The Blaster In Question #0033: FocusFire Crossbow

FOCUSFIRE CROSSBOW

REBELLE (ACCUSTRIKE)

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

THE BLASTER ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

 

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The Blaster In Question #0011: Crossbolt

CROSSBOLT

N-STRIKE ELITE

I’ve mentioned before that the vast majority of the bow and crossbow type Nerf blasters fall under the Rebelle series.  Every so often, however, one of the other lines will get a bow of some sort, and that is the case for this week’s blaster, the Crossbolt.  This blaster in particular also fits into the category of blasters that I greatly enjoy but is fairly widely disliked by other Nerfers.  I can maybe understand some of the more common complaints, but not enough for it to ruin the blaster for me.  I’ll get to that in a little bit.  Let’s take a look at the blaster.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Crossbolt was released in 2015 as part of the N-Strike Elite series.  It is a magazine-fed, elastic powered crossbow type blaster, which makes it very unique among Elite blasters as there are no other crossbows or “stringer” blasters in the line.  Additionally, it is one of the only two blasters to feature a bullpup configuration (firing mechanism behind the trigger) along with the Rayven.  Aside from this, the blaster is entirely original.  The main 3 of the aforementioned complaints about the Crossbolt focus around the ergonomics of the blaster.  The first issue concerns the bow arms protruding into the path one’s hand might take traveling from a forward grip to the priming slide at the top of the blaster.  While this is admittedly a hurdle few other blasters have, a simple twist of the firing-hand wrist solves the problem quite nicely.  This is also achieved without any of the straight up goofy flailing and fumbling I’ve seen some people do while trying to illustrate that plastic is solid and hands can’t go through it.  The second issue it the magazine release.  This, I can understand a little more because it is true that the placement and style of the magazine release make it fairly easy to accidentally bump the mag so that it falls out of the blaster.  I’ve even found that the release button doesn’t necessarily need to be pressed to cause the magazine to come loose.  The conclusion I came to was that the back of the blaster is not, in fact, a stock and that the blaster is not intended to be shouldered, a theory i felt was supported by how hard it is to line up the sights if it’s shouldered.  Could Nerf have designed it better to avoid this problem?  Yes, but it’s really the kind of problem you learn to avoid pretty quickly, so it’s still not a deal breaker.  Lastly, a lot of grown-up Nerfers like myself (but not including myself in this instance) complained that the dimensions of the thumb-hole grip were cramped and left parts of the blaster digging into their hands and/or wrists.  This, I absolutely don’t get.  Maybe I have weirdly perfect Crossbolt hands.  Either way, I’ve had zero problems with the grip and actually find it quite comfortable for such a compact blaster.  As I said, the Crossbolt features some fairly basic sights along the top as well as not one, but two jam access doors due to the slightly more complex internal structure of the blaster.  There is also an attachment rail on the underside of the barrel for accessories.  As with other stringer blasters, firing the Crossbolt is very quiet compared to an air plunger blaster, although priming each shot does make a good bit of noise as there are plenty of catches and latches along the stroke.  The string in the Crossbolt seems to have a noticeable amount more tension than with other stringer blasters and this definitely shows in performance as darts fly far and fast, hitting with good, solid impact, making this more of an outdoor blaster.  The Crossbolt comes packaged with a 12-round magazine and 12 Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I felt it was important to highlight the fact that this is a really fun, unique blaster because I remember, after it came out, seeing reviews with goofballs smacking their hands into the bow arms intentionally in an attempt to make their point like a cheesy infomercial.  I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite blaster, but it is entertaining in its own right, and entirely undeserving of the bad wrap it’s gotten over the years.

The Blaster In Question #0009: Fair Fortune Crossbow

FAIR FORTUNE CROSSBOW

REBELLE (CHARMED)

If there’s one thing the Rebelle line can’t get enough of, it’s bows.  Early on in the series, these were mostly just regular air-chamber blasters dressed up to look and operate more like a conventional bow.  It took a couple releases before Nerf finally released an assortment of “stringer” elastic powered blasters that took another step toward proper bow mechanics.  Of course, with all these bows, you have to be able to distinguish them from each other otherwise the market gets flooded.  Today, we’ll be looking at one of the more visually unique bow (well, crossbow, but you understand) blasters from Rebelle, the Fair Fortune Crossbow.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Fair Fortune Crossbow was released in 2014 as part of the Charmed subset of Rebelle blasters.  It uses the same elastic chord system that first appeared on the Rebelle Diamodista, except instead of being a single shot blaster, the FFC features a 6 round rotating cylinder.  Given the unique aesthetics of the blaster, it shouldn’t be a surprise that all the hardware is original.  The ornateness of the faux filigree paired with the unusual upholstered patterning on the grip and slide gives the blaster a feel very reminiscent of something from the Bayonetta video game series, something I am rather fond of.  This point is further driven home when you attach the included charm bracelet (hence the Charmed moniker) to the blaster, adding a little bit of sparkle accompanied by a satisfying jingling sound.  The bracelets in particular surprised me.  When I initially heard about the upcoming release of this line, I thought it sounded gimmicky and pointless, and I guess I was kinda right.  However, the bracelets themselves are metal and so have a decent heft to them.  Additionally, the charms on each of the bracelets (which are all unique to their specific blaster) are well designed and eye-catching.  The one problem with the bracelets is their size.  I have two much younger sisters, and even they struggled getting the bracelets around their wrists.  Alright, enough about that, back to the blaster.  The grip on the FFC is a little odd.  First of all, it’s severely inclined, almost parallel with the body of the blaster.  Second, it has a loop for your middle finger just below the trigger, so only very specific ways of holding it are comfortable.  Once you’ve worked out how to hold the darn thing, it feels pretty good in the hand.  The aforementioned upholstery-like texture provide a decent amount of traction.  The plastic that surrounds the cylinder is a little on the thin side, but it’s not vital to the structure of the blaster so it’s fine.  The FFC has no sights of any kind, and I normally wouldn’t bother talking about what the blaster doesn’t  have, but the priming slide sticks up enough on the top of the blaster that it actually obscures your view, so it’s worth noting.  Because it uses the elastic to fire darts as opposed to an air plunger, the blaster is very quiet when firing.  It hits a little on the soft side of Nerf blasters and, in my experience, it seems like standard Rebelle and Elite darts are more prone to swerving than when fired from a more traditional blaster.  Taking these things into account, the FFC is definitely an indoor blaster, especially if you’re particularly attached to the collectible Rebelle darts that come packaged.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I think this blaster is a good example of one that, while it doesn’t necessarily perform terribly well in comparison to others, is a lot of fun despite it’s shortcomings.  Personally, what attracts me to a blaster is often how easily I can fit it in with a particular pretend-play and the FFC has a lot of potential in this regard.  Whenever I pick it up, I can very easily form a story around it, and admittedly, this has occasionally included playing “Fly Me to the Moon (Climax Remix)” while making a number of stylish poses.