I’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
The 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.