The Blaster In Question #0074: Demolisher 2-in-1

 

BlasterInQuestion1

DEMOLISHER 2-IN-1

N-STRIKE ELITE

demolish1Without question, everyone who has ever owned more than one Nerf blaster has thought “I wish I could stick these together and make one super blaster.”  There’s a whole branch of the modding community dedicated to this exact goal. The fine folks at Hasbro certainly took note of this when they designed this week’s blaster, the Demolisher 2-in-1. So what madness did they concoct in the Nerf labs?  Let’s have a look

THE BLASTER ITSELF

demolish2The Demolisher was released in 2014 under the N-Strike Elite line in their bizarre switch from the standard phthalocyanine blue and titanium white color scheme to a sort of burnt sienna and ivory (blue and white became orange and white). It features 2 separate firing mechanisms that allow it to fire both Elite darts and the same big rockets that the Thunderblast uses. It sounds interesting and complicated at first until you realize they stuck the Thunderblast on the underside of a scaled up Stryfe and painted it orange.  The shell is completely original at least, and I actually think it looks really aggressive and cool. I’m not sure why but I really love that tubey bit that loops under the barrel. I also, for some reason really felt like I wanted to call it the Bullshark instead of the Demolisher.  Again, not really sure why other than it just felt right.  Both systems work well, the missiles fly out with a satisfying *thunk* and the darts fly far and hit decently hard. I really cannot stress enough that this is just a Stryfe and a Thunderblast. Ergonomics are good once you get used to how front-heavy the blaster is. My only gripe in this category is the design of the stock which has space to hold an extra missile. The problem is it holds the missile in the top of the stock, meaning you basically can’t aim when there’s a spare missile in there, and even when it’s out, the strange bulge makes putting your face against it kind of uncomfortable. As far as functionality, obviously the blaster has a stock attachment lug but it also has a barrel lug and 2 rails for other accessories. One thing that stuck out to me and probably only me because that’s the kind of guy I am, is the feel of the trigger. It’s very smooth first of all, but it also has a really nice pressure curve when you pull it. On my Demolisher at least, it starts rather stiff, but past a certain point, the amount of force to pull it the remaining distance goes way down which makes it feel really snappy and responsive. Maybe I’m just imagining it, but it makes me happy, and it may make you happy too.  On a different note, one of the more immediately noticeable appeals of the Demolisher over other blasters is its appearance, which really sets the tone well when you bust into your younger siblings’ room and they see a Nerf blaster with a missile launcher pointing at them. It’s a ton of fun. The original Demolisher came packaged with a 10 round curved magazine, 10 Elite darts, 2 missiles, and a stock, but there’s just recently been a new Modulus version that comes with a bunch of other stuff. I don’t have one of those yet, though, so I’m just telling you about the original. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

I do seem to have a tendency of using a joke in one review and then reviewing something else which would also work with the joke not long after. You have no idea how badly I wanted to make the knife-wrench reference again, but alas I had already used it. Nevertheless, the Demolisher is one of those blasters that I wasn’t super excited for and I could see it being easily overlooked given its similarities to other existing blasters, but it’s actually quite a nicely refined setup with just a few extra bells and whistles, so I definitely recommend grabbing one if you can. 

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The Blaster In Question #0073: Rukkus ICS-8

BlasterInQuestion1

RUKKUS ICS-8

N-STRIKE ELITE

rukkus1People that know me know that I spend more than a fair bit of time playing Warframe. And if, like me, you too play more Warframe than you should, you probably know that the Soma rifle from the game is a boss and I’ll fight you if you don’t like it.  Sure it’s not the KOHM, but that’s a shotgun and doesn’t relate to today’s review. Visually one of the more distinctive features of the Soma is a giant clip that feeds vertically through the gun as you fire, and that specifically is where my mind went when I first saw the Rukkus ICS-8. I’ll tell you right now it’s not the Soma, or even the Aksomati, but that’s like comparing apples to fictional oranges from a video game that are meant to be lethal firearms, so not really fair. Let’s get into the review. 

THE BLASTER ITSELF

rukkus2The Rukkus ICS-8 was released right at the end of 2018 as part of the N-Strike Elite series of blasters. It is yet another entry into the list of ratcheting clip-fed blasters like the Battlescout but this time the clip feeds vertically rather than horizontally. Additionally the clip on the Rukkus is curved slightly and is not removable from the blaster. It holds 8 rounds and is capable of slam-fire. The blaster also uses a top priming slide rather than a pump grip or bolt. This isn’t unusual for a smaller Nerf blaster at all but it does play into my next bit so sit tight. If recent news has told us anything, it’s that Nerf is not shy about license deals with upcoming products for both Overwatch and Fortnite. At this point, I would like to submit for consideration, Nerf Warframe. Just extend the clip, put a stock and proper barrel with maybe a pump grip, and you have a decent analog for the Soma, at least in form. Hasbro, if you’re listening, just think about it. Anyway, the Rukkus has no C696D89D-1202-45FC-8BC5-C482973E4A41attachment rails or lugs of any sort so, sadly, your options for customization are essentially nil without getting into mods. Personally I start with a Hornet Strike and Pistol Gambit to boost the critical- wait… different mods, sorry. The ergonomics of the Rukkus are decent, nothing really remarkable but it’s all comfortable and functional. Likewise, performance is solid without being mindblowing. There are some shots that feel like they don’t hit quite as hard as others but it’s not consistent so it’s hard to nail down what the cause is.  The mechanical sound and feel of clip advancing between shots is quite satisfying and can be rather intimidating to your younger siblings when you bust into their room. Just count your shots because reloading is a little cumbersome given that the clip is never fully exposed to put darts back in. The Rukkus ICS-8 comes packaged with 8 Elite darts. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

I know in reality the odds of Hasbro picking up the Warframe license are slim to none, but you have to admit there would be plenty to work with. Other weapons in the game would be easy pickings for conversions into the toy market.  I mean, the Furis is basically a Stryfe as is, and we know Nerf has experience with melee foam toys. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to swing around a big foam Galatine like a cool guy. Until then, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a Tenno-Strike series of blasters or even a Warframe Legends action figure line.

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 #0061: Cam ECS-12

 

 

BlasterInQuestion1

CAM ECS-12

N-STRIKE ELITE

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

THE BLASTER ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

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

The Blaster In Question #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 #0036: Twinshock

TWINSHOCK

N-STRIKE ELITE (MEGA)

There’s one thing blasters from the MEGA series all have in common and that’s being rather large. Being rather large and red. Yes. They all share relative largeness, redness, and radical devotion to the pope. Wait, hang on… scratch that last one. Large and red are still valid, though, and they certainly apply to this weeks blaster, the Twinshock. I guess I should tell you about it, then. Yeah alright, here goes.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Twinshock was released in 2017 as part of the MEGA series of blasters. If you’ve read my review on the Roughcut 2×4, you should have a good idea of how this blaster works, because it’s functionally identical, just with 10 barrels instead of 8. In summary, it’s loaded from the muzzle, holds 10 rounds and for every rack of the priming handle, the staged trigger allows you to fire 2 darts either successively or simultaneously. Given the increased size of the projectile, it’s understandable that the power of the blaster has been accordingly bumped up. The Roughcut took advantage of a gear system to assist in priming two plungers with one motion. This gave it a slightly longer priming stroke than most other blasters. This is doubly true for the Twinshock which has an enormous stroke length but with comparatively low resistance, so there’s the trade-off. Now, I think it’s worth bringing up that the Twinshock, much in the same way as the Alien Menace Ravager before it, has a buttery smooth prime. It’s hard to describe how nice of a priming stroke it has so if you want to know what I’m talking about, you’ll just have to buy one and see, but it’s pretty great, so maybe do that. The exterior of the Twinshock is completely original and features two attachment rails on the top of the blaster. As mentioned before, it feels pretty hefty in hand and has some substantial bulk to it. The only real issue with that is that it is rather top heavy so make sure you have strong wrists if you’re planning on holding this blaster for a long time. I also wish it had a stock, or at least an attachment point for one, but I wish for a lot of things. The performance with the Twinshock is admirable. In line with other MEGA blasters, it hits hard and shoots far with the added perk of whistling darts that really frighten younger siblings when they hear them flying past their head. The capacity for double-tapping or shotgunning 2 darts is really what sets the Twinshock apart. The Twinshock comes packaged with 10 MEGA darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m being fully serious about how great priming this blaster feels. If you don’t feel like buying one of these for yourself to experience it, find a friend who will and borrow theirs. Even if you’re some kind of weirdo who isn’t sold on that premise alone, its use as a weapon against younger siblings also cannot be understated.

The Blaster In Question #0034: Firestrike

FIRESTRIKE

N-STRIKE ELITE

Do you ever find one of those movies where you have to watch it over and over in order to really understand everything, but on that last watch, it all clicks and you have an a-ha moment?  Well, that’s pretty much the Nerf community and the Firestrike in a nutshell.  If you were under the impression that this was just an Elite reskin of the Nite Finder, allow me to explode your brain patterns.  On to the review!

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Firestrike was released in 2013 as part of the N-Strike Elite series.  Being one of the earlier releases in the line, it was more of an update to an existing blaster than a wholly new idea, that blaster being the N-Strike Nite Finder EX-3.  All of the functionality of the Nite Finder was preserved, using the same single shot muzzle-loading design and even keeping the “laser” sight and dart storage under the barrel.  Overall, the Firestrike is significantly more compact than its predecessor, most of the bulk being trimmed off the grip and under-barrel area.  The feature that stumped almost everyone for quite a while was the peculiar shape of the butt of the pistol grip.  There’s just this weird spike sticking down from the bottom and no one I know could say for certain why it was there.  As I recall, it took someone finding the actual design documents for the blaster to realize that the spike is to help dual-wield Firestrikes.  Every so often, those brainy types over at Nerf come up with some elaborate system to add a feature to a blaster and everyone gets mad hype about it.  This time they put a peg on the grip so you can prime the blaster with another blaster and everyone got mad hype, well after the release of the blaster itself.  I suppose it may have gotten a little blown out of proportion but I think people were just excited by a reason to buy a second Firestrike and for good reason.  Everything about the blaster works well.  It’s small size and relatively few moving parts make it feel sturdy in the hand, though I can see the small grips being an issue for some people.  As with the Nite Finder before it, the plunger rod sticks out the back of the blaster quite a ways when primed.  I’m not a fan of this from a purely visual perspective but it’s definitely simple and effective.  There’s an attachment rail on the top of the blaster, but I don’t know why you would want to put a scope on the Firestrike since it has a built in “laser” sight.  Sure it’s just an LED and is too dim to use outdoors or in a brightly lit room but it works as well as can be expected and performs admirably as an ominous signal to your younger siblings of what is pointed right at them.  The light requires 2 AAA batteries to work but it has no real bearing on the function of the blaster itself.  In keeping with Nite Finder tradition, the Firestrike actually packs quite a punch for its size, shooting a little farther and harder than some of the larger blasters out there.  The Firestrike comes packaged with 3 Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Up until very recently, I only had one Firestrike in my entire collection, even knowing about the potential for dual-wielding.  I just happened upon a handful of older Nerf blasters at a local thrift store while browsing with my boy Ethan.  For $2, it’s almost not even a question if it’s worth buying, though I could easily have justified paying more.

 

The Blaster In Question #0013: Dual-Strike

DUAL-STRIKE

N-STRIKE ELITE

Variety is the spice of life or something.  It keeps things interesting.  But what if you’re in the middle of a foam conflict and you find yourself thinking, “Something new and/or exciting better happen right now or I’m gonna lose it”?  The answer is simple.  Use the selector switch.  What does that mean?  Well, I’ll tell you.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Nerf Dual-Strike was released in 2016 as part of the N-Strike Elite series.  The mechanics present in the Dual-Strike are mostly reused with one big exception that I will get into later.  The blaster fires from one of two sets of three barrels linked via a smart AR system.  The interesting part is that one set of barrels fires standard Elite darts while the other fires Mega dartsOn top of that, you can manually control which type of ammo you want to use via the previously mentioned selector switch on the right side of the blaster.  The switch is quite clearly labeled so you know which setting it’s on.  It’s actually pretty impressive that the switch works as well as it does since it’s not uncommon for more complex smart AR setups to want to eject darts prematurely if there’s even the slightest increase in air pressure.  Since I’ve had the DS, I haven’t experienced any air interference from one barrel group to the other, so kudos to Nerf on the engineering behind that.  Now on the other hand, I do have a few mostly subjective complaints about the exterior of the blaster.  I’m not a fan of the style of priming handle on the DS.  I realize it’s simple and just works, but I really don’t like how it sticks way out the back of the blaster when it’s primed.  There are other Nerf blasters that use this same method of priming and I don’t like it on any of them either, all the way back to the Nitefinder.  I just wish there had been a more elegant solution because I know it’s possible.  Also, while the grip is mostly fine, the notch just below the trigger where your middle finger is supposed to sit is way too narrow for my hand, so instead of my finger getting a secure, comfortable hold on the blaster, I have one finger sitting on a random raised edge.  It would have been better if this had either been moved down slightly or just removed entirely.  Again, mostly just my personal preferences, but I figure you must at least slightly value my opinions since you’re most of the way through this post, and if you are, I appreciate that.  There’s also a single attachment rail on the top of the blaster.  As far as functionality is concerned, at it’s most basic, the DS is a more complicated than usual 6-shot pistol which is pretty oddly proportioned to boot.   The Elite darts fly reasonably far and hit as hard as you’d expect a blaster in the Elite series to hit.  The Mega darts, however, don’t have the power behind them that they would have in a dedicated Mega blaster, so shots leave just a little to be desired.  Overall, I’d say the DS is best suited to indoor use for those times when you can’t decide just how mean you want to be to your younger siblings.  The Dual-Strike comes packaged with 3 Elite darts and 3 Mega darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Dual-Strike is one of those kind of hard to place blasters.  It felt more like a proof of concept rather than a product made to fill a niche in the market.  That being said, it’s plenty of fun for just messing around.  I just see the idea behind it having more potential than the final product we got in the end.  Add that to all this switch and DS talk and I feel like I’m writing up a Nintendo press release.

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 #0010: Stryfe

STRYFE

N-STRIKE ELITE

If you’re a regular Nerf-er, you probably looked at the title of this weeks review and thought “what could this chuckle-head possibly have to say about the Stryfe that hasn’t already been said?”  The answer is this: the Stryfe is vanilla ice cream.  Feel free to quote me on that. Lost?  That’s ok.  Stick around and I’ll explain it to you.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Stryfe was released in 2013 as part of the N-Strike Elite series, which is Nerf’s core product line.  It is an electronic, semi-automatic, magazine-fed, flywheel blaster, much like the Rayven before it.  Really the only functional difference between the Stryfe and the Rayven is the position of the magazine.  Now, allow me to explain the vanilla ice cream.  The Stryfe is really nothing new (especially at time of writing this).  It doesn’t offer any huge breakthroughs in dart blaster tech.  Out of the box, it’s not a game-changer by any stretch of the imagination.  In this sense, it’s kind of plain, vanilla, if you will.  Now, this is not to say it’s bad either.  Vanilla is still a tasty flavor, and as such, the Stryfe is a perfectly fine blaster.  The grip is comfortable in-hand, magazines can be changed out quickly and easily and it only takes a couple seconds to rev up before firing.  Once revved up, darts fly pretty well and hit with some considerable force, just so long as it has fresh batteries.  Simple and mostly functional, but it doesn’t stand out in any real way, in fact, without some light modification, there’s a mechanical lock that prevents the trigger from being pulled if there isn’t a dart loaded and this lock doesn’t always work correctly.  The result can be a fully loaded blaster that refuses to fire, but this starts to get into where the Stryfe really shines.  I would say, tasty as it is, relatively few people eat vanilla ice cream entirely on its own.  This applies to the Stryfe as well.  While the blaster is serviceable out-of-the-box, the potential for modification is monumental and allows just about anyone to get in on it.  The Stryfe features one attachment rail on the top of the blaster and one on the underside of the barrel.  Additionally, the muzzle sports a barrel attachment lug, and there’s a connector to attach a stock as well.  When it was released, there were a handful or so attachments that could be fitted to the Stryfe and that number has increased many fold thanks, in no small part, to the launch of the Modulus line.  Throw some sprinkles on that ice cream.  Of course, these are all external modifications only and don’t really add to the basic performance of the Stryfe, but what if you’re looking for a more serious upgrade?  If you fancy yourself handy with a soldering iron, there’s no shortage of tutorials out there on how to rewire a Stryfe to increase voltage, swap out switches, use rechargeable LiPo batteries and so on.  Now you’re looking at a decent little sundae with hot fudge or whipped cream or whatever, but there’s even more than that.  Thanks to companies like Worker and a slew of others, there is a growing market for 3rd party modification kits, many of which are geared specifically for the Stryfe and they can get pretty in depth.  If you’re looking to dress a Stryfe up like real-steel firearm or replace the flywheels to rifle the darts as you fire them, there are kits for just about anything.  Now you’ve gone and stuck a brownie in with the ice cream.  A regular, unmodified Stryfe requires 4 AA batteries and comes packaged with a 6-round magazine and 6 Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After all that talking-up of the potential modification options for the Stryfe, it may be a little surprising to know that I’ve only ever modified them to the point of removing that irritating lock.  Maybe if I had more free time and money to spend on kits, I might have gotten more involved, but given the assortment of stuff available, I think it is more a question of when I get into more serious mods rather that if.  And for the record, I totally eat vanilla by itself.