The Blaster In Question #0063: Tri-Break

BlasterInQuestion1

TRI-BREAK

N-STRIKE ELITE (MEGA)

tribreak1Since its inception, the MEGA series of Nerf blasters has lent itself well to oversized, chunky blasters.  Sure, there are some actual size constraints given the dimensions of the ammunition, but most MEGA blasters go well beyond what is necessary as far as the size of the actual blaster.  The pistols in the line, especially, seem to have steadily gotten bigger and bigger relative to their ammo capacity.  Today, I’ll be looking at perhaps the biggest 3-shot pistol in my Nerf arsenal, the MEGA Tri-Break.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

tribreak2The MEGA Tri-Break was released in 2018, unsurprisingly as part of the MEGA subset of the N-Strike Elite line.  It uses a pretty standard 3-round smart AR system with a jolt-style priming bar in the grip.  That’s right, for all its bulk and flare, it’s a jolt (triad) reskin.  It does go a little beyond just a basic reskin by the use of its primary gimmick, that being the pseudo break-action… thing it has.  In the trigger well, there is a button on the forward end that, when pressed, releases the front half of the blaster, allowing it to pivot down like a break-action shotgun, or Hellboy’s Samaritan.  This gives you access to the barrels in order to load the blaster, but the overall implementation of this feature raises some design questions.  First off, it’s interesting to note that the front end of the Tri-Break is a purely cosmetic piece.  It contains none of the mechanism required to operate the blaster.  As such, being as short as it is, you can actually load the blaster reasonably easily without breaking it open.  Second, the catch that holds the front end locked in the closed position is located right at the pivot.  tribreak3Given the size of the blaster, particularly in the vertical direction, this means there is a lot of mechanical advantage when any force is applied to the upper forward section of the faux barrels.  You know, right where the accessory rail is, right where you might be inclined to add extra weight.  Now, I’ve seen other reviews of this blaster where the front end drops down after even firing the blaster, and I will say, I’ve not had that issue, but I do still agree that the catch mechanism feels pretty weak.  On the more functional side, the blaster has decent ergonomics and feels good in the hand.  It might feel a little more imposing if I had more confidence in the barrel catch, but if you can play it off well, it’ll still make quite the impression on any younger siblings who find themselves staring down the barrel.  The priming stroke is surprisingly long for this style of plunger tube, but I’m hardly complaining because that extra air flow means the darts hit with the expected oomf you’d want from a MEGA blaster. The MEGA Tri-Break comes packaged with 3 MEGA darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

I think Nerf likes to tease me on purpose.  They must know I have a thing for break-action blasters after hearing me go on and on about the Sledgefire and the Barrel Break.  When I first heard about this blaster, I thought, just for a second, that this was going to be just as fun if not more so than those two.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, I do, quite a bit, actually.  But in this case, the inclusion of the break-action seems questionable and just pure gimmick whereas it was integral, new, and fun on the Sledgefire and Barrel Break.

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The Blaster In Question #0062: Evader

BlasterInQuestion1

EVADER

MODULUS (GHOST OPS)

evader1What’s this?  A review of an actually new blaster?  Yes, we’re well into August and so that inevitably means getting hit by a wave of new Nerf blasters, many of which were seen at NY Toy Fair back in February.  Today’s review is one of those blasters.  It’s also an example of a spin-off of a spin-off, where at first we had N-Strike Elite, then Modulus, now we have Modulus Ghost Ops.  Spooky.  Let’s take a look at the blaster.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

evader2If you hadn’t yet read the title of this post, I am indeed reviewing the Modulus Ghost Ops Evader.  It was released in 2018 as the first and, so far, only blaster in the Ghost Ops sub-series.  Functionally, it’s a Stryfe just with a side-loading magazine, still using the same flywheel semi-auto mechanism.  Hey, if it works, use it.  The big draw for the Evader is the completely clear plastic the shell is cast in, and subsequently, the light-up feature that this allows.  The main pistol grip contains all of the standard flywheel controls we’re used to, but the fore-grip also has a button which, when pressed, activates the green LEDs inside the body of the blaster, giving it an almost night-vision kind of look.  That is, as long as it’s not too bright wherever you are.  The effect definitely gets stronger in darker conditions, unsurprisingly.  Assisting the LEDs is an array of light piping and refractive surfaces that give the light more places to bounce off so you can actually see it.  It should be noted that the button for the lights has to be held down to keep the lights on.  I had to jerry-rig my blaster to keep it lit for one of the photos without my hands getting in the way, so don’t expect that to be the norm.  The lights are overall pretty well incorporated into the blaster’s design, and I especially like the lights inside the muzzle that are only activated when you attach the included barrel extension.  The shell appears to be well made, but it’s hard to see what the shape of it really is the way you could with an opaque blaster. evader3 When I first took it out of the box, it was a lot bigger than I expected but that turned out to be ok since it addressed my concern that the thumbhole fore-grip might be small and awkward.  It’s still not conventional but even with my larger hands, I can say it’s perfectly functional.  Being a Modulus blaster, the Evader sports a top, bottom and side rail (right side only), as well as attachment points for a stock and a barrel.  I’ve only used the Evader with the batteries that came installed from the store, but even as such, it seems like it has a decent amount of power behind it.  Shots travel far and hit hard.  It’s already been proven to be effective in combat in my ongoing campaign against the spider crickets in my basement.  I expect it would perform just as admirably against younger siblings, especially if you use the light-up feature as some sort of psychological/intimidation tactic in conjunction with the actual darts.  The Evader comes packaged with the barrel extension, 12 white Modulus Elite darts, a 12 round magazine, and the 4 AA batteries that power both the lights and flywheels already installed.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

The Evader was the first of the new 2018 wave of blasters that I purchased, but not the first I attempted to buy.  A few weeks earlier, I had found the Delta Trooper on shelves at my local Target, but when I went to go check out, I was told they couldn’t sell it to me so I had to leave without it.  When I eventually went back, I found that they had just recently put out the new blasters with the one exception being the Delta Trooper.  It doesn’t really have much to do with the Evader itself but its a bit of a story.

The Blaster In Question #0061: Cam ECS-12

 

 

BlasterInQuestion1

CAM ECS-12

N-STRIKE ELITE

cam1There’s one thing that Nerf keeps trying to do that I don’t think I’ll ever understand, and that’s attaching cameras to their blasters.  They tried it with the Battlescout and that was no good, but that was hardly their first attempt at this particular gimmick.  That one also suffered because the blaster itself was pretty crap, but what if they had tried using an actually decent mechanism as a starting point.  Well, in that case, you end up with the Cam ECS-12, which I’ll be reviewing today.  Let’s check it out.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

cam2The Cam ECS-12 was released in 2014 under the core N-Strike Elite line of blasters.  It was built on the old standby semi-auto flywheel mechanism we’ve seen again and again.  The main draw was the integrated “battle cam” that could function more or less like a scope while also being able to take photos and record video of whatever Nerf shenanigans you might choose to get up to.  With the 4 buttons just below the viewing screen, you can power the camera on and off, play/pause, skip forward, and delete files.  The actual capture button is located on the left side of the blue fore-grip area so you could press it from a firing position with your thumb (or index finger for lefties).  Rather wisely, the camera is run off its own entirely separate bank of AA batteries so having the cam on or off doesn’t affect the performance of the blaster at all and the two can be operated completely independently of each other.  The down-side is that the camera is just the worst.  It only captures images and videos in a tiny square format which matches the tiny square screen on the back end.  Videos also capture sound using a built in microphone which, as you can probably imagine, sounds horrendous should you do something stupid like rev up the flywheels ever.  The video feed to the screen always shows which format (photo/video) the camera is set to and how much capacity is left on the SD card as well as a square crosshairs reticle for aiming, I guess.  None of these actually get recorded onto any photos or videos, so that’s nice at least.  Turning the camera on, you are greeted by a Nerf logo on screen and a bizarre series of sound effects which I really can’t understand what they’re suppose to be.  cam3If you don’t touch any of the camera controls for about 5 mins, the blaster will start beeping and you’ll see a countdown from 10 on the screen, at the end of which, the whole thing explodes.  I mean, the camera auto shuts off, but you still have to hear that beeping so it might as well.  The slot for the SD card is on the forward left side of the “scope” and comes with a 4GB card already installed.  There was also originally a big orange shade on my blaster above the viewing screen, but It’s not really necessary and I found it flopped around and annoyed me so I took it off.  That’s probably enough about the bad camera, let’s end on a positive note.  The shell of the blaster is all original and boy does it look good.  Sure the barrel is kinda long and that slightly reduces its performance, but it just looks so sleek.  In all honesty, if Nerf tweaked the shell to get rid of the camera, and by extension drop the price substantially, I would buy another one of these in a heartbeat.  Some Nerf designs, while cool and I love them, can feel weird and goofy in hand.  This feels like a rifle, and I like it a lot.  It definitely gives it a more aggressive feel without being cartoonish and as long as you don’t intend to actually record anything, the video “scope” can make you feel like some sort of high-tech Halo-esque cool guy when you bust into your younger sibling’s room with it.  The Cam ECS-12 comes packaged with a 12 round magazine, 12 Elite darts, and the 4GB SD card.  The blaster takes 4 AA batteries to run and the camera takes another 4.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

This blaster got everyone super excited when Nerf first showed it off because, let’s be honest, it just looks cool.  The thing is, people got very unexcited when they saw the $75 price tag.  As such, hardly anyone bought one.  I managed to grab mine on a Black Friday sale for much less than MSRP, but I don’t know that looks and feel alone would have made me shell out that much money.  All this just makes their later attempt with the Battlescout all the more baffling.

The Blaster In Question #0060: Sharp Shot

BlasterInQuestion1

SHARP SHOT

DART TAG

sharpshot1It’s always exciting to see new and innovative systems and mechanisms in Nerf blasters, whether they actually work or not.  It’s nice to see the effort and the willingness to try.  What really makes entirely new systems so exciting is how many other blasters use the same old tried and (usually) true methods in between.  Today, we’ll be looking at one of those old classic designs, the slide-primed single shot pistol, specifically the Dart Tag Sharp Shot.  So what sets this one apart from any other single shot pistol out there?  Let’s have a look and find out.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

sharpshot2The Sharp Shot was released in 2011 for the newly revamped Dart Tag line and then again the following year with allegedly improved internals, denoted by a blue trigger.  As mentioned above, it uses functionally the same system we’ve seen on other pistols like the Scout IX-3 or Eliminator where you load a dart in the muzzle, rack the slide and fire.  The big difference between the Sharp Shot and any other similar pistol is really the looks.  Keeping in line with that particular iteration of the Dart Tag series, the Sharp Shot features smooth, rounded edges and a nicely contoured overall shape.  Not only does this serve to look real nice, but it actually works to ensure there aren’t any weird sculpted areas that could create hot shots while using the blaster.  The other thing that was different about the Sharp Shot was the accessory that came with it.  sharpshot3Originally, the blaster was packed with a 2-ended plastic carabiner that had a ball joint swivel in the middle.  The idea behind this was so that you could clip the pistol to a belt loop or whatever so it was on your person but then if you needed to grab it quickly, the ball joint would pop apart with a stout pull, making it act kind of sort of maybe like a holster in theory.  Personally, I never once used it and mine has since gone missing, but I can’t say I feel bad about it.  For the time, the Sharp Shot had ok performance.  It was still a pistol after all, so no one really expected it to shoot like a laser.  In this day and age, however, it doesn’t hold up so great.  I’d say if you have one or can find one for cheap, it feels great in the hand and looks pretty cool to boot, but unless you’re planning on effectively overhauling the entire mechanism, don’t expect it to be much help busting into your younger sibling’s room.  The Sharp Shot comes packaged with the quick detach clip and 4 Dart Tag Velcro whistler darts. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

I don’t remember too much of how and when I bought this blaster.  It was a few years ago at this point.  I probably bought it mainly for the looks, which is understandable.  I want to keep this one in its original condition, but if I happen to find another one, it might be a good base for a prop blaster, should the need arise.

The Blaster In Question #0059: Barricade RV-10

BlasterInQuestion1

BARRICADE RV-10

N-STRIKE

barricade1Just about everyone has at least heard of the Stryfe or the RapidStrike or Modulus ECS-10.  Any of the big names in the wide range of electric flywheel blasters Nerf has produced over the years.  The blaster most people these days don’t remember is the one that actually started the entire flywheel class of blasters at Nerf, the Barricade RV-10.  Not the police car from Transformers, this is a different Barricade, both Hasbro properties, though.  Who?  No, Dwayne Johnson played Roadblock from G.I. Joe, another entirely different still Hasbro property.  Anyway, let’s take a look at the blaster.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

barricade2The Barricade RV-10 was released in 2010 as part of the N-Strike line, kind of the only line Nerf had going at the time.  It was the first (I believe) flywheel blaster to come from Nerf.  There was at least one blaster from Buzz Bee Toys that used flywheels before the Barricade, but we don’t talk about that.  I mean, we could, but people will laugh and throw things.  The Barricade uses more or less the same mechanical configuration we’re used to on modern flywheel blasters but with 2 main exceptions.  First, it fires from a 10 round rotating cylinder rather than a magazine.  The second major difference is that instead of having a rev trigger just beneath the firing trigger like we’re used to, it has an on/off toggle switch that sits just above your thumb like a safety or fire selector switch, assuming you’re holding the blaster in your right hand.  The Barricade’s shell is all original, although it was reused in the Prime barricade3variant- I mean, the Elite version, which came with a stock and was renamed the Stockade.  Amazing.  It features a stock attachment lug on the back of the blaster and an accessory rail up top.  There’s also a interesting front sight that has a hole going through it, maybe so you can still see your target when aiming?  Who knows, but it has no rear sight to line up with and it’s on a pre-Elite blaster so it’s about as useful as.. something… not useful.  Wow, good job, Tim.  By today’s standards, the plastic of the shell feels a little thin and creaky, but that was about par for the course with the original N-Strike blasters.  Also somewhat outclassed by modern blasters is the Barricade’s performance.  Yes it is semi-auto, but with old motors running off of only 3 AA batteries, it can’t really keep up with today’s flywheels.  Given the lengthy rev-up time and the lack of any substantial power, I’d recommend setting this one aside as a collection piece rather than trying to bust into your younger sibling’s room with it.  The Barricade RV-10 comes with 10 Sonic Micro darts and requires 3 AA batteries.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

To be honest, I was not excited for the Barricade when it was announced.  I’m still not that into it.  I only bought mine because it came in a value pack with a stock that I really wanted.  I didn’t have it on hand so I left it out of the review.  Regardless, even if I’m not crazy about the Barricade, I do quite enjoy many of the other flywheel blasters that have come out since then, so I guess I can give it credit for that.  And I got a cool stock out of it too.

The Blaster In Question #0058: Mediator Stock

BlasterInQuestion1

MEDIATOR STOCK

MODULUS

medstock1A couple things recently came to my attention.  First, today is Sunday, but there’s not much I can do to change that.  Second, however, is that I never finished talking about the 3-part kit that composes the Modulus Mediator.  That, I can change, so today I’ll be looking at the third and final piece of the Mediator ensemble, the stock.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

medstock2“How can a stock warrant its own review?” I hear you say.  Well, dear reader, this is no ordinary stock.  It uses a never before seen set of intricate mechanisms in tandem with what I must assume is some kind of ancient magic to achieve the results we can observe.  Not really.  They made it big and hollow and stuck a pistol inside.  Complex?  No.  Useful?  Eeeehhhhmmmmmmaaaaaaaybe.  Anyway, the Mediator Stock was released with the other 2 components in 2018.  It came in two parts, the stock/holster, and the pistol.  The stock itself is pretty straightforward.  It attaches to any Nerf blaster with a stock attachment lug and is simply a fixed stock albeit with a rather long length of pull for a Nerf stock and some extra rubber overlays on the back end to make it grippy.  The rear end of the stock is open to allow the pistol to be inserted or removed and this makes it feel a little odd when pressed against your shoulder, but it’s not uncomfortable.  Just takes a second to get used to.  There is a belt clip on the left side of the stock that allows you to attach it to your pants or belt to act as a dedicated holster for the pistol, if you so choose. The pistol is functionally identical to the  Doublestrike from the Zombie Strike line, using a hammer primed, 2 barrel smart AR setup.  Sure, it’s not much, but I get the feeling this is meant as a backup blaster rather than your primary.  medstock3The shell of the blaster is all new and has been sculpted to allow a fairly firm friction fit into the stock/holster. The performance of the pistol is about what you’d expect from a backup blaster.  The range and power might not be quite on par with a larger blaster but if your younger siblings don’t know that you have a second blaster, the surprise can be rather entertaining.  The Modulus Mediator Stock comes with the stock/holster, the pistol and 4 Modulus Elite darts.  

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

As soon as I bought the first 2 components of the larger Mediator set, I was basically guaranteed to grab the last one eventually.  If I recall, I got mine from a local TRU, which is something only Canadians can say now.  There’s really not much to say about this set.  The stock is pretty decent quality and is a good size.  The pistol shoots.  Really, the one thing I might have liked to see is if they had redesigned the grip of the pistol to have a stock attachment lug so you could put the stock on it rather than it just being a holster on its own.  Stocked pistols are totally a thing and I would have been so excited to have that as an option, but oh well.  It does what it does well enough.

The Blaster In Question #0057: Vigilon

BlasterInQuestion1

VIGILON

VORTEX

vigilon1I know what you’re about to ask, so let me go ahead and answer it before you do.  No, I’ve still not heard anything from Mads but I’m staying optimistic.  That’s not what you were gonna ask?  Ok, weirdo.  Oh, right, that.  Yeah, I have no idea what the heck a vigilon is either but it’s the name of this week’s blaster.  Maybe taking a look at the blaster will inform us on the matter.  Let’s find out if that’s the case.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

vigilon2It’s not the case, it’s a made up word.  Anyway, the Vigilon was released in 2011 as part of the Vortex series of blasters.  It then disappeared with the apparent death of the Vortex line a few years later, only to be brought back in 2018 in the Target exclusive Vortex VTX line-up.  Really all that changed is the colors, so I’ll be reviewing them both as the same blaster here.  The Vigilon uses the same mechanism for launching the Vortex discs as most blasters in the line but with the added bonus of an integrated internal magazine that holds (officially) 5 discs.  I find it odd that the Vigilon has only ever been marketed as a 5-round blaster despite the fact that I can fit 6 discs in the magazine just fine without using any trickery, plus, you can keep another disc in the chamber, effectively giving the blaster a 7-round capacity.  The magazine vigilon3itself is an interesting design in which you open the loading gate with the release levers just above the trigger and load rounds in the side of the blaster rather than the top or front like we’re used to seeing on dart blasters.  Releasing the magazine cover is also rather satisfyingly snappy and makes it feel like something akin to a plasma weapon from the Halo franchise venting heat.  The outer shell is all original to the Vigilon, and while the green and orange color scheme of the first wave was fine at the time, the sky blue/neon green VTX colors really do it for me.  Just- MM, so good.  Naturally, the new colors are also carried over to the ammo which also looks quite nice and again, an improvement over the older version.  I mean, they work the same, they just look nicer while they do it.  The Vigilon gets the same performance as just about every other Vortex blaster out there.  The discs do travel far, but they vigilon4slow down as they fly through the air and end up floating a bit near the end of their flight path.  If you’re planning on using this as a weapon against your younger siblings, just make sure they’re not too far away, otherwise, even if your shots hit, they won’t have nearly the same impact as they would at closer range.  Plus, with some practice, you can do crazy stuff like bank shots off the wall and whatnot.  Then you can really make them feel like they’ll never be safe again, and isn’t that really the goal?  What do you mean that sounds abusive?  I’m just saying they shouldn’t feel completely at ease in their own home cuz they’ll never see the radtastic VTX discs coming.  Well, yeah, when you say it like that, you can make anything sound like abuse.  Anyway, the original Vigilon came packaged with just 5 Vortex discs, but the new VTX version comes with 10 and they look way cooler to boot.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

I don’t normally care too much about straight recolors, but the Vortex series was different and innovative in a way not often seen in the toy blaster market.  Moreover, it seemed to garner a decent fan base over traditional darts, so it’s fairly unique in that regard.  In reality, though, I just think the folks over at Nerf did a great job with the new colors.  I wish this had been what Vortex looked like from the get-go.  It’s just so- MMM, I love it.

The Blaster In Question #0056: Vagabond

BlasterInQuestion1

VAGABOND

DOOMLANDS 2169

vagabond1I had an idea for a game show the other day.  It would be a similar structure to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire but instead of answering general knowledge and trivia questions, you have to memorize details of a persona that you’re given and then Mads Mikkelson interrogates you about it while being as menacing as possible.  What does this have to do with Nerf?  I have no idea but I could not think of an intro for this blaster to save my life, so here we are.  This week we’ll be taking a look at another entry in the “we can’t legally just call it Borderlands” series, a.k.a. Doomlands 2169,  Specifically, let’s talk about the Vagabond.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

vagabond2The Vagabond was released in 2015 as part of the Border- Doomlands 2169 series of blasters, a full 154 years before when the name suggests.  It uses a 6-round rotating cylinder like the Strongarm or Disruptor, but in the case of the Vagabond, it is pump action instead of slide action.  The shell of the Vagabond is all original, including the cylinder itself which is way longer than it needs to be.  In keeping with the Doomlands look, there is a panel on the right side of the blaster that is clear and allows you to see the internals, which is a nice touch.  With the cylinder being as crazy long as it is, the barrels have openings almost all the way down their length so you can put a dart in the side and push it to the back to seat it ready for firing.  It’s an odd choice and vagabond3makes me wonder why they didn’t just shorten it down and have it load from the front like a normal revolver style blaster, not to mention all the plastic and weight they’d save by getting rid of the enormous front end.  It really seems like Nerf was going for a shotgun here, given the pump action and the sharply angled grip, but without any ability to fire multiple darts at once, it just ends up being a really big revolver in need of a nose job.  The pump grip itself is large and nicely textured so you can get a solid hold of it.  There’s a rail along the top of the blaster for accessories like scopes and whatnot, at least in theory.  The angle of the grip makes aiming down the barrel kind of hard to do comfortably, but it too is well sized and has enough texture to provide the necessary traction.  Performance-wise, the Vagabond gets a resounding “it’s fine.”  It shoots just a little softer than most other blasters on average, probably in part due to the internals being taken directly from the Rebelle Guardian Crossbow.  It’s not a huge difference, and it will probably get overlooked by your younger siblings when you bust into their room, plus there’s that great big front end that’ll most likely leave an impression.  The Vagabond comes packaged with 6 Doomlands colored Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

I really can’t think of any reason why the front of the Vagabond is that huge.  I guess it’s just a stylistic choice.  I mean, we’ve seen similar enormous extraneous pieces of plastic on other Doomlands blasters like the Negotiator, but I didn’t really care for those either.  As long as it doesn’t affect the blaster’s ability to, you know, blast, I suppose it can stay.  But seriously though, Mads, if you’re reading this, hit me up about that game show.

The Blaster In Question #0055: Proton

BlasterInQuestion1

PROTON

VORTEX

proton1You may have heard that Vortex is back.  Yes, it seems the once-thought dead line of blasters has miraculous come back to life like Jesus, or Dracula.  While my money is squarely on this being a hasty rejiggering of an intended TRU exclusive, the Vortex VTX line seems to be solely in Target’s hands now.  So while the hype train is just slowly starting to pull away from the station, I figured I’d jump on board in order to bring you today’s review of the Proton.  I’m feeling pretty positive about this one.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

proton2Ok, while this is a Vortex blaster, it’s not part of the VTX lineup, so I’m less of a passenger on the hype train and more of that guy with the accordion who just walks from car to car demanding money in exchange for giving you tinnitus.  The Proton was released in 2011 as the smallest (at the time) entry in the newly unveiled Vortex series of blasters.  The big draw for Vortex blasters was their supposed super long ranges thanks to the mini-frisbee type of ammo instead of traditional darts.  The disks use their aerofoil shape to glide through the air which does allow them to travel pretty far, all things considered, but it also means that they lose speed quite quickly.  I’ve talked about this before in my Revonix 360 review and it holds true here and across the line.  The Proton, specifically, is a single shot pistol which is loaded through the rear of the blaster by pulling back the slide, placing a diskproton3 in the tray, and hitting the slide release lever on the side of the blaster.  Honestly, this was the feature that made me buy the Proton in the first place.  Regardless of performance, I just wanted a blaster with a functional slide release lever so I could do dramatic reloads while creeping around the house at 2:00 AM.  The shell of the Proton is all original which you’d kind of expect given how vastly different the internals of this blaster are compared to something like the NiteFinder.  There is at least a standard Nerf rail on the top of the barrel, but there’s not really anything you can put on it without making the blaster really top and front heavy, and that’s no good.  The Proton is meant to be nice and light, right around 1.67×10-27kg.  Not literally light, that’s photon, with an h.  Running the action of the Proton is nice and smooth and unless you did something really wrong, it’s very uncommon to have any kind of jam or malfunction, so that’s a positive.  The ergonomics are decent with all the controls where it makes sense for them to be.  The grip is a little skinny but not so much that it’s really a problem.  As with most Vortex blasters, there are a lot of safety locks inside the Proton, the most important of which prevents the trigger from being pulled when the chamber is empty. proton4 It’s good to know so that, if you’re storing the blaster somewhere for more than a day, it’s probably smart to fire off one round just to de-prime the blaster so you won’t wear out the spring.  If that happens, it’s like it loses its charge, and you’re left with a neutron.  It’s also a good idea to keep it away from stray electrons, because then it just becomes hydrogen, and that  tends to poof away into the air.  As far as using the Proton against younger siblings, I’d recommend it for longer-distance pot shots rather than the whole busting into their room method.  The Proton comes packaged with 3 Vortex disks in the classic Vortex green.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

Ah, I see you made it past my science jokes.  Good for you.  All in all, for as lukewarm as I am to the Vortex series as a whole, I actually quite like the Proton.  It’s fairly compact and has that really unique loading mechanism, which is honestly fun to play with just that.  While I don’t usually go for recolors of existing blasters, I must admit, the blue and green VTX color scheme looks pretty sharp, so I might not mind picking up another Proton if they come out with it.  Then I just need some neutrons and I can whip up some helium.

The Blaster In Question #0054: First Order Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster (Heavy)

BlasterInQuestion1

STORMTROOPER DELUXE BLASTER

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (GLOWSTRIKE)

stormheavy1Hang on a minute… Haven’t I already reviewed this blaster?  Not exactly.  This is really just another example of Nerf running out of names for their products.  It’s hardly a new problem, just ask the Hornet, Snapfire, or Secret Shot, but this is indeed a different blaster from the previous The Force Awakens model.  Being a Stormtrooper blaster, we already know the accuracy is going to be abysmal, but let’s not start the review off biased.  Who knows, maybe it’s actually ok? 

THE BLASTER ITSELF

stormheavy2The First Order Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster (I’ll call it the Heavy Blaster for clarity’s sake) was released in 2017 as part of the lineup of Star Wars branded blasters in conjunction with the film Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  It’s built on a standard electronic flywheel setup, albeit with the magazine sticking out the left side of the blaster instead of straight down.  Functionally it operates just like any of the other semi-auto flywheel blasters out there, but it does it with more pizzaz, just so long as pizzaz doesn’t include good performance (spoilers).  The FOSDHB does the same song and dance that all recent Star Wars Nerf products have been doing lately with the Glowstrike and the lights and sounds.  Pressing the rev switch turns on the UV LEDs in the chamber of the blaster as well as revving up the flywheels.  Pulling the trigger activates the lights and sounds regardless of whether or not the rev switch is pressed.  The lights and sounds are decent but could probably have used just a little refinement.  The lights along the barrel flash in succession when the trigger is pulled, creating a kind of laser pulse effect, but given how spread out they are on this blaster, they feel sluggish especially for something that should be traveling at light speed.  The sounds are similarly disappointing.  It seems like Nerf wanted to set the FOSDHB apart by giving it more than one blaster sound effect which sounds good on paper, but less so from the actual blaster.  Instead of having three distinct and stormheavy4unique blast sounds, the FOSDHB has a single “pew” but it is just randomly modulated into one of three pitches which sounds less like laying down suppressing fire on some rebel scum and more like you just suck at playing “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”  Turns out Stormtroopers cant even hit a note.  (HOOOOOO!) That joke has probably been made at least a million times but I still went for it.  You can’t stop me.  The construction of the blaster is mostly pretty solid.  The stock feels a little flimsy but I haven’t had any actual problems with it yet.  At least it has a nifty feature where it can act as magazine storage if you have a spare lying around somewhere.  The ergonomics aren’t bad but it does seem like this blaster has a more modern style grip on it.  After digging around online, I believe this blaster is built on a Lewis Gun which has a very different grip and stock shape.  The blaster in the film also has a neat foldable stand that extends from the underside to create a mounted machine gun kind of setup.  Sadly, the Nerf version doesn’t have this feature but it does at least have a mounting bracket which can be used with the tripod from the Vulcan or RhinoFire if you have one of those.  I probably don’t need to say anything about this blaster’s performance given the enormous barrel, single set of batteries powering all the lights and sounds as well as the motors, or just the track record of Star Wars blasters’ performances, but I will anyway.  It’s bad.  It’s real bad.  stormheavy3The darts that leave the barrel when you fire are just not motivated at all.  I almost wish that instead of laser pew pew sounds, the blaster just had Alan Rickman’s lines from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.  They don’t go far, they don’t hit hard, and by the time they’re out of the barrel, most of the glow-in-the-dark charge has faded.  It’s just really not a great blaster.  I would not recommend this one for use against younger siblings.  It does not have the power to back up how obscenely big and noisy it is so you’re more likely to come across as clownish rather than imposing and scary.  Even after all of these issues, I haven’t gotten to the biggest one of them all, the price.  I don’t usually mention the price of blasters unless there’s a good reason to, and in this case, for a vastly underpowered, unwieldy, pew pew Stryfe, an MSRP of $80 is imbecilically high.  It comes with 4 AA batteries already installed, so I guess you can deduct that from the price, but still.  The FOSDHB comes packaged with a 12 round magazine and 12 Glowstrike Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

Thankfully, I did not pay full price for my blaster.  As with so many new purchases these days,  this came from ToysRUs, the UK to the toy industry’s European Union.  Based on what was said, we really thought they’d be gone by now.  What was I talking about?  Right, politics, that’s what you want from a toy blog.  This blaster is really disappointing, but that being said, if you want one, TRU still has plenty in stock and they’re getting cheaper, so there’s that.  Now let me tell you about Trump.  What’s that?  Ethan has just informed me that I’m fired if I start talking politics.  I suppose that’s reasonable.  Yay toys!