The Blaster In Question #0050: Vulcan EBF-25

BlasterInQuestion1

VULCAN EBF-25               

N-STRIKE

vulcan1

I told you I was bad at this whole scheduled posting thing but you didn’t believe me.  Well here we are, BIQ review #50 and boy is it a good one.  It’s not my ultra-rare black chrome rubber band gun (teaser for #100), but it’s still quite a special blaster. If you read the title of the post or looked at any of the pictures before you started reading this like a normal person might do, then you’re probably aware that I’m reviewing the Nerf N-Strike Vulcan EBF-25 machine gun.  Aside from blasters like the Centurion, this is probably one of the most specialized, purpose-built blasters in my collection, and that purpose is absurdity.  Let’s take a look at that absurdity.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

vulcan2The Vulcan EBF-25 was released waaaay back in 2008 as part of the original N-Strike line.  No Elite here.  The whole thing is just… I mean, it’s a machine gun.  What more do you want?  Instead of using a magazine or rotating cylinder, the Vulcan actually uses a belt to feed darts into the action which, itself, can be operated in two ways.  The primary method being full auto because come on, it’s a machine gun.  Provided you had installed the 6 D cell batteries in the tray, you could then load in the belt, flick the switch just above the firing grip, and hold the trigger down making the blaster fire repeatedly with a rather noisy “wheeee-CHUNK! wheeee-CHUNK! wheeee-CHUNK!”  While it was technically full-auto, the rate of fire was not exactly impressive.  With good coordination, you could easily out-pace it by cycling the bolt manually which had the added benefit of not requiring the aforementioned 2 cubic tons of batteries to work.  You could, in theory, run the blaster entirely without batteries.  Just leave them in a little pile over there… just 2 cubic tons.  While it undoubtedly made the internals of the blaster a lot more complex, it is a feature I’m disappointed didn’t make it to later electronic blasters like the Stampede.  The ammo belts, I feel a little differently about.  There is a certain level of novelty in using a legit ammo belt in a toy blaster, but man, are vulcan3they a pain to reload.  Maybe if there had been another blaster that also used the same belts, I might like them a bit more, but the novel factor goes away after the third or fourth time you have to reload the dang things.  It’s not just a matter of putting the darts back, when the belt is emptied, it falls out the right side of the blaster, or if you want to reload without firing off all 25 shots, you need to pull the remaining belt out of the action in order to reset it.  Once you have a loaded belt, there’s still the process of setting it in the ammo box attached to the left side of the blaster in just the right way that the feed gear can actually pull the belt into the blaster, and THEN you have to open the top hatch on the blaster body to seat the first link onto the feed gear, close everything up again and prime the bolt.  Once you’ve done all of that, now you can shoot.  BUT WAIT!  Now you have to decide, are you going to carry the blaster by hand and fire from the hip like some kind of sexual tyrannosaurus, or are you going to mount it on the included tripod, realize the tripod kinda sucks, and opt for the Blaine method anyway?  But what does Mr. “The Lovebird” Ventura have to say about that body?  Probably something rambling and largely incoherent about having to keep him away from it, but it’s worth noting that the Vulcan has all original sculpt work which includes a vulcan4hinged top handle for use in the “Old Painless” style of carry and a detachable ammo box for holding the belt while in or out of use.  The front end of the Vulcan also sports 3 Nerf accessory rails, but I can’t honestly think of what you could possibly want to put on them.  There are, in fact, a set of sights along the top of the blaster that you’re welcome to use if you think it’ll help.  Sadly, these days, the Vulcan doesn’t quite stand up to other blasters in terms of range or power.  If you play your cards right and rely mainly on the shock value of busting into your younger siblings’ room holding this, they might not even notice that the shots aren’t hitting very hard.  The Vulcan comes packaged with the tripod, the ammo box, two belts, a sling which I have since lost, and 50 whistler micro darts.vulcan5

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Oh how times have changed.  I remember going to purchase this blaster from a local Wal-Mart and thinking to myself, “Wow, $50 for a Nerf blaster sure is a lot.  I can’t possibly imagine spending more than that on a Nerf Blaster.”  BAHAHA foolish child.  While the performance isn’t quite where I’d like it to be, the Vulcan succeeds on raw novelty and gimmicks and I think that’s part of why I like it so much.  That and the potential to stick it to the roof of my car and drive around with someone standing up through the sunroof.

 

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The Blaster In Question #0048: Quadrant

BlasterInQuestion1

QUADRANT

ACCUSTRIKE

quad1If there’s one staple of Nerf blasters that always comes back, it’s revolvers, ok, revolvers and jolts, but let’s stick with the revolvers for today. All things considered, it’s a good design. There’ve been so many iterations that pretty much any issues have already been ironed out, but if you look at Nerf Revolvers over time, they have this odd trend of steadily getting smaller and smaller cylinders, and in turn, lower capacity. Today’s blaster is the first example of a 4-shot revolver I can think of, but as we’ve seen from Toy Fair last month, it won’t be the last.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

quad2Ok, first things first, I know I give Nerf a decent amount of ribbing over the naming conventions for their blasters, but when the other 3 blasters in a line have names containing “falcon”, ”hawk”, and “raptor”, there’s a pretty clear theme that they’re going for. With that in mind, what the double deuce kind of name is Quadrant? I get the name references the 4 barrels in the cylinder, but it throws off the whole bird-of-prey thing they set up. Anyway, the Quadchickadee was released in 2018 as part of the Accustrike series. As mentioned before, it is a 4-shot revolver that works more or less like any other revolver at this point. The construction is all new and pretty solid, like you’d expect from a Nerf blaster of this size, and the ergonomics are good. The proportions are kind of weird, what with the top half of the blaster being rather large and bulky. quad3At the very least, it’s not terribly top heavy which is a concern I had before it was released. What I don’t quite get is why the barrels are so far apart in the cylinder. Typically, the benefit of lower capacity in a revolver is a lower profile, but the cylinder for the Quadbearded-tit is barely smaller than the one in the Hammershot, which holds 5 rounds normally. But in addition, modders have shown it can handle 7 rounds in the same space quite handily. It just feels needlessly limiting to cap the capacity at 4, especially when it doesn’t even enable some other gimmick or function in the blaster. The performance is on par with other Nerf pistols. It doesn’t have the most power or range ever, but no one expects it to. Being in the Accustrike series, there’s nothing mechanical that separates this from any other blaster, all that means is it’s orange and comes with Accustrike darts as opposed to standard Elites. The darts do actually make it a little easier to hit targets from further away, so they’re good for surprise pot-shots at your younger siblings, with or without busting into their room first. The QuadAndean Cock of the Rock (it’s a real bird, look it up) comes packaged with 4 Accustrike darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Once again, I feel it’s important to make the point that I do actually like this blaster. I’ve gotten my money’s worth of fun out of it. Are there some issues? Sure, but I can be critical while still enjoying something. My primary complaints are that I wish it had more capacity or that it had some other gimmick going on. Maybe next time we’ll get one of those things, and you know there’s going to be a next time. There’s always another Nerf Revolver.

 

The Blaster In Question #0047: Tennis Ball Blaster

BlasterInQuestion1TENNIS BALL BLASTER

NERF DOG

dog1

I’m not dead! I swear! Turns out my sister having a sleepover can be almost as disruptive to Nerf reviews as having my world exploded. Almost. Not only that, but have a bit of a weird one for you this week. It turns out Nerf makes a whole line of dog toys which mainly consist of the standard chewy footballs and lengths of rope, but also, as it turns out, a blaster. My family does own a dog but she’s not really the playing type, but that hardly stopped me from picking one of these up.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

dog2It’s a little hard to track down the relevant information, but it seems like the Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Blaster was released in 2015 as part of the Nerf Dog line. The mechanism seems to be unique to this particular blaster as it doesn’t use the traditional air pressure to launch the projectile, in this case a tennis ball, but rather just uses the power of the spring inside the blaster to kick the ball out directly. There aren’t any fancy gimmicks or controls, you just load the ball in the barrel, pull the top handle back to prime it and then pull the trigger. The outer shell is completely original too, which isn’t surprising given the rather purpose-built nature of the blaster. The overall feel of the blaster is that its built so that even a non-Nerf savvy person couldn’t mess it up too badly. The construction is hefty and solid and the grip has plenty of surface to hold onto. I get the feeling it’s meant to be fired one handed like a pistol because the front end is very wide to accommodate the ammo type, but this means it’s a bit awkward trying to hold it as you would a rifle type blaster. There is a ball holder on the underside of the blaster for storing the tennis ball when not dog3loaded into the barrel. While the ball included is Nerf branded, it is dimensionally the same as a regular tennis ball, so you could use any brand you like. Now, obviously, I can’t tell you to go harass any younger siblings you might have with this blaster. That would actually be abuse. But I can tell you that in the amount of range testing I did, I honestly found the performance pretty disappointing. I’m not athletic, like, at all, but I could easily throw a tennis ball farther than this can launch one. Some of you may be thinking that it’s not meant to be better than a functioning human arm, but it will let people who can’t throw (age, injury, etc.) play with their dog. But then I’d say, if you don’t have the physical faculty to throw a ball by hand, priming back the spring in this blaster is likely to be as much if not more of a challenge. Really, it seems like this blaster is meant for people who like gadgets or are fans of Nerf who also like playing with their dog, that or college kids who want to modify it into a big shotgun for HvZ, but that’s a different story altogether. The Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Blaster comes with an orange and blue Nerf Dog branded tennis ball.

Now, I feel I should take the time to introduce Nerf Dog. Not the product line, the tennis ball. ND will be filling in for Penn for the time being while he’s away on holiday, that is to say, until I figure out where the heck Penn even went. But fear not, for I have it on good authority that ND is exactly the same size and therefore will do a fine job as a stand-in. Who knows, if he does a good job, there might be a more permanent position opening.dog4

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wasn’t planning to buy a Nerf blaster when I walked into the local grocery store with my girlfriend. I didn’t even expect to see any aside from the usual array of Jolt reskins. I had seen this blaster online before and thought it looked fun, even if I didn’t have the recommended dog with which to play, but I never bought it until I saw it in person for a substantially reduced price. Most people have impulse grocery purchases like a pack of Oreos or a cake or something. I walked out with an impulse Nerf blaster, because of course I did.

The Blaster In Question #0046: Dauntless

BlasterInQuestion1

DAUNTLESS

REBELLE (CHARMED)

dauntless1For those who are familiar with the typical catalog of Nerf blasters over the years, it’s clear that they aren’t strangers to the idea of repackaging old ideas. Oftentimes this becomes pretty tiresome after seeing the same design rehashed with countless iterations (I’m looking at you, Jolt), but every so often, the redesign is significant enough that it warrants buying the new blaster. This week’s case in point is the Rebelle Dauntless pistol. Let’s see what makes this blaster so special.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

dauntless2The Dauntless was released in 2015 as part of the Charmed set of Rebelle blasters. It uses a 3-shot inline smart AR system, just like the Lumanate or Messenger blasters, also from the Rebelle line. Nothing new with the mechanics of the blaster, but what really stands out is the design. Using a lot of the same elements as the Fair Fortune Crossbow, the Dauntless has a slightly regal but also vaguely piratical feel to it. The profile is definitely evocative of an old flintlock, albeit far more streamlined. The gold filigree pattern on the side lends itself to the highly decorative nature of the blaster and is echoed in the truss along the underside of the barrel. This truss also contains a hook by which you can attach the included charm bracelet, connecting the other end to the butt of the grip. I raved just a little bit in my review of the Fair Fortune Crossbow about how much I dauntless4enjoyed the inclusion of the charm bracelet and the same is true here. While it’s far too small for adult wrists, it is a satisfying little accessory to have hanging from the blaster. Paired with the décor of the blaster itself, when combined, the full kit feels like it was pulled right out of one of the Bayonetta games. I’ve not seen it, but I really hope someone else noticed this and made a pair of heels out of a couple Dauntlesses. While the aesthetics are certainly very strong, ergonomics take a bit of a hit. The grip is quite wide and the way it curves forward, while very elegant looking, makes it rather hard to get a firm grip. It’s also pretty short for a pistol grip which isn’t unheard of, especially in Rebelle blasters, but it does raise another issue. In order to try and get better purchase on the grip, I tend to place my hand further up toward the rear of the blaster. The problem is that there’s no scoop or beavertail to catch the webbing of your hand between your thumb and forefinger, so it’s pretty easy to get pinched if your skin is in contact with the priming bar when you fire the blaster. There are sights along the top of the blaster, I guess to make you think it’ll help with aim. As much as sights can ever be useful on a Nerf blaster, these ones are especially no good as the Dauntless doesn’t have the same power that many other Nerf blasters have. It’s certainly usable, but shots definitely hit softer and don’t travel as far. You do feel pretty cool looking down the sights at your younger dauntless3sibling after you’ve just burst into their room announcing that ye be takin’ none o’ them landlubbers as prisoners, rather ye be here to demand this week’s allowance. So I suppose there’s that. The Dauntless comes packaged with 3 of the collectible Rebelle darts and the charm bracelet in an old bronze kind of finish.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After initially buying the Fair Fortune Crossbow, I was pretty much sold on the Charmed series of blasters. Not long after that, I found the Dauntless at a local Target. It may not be the most effective blaster out there, but as a prop for playing pretend that actually shoots, I’d say it’s way ahead of the other blasters on the market.

 

The Blaster in Question #0045: Battlescout ECS-10

BlasterInQuestion1

BATTLESCOUT ICS-10

MODULUS

battlescout1Sometimes Nerf will announce or unveil a blaster with a particular gimmick to it and all you can do is nod in acknowledgment and hope it at least shoots well. Sometimes it does, but sometimes it really doesn’t. Not to give anything away prematurely, but this week’s blaster is the latter of the two. I’m talking about the Modulus Battlescout. Let’s scope it out.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

battlescout3The Battlescout ICS-10 was released in 2016 under the Modulus line and was intended to bring 2 cool new features to the brand. The first was the use of a new horizontally-feeding clip as opposed to the more traditional Nerf magazines (despite Nerf themselves referring to them as “clip systems”). The clip holds 10 rounds and automatically advances one position when the blaster is primed via the angled front grip. This means the clip starts by sticking out the right side of the blaster and eventually ends up sticking out the right side or potentially even just fully ejecting from the blaster itself if you’re a little too vigorous with the pump action. I was reasonably interested in having a Nerf blaster with this style of feeding mechanism when I first heard about it, and I still think it has potential, it just seems like the execution left a little to be desired. The clip is just too bulky for only holding 10 rounds, and the ratcheting mechanism in the blaster doesn’t hold onto the clip very securely so it’s possible for it to get bumped out of position. The second feature the Battlescout was meant to showcase was the included attachable Nerf “action cam” that could clip onto a Nerf accessory rail. I’m pretty sure no one was excited about this. After the Elite Cam ECS-12 blaster, everyone was familiar with the quality of cameras Nerf was working with and they weren’t great. At least the Cam blaster had a screen so you could pretend the camera was just a scope instead of a dedicated recording device. Not so with the Battlescout. I only took a couple test videos just to see what it was like, but the picture quality was dark and grainy, the sound was tinny and sounded like it was being recorded through several blankets, that is, until you tried shooting the blaster while recording upon which you were treated to one of the most battlescout4horrific sounds I’ve experienced as the noise from all the blaster’s mechanical parts moving was transferred through the plastic to the mic. There also seemed to be some discrepancy between the video and audio recording, as every time I played back a recording on the computer, the longer the video went on, the further and further out of sync the audio got. Long story short, the camera was just bad. What was worse, though, was the fact that its inclusion jacked up the price of the Battlescout to almost $70. Yikes, indeed. “But does it shoot well, at least?” I hear you ask. Well, dear reader, no. No it doesn’t. I can’t quite tell where the problem is, but it’s one of the weakest shooting blasters I can recall from recently. Flaccid is a generous term. More than once, I’ve had shots just tumble out of the barrel followed by the slab of orange plastic getting spat out the side of the blaster, sometimes travelling further than the dart. Not great. I can’t say I’d recommend this one for attacking your siblings unless you’ve got enough of a presence that you don’t have to actually shoot to get your point across, because at the very least, the Battlescout looks cool, and with places to attach a barrel, a stock and anything else besides that camera onto the top rail, you can really dress it up. The Battlescout ICS-10 comes packaged with the Camera, a 10-round clip, and 10 Elite Modulus darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wanted to like the Battlescout, I really did. It looked so cool and interesting in the pictures. Sadly, it just couldn’t live up to my expectations. Although, I will say, since its initial release, there’s been a Walmart exclusive “battle camo” version with no camera, a stock, and what seems to be reasonable performance. Sure, it doesn’t really match any other blasters, but at least it works, so if you’re determined to get a Battlescout, I’d say go for that one.

 

Blaster In Question #0044: Mediator Barrel

MEDIATOR BARREL

MODULUS

Wow, it sure is interesting how earth-shattering personal events can affect your ability to blog about toy guns.  I almost didn’t make it to this week’s deadline, but here I am, so let’s move on and try to stay positive.  I feel like every time I start to review a Nerf blaster that resembles a shotgun in any way, I want to reference White Wedding by Billy Idol but I don’t think I have thus far, so let’s give it a crack.  Hey, this week’s blaster, who is it you’re with?  It’s with the Modulus Mediator.  Hey, this week’s blaster, who’s your only one?  It’s uhh… oh god… No, NO!  Staying positive, Tim, POSITIVE!  Alright, maybe enough of that, let’s have a look at the blaster.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

Hey, this week’s blaster: SHOTGUN!  Ok, now that’s out of the way.  The Mediator Barrel blaster/accessory thingy was released in 2018 under the Modulus line as one of the three components that make up the Mediator XL blaster, each sold separately.  We’ve already seen the Mediator core blaster, so what’s so special about the barrel?  It’s actually a convertible blaster that can switch between a standalone shotgun kind of blaster or an underbarrel shotgun attachment to any Nerf blaster with a barrel attachment lug.  This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this concept, especially in the Modulus line, but what is interesting about the Mediator Barrel blaster is the firing mechanism.  Normally with stuff like this, it’s used either a standard plunger and trigger setup or a manually actuated plunger, but this time, it seems like the people at Nerf decided to use an older system where the pump builds air pressure inside the system and a button on the blaster releases it in a blast, firing all of the darts at once.  It was certainly an unexpected choice, but I can’t say I have any problems with it.  It seems to work just fine.  I will say I’m a little bummed they couldn’t find a way to put the firing button on the actual grip, but I suppose it’s still functional.  The shell work is completely new to the blaster and features the female end of the barrel attachment setup as well as a big grey button that allows you to pivot the pistol grip in line with the blaster, turning it into a barrel extension piece.  I’m also kind of disappointed in the aesthetics of the barrel/pistol grip.  I would have preferred something that looks more cohesive with the rest of the blaster, especially when folded flat, but as it stands, it’s just a grey tube with some minor contouring.  As a standalone blaster, the Mediator Barrel is just a mediocre, one-shot shotgun with the trigger on the side of the blaster.  As an attachment to another blaster, it’s actually pretty alright.  When paired with the Mediator, the lines and colors flow together reasonably well which helps solidify the notion that they are parts of the same blaster.  The attachment lug that connects the two isn’t the tightest fit, and so there is a little bit of wobble, but stuff like that happens, especially with the bigger, heavier barrel extension pieces, so I’m not super mad about it.  As far as range and power are concerned, neither are the best, but I don’t think that was ever expected.  It shoots reasonably hard up close, but with this blaster more than others, it feels like the shots lose power over distance quicker.  If you’re planning on using it against your younger siblings, it’s best as either a sneaky ambush shotgun blast as a standalone, or as a coup de grâce  after a volley of shots from a primary blaster.  The Mediator Barrel comes packaged with 3 Modulus Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It’s a nice day to start again.  It’s a nice day for a white blaster.  Well, it’s really more of an accessory with a gimmick.  That’s what I’ve taken away from this.  It’s not that great of a blaster because it’s not meant to be just a blaster, but as far as attachments go, it’s pretty cool.  What I’m getting at is that it doesn’t like to be alone, it’s meant to be with another blaster to really reach its full potential.  Sure it said some things that didn’t come out right, but it’s really trying to- wait, no, that’s something else.  Stay positive, Tim.  It’s a cool blaster.  I like it for what it is.  Happy thoughts.

The Blaster In Question #0043: Surgefire

BlasterInQuestion1

SURGEFIRE

N-STRIKE ELITE

surgefire1Sometimes, it is pretty clear when Hasbro, and more specifically Nerf, take criticisms to heart and fix problems with their products.  The Recon Mk.II comes to mind.  Other times, it seems more like they hear the criticism and offer a solution that isn’t exactly what people had in mind.  One of the most widespread gripes about Nerf lately is their tendency to only paint one side of a blaster, leaving the design lopsided.  I can’t help but feel they heard this and said “You don’t like how we paint our blasters?  Well how about we just don’t?”  Introducing the Surgefire.  Ok, there’s more to it than that, but I just had to get it out of the way.  On to the review!

THE BLASTER ITSELF

surgefire2The Surgefire was released in 2018 as part of the core N-Strike Elite series.  It operates on a pump-action revolver design that holds 15 darts in the cylinder.  It’s hardly the first time we’ve seen these mechanics used in a blaster.  I suppose if you wanted to make the leap, you could say it’s an update to the Furyfire from the old Dart Tag line, though most people go with calling it the Elite version of the MEGA Rotofury.  Both descriptions work.  The shell is all new work and features one Nerf attachment rail along with some pretty interesting body detailing.  The dark grey area just above the trigger assembly actually has the word “Elite” carved out of it revealing the blue plastic underneath through the letters.  The use of dark blue text sunken into a dark grey panel does make it probably a little more subtle than they might have intended, but I do like that it suggests more intricate builds and sculpts to come.  This also plays into the aforementioned lack of paint, save for the Nerf logo and the name “Surgefire” above the barrel.  All variation in color is achieved via layering and inlaying separate pieces of plastic.  It does lend itself to a higher quality feel to the blaster over something that might rely on paint or decals.  Overall, the style is surgefire3pulled off pretty well with just a couple drawbacks.  First and foremost is in the pistol grip.  Along the front seam where the two light grey halves meet, the screws are placed just far enough that the plastic can flex and produce a hard edge where it splits.  At the best, its abrasive over time or if you’re holding onto the blaster tightly, and at worst it can actually pinch my fingers.  It seems like adding another internal support wouldn’t have been too much trouble so it’s irksome to find it absent from the design.  Ultimately it’s a minor complaint, and my second complaint is even more so.  I’ll sum it up here: “By the goddess, that’s a lot of orange in one place.”  Yes, it might have been nice to see some other colors on the front end, but it is what it is, I guess.  Barring the issue with the grip, the blaster feels good in the hand.  It’s stout but solid, giving it a sort of combat shotgun kind of feel.  I do wish the cylinder could be loaded from the rear and that the ratchet on the cylinder could be indexed by hand a little easier, but ultimately it’s functional so I can’t really complain.  For all its petty aesthetic and operational quirks, the Surgefire actually makes up for most of it in performance.  Shots feel like they have more energy behind them than a lot of other recent blasters, flying far and hitting hard.  You should really think about whether or not your younger sibling has earned it before you bust into their room and open fire with the Surgefire.  Not as much as with, say, a Rival blaster, but more than just popping them in the head with a Jolt.  The Surgefire comes packaged with the cylinder which snaps into the blaster and 15 Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

The Surgefire was another purchase from one of my regular toy runs with my boy, Ethan, specifically to Target in this instance.  Spurred on by my recent success with finding the Mediator and Kronos, I made a point of checking what was in stock more frequently in the following week or so.  I actually found just about all the new releases I was looking for but settled on my 2 top choices, or else I feel I would have been subject to a sudden rush of ire at my unchecked spending.  A surge of ire, if you will.  A surge ‘f ire.

The Blaster In Question #0042: Kronos XVIII-500

BlasterInQuestion1KRONOS XVIII-500

RIVAL (PHANTOM CORPS)

kronos1“Hang on a minute, didn’t we just have a Rival review, like, two weeks ago?” I hear you ask.  Why yes, sharp-eyed viewer, indeed we did.  Ordinarily I’d try and spread stuff out and keep you guessing about what the next blaster will be, like a game, but this is new and hot.  The new hotness, you might say.  So this week I’m looking at the Kronos.  Something that bears the name of the father to the Olympians must be a behemoth of a blaster, right?  Actually, it kind of goes the other way, but trust me, it’s not the size that counts, it’s all about the balls.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

kronos2The Kronos XVIII-500 was released in 2018 as part of the Phantom Corps subset of Rival blasters.  I was initially under the impression that Phantom Corps was a Target exclusive line, but this blaster was purchased from TRU which confounded me to no end, at least for a few minutes.  No idea what the deal with that is but whatever, you’re here to read about the blaster.  The Kronos is a spring powered pistol with a 5 round integrated magazine à la MEGA Magnus or Star Wars Rey (Jakku) Blaster.  Like both of those examples, the Kronos is loaded through a port on the top of the blaster that opens when the slide is primed back.  The Kronos also has an additional flap covering the port which I guess isn’t really necessary but it does preserve the silhouette of the blaster a little bit.  The shell of the blaster is all new and sports functional front and rear sights as well as 2 Rival accessory rails, one on the slide and one just above the muzzle.  Interestingly, while the blaster is labeled “XVIII-500” on both sides, the name Kronos appears nowhere except on the packaging.  Something to note about the rails on the Kronos is that, after attaching the Rival red dot sight, I noticed that it could slide back and forth just a little bit, just a few millimeters at most, and the nature of the attachment mechanism means it wasn’t in danger of falling off, but it’s just something I’d never had kronos3any of my other Rival blaster do.  I doubt that’s going to make or break anyone’s opinion of it, though.  Aside from that, everything about the Kronos’ construction is solid.  The grip in particular is very comfortable and secure in the hand as it follows much more organic lines than the more hard-lined rest of the blaster body, which is a style I quite like, visually and practically.  The slide has a surprising amount of thought and engineering put into it.  Priming the blaster is fairly easy with the grip panels that add a good amount of traction as well as providing a more defined surface to pull back on.  On the underside of the slide, there are a couple of telescoping flat panels that extend when the slide is pulled back, I assume to either keep the mechanism clean or to prevent kids pinching their fingers in the internals.  The very rear of the slide also has a cutout so you can see the orange plunger when it’s primed as well as a button to release the lockup if the blaster jams. Like all other Rival blasters, the Kronos has a safety which locks the trigger when engaged.  Unfortunately this particular safety has the same after-the-fact addition kind of feeling that the Zeus’ had.  It’s hard to describe verbally, but it feels like it’s flexing before it clicks rather than pivoting and is generally unpleasant to operate, not that it’s a necessary feature per se. For its size, the Kronos holds its own surprisingly well against other Rival blasters in terms of performance.  Shots fly and hit with the expected Rival accuracy and power, making it a kronos4real terror for younger siblings, especially given how low profile and nimble it is due to its smaller size.  I’ve even found that it fits rather handily into standard jeans pockets for holstering, just so long as you have jeans with actual pockets (why are fake pockets even a thing?  Sorry, side-tracked).  The Kronos comes packaged with another set of red and blue Rival flag/ribbon things, provided you got the Phantom Corps version and didn’t shell out $70 for the Deadpool variants, as well as one Rival round-  what’s that?  It comes with 5 rounds?  Ok.. if you say so.  Scratch that, I guess it’s supposed to come with 5 rounds.  Hmm…

 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

Ethan was actually the one who found this blaster at TRU and nicely offered to pick it up for me as I mentioned last week.  I went over to his place to pick it up as well as just to generally hang out, but when I opened the box, I found that only one round, specifically the one visible in the little window on the box, was actually inside.  Further inspection of the box revealed that the tape on one side had been cut and then taped over again, leading us to believe that someone had swiped the remaining 4 rounds from my box.  Normally I’d be rather upset upon finding out that I had been shorted, but I could not for the life of me, think of a more laughably unsubstantial thing to steal.  Whoever this chuckle-head is, decided it was worth risking getting kicked out of a Toys R Us or even fired if they were an employee over 4 Nerf Rival rounds.  The imbalance of risk to reward was so skewed, I couldn’t even bring myself to be mad about it.  If you did it, and you’re reading this, I hope you’re really enjoying playing with my balls.

The Blaster In Question #0041: Mediator

BlasterInQuestion1

MEDIATOR

MODULUS

mediator1Sometimes a really good idea isn’t something entirely brand new, but rather, a refinement of something that already exists.  Up till this point, we’ve had the Raider CS-35, the Alpha Trooper CS-18, the Rampage, Elite Alpha Trooper, and Stormtrooper Deluxe blaster (the first one) that all fill the role of pump-action magazine fed blasters.  Well, with Nerf’s latest wave of products, we have yet another to check off those boxes and then some.  Let’s have a look at the Modulus Mediator.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

mediator2First things first, I have no idea why they went with “Mediator” for the name of a blaster.  It doesn’t have quite the same sort of imposing punchy quality as something like the Rampage or Retaliator.  Even in the context of a conflict, a mediator is supposed to be a neutral third party that gets two opposing sides to agree on something.  I don’t know, just feels like a weird choice, but that’s what it’s called so I guess let’s just roll with it.  The Mediator was released in 2018 as part of the Modulus line of products,  Like I said, the Mediator operates much like other pump mag blasters but with 2 major differences.  I would say they’re improvements, but I’m sure there are people who aren’t fans.  Probably the same weirdos that thought The Last Jedi was the worst thing ever, but that’s neither here nor there.  The shell of the Mediator is all new work apart from the standard Nerf barrel and stock attachment points.  That actually brings us to the first big improvement, that being customizability.  While you could expect to find a stock attachment and a rail on pretty much all other pump mag blasters, what you never found was a second rail (I’m counting the Raider/Rampage’s rails as one big one, fight me) or a barrel attachment lug, both of which the Mediator provides quite handily.  The extra rail on the right mediator3side obviously grants you greater potential for decking out your blaster with tactics.  That’s all well and good, but the inclusion of the barrel lug is really what’s new.  Given blasters like the Rampage and Alpha Trooper needed already pretty lengthy front ends to accommodate the pump action, extending the barrel further doesn’t make much sense as it would only work to slow the dart after being fired.  As such, they never had barrel extension lugs, but the Mediator pulls it off thanks to it’s second major improvement over previous blasters.  The whole thing is super compact with just a short little barrel.  This means adding extra barrels doesn’t drastically reduce performance, which in turn means even more customization.  The ergonomics of the Mediator are pretty great.  I’d say it’s probably the best we’ve seen from the Modulus line so far.  The pistol grip is a good size and has a really nice grippy texture to it that I haven’t seen before but certainly hope to see again.  The same texture is also on the pump grip, which is a little short, but not enough to hinder, and I can understand the desire to not have it protrude too far from the body of the blaster.  Everything feels nice and solid, though I wish the ratcheting on the pump grip was a little quieter when cycling the bolt.  Nothing a little light modification can’t fix, though.  My last gripe is purely aesthetic.  I wish the blaster had a raised front sight parallel to the very prominent rear one.  While this would have looked better in my opinion, it turns out the little stubby nub at the front end IS a front sight and is even relatively well calibrated to give slightly arced shots for a subtle boost to the range.  On that note, the performance of the Mediator is decent.  Shots fly and impact right on par with those of other comparable blasters.  The ability to slam-fire is also a plus when busting into your younger sibling’s room and laying down heavy fire.  The Mediator comes packaged with the magazine well detached (needs to be installed to operate the blaster), a 6 round magazine, and 6 white Modulus styled Elite darts.

 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got the Mediator on a trip to Target with my boi, Ethan.  I didn’t expect to come out with it, but I knew I had to buy something and there it was.  See, the night before, Ethan texted me that he had come across another blaster that I was looking for (more on that next week) and offered to grab it for me and I would pay him back.  I didn’t have any cash on me, so when we were hanging out the next day, I suggested we stop by Target so I could get some cash back.  Long story short, I bought a Nerf blaster so I could pay for another Nerf blaster.

The Blaster In Question #0040: Helios XVIII-700

BlasterInQuestion1

HELIOS XVIII-700

RIVAL (PHANTOM CORPS)

helios1Alright, 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

helios2The 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 helios3completely 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.helios4

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.