blaster.  The shell of the Revonix is entirely new, though it does bear a striking resemblance to its predecessor, the Pyragon.  There is a very long attachment rail on the top of the blaster and a stock attachment lug in the back. Some images of the Revonix showed it with its own stock which looked pretty cool, but it seems that wasn’t ever put into production. Sadly the Revonix was released after the decision was made to change the deco style of the Vortex blasters from a cool high-tech sci-fi look to some sort of urban/punk/graffiti kind of something. I’m not really a fan, but as such, the Revonix sports a weird out of place flame paint scheme.  Oh well.  Another trait shared among the entirety of the Vortex line is how wide the blasters are compared to standard dart blasters.  The Revonix is even more so than that because of the great big drum mag, so the whole thing feels rather hefty in hand.  Thankfully the ergonomics are good.  No hard edges or sharp corners on the grips.  Due to the mechanical complexity of the blaster, priming it is fairly loud and requires a bit of elbow grease, but once you get a feel for it, it’s hard to deny the intimidation factor of hearing it rack in a new round, especially if you’re one of those younger siblings I keep talking about.  As stated above, Vortex blasters have a tendency to shoot straight and far but hit with minimal impact and it’s true here too.  Sure, it sounds, looks, and feels like a monster, but it’s really a precision tool of sibling harassment as you can pretty easily get shots to just barely skim someone’s head if they’re not looking.  If they can see you, though, it just takes an idle side-step to avoid one of the discs, so I would greatly recommend using stealth to your advantage.  Easier said than done with a blaster like this.  The Revonix 360 comes packaged with 30 red and white Vortex discs.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

There we have it, I finally got around to reviewing something from Vortex.  I am a little sad that the line is dead, I do quite enjoy all of my Vortex blasters still.  At the same time, I’m glad Nerf had the sense to end something that was floundering so they could make room for something awesome like Rival a little further down the road.

 

The Blaster In Question #0031: Modulus ECS-10

MODULUS ECS-10

MODULUS

It’s come to my attention that there is a glaring hole in the scope of my reviews thus far.  As it stands, an entire line has gone without a dedicated review up till this point.  An empty space in the catalog, like the eye of a hurricane, a vortex, if you will.  But that ends here.  It’s time to stop circling around the topic like debris in a vortex.  So now I bring you this review with great fervorTex.  That’s right, it’s time to talk about Modulus.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

Ok, that was mean to lead you on like that, I’m sorry.  Now that that’s out of the way, I feel like if we’re gonna be talking about the Modulus line, you have to start with the blaster that’s also called… Modulus.  It’s the Modulus Modulus?  You mean like Mario Mario?  It’s probably just easier for everyone to call it the ECS-10.  The Modulus ECS-10 was released in 2015 as the first blaster in the Modulus line.  Mechanically, the blaster works exactly like a Stryfe, using a magazine-fed flywheel setup, requiring 4 AA batteries to run.  The exterior work is completely original and showcases the primary focus of the line: accessories.  The ECS-10 has more than its fair share of attachment points including 5 attachment rails (one on the top handle, one on top of the body, one on either side, and one beneath the barrel) plus 2 more on the top and bottom of the included barrel extension.  In addition, there is a stock attachment lug in the back and a barrel attachment lug up front, but wait, there’s more.  Typically, if a Nerf blaster has a barrel attachment, it’s a simple case of male barrel to female accessory, but with the ECS-10, the barrel extension piece has both male and female connections, allowing for even more barrel pieces to be added.  For the most part, all components of the blaster work and feel good with just a couple rather pronounced exceptions.  First and most importantly is the grip.  When designing this blaster, the people at Nerf went for a skeletonized sci-fi looking handle which is cool until you pick up the blaster itself.  The construction leaves it a little creaky if you hold onto it with any significant force.  Worse than that, though is that there is a sharp little ridge that is positioned just perfectly to dig rather painfully into the webbing of your hand right by your thumb.  Now, Nerf has been known to quietly update some of their designs to fix some of the more egregious problems, so it may have been addressed in later releases, but on mine, it’s just bad.  The second area of concern is the stock, which, immediately upon handling, reveals itself to be comically floppy, lacking any kind of structural integrity whatsoever.  I guess it can hold a spare magazine, so there’s that.  It’s also removable so I don’t see it as being quite as irksome as the uncomfortable grip.  The other attachments don’t add any functionality to the blaster but they’re at least cool pieces in their own right.  The scope has a sharp look and provides one of the better sight pictures available on a Nerf blaster, while the vertical fore grip is vertical and adds a place to grip… in the fore.  Simple enough.  Being more or less a Stryfe reshell in its core, the ECS-10 performs accordingly, flinging darts a respectable distance and with just enough oomph to make it noticeable if you get hit, but not enough to get in trouble when you bust into your sibling’s room and light them up with a volley of foam.  The Modulus Modulus Luigi Mario ECS-10 comes packaged with a stock, a scope, a vertical fore grip, a barrel extension, a 10-round curved magazine (though the darts don’t actually go down far enough for the curve to do anything but look cool), and 10 Modulus colored Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I remember when the image of the Modulus first leaked back in 2014, everyone was convinced it was going to be this revolutionary new system that could be configured as spring or flywheel powered just by exchanging a few parts.  Boy was that optimistic.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the Modulus  line is great for all the crazy new accessories it’s spawned, but it’s not the build-a-blaster dream so many people were convinced it was going to be.  I mean, there’s always time for Nerf to come up with something like that sometime in the future I suppose.  Just have to keep on dreaming.

 

The Blaster In Question #30: Sledgefire

SLEDGEFIRE

ZOMBIE STRIKE

Boo! Haunted house!  What else could be scarier than a late review?  Muahahaha!  Ok, well, lots of things, I suppose.  Zombies, for instance. And if there are zombies, you know you’re gonna need to shoot at least a couple of them, you know, just to try it out. Sure, you could, in theory, use any of the quality blasters in the Nerf catalog, but what if one or even two darts at a time isn’t enough?  That’s when it’s time to consider the Sledgefire, and consider it we shall.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Sledgefire was released in 2013 as part of the first wave of Zombie Strike blasters alongside the Hammershot. Like the Barrel Break from last week, it operates using a break action with darts being loaded tip first into the barrel. The big difference between the Barrel Break and the Sledgefire is that the Sledgefire uses proprietary shells for loading which hold three darts a piece. Pressing the orange tab above the grip unlocks the barrel, allowing you to simultaneously open the action of the blaster and prime the air plunger. Once fully opened, you insert a shell and close the breach back up. Pulling the trigger fires all three darts out of the shell in one blast, there isn’t a staged trigger like on the Barrel Break, so it’s effectively a one-shot blaster that has a spread pattern. The outer shell is all original, featuring a pretty aggressive looking attachment rail on top, and sports a rather appealing turquoise blue color that we are yet to see on any other Nerf blaster, which I feel is a shame. The shells are unique to the Sledgefire and serve simply to hold the darts in position for loading and firing. The stock has cutouts that allow you to store the shells with the blaster so they don’t get lost, which is a nice feature since the blaster cannot work without the shells. You can buy more shells, but only through Amazon or via the Hasbro Toy Shop website, which is nice that they’re available, but I wish they had a proper retail release.  The ergonomics of the Sledgefire are pretty nice, the grip is comfortable even at such a steep angle which seems to be Nerf shorthand for “this is meant to be a shotgun” at this point. Everything feels nice and solid especially around the breach which is important for something like this to work well. Loading the shells into the blaster is pretty fiddly and takes a bit of time to get used to, but it’s novel and has nice mechanical feedback so the fun of reloading makes up for some of the required fine motor control needed. Performance isn’t really the focus of the blaster, and as such, spreading the air pressure of a single plunger across three darts does make them fly a little shorter and softer than typical.  Additionally, I’m not sure what it is, but the Sledgefire is on of the worst blasters as far as dart crimping, where if you leave the darts loaded in the shells for any period of time more than a day or so, they get compressed and don’t fit the chamber as snugly so performance drops pretty dramatically.  It’s still quite effective against younger siblings whether you’re busting into their room or waiting in ambush to blast them. The imposing ka-chunk if snapping the breach closed only adds to the shock and awe impression its sure to leave. The Sledgefire comes packaged with 3 shells and 9 green Zombie Strike colored Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I figured this would be a pretty fun blaster to look at for Hallowe’en (or Samhain if that’s more your style) weekend.  It’s not really a practical blaster at all, but once again, the fun of it makes up for that in spades.  You can always count on shotguns for fun.

 

The Blaster In Question #0029: Barrel Break IX-2

BARREL BREAK IX-2

N-STRIKE

After last week’s rather downer review, I need something to pick me back up.  Bonus points if it restores my faith in the regular N-Strike series.  What’s this?  Oh, praise the gods, it’s the Barrel Break.  Faith is restored, and by a shotgun no less.  So what is this masterpiece of toy craftsmanship?  Does it really make up for the SharpFire?  Am I maybe over-hyping it a little?  All these questions will be answered in due time.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

Ok, it’s probably due time now, so let me address your questions in no particular order; maybe a little, not really since the SharpFire came out afterward and it’s hard to make up for something that comes later, and this is the Barrel Break IX-2.  That answer everything?  Good, moving on.  The Barrel Break IX-2 was released in 2010 as part of the N-Strike line.  Its main draw was the unique and fairly unorthodox method of loading the blaster.  By pressing the lever on either side of the blaster, you unlock the barrels which slide forward and then pivot downward like a break action shotgun.  You then load the darts into the barrels, pivot them back into alignment and push them back into the body of the blaster.  You then are able to fire either one dart at a time or both at once thanks to the 2 separate air chambers, much like the Roughcut that would come later.  Where the Roughcut would use gears to assist priming both springs at once, the Barrel Break simply uses the mechanical advantage of the barrels acting as a long lever when pushed down to prime the plungers.  The whole system may be a little complex, but back in my days of collegiate Humans Vs Zombies, this blaster was an easy choice for backup.  The ability to fire two shots in rapid succession was a big help during the day, and its tolerance for all ammo types gave a decent advantage during missions when scrounging darts off the ground was commonplace.  It should be noted that while clip system blasters obviously couldn’t use broad heads, there were more than a handful of non-clip blasters that wouldn’t reliably fire streamlines either.  The Barrel Break uses all new sculpting and mechanics and has one attachment rail along the top of the blaster.  It does show a few signs of its time such as the plastic being a little creakier than more recent blasters, but even so, the fun of the whole thing is hard to deny.  Creaking aside, in hand the blaster feels pretty good.  My only gripe in this area is that the front of the grip is a little narrow and can put just a little more pressure on my fingers than I’d like when holding it for a long time.  The grip is severely angled which helps confirm that this is meant to be a trusty double-barrel more than anything.  The angle does make aiming down sights a little awkward, but let’s be honest, this isn’t a blaster to be aimed.  The performance is another way the Barrel Break shows its age.  While it had pretty great out-of-the-box range and power when it was released, the standard has been moved up since then.  It’ll still work fine as an indoor/sibling attack blaster, but I still think most of the enjoyment I get out of it is the satisfying mechanical feeling of reloading and that hasn’t changed a bit.  The Barrel Break IX-2 comes packaged with 10 whistler darts and a clip-on dart holder that attaches to the rail.  I still have it, at least, I still have all of its parts, but I may have taken it apart slightly so I could put it on a sleeve instead.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

That felt better.  I know a lot of people will say that there are plenty of better choices out there for an HvZ blaster than the Barrel Break, and I might agree with them on some points but I stand by my choice.  Even outside HvZ, I recognize that it’s a lot of steps to fire 2 darts, but you’ll definitely have fun doing it.  In that sense, I don’t know that I can think of a better example of pure fun outweighing functionality in a Nerf blaster without getting into the Max Force line.

 

The Blaster In Question #0028: SharpFire

SHARPFIRE

N-STRIKE

This week, we’ll be playing the NES classic, Duckhunt using the zapper light gun.  Wait, hang on.  Nope, scratch that, this is a Nerf blaster, but let’s be fair, you can understand my confusion.  I mean, look at it.  Ok, fine, we can look at it together.  Let’s get into reviewing the N-Strike SharpFire.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The SharpFire was released in 2015 as part of the N-Strike series which was a little odd seeing as N-Strike Elite had already been launched several years prior.  It is a single-shot, breach-loading pistol/rifle thing.  It’s a bit of a mess, quite frankly.  To my knowledge, it was the first Nerf blaster to use this breach-loading mechanism but not the last as it has also appeared in the Modulus and Accustrike lines as the IonFire and FalconFire respectively.  The core blaster can be used on its own as a small pistol or combined with the included (and proprietary) stock and barrel extension.  The barrel extension is just a tube that snaps on the front, but the stock can be reversed and used as a holster of sorts.  It even has a belt clip on one side and can hold 6 extra darts in storage as well as holding onto the barrel extension when not in use.  The shell of the blaster is completely original and has only seen reuse in the SharpFire Delta, effectively just a recolor and without the accessories.  The ergonomics of the SharpFire leave something to be desired.  The lump on the back of the pistol grip makes achieving a firm grip rather awkward, and the barrel and stock are too short.  The stock is especially uncomfortable as it has no semblance of a cheek rest of any kind, leaving your head floating awkwardly behind the blaster as you hunch way down to get any kind of sight picture.  The whole thing is quite literally a pain in the neck.  This is not helped by the fact that the barrel attachment mechanism is so poorly designed that it is both too tight where it causes stress marks in the plastic from attaching and detaching, but also too loose so the barrel never stays on straight.  As a pistol, my left hand can wrap around the fingers of my right hand in a standard grip, but as a rifle (kinda sorta), It feels like there should be something more substantial to hold on to in the front of the blaster and there isn’t.  These would be bad enough except that both of these accessories are only compatible with the SharpFire, and likewise, the SharpFire can’t accept standard attachments.  Performance isn’t exactly stellar either.  With just the core blaster, many shots seem to idly coast through the air before dropping to the floor as opposed to the speed and force seen with Elite series blasters, which again, had been out for 3 years at this point.  I just feel like I need to point that out again.  With the barrel attachment on, the loose fit would sometimes mean that darts would impact the inside of the barrel and slow down before exiting the blaster, leading to some hilariously flaccid shots.  Needless to say, you don’t want this happening when you decide to bust into your younger sibling’s room.  You’ve got an image to maintain.  The SharpFire comes packaged with its stock, barrel extension, and 10 N-Strike Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Hoo-boy.  That was a rough one.  When it was first shown in a leaked promo image back in 2014, I was super excited for it to come out because it didn’t look like anything that had come out before it.  I was really confused why no one else seemed interested in what could have potentially been a dedicated Nerf sniper.  Then it came out and I figured out why.  I guess it’s hard to convey scale on a low res leaked picture but this thing really is just kind of disappointing all around.

 

The Blaster In Question #0027: Zeus MXV-1200

ZEUS MXV-1200

RIVAL

You know what this page needs?  It needs more balls.  Like, just a little pile over there, like 2 cubic tons.  Ok, maybe not that many, more like just a few ounces.  And obviously, I’m talking about the Nerf Rival High-Impact Rounds.  What else could it be, you weirdo.  Yes, it’s another Rival review, and this time we’re looking at part 2 of the line’s debut release, named for the king of the gods himself, the Zeus MXV-1200.  Let’s check it out.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

Here’s a fun fact, the names of the Rival blasters are actually quite informative.  Let me break it down for you.  So far they all are named for a deity from the ancient Greek pantheon and that’s just to sound cool.  After that, if the first letter is an M, that stands for “motorized.”  If there’s no M, you can assume it’s spring powered.  The next letters are the Roman numerals for the last 2 digits of the blaster’s release year.  XV is 15, hence, the Zeus and Apollo came out in 2015.  Lastly, the number after the hyphen is the blaster’s initial magazine capacity multiplied by 100.  All clear?  Good, let’s move on.  As the name suggests, the Zeus is a semi-automatic flywheel powered blaster with a 12 round capacity using the included magazine.  The flywheel mechanism itself is nothing new, though it has been substantially beefed up to deliver the expected Rival performance.  The shell of the Zeus is completely original and features a unique in-line side loaded orientation for the magazine, using the magazine spring itself to feed rounds into the flywheels rather than some other pusher mechanism.  Exchanging magazines is a little tricky at first because of how unconventional the layout is, but with a little time you get used to it.  Something worth noting is that the Rival 12 round magazines are the only ones that will work with the Zeus.  The Zeus’s handling is pretty good, though I do have some minor gripes.  The blaster feels solid and rather hefty in the hand, but the housing for the motors sticks out kind of abruptly from the left side and can dig into your palm if you’re not holding it just right.  Also, the pistol grip feels a little slim and I might have preferred just a bit more there to hold onto.  There is a lever safety above the trigger that prevents the rev switch from being pressed when it’s engaged, but it’s got a lot of play before it actually clicks into place and feels like it was probably a last minute addition.  The Zeus sports 3 Rival attachment rails (not the standard Nerf rail, these are specific to Rival), one on each side and a longer one along the top of the blaster.  It also has flip-up sights to help with aiming but they sit a little low compared to the back end of the blaster so you have to really mash your face into the cheek rest to get a decent sight picture.  Functionally, the only complaint I have is that I wish inserting a magazine didn’t automatically make it push a round into the blaster.  Again, these are minor issues that I have and don’t affect my overall opinion of the blaster that much.  That’s because actually shooting the Zeus is a joy.  Unlike other flywheel dart blasters, the Zeus revs up with a sound I’ve often described as a bag of angry hornets, and that sound is very much understandable once you pull the trigger a few times.  It launches rounds on more or less a straight line trajectory for a good 50 feet before they exhibit any noticeable drop.  Rounds also hit hard, making indoor shooting kind of a bad idea if you don’t want to risk breaking anything.  The plus side of this is that usually, you don’t even need to shoot anything to freak out your sibling when you bust into their room.  Just rev the darn thing like a mother-something chainsaw (what?) and that’ll get your point across. The Zeus MXV-1200 requires 6 C batteries and comes packaged with 12 High-Impact Rounds and a 12 round magazine.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Zeus isn’t perfect.  Almost no blasters out there are, but it’s easily in the top 10% and very much a force to be reckoned with.  It sounds like thunder when it revs up, buzzy, high pitched thunder.  It hits like lightning.  There might be some hyperbole in there but you get the point.  It seems “Zeus” is an appropriate name for this blaster.  It’s not much of a womanizer though, so I guess that’s probably a point in it’s favor.

The Blaster In Question #0026: Bigshock & Hotshock

BIGSHOCK & HOTSHOCK

N-STRIKE ELITE (MEGA)

It’s another double review. Yes, Nerf has a bit of a tendency to iterate similar concepts again and again, particularly with smaller blasters. Today’s blasters are no exception to the rule and I felt I could get away with reviewing them both at once given their similarities. This week, I’ll be looking at the Mega series Bigshock and Hotshock (gotta love Nerf naming convention) blasters. So what’s the deal with these things? Let’s have a look-see.

THE BLASTERS THEMSELVES

So why would you be carrying around one of these goofy things? Calling yourself “The Shocker! I’m the Shocker! I shock people!” Well, that would be a weird thing to do, and you’d be weird for doing it. I mean, if you really want to, then more power to you I guess. But enough movie references. These blasters were released a little over a year apart with the Bigshock coming out in early 2015 and the Hotshock releasing in the later part of 2016. Both blasters function much the same way with the Bigshock simply a Mega upscale of the N-Strike Jolt, and the Hotshock being an inline configuration of the same mechanism. They are both front-loading single shot blasters that have storage for an additional Mega dart along the top of the blaster body. They perform as well as you’d expect a compact Mega blaster to do, shooting far and hard relative to their size. Both blasters come packaged with two Mega darts.

BIGSHOCK

When you really get down to it, the only real differences between the two are aesthetic and ergonomic. The Bigshock is the shorter, stubbier of the two and is laid out the same as a traditional Jolt with the air cylinder and plunger mechanism in the grip. In hand everything feels solid and reasonably hefty considering the size of the blaster. The structural ridges along the front of the grip can get uncomfortable to hold, digging into the pads of your fingers if you grip a little too tightly. On the Bigshock, if the dart storage on the top of the blaster is empty, there is a small peep hole in front that could maybe be used as some kind of sight if you really wanted, but it’s not great.

HOTSHOCK

The Hotshock goes for more of a traditional pistol look with a longer more streamlined body. Instead of the cylinder and plunger angling down to form the grip, they simply continue straight back, parallel to the barrel with a more conventional pistol grip below. Some places where the Hotshock beats out the Hotshock are primarily in handling. The plunger catch and trigger have a noticeably more tactile click than on the Bigshock and the grip is free from hard edges or sharp corners. Unfortunately that’s really all the Hotshock has in its favor. The grip, while much smoother, is also significantly shorter and my pinky hangs off the bottom. Additionally, the multiple layers of plastic have an unsettling amount of flex to them and can creak in a tight grip. The sights are also terrible, even for a Nerf blaster, but the BigShock wasn’t much better so you can probably ignore them. It’s a nice looking blaster, but given the additional size, I’m a little disappointed they didn’t add any features.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

In the end, the winner is the Bigshock in my opinion, I guess. Take that however you want. They’re both fun little pocket blasters and it’s nice to have options. In my experience, however, I felt just a little bit of disappointment with the Hotshock that I didn’t have with the Bigshock. That’s probably not helped by how long it took me to even find the Hotshock in the first place.

The Blaster In Question #0025: AlphaHawk

ALPHAHAWK

ACCUSTRIKE

Sometimes bigger isn’t always better, but if you’re going big anyway, make sure you look good doing it.  That pretty much sums up what I must imagine was the design mentality behind this week’s blaster.  I am talking, of course, about the Accustrike AlphaHawk.  We’ve already checked out the target pistol-esque FalconFire, so let’s see what the full sized rifle has going on.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The AlphaHawk was released in 2017 as the then-flagship blaster for the new Accustrike line.  It uses a 5-round rotating cylinder like the Hammershot or Spectre REV-5.  It uses a bolt handle to prime the plunger as opposed to the more common slide or hammer mechanisms and features the ability to swing the cylinder out to the left side to facilitate loading.  Very little if any part of this blaster is new, mechanically speaking, but the tooling on the outer shell is all original.  This is perhaps the best feature of the blaster.  It’s clear a lot of care went into the design because it just looks fantastic.  Additionally, it feels great too.  The grip is very ergonomic and even has rubberized side panels for extra traction.  The bolt handles are all plastic unlike those found on the Longshot or Tri-Strike and are much lower profile plus have a spring return instead of having to be manually pushed forward again.  The AlphaHawk also has somewhat functional sights along the top with a big ring around the front post.  There aren’t any accessories included with the blaster but it does sport a rail on the top of the body and another just under the muzzle if you feel like adding any.  I personally think it looks rather smart with the scope from the Zombie Strike Clear Shot.  The performance for the AlphaHawk is pretty standard for a mainline Nerf blaster, shooting pretty far and hitting reasonably hard.  The darts are perhaps the biggest improvement, offering significantly more consistent flight paths for every shot.  Using regular Elite darts effectively makes the blaster just like any other 5 shot revolver except in a package the size of a rifle.  This then begs the question, “why would you choose a rifle with only 5 shots when there are pistols with higher capacity and equal or superior performance?”  The answer is simply “style.”  Looking at the pure numerical statistics of the AlphaHawk, it’s not that great of a blaster.  It doesn’t provide any real benefit of use for all that extra plastic, but that’s not the point.  Yes, it’s styled to resemble a sniper or marksman’s rifle, but you’re never going to get that kind of performance from a toy for kids 8+.  In this case it’s all about the feel of the blaster, and the AlphaHawk feels phenomenal.  The size does make it a little unwieldy for the traditional busting-into-your-sibling’s-room kind of attack, but it’s a ton of fun to play indoor sniper and take pot shots at them from down the hallway.  The AlphaHawk comes packaged with 10 Accustrike darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

There are a handful of blasters out there that I feel get an undeserved amount of hate from Nerf fans.  Most of the time it’s very straightforward, but I feel like the AlphaHawk is the target of a much more subtle brand of contempt.  I’ve never heard anyone flat-out say they hate the AlphaHawk, but I’ve seen more than a handful of videos of people cutting off the barrel and stock, making it into just a revolver pistol.  If you want a revolver pistol, Nerf has a wide assortment to choose from, but I really don’t understand the point of ruining arguably the best feature of the blaster in order to get there.

The Blaster In Question #0024: Captain Cassian Andor Deluxe Blaster

CAPTAIN CASSIAN ANDOR DELUXE BLASTER

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

Everything looks better in blue.  Ok, maybe not everything, but a lot of things do, and that goes for Nerf blasters.  Today, I’ll be taking a look at yet another Star Wars blaster.  This time it is the Target exclusive Captain Cassian Andor Deluxe Blaster.  Well, sort of exclusive.  I’ll explain later.  Let’s get into the review

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Captain Cassian Andor Deluxe Quite A Mouthful Blaster was released in 2016 as a tie-in product for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  This specific blaster is the Target exclusive blue recolor of the Jyn Erso Blaster from the same line.  Plus, this one’s got a bunch of accessories that Jin’s blaster doesn’t.  It’s built on the classic magazine-fed flywheel system we’ve seen on the Stryfe and other blasters.  Holding down the rev trigger spins up the flywheels and pulling the main trigger pushes a single dart into the wheels, sending it flying.  The big difference between the CCADB and the Stryfe is the inclusion of lights and sounds which activate on the trigger pull, regardless of the rev trigger being pressed.  I was actually pretty impressed with the lights on this blaster.  Every time the trigger is pulled, a series of green LEDs in the barrel light up in rapid succession giving the illusion of a laser blast traveling down the barrel.  Accompanied by the sound effects, it really does make just pulling the trigger quite satisfying.  It’s also worth noting that holding down the rev trigger turns on the blue LED in the chamber as part of the blaster’s Glowstrike feature.  The included magazine holds 12 darts and, unlike most standard N-Strike Elite magazines, is completely transparent orange on both sides.  The outer shell of the base blaster is completely new work though shared with the Jyn Erso blaster, and looks a good bit like the blaster in the film which, if anyone cares, was made with an AR-15 as the base of the prop.  Like with the Poe Dameron blaster, the use of real-world firearms parts makes holding the blaster fairly comfortable, though there is some noticeable down-scaling from the real thing, making it a little cramped in the grip.  All the included accessories with the CCADB are recolored attachments from various other blasters.  The stock comes from the N-Strike Raider CS-35, the scope comes from the Modulus Long Range Upgrade Kit, the barrel extension/suppressor comes from the N-Strike/Elite Specter REV-5, and the bumps along the sides of the magazine indicate it comes from the Modulus Flip-Clip Upgrade Kit.  In addition to the grip being a hair small, some sections of the blaster feel a little flimsier than I’m used to from Nerf.  It’s not a lot, but the grey panels on the sides of the grip and the battery tray cover do flex a good bit if you have a firm grasp on the blaster.  This CCADB is not a heavy hitter in terms of performance.  The power of the flywheels is rather limited, either by design or because the batteries also have to power the lights, sounds, and Glowstrike feature when firing.  This is an indoor blaster, no question.  It does fire reliably but shots arc more severely than most other blasters and don’t land with as much force, making it ideal for busting into your sibling’s room and emptying the mag without fear of getting in as much trouble.  The CCADB comes packaged with 12 Glowstrike Star Wars darts, a 12 round magazine, a scope, a stock, a barrel extension, and 4 AA batteries already installed.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This blaster is largely what convinced me that the addition of lights and sounds to the Star Wars Nerf lineup wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  While the Death Trooper blaster is fine, the effects on this blaster are pretty top notch and, having seen this year’s offerings, set the standard for effects for “deluxe” blasters to follow.