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 #0059: Barricade RV-10

BlasterInQuestion1

BARRICADE RV-10

N-STRIKE

barricade1Just about everyone has at least heard of the Stryfe or the RapidStrike or Modulus ECS-10.  Any of the big names in the wide range of electric flywheel blasters Nerf has produced over the years.  The blaster most people these days don’t remember is the one that actually started the entire flywheel class of blasters at Nerf, the Barricade RV-10.  Not the police car from Transformers, this is a different Barricade, both Hasbro properties, though.  Who?  No, Dwayne Johnson played Roadblock from G.I. Joe, another entirely different still Hasbro property.  Anyway, let’s take a look at the blaster.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

barricade2The Barricade RV-10 was released in 2010 as part of the N-Strike line, kind of the only line Nerf had going at the time.  It was the first (I believe) flywheel blaster to come from Nerf.  There was at least one blaster from Buzz Bee Toys that used flywheels before the Barricade, but we don’t talk about that.  I mean, we could, but people will laugh and throw things.  The Barricade uses more or less the same mechanical configuration we’re used to on modern flywheel blasters but with 2 main exceptions.  First, it fires from a 10 round rotating cylinder rather than a magazine.  The second major difference is that instead of having a rev trigger just beneath the firing trigger like we’re used to, it has an on/off toggle switch that sits just above your thumb like a safety or fire selector switch, assuming you’re holding the blaster in your right hand.  The Barricade’s shell is all original, although it was reused in the Prime barricade3variant- I mean, the Elite version, which came with a stock and was renamed the Stockade.  Amazing.  It features a stock attachment lug on the back of the blaster and an accessory rail up top.  There’s also a interesting front sight that has a hole going through it, maybe so you can still see your target when aiming?  Who knows, but it has no rear sight to line up with and it’s on a pre-Elite blaster so it’s about as useful as.. something… not useful.  Wow, good job, Tim.  By today’s standards, the plastic of the shell feels a little thin and creaky, but that was about par for the course with the original N-Strike blasters.  Also somewhat outclassed by modern blasters is the Barricade’s performance.  Yes it is semi-auto, but with old motors running off of only 3 AA batteries, it can’t really keep up with today’s flywheels.  Given the lengthy rev-up time and the lack of any substantial power, I’d recommend setting this one aside as a collection piece rather than trying to bust into your younger sibling’s room with it.  The Barricade RV-10 comes with 10 Sonic Micro darts and requires 3 AA batteries.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

To be honest, I was not excited for the Barricade when it was announced.  I’m still not that into it.  I only bought mine because it came in a value pack with a stock that I really wanted.  I didn’t have it on hand so I left it out of the review.  Regardless, even if I’m not crazy about the Barricade, I do quite enjoy many of the other flywheel blasters that have come out since then, so I guess I can give it credit for that.  And I got a cool stock out of it too.

The Blaster In Question #0050: Vulcan EBF-25

BlasterInQuestion1

VULCAN EBF-25               

N-STRIKE

vulcan1

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

THE BLASTER ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

 

The Blaster In Question #0029: Barrel Break IX-2

BARREL BREAK IX-2

N-STRIKE

After last week’s rather downer review, I need something to pick me back up.  Bonus points if it restores my faith in the regular N-Strike series.  What’s this?  Oh, praise the gods, it’s the Barrel Break.  Faith is restored, and by a shotgun no less.  So what is this masterpiece of toy craftsmanship?  Does it really make up for the SharpFire?  Am I maybe over-hyping it a little?  All these questions will be answered in due time.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

Ok, it’s probably due time now, so let me address your questions in no particular order; maybe a little, not really since the SharpFire came out afterward and it’s hard to make up for something that comes later, and this is the Barrel Break IX-2.  That answer everything?  Good, moving on.  The Barrel Break IX-2 was released in 2010 as part of the N-Strike line.  Its main draw was the unique and fairly unorthodox method of loading the blaster.  By pressing the lever on either side of the blaster, you unlock the barrels which slide forward and then pivot downward like a break action shotgun.  You then load the darts into the barrels, pivot them back into alignment and push them back into the body of the blaster.  You then are able to fire either one dart at a time or both at once thanks to the 2 separate air chambers, much like the Roughcut that would come later.  Where the Roughcut would use gears to assist priming both springs at once, the Barrel Break simply uses the mechanical advantage of the barrels acting as a long lever when pushed down to prime the plungers.  The whole system may be a little complex, but back in my days of collegiate Humans Vs Zombies, this blaster was an easy choice for backup.  The ability to fire two shots in rapid succession was a big help during the day, and its tolerance for all ammo types gave a decent advantage during missions when scrounging darts off the ground was commonplace.  It should be noted that while clip system blasters obviously couldn’t use broad heads, there were more than a handful of non-clip blasters that wouldn’t reliably fire streamlines either.  The Barrel Break uses all new sculpting and mechanics and has one attachment rail along the top of the blaster.  It does show a few signs of its time such as the plastic being a little creakier than more recent blasters, but even so, the fun of the whole thing is hard to deny.  Creaking aside, in hand the blaster feels pretty good.  My only gripe in this area is that the front of the grip is a little narrow and can put just a little more pressure on my fingers than I’d like when holding it for a long time.  The grip is severely angled which helps confirm that this is meant to be a trusty double-barrel more than anything.  The angle does make aiming down sights a little awkward, but let’s be honest, this isn’t a blaster to be aimed.  The performance is another way the Barrel Break shows its age.  While it had pretty great out-of-the-box range and power when it was released, the standard has been moved up since then.  It’ll still work fine as an indoor/sibling attack blaster, but I still think most of the enjoyment I get out of it is the satisfying mechanical feeling of reloading and that hasn’t changed a bit.  The Barrel Break IX-2 comes packaged with 10 whistler darts and a clip-on dart holder that attaches to the rail.  I still have it, at least, I still have all of its parts, but I may have taken it apart slightly so I could put it on a sleeve instead.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

That felt better.  I know a lot of people will say that there are plenty of better choices out there for an HvZ blaster than the Barrel Break, and I might agree with them on some points but I stand by my choice.  Even outside HvZ, I recognize that it’s a lot of steps to fire 2 darts, but you’ll definitely have fun doing it.  In that sense, I don’t know that I can think of a better example of pure fun outweighing functionality in a Nerf blaster without getting into the Max Force line.

 

The Blaster In Question #0028: SharpFire

SHARPFIRE

N-STRIKE

This week, we’ll be playing the NES classic, Duckhunt using the zapper light gun.  Wait, hang on.  Nope, scratch that, this is a Nerf blaster, but let’s be fair, you can understand my confusion.  I mean, look at it.  Ok, fine, we can look at it together.  Let’s get into reviewing the N-Strike SharpFire.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The SharpFire was released in 2015 as part of the N-Strike series which was a little odd seeing as N-Strike Elite had already been launched several years prior.  It is a single-shot, breach-loading pistol/rifle thing.  It’s a bit of a mess, quite frankly.  To my knowledge, it was the first Nerf blaster to use this breach-loading mechanism but not the last as it has also appeared in the Modulus and Accustrike lines as the IonFire and FalconFire respectively.  The core blaster can be used on its own as a small pistol or combined with the included (and proprietary) stock and barrel extension.  The barrel extension is just a tube that snaps on the front, but the stock can be reversed and used as a holster of sorts.  It even has a belt clip on one side and can hold 6 extra darts in storage as well as holding onto the barrel extension when not in use.  The shell of the blaster is completely original and has only seen reuse in the SharpFire Delta, effectively just a recolor and without the accessories.  The ergonomics of the SharpFire leave something to be desired.  The lump on the back of the pistol grip makes achieving a firm grip rather awkward, and the barrel and stock are too short.  The stock is especially uncomfortable as it has no semblance of a cheek rest of any kind, leaving your head floating awkwardly behind the blaster as you hunch way down to get any kind of sight picture.  The whole thing is quite literally a pain in the neck.  This is not helped by the fact that the barrel attachment mechanism is so poorly designed that it is both too tight where it causes stress marks in the plastic from attaching and detaching, but also too loose so the barrel never stays on straight.  As a pistol, my left hand can wrap around the fingers of my right hand in a standard grip, but as a rifle (kinda sorta), It feels like there should be something more substantial to hold on to in the front of the blaster and there isn’t.  These would be bad enough except that both of these accessories are only compatible with the SharpFire, and likewise, the SharpFire can’t accept standard attachments.  Performance isn’t exactly stellar either.  With just the core blaster, many shots seem to idly coast through the air before dropping to the floor as opposed to the speed and force seen with Elite series blasters, which again, had been out for 3 years at this point.  I just feel like I need to point that out again.  With the barrel attachment on, the loose fit would sometimes mean that darts would impact the inside of the barrel and slow down before exiting the blaster, leading to some hilariously flaccid shots.  Needless to say, you don’t want this happening when you decide to bust into your younger sibling’s room.  You’ve got an image to maintain.  The SharpFire comes packaged with its stock, barrel extension, and 10 N-Strike Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Hoo-boy.  That was a rough one.  When it was first shown in a leaked promo image back in 2014, I was super excited for it to come out because it didn’t look like anything that had come out before it.  I was really confused why no one else seemed interested in what could have potentially been a dedicated Nerf sniper.  Then it came out and I figured out why.  I guess it’s hard to convey scale on a low res leaked picture but this thing really is just kind of disappointing all around.

 

The Blaster In Question #0016: Deploy CS-6

DEPLOY CS-6

N-STRIKE

This may come as a bit of a surprise to you but I love Nerf blasters.  Shocking, I know.  As such, I like to keep up with the Nerf community of fans, while perhaps not in person, but at least for news and updates.  If I have one problem with the Nerf community (sweeping generalization) it’s the seemingly arbitrary hatred most members have for certain blasters.  If you read my review of the Crossbolt, you probably picked up on some of that.  This week, I’ll be looking at another widely hated blaster, the Deploy CS-6.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Deploy CS-6 was released in 2010 in the N-Strike line, not Elite, just regular.  As with most clip-system blasters of that era, the internals are largely identical from one to the next.  The Deploy’s selling point was its unique collapsible design that allowed it to be stored or carried in its more compact “flashlight mode,” a design choice that I suspect was made in response to the growing hype surrounding the real world firearm, the FMG9 from Magpul.  In flashlight mode, there are only 2 controls.  The first is the on/off switch for the single tiny red LED which comprises the flashlight portion of the blaster.  The second control is the deploy button on the top side of the carry handle.  This is where it gets interesting.  Pressing the button causes the flashlight/magazine well portion of the blaster to swing down to the left, and the stock portion to shoot backward, exposing the grip and trigger.  This was very exciting for me the first time I saw it because, at the time, I was deeply invested in the game Mass Effect which features, among many other things, folding/collapsible guns.  Also, things that fold up are just cool.  That’s a fact.  It’s clear that the design of the Deploy was intended to be compact so some dimensions like the length of the stock feel a little small, but still perfectly usable.  The sideways-facing magazine is a little finicky and not quite as smooth to operate as the Raider CS-35 but it just takes a little practice.  The blaster can also still be used with the magazine well facing up although this does block the sights.  I only have 2 real complaints about the function of the blaster, the first being that said magazine well does not lock into the downward position, so running around with a big old drum magazine sticking out the side means it’s going to bounce quite a bit.  Second is just a problem inherent with the material, it creaks an awful lot, but with that many external moving parts, it’s not really surprising and is certainly not the deal breaker I’ve heard it described as.  For its time, the Deploy’s performance was respectable.  Nowadays, particularly since the launch of the Elite series, it doesn’t quite hold up.  Darts hit moderately hard at close range but quickly lose momentum and end up diving into the ground.  This probably isn’t helped by the ammo as clip-system blasters were still using Streamline darts.  Take all my complaints about Elite darts and cut the range back to a third and that’s Streamlines.  To be honest, I doubt you’d get much of a response from busting into your siblings room and blasting away with this.  It’s definitely an indoor blaster.  The Deploy comes packaged with a 6-round magazine, 6 Streamline darts, and a sling.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Deploy has its problems, that’s true.  But none of these are enough to make me say it’s a bad blaster.  In fact, back in my collegiate Humans vs Zombies days, this blaster saved my figurative life a number of times thanks to it’s folding design which meant it could be tucked into a backpack with relative ease.  So no, I don’t agree with the Nerf Community on this one.  If you really don’t like the Deploy, send it to me, don’t chop it up with an axe and blow up the remains.