The Blaster In Question #0072: Thunderblast

BlasterInQuestion1

THUNDERBLAST

N-STRIKE 

thunderb1I’m sure quite a few if not most of you are familiar with the KISS acronym meaning “keep it simple, stupid” or some derivation of that. Well this week’s blaster deals with the slightly lesser known KISBJUOOTFBDYEHS acronym. And if any blaster can demonstrate keeping it simple by just updating one of the first blaster designs you ever had, stupid, it’s the Thunderblast.  So let’s have a look. 

THE BLASTER ITSELF

thunderb2The Thunderblast was released in 2015 as part of the N-Strike line. I know it’s got the Elite style blue and white color scheme, but the box just says N-Strike, no Elite here. It uses possibly one of the simplest firing mechanisms ever used in a Nerf blaster, a system referred to as a HAMP or hand-actuated manual pump, I think. In essence, you load one of the rockets onto the spindle, push the fore-grip forward and slam it back as hard as you can. The harder you slam, the more power behind the rocket. Of course, the act of vigorously slamming back a fore-grip will do terrible things to your accuracy, but we’re talking about Nerf here, how accurate can you possibly be?  This system, albeit in a very different form factor, is virtually identical to the system in the very first Nerf blaster I ever owned, the NB-1 from 1992 back when Nerf was made by Kenner, and even then, the design was used on earlier toys like a foam Batarang launcher. Bet you weren’t expecting a Batman name-drop in this Nerf rocket launcher review. Coming back to the Thunderblast, while the mechanics on the inside haven’t changed much, I am glad they changed the ergonomics. While the NB-1 will always have a special place in my heart, if I’m honest, the grips on that thing are small and blocky in contrast to the TB’s large contoured grips, even allowing for vertical or horizontal fore-grips. The TB also has a stock, something it has over the NB. Granted it’s not the best stock, but it’s fine. There’s a curved section on the underside that’s meant to allow you to seat the blaster up on top of your shoulder like a proper rocket launcher, but what this does is reduce the length of pull so much that your dominant arm ends up sticking out to the side like an awkward chicken wing. The thought is still appreciated. You can shoulder the blaster like a rifle, but the way the extra rockets are stored means you’re basically shooting from the hip from your shoulder… kind of. I’m trying to say they block any kind of aiming you might attempt. Performance is all over the place, given that the power behind each shot is fully dependent on the user, but overall, if you’re at least of teenage years with average upper body strength, you should be able to launch rockets pretty far. Interestingly, because the rockets are so wide, even a jacked up shot from the tuberculosis doesn’t hurt as much as a standard shot from an Elite blaster, but it your younger siblings don’t know that, just the presence that a rocket launcher has can be quite effective for intimidation. And that’s something the New Balance didn’t have. The consumption comes packaged with 2 rockets. I know in my pictures it has 3 but I think it looks better with 3. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

I fully accept that at this point, a blaster like the Thunderblast isn’t exactly practical, but the homage to older designs does appeal to me. That and the fact that it’s a rocket launcher. It did kind of bum me out initially when I saw it didn’t have a trigger, but if we’ve learned anything from the Modulus Mediator barrel, it’s that Nerf still knows how to do pressurized air blasters, so who knows? Maybe we’ll see a revamp of the Titan one day. 

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The Blaster In Question #0071: Spectre REV-5

BlasterInQuestion1

SPECTRE REV-5

N-STRIKE

Spectre1Knife-wrench: its a knife and wrench, mostly wrench. And then he accidentally stabs himself in the leg and we all have a good chuckle. That reminds me of this week’s blaster. No, not the stabbing part, but being a weird combination of two things, namely being a rifle and a pistol. Now that I’m thinking about it that’s hardly a unique design feature for this blaster, but I made a Scrubs reference, what do you want?  This week I’ll be looking at the Spectre REV-5. 

THE BLASTER ITSELF

spectre2The Spectre was released in 2010 as part of the original N-Strike line, then again in 2013 as the Elite version. I do own both versions, but I didn’t have the Elite model on hand when I was taking photos, so just keep that in mind. Most stuff I’ll touch on applies to both blasters but I’ll point out any differences. The Spectre is a 5 shot revolver style blaster similar to the Maverick or Strongarm, but with slightly lower capacity. The shell of the original was all new and the only changes to the Elite version besides color are the slots in the sides of the body for the slide to interface with the internals. The cylinder swings out to the left side of the blaster, which, itself, sports a barrel lug, a stock lug, and an accessory rail. At the time of its initial release, what set the Spectre apart from other pistols was its ability to accept barrel extensions and stocks, like those included, to transform it into more of a rifle type blaster. As I recall, the spectre3accessories that came with the Spectre were perhaps more highly sought after than the actual blaster. First off, the stock, while kinda flimsy, was the first example of a side folding stock to hit the market, so that was cool. Also, the barrel had the double distinction of having a bore wide enough that it wouldn’t affect performance, and it looked like a cool suppressor. The ergonomics of the blaster are pretty standard, functional but not mind blowing, though having both attachments on does make it feel like some sort of covert scout rifle, which is fun. Performance on the Elite version is substantially improved over the original but neither version is all that great, to be honest.  At the very least, you can feel like a hit man when you attach the suppressor before busting into your younger siblings’ room and start blasting. The Spectre REV-5 comes with a barrel attachment, a folding stock and either 5 whistler darts or 5 Elite darts, depending on which model. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

The concept of a single blaster that can effectively fill both roles of a pistol and rifle is and continues to be an intriguing one, but the Spectre sadly doesn’t pull it off. It’s an ok pistol, and a meh rifle, but there are better examples of each separately. That seems to be the way it goes, except with drill fork. It’s a drill and fork. I mean, come on, that’s pure gold right there. 

The Blaster In Question #0070: Hades XVIII-6000

BlasterInQuestion1

HADES XVIII-6000

RIVAL (PHANTOM CORPS)

Sometimes you don’t need to make something entirely new to end up with something really good.  Sometimes you just need to take something promising, and tweak it just a bit, then double its capacity and add a shoulder stock.  And presto, its as easy as that.  At least, it is if you’re Nerf, because that’s exactly what they did to bring us this week’s blaster, the Hades.  Just imaging James Woods is reading this review to you.  

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Hades XVIII-6000 was launched in 2018 as the main spring-powered blaster in the Rival line’s fall quarter releases.  It features a hefty 60 round capacity tacked on to pretty much the exact same system as the Artemis XVII-3000, which used a pump action, rotating barrel mechanism to continuously feed rounds into the chamber.  With the integral magazines laying parallel to the blaster body, it’s a very streamlined layout that yields a high capacity for the size.  The Hades’ shell seems to be all original even with its similarities to the Artemis.  Thinking the Artemis might be better suited to the name Persephone, personally.  As mentioned before, the Hades has double the capacity of the Artemis and actually has a shoulder stock, making it more of a rifle.  Like the Artemis, the Hades’ pump grip is kid of an odd shape, in my opinion.  It’s not really shaped to the human hand, it’s just sort of there.  That’s really my only complaint with any weight behind it, anything else from here on out is really just nitpicks.  For instance, While I’m happy about the inclusion of a shoulder stock, I think the pistol grip is a little too far back as it makes the respective distances from off hand, to shooting hand, to shoulder a little wonky.  I think it would be as simple as moving the pistol grip forward just a couple inches to make it really nice, but I acknowledge its a highly subjective opinion to have, so not everyone will experience the same thing.  Additionally, I’m a little bummed that Nerf has gotten into the habit of leaving iron sights off of Rival blasters for a while now.  Sure you can use the red dot sight they make, and even such, sights don’t really help on a Nerf blaster, but I really enjoy when they are there.  As you’d expect from a Rival blaster of this size, the Hades hits pretty hard.  Pair that with the capability of slam-fire and you’d better be really sure your younger sibling deserved it before you bust into their room and start blasting away.  I believe the Geneva Convention lists an unprovoked attack from the Hades as a declaration of war, so keep that in mind.  If you do take that route and need to rearm, you reload the Hades by sliding the top cover all the way back to the stock and loading rounds into the ports on the top sides of the magazine tubes.  The Hades comes packaged with 60 Rival rounds in standard yellow, as well as blue and red team indicator flags.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

A common misconception that a lot of people have about Hades is that he wasn’t really a villain.   He was just kinda grumpy and could be a little frightening due to the nature of his job.  And I’d say that’s an apt description of this blaster.  It’s a really good blaster, like, you should go buy one.  It just depends which side of it you find yourself on that determines how frightening it is.  I guess I didn’t really write this to sound like James Woods very much, just replace some of the verbs with “schmooze” and I think that should do it.

The Blaster In Question #0069: Nitron

BlasterInQuestion1

NITRON

VORTEX

nitron1I think the Vortex line has perhaps the weirdest naming scheme of any group of Nerf blasters.  You start out with the Proton and the Praxis, both real words.  Maybe they’re going for a pr- naming pattern here, but then you get the Vigilon.  Huh.  That’s not a word, but ok.  Follow that up with the Nitron.  Ok, that’s just close enough to being a real word, I’m just annoyed.  There’s already a Proton, why not commit and call it the Neutron?  “But Tim, it’s got nitro in the name to emphasize how fast it is.” I hear you say.  But is it fast? Is it really? That’s a question for the rest of the review to answer. 

THE BLASTER ITSELF

nitron2The Nitron was released in 2011 as the big flagship blaster for the launch of the Vortex series.  It uses a standard flywheel control setup for the blaster with a motorized pusher enabling full-auto fire.  The interesting thing about the flywheels is that they’re different sizes to impart a spin to the discs as they are fired, you know, so they work at all.  The full-auto is a nice thought, but it’s just so slow that a manual semi-auto trigger could easily outpace it without even trying too hard.  Not looking so good on the “nitro” front.  I guess the complex system of wheels, and levers, and whirling blades used to launch the discs was too dangerous to put a nitron3jam door on it, so instead, there’s a disconnect switch along the top of the blaster, just behind the single accessory rail.  Toggling the switch off not only opens the circuit and prevents the flywheels from revving, but also moves the retaining bar in the chamber out of the way, allowing troublesome discs to fall out the barrel when tilted down.  Returning briefly to the accessory rail, the Nitron was initially packaged with a very fancy light up scope with several styles of illumination, and is actually quite a nice little extra piece, however mine is elsewhere at the time of me writing this so it wont appear in any photos.  Just know that it is part of the Nitron package and I still have mine, just somewhere else for now.  Don’t give me that look.  The body of the Nitron is all original and even has a slot in the back of the stock to hold a extra magazine, should you have one handy.  The lever just above nitron4the trigger is the magazine release for the forward magazine well.  The ergonomics are decent as all of the controls are easily accessible and there aren’t any sharp edges or abrasive textures.  The stock feels a little long for the rest of the blaster, and I keep getting the feeling like maybe it should be fired from on top of the shoulder like a rocket launcher.  Now the performance.  The “nitro” part.  It uh… it’s slow.  It’s real slow.  I mean, it shoots mini frisbees, so they fly a good long ways, but they’re really not in a hurry.  Even the rate of fire is leisurely at best.  Sure, it’s big and looks impressive, but unless your younger siblings are completely paralyzed by fear when you bust into their room, you might have a harder than usual time actually trying to hit them.  The Nitron requires 6 C cell batteries to fire, and the included scope takes 2 AA batteries.  The Nitron comes packaged with the scope, a 20 round magazine and 20 Vortex discs.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

So no, it’s not fast.  Should have just called it the Neutron.  Oh well.  It’s not a bad blaster, really, just far outclassed in this day and age.  If you can find one for a decent price, I’d even recommend picking one up, if for no other reason than to get yourself a nice scope and a 20 round Vortex mag.

The Blaster In Question #0068: First Order Stormtrooper Blaster (Rival)

BlasterInQuestion1

FIRST ORDER STORMTROOPER BLASTER

STAR WARS (RIVAL)

RivalStorm1Hold on. We’ve been here several times before, haven’t we?  No, once again, we’re looking at yet another First Order Stormtrooper blaster. What is this, the fourth blaster with this name?  Yes, but with a big difference. Hitherto, all the various Stormtrooper blasters have been standard dart blasters, but this particular iteration is in fact, a Rival blaster. How’s that work then? Let me tell you. Onto the review. 

THE BLASTER ITSELF

RivalStorm2Arent you a little big for a stormtrooper blaster? Not you, the reader, was doing a bit where I—  you know, because of the quote from— look, nevermind.  The Rival version of the First Order Stormtrooper blaster was released in 2018 as one of the more “collector’s” style of blaster like we’ve seen with the Boba Fett Apollo reskin and the Deadpool Kronos. Like both previous examples, this blaster comes in a fancy display style of box with lots of stormtrooper imagery, as you’d expect. Unlike the other blasters, though, this isn’t simply a recolor, it’s an entirely new shell, and boy is it a shell. Mechanically speaking, the Stormtrooper blaster works just like the Helios, albeit without the ability to switch the charging handle from one side to the other. Because of this, the body of the blaster has to accommodate the same layout of internals, which is why the stock section looks a little chunky compared to props from the movies. Add to that the barrel and fore grip section which isn’t present on the Helios and you now have a pretty huge blaster.  Not that that’s a bad thing in and of itself, but it does throw a couple RivalStorm3things off just a bit in terms of the design. More of that later. Out of the box, the blaster comes with 2 extra bits that are meant to be slotted into the right side in order to make it more visually accurate to the movie prop. They don’t serve any function beyond aesthetics but I did find it interesting that they are easily removable, I guess if you want to put everything back in the nice display box. There is a scope molded into the body of the blaster so it’s not removable, but it might have been nice if they put any kind of reticle in there at all. As it stands, it’s just a tube. The aforementioned wonkiness in scale probably has the greatest impact on ergonomics. The first thing you notice when picking this up is that the grip is absolutely huge and kind of blocky. I know the Sterling submachine gun has a grip with flat sides, and consequently, so does the movie prop on which it’s built, but some contouring around where the webbing of my thumb sits would have made a big difference here, especially since the Helios has just such contouring, so it’s not an issue for RivalStorm4preserving the function of the blaster. Secondly, because the stock is so thick, the butt plate is much wider than it would be normally. Again, wouldn’t have been an issue with some light contour work, but for now, the wide plate with hard edges along the sides can be unpleasant if you don’t seat it just right on your shoulder. And that’s really all the functional complaints I have about this. I mean, it’s a Helios and I love the Helios. The charging handle on the left side is hinged so it can flip up to be more out of the way for storage or what have you, and is a pretty good shape for being as slim as it is. As a Rival blaster, performance is solid, firing hard and far, definitely something to give your younger siblings pause. The First Order Stormtrooper Blaster comes packaged in its fancy box with the two extra decorative pieces, a 7 round Rival magazine, and 7 special red Rival rounds, you know, ‘cause it’s a laser gun. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

I do actually have one more complaint about the blaster, but I saw this one coming the moment I saw it unveiled at Toy Fair. It’s expensive. Really expensive. Such is always the case with licensed blasters. If you want a Helios, you can get one for about 1/4 the price of this. I got mine through GameStop with a bit of a discount, but still, you have to be sure you want this if you’re planning on picking one up. Maybe if you’re feeling crafty, you could paint the white parts gold and have yourself a Captain Phasma blaster. Then in true movie fashion you could never fire it once and then try to apprehend a deserter with a stick. Good choiceRivalStormbox

The Blaster In Question #0067: Delta Trooper

BlasterInQuestion1

DELTA TROOPER

N-STRIKE ELITE

dtrooper1I’ve talked before about how much I appreciate Nerf’s willingness to update and improve on their designs over time.  It definitely makes me, the consumer, feel that they are trying to present me with the best possible product.  That is, assuming that each iteration is actually an improvement over the last.  One of the most pervasive designs is the Recon from way back in the days of regular N-Strike.  From the Recon, we then got the Retaliator and the Recon Mk2 (which itself had an updated version to fix some issues).  Now I’ll be looking at the latest model of this type of blaster, the Delta Trooper.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

dtrooper2The Delta Trooper was released in 2018 as part of the N-Strike Elite line and moved to fill the role of the Recon Mk2 as the newest version of the slide-primed magazine-fed configurable rifle/pistol thing.  You could be forgiven for thinking it should be an updated version of the Alpha Trooper, but not this time.  It functions exactly like any of its predecessors, but with a new style of magazine release, and more importantly, with slam-fire.  Slam-fire is always nice to see added as there’s really no downside to having it, and I quite like the AR15 style push-button mag release over the latch we typically see.  All put together, it’s a pretty good looking blaster.  It has decidedly more aggressive lines than the Recon or Retaliator, which I enjoy.  Sadly, that is almost all the good things I can say about the Delta Trooper.  Here’s where we start with the complaints.  First and foremost is the ergonomics.  The pistol grip on the DT is a weird size.  It has a decent thickness to it and fills the hand quite well, but it’s about as short as it could possibly be and still fit all my fingers on it.  I could overlook this if it wasn’t made worse by the abrupt hard edge right above where my thumb sits.  If I choke up on the grip, this edge digs rather uncomfortably into my hand which makes me want to move down a bit, but then my pinky is all but falling off the grip.  I’m not exaggerating when I say I had to manually smooth out that edge to make holding this blaster normally a mostly comfortable feat.  Sure, I’ve had blasters with seams that didn’t line up where I’ve done similar modifications for the sake of comfort, but this wasn’t a seam, it was a quirk of the design that I’m surprised no one in testing had issue with.  But what about the other hand?  Well, on the main blaster body there’s a small area that can be used as a fore-grip, but trying to hold the blaster by the barrel, when dtrooper3attached, is again, thoroughly uncomfortable thanks to the design of the shell.  All those visually appealing aggressive lines just do not work with hands, but they also have another drawback.  One of the main features of the Recon/taliator is its customizability with attachments for the barrel, stock, and as rail accessories.  The DT has a stock, though short and blocky with no extra features, and a barrel, which refuses to sit parallel to the main blaster and has the aforementioned ergo problems, but what the barrel does have is the only rail on the entire blaster.  There are no rails on the core blaster itself which means that most options for customization are just gone.  The other issue, while slightly more nit-picky, is the magazine well.  With the included 12-round mag, it works as it should, but with every other magazine I had on hand, it was tight and stiff, nevermind that it simply does not accept the 35-round Raider drum mags.  Sure, the blaster still works, but this isn’t the same level of polish I’m used to seeing from Nerf.  Now, the Recon Mk2 had similar issues and those did get fixed, so maybe an update is in the works, but I’m still a little frustrated with it.  Overall, the construction does seem solid and the performance is good, but these are kind of expected at this point for a full size blaster from Nerf, so they do little to abate my annoyance with the other issues.  The Delta Trooper comes packaged with the stock, barrel, 12-round magazine, and 12 Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

If I’m being honest, from when I first heard about this blaster, my thoughts on it have been a series of concessions.  First I thought it might be a new Alpha Trooper and it wasn’t, but maybe they’re going for a whole assortment of “trooper” blasters.  Then it was shown as only having one rail for the whole kit, but at least it looked really cool.  Then I got one and felt it in my hands and wasn’t thrilled, but maybe performance will justify all of it, but it’s standard Nerf performance.  I won’t go so far as to say I regret buying it, because I don’t, but I do sincerely hope it gets the same treatment the Recon Mk2 got.  Either that or I’ll hold out for the Upsilon Trooper.

The Blaster In Question #0066: Venom Blaster

BlasterInQuestion1VENOM BLASTER

DART TAG (SPIDER-MAN)

venom1I was wondering what would break first: your spirit, OR YOUR BO- what? Oh sorry, wrong Tom Hardy role.  Why Tom Hardy, you ask.  That’s because he will be playing Eddie Brock in the upcoming Venom movie.  So in the spirit of that film, I thought I’d showcase something that only exists for its context to Spider-Man, but without any mention of Spider-Man on my part.  I give you the Dart Tag Venom Blaster.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

venom2The Venom blaster was actually part of the Spider-Man vs. Venom set in the Dart Tag line, released as a tie-in with the film Spider-Man 3 back in 2007.  It uses a pretty unique mechanism as far as I’m aware, featuring an air pump and 3-tier staged trigger.  This allows you to fire each of the 3 barrels one after the other in semi-auto fashion, or just mash the trigger down to launch all 3 simultaneously.  The shells of both the Venom blaster and the matching Spider-Man blaster in the set are the same aside from the colors, but beyond that, they are unique.  Being Spider-Man themed, the ergonomics are a little strange, but perfectly functional. You secure the blaster to your inner forearm using the Velcro strap, with the trigger in reach of your middle and ring fingers.  While on your arm, the most awkward part of the operation is by far pumping up the air tank as it takes a decent amount of force to actuate the pump handle, particularly when you get close to maximum pressure.  That being said, they do stay pretty secure on your arm, and the cloth Velcro strap doesn’t cut into your arm the way the plastic venom3watch strap things on more recent arm blasters do.  The performance isn’t the best, but keep in mind these came out well before N-Strike Elite was even a thing, and they’re licensed blasters, so it’s pretty easy to forgive.  While it won’t hit very hard, you do effectively have a 3-round burst strapped to your arm which can be somewhat concealed fairly easily, especially if you’re already holding a blaster in your hand.  That way, when your younger siblings think its safe because you’re out of ammo, you can blast them with an extra 3 shots they didn’t know existed.  That’s how you know you’re the cool older sibling: subterfuge and treachery.  The Spider-Man vs. Venom set originally came with the 2 blasters, 1 in each color scheme, a Dart Tag vest for each, a set of Vision Gear goggles that also matched, and a total of 12 Dart Tag darts, 6 for Spider-Man, and 6 for Venom.  I, however, picked mine up second hand, and as a result, only have the Venom blaster.  No Spider-Man anywhere.  But if Marvel wants to use any of my review in their current Tom Holland Spider-Man movies, I’d be more than willing to license it out to them. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

Movie politics aside, I was actually one of those kids growing up who didn’t really care about Spider-Man, the character, but I thought Venom was awesome.  Pair that with Nerf and it was fairly inevitable that I would pick one of these up sooner or later.  And to be fair, the movies I’ve seen that had Tom Hardy in them, for the most part, I thought he did a good job.  Overall, my opinion on the blaster is it’s a bit dated but still fairly fun and I’m glad to have it.  Do I think the movie will be any good?  I think Mad Max said it best when he said “Hgrmngr rgn rgmrn mrgrnm…”

The Blaster In Question #0065: 4 Victory

BlasterInQuestion1

4 VICTORY

REBELLE

4vicEveryone agrees that its way cooler and easier to read when you replace words or letters in tex with numbers that approximate their shape or phonetic pronunciation.  Just ask F3ar, Sk8r boi, or the cast of 673453 (that’s the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th sequels to Grease, all as a single movie, if you weren’t aware).  You get extra points if the number(s) indicate something beyond just the iteration, like in today’s blaster, the 4 Victory, or as the ancient Romans would have called it, “IV Hoc non sunt inventa adhuc.”

THE BLASTER ITSELF

4vic2The 4 Victory was released in 2015 in the Rebelle line of blasters.  It uses the same hammer-action style of priming that was used on the Hammershot and the Sweet Revenge, but instead of using a revolving cylinder, the 4 Victory uses a 4-barrel smart AR system.  This means lower capacity but also a substantially smaller blaster overall, which Nerf really tried to showcase by including a holster with the blaster.  The holster is specific to the 4 Victory, so it doesn’t really work with other blasters, but that means that it fits the 4 Vic quite nicely.  The shell to the 4 Vic is all original except for maybe the hammer, and features an accessory rail along the top of the blaster, though adding anything to the rail prevents the use of the holster.  Unlike a lot of Rebelle blasters, the 4 Vic actually feels decent in hand, from a sizing perspective.  Many other Rebelle pistols in particular tend to have very small grips that aren’t really designed to accommodate big man hands like mine, or even big woman hands like a woman with big hands would have.  Such is not the case here, though, and I appreciate it.  The shape of the grip is a little odd in the way it curves forward but it does lend itself well to reaching up to prime the hammer with your thumb.  The 4 Vic shoots decently hard, not just for a pistol, but also for a Rebelle blaster, and a blaster with a smart AR, both things that historically have indicated slightly poorer performance.  Sure, there are pistols with higher capacity, but as a backup blaster when you need to really drive the message home to your younger siblings that you are not to be trifled with, this serves quite well in that respect.  I guess it would also do well in any other similar situation that would call for a backup blaster.  The 4 Victory comes packaged with the holster, 3 collectible Rebelle darts, 1 secret message dart, and a decoder. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

If there’s one thing I want you guys to learn from this, it’s that it would have been so easy to do the progressively less correct name gag again this week but I decided to spare you from 4 Fast 4 Victory and the like, so you’re welcome. I actually picked up my 4 Vic from my local 5 Below, on 6/7 at 8:09… 10.  Ok, the date and time part was a lie, but the location is correct and I couldn’t resist.  My sister actually had one of these before me and obviously that cannot stand, so I bought my own.  I’m kind of surprised neither of us has tried dual wielding them, but then again, that would be 2×4 Victory, or 8 Victory and I don’t know if anyone could handle that much victory.  That’s a lotta victory.

The Blaster In Question #0064: Ripchain

BlasterInQuestion1

RIPCHAIN

ZOMBIE STRIKE

ripchain1If there’s one universal truth that Todd McFarlane knows, it’s that kids love chains, and I think we can all learn from that.  It seems like Nerf certainly has, with the recent release of their second belt-fed blaster.  So with this much Nerf chain out on the market for kids to love, this blaster obviously needs a name in line with something from the McFarlane universe.  Let’s see, Overt-kill is already taken, so we’ll have to go with Ripchain.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

ripchain2The Zombie Strike Ripchain was released in 2018 and features a 25-round loop belt which is fed through the blaster by pump-action.  The system bares some similarity to the manual fire mode from the Vulcan EBF-25, but without the option for automatic fire.  Sorry Todd, no wires on this one.  Also, I did try, but sadly the belts from the Vulcan are not compatible in the Ripclaw.  To load the Riptor, you fill the belt with 25 darts, lift the hatch on the upper front portion of the blaster, slip the belt over and into place, close the hatch and you can then proceed with firing.  Like the Vulcan before it, the Riptide has a mechanism that locks the hatch in place when closed over the belt, however it also has a switch that can unlock the hatch, making unloading the blaster much easier.  The ergonomics of the Cy-Gor aren’t exactly its strong suit, but they’re functional, at least.  Having the belt all the way in the front makes loading and unloading much easier but it also makes the blaster very front heavy.  Additionally, the plastic piece imitating a ripchain3cloth wrap on the pistol grip isn’t completely locked into the rest of the grip and wobbles just enough to make me concerned about the grip’s structural integrity, particularly if you try holding it by just the pistol grip.  The pump grip is a little blocky but it’s a decent enough shape overall.  The shell of the Malebogia is completely original and features a single accessory rail on the top.   Performance-wise, the Necrid actually has decent range and power given the potential for a poor air seal between the plunger tube and the individual links on the belt.  The belt itself is all plastic with pins connecting the individual links, rather than the cloth strap the Vulcan belts use.  This means turning quickly while holding the blaster causes the belt to swing side to side with a rather distinctive clacking sound.  This can either come across as silly if it’s unintended or can be a foreboding herald just before you bust into your younger siblings’ room and open fire.  The Ripchain come packaged with a 25-round loop belt, and 25 Zombie Strike Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

Ok, first things first, I know all of the goofy names I used weren’t McFarlane properties but I felt it was more important to gradually warm you up to the joke with other “Rip” names first.  I suppose I could have used Rip Torn in there but I actually like stuff he was in so he gets a pass.  Anyway, I think it’s a cool, slightly gimmicky blaster.  Should you get it to be a purely practical blaster? Probably not.  Should you get it to be fun and because it’s belt fed?  Aw heck, yeah.

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.