The Blaster In Question #0042: Kronos XVIII-500

BlasterInQuestion1KRONOS XVIII-500

RIVAL (PHANTOM CORPS)

kronos1“Hang on a minute, didn’t we just have a Rival review, like, two weeks ago?” I hear you ask.  Why yes, sharp-eyed viewer, indeed we did.  Ordinarily I’d try and spread stuff out and keep you guessing about what the next blaster will be, like a game, but this is new and hot.  The new hotness, you might say.  So this week I’m looking at the Kronos.  Something that bears the name of the father to the Olympians must be a behemoth of a blaster, right?  Actually, it kind of goes the other way, but trust me, it’s not the size that counts, it’s all about the balls.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

kronos2The Kronos XVIII-500 was released in 2018 as part of the Phantom Corps subset of Rival blasters.  I was initially under the impression that Phantom Corps was a Target exclusive line, but this blaster was purchased from TRU which confounded me to no end, at least for a few minutes.  No idea what the deal with that is but whatever, you’re here to read about the blaster.  The Kronos is a spring powered pistol with a 5 round integrated magazine à la MEGA Magnus or Star Wars Rey (Jakku) Blaster.  Like both of those examples, the Kronos is loaded through a port on the top of the blaster that opens when the slide is primed back.  The Kronos also has an additional flap covering the port which I guess isn’t really necessary but it does preserve the silhouette of the blaster a little bit.  The shell of the blaster is all new and sports functional front and rear sights as well as 2 Rival accessory rails, one on the slide and one just above the muzzle.  Interestingly, while the blaster is labeled “XVIII-500” on both sides, the name Kronos appears nowhere except on the packaging.  Something to note about the rails on the Kronos is that, after attaching the Rival red dot sight, I noticed that it could slide back and forth just a little bit, just a few millimeters at most, and the nature of the attachment mechanism means it wasn’t in danger of falling off, but it’s just something I’d never had kronos3any of my other Rival blaster do.  I doubt that’s going to make or break anyone’s opinion of it, though.  Aside from that, everything about the Kronos’ construction is solid.  The grip in particular is very comfortable and secure in the hand as it follows much more organic lines than the more hard-lined rest of the blaster body, which is a style I quite like, visually and practically.  The slide has a surprising amount of thought and engineering put into it.  Priming the blaster is fairly easy with the grip panels that add a good amount of traction as well as providing a more defined surface to pull back on.  On the underside of the slide, there are a couple of telescoping flat panels that extend when the slide is pulled back, I assume to either keep the mechanism clean or to prevent kids pinching their fingers in the internals.  The very rear of the slide also has a cutout so you can see the orange plunger when it’s primed as well as a button to release the lockup if the blaster jams. Like all other Rival blasters, the Kronos has a safety which locks the trigger when engaged.  Unfortunately this particular safety has the same after-the-fact addition kind of feeling that the Zeus’ had.  It’s hard to describe verbally, but it feels like it’s flexing before it clicks rather than pivoting and is generally unpleasant to operate, not that it’s a necessary feature per se. For its size, the Kronos holds its own surprisingly well against other Rival blasters in terms of performance.  Shots fly and hit with the expected Rival accuracy and power, making it a kronos4real terror for younger siblings, especially given how low profile and nimble it is due to its smaller size.  I’ve even found that it fits rather handily into standard jeans pockets for holstering, just so long as you have jeans with actual pockets (why are fake pockets even a thing?  Sorry, side-tracked).  The Kronos comes packaged with another set of red and blue Rival flag/ribbon things, provided you got the Phantom Corps version and didn’t shell out $70 for the Deadpool variants, as well as one Rival round-  what’s that?  It comes with 5 rounds?  Ok.. if you say so.  Scratch that, I guess it’s supposed to come with 5 rounds.  Hmm…

 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

Ethan was actually the one who found this blaster at TRU and nicely offered to pick it up for me as I mentioned last week.  I went over to his place to pick it up as well as just to generally hang out, but when I opened the box, I found that only one round, specifically the one visible in the little window on the box, was actually inside.  Further inspection of the box revealed that the tape on one side had been cut and then taped over again, leading us to believe that someone had swiped the remaining 4 rounds from my box.  Normally I’d be rather upset upon finding out that I had been shorted, but I could not for the life of me, think of a more laughably unsubstantial thing to steal.  Whoever this chuckle-head is, decided it was worth risking getting kicked out of a Toys R Us or even fired if they were an employee over 4 Nerf Rival rounds.  The imbalance of risk to reward was so skewed, I couldn’t even bring myself to be mad about it.  If you did it, and you’re reading this, I hope you’re really enjoying playing with my balls.

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The Blaster In Question #0041: Mediator

BlasterInQuestion1

MEDIATOR

MODULUS

mediator1Sometimes a really good idea isn’t something entirely brand new, but rather, a refinement of something that already exists.  Up till this point, we’ve had the Raider CS-35, the Alpha Trooper CS-18, the Rampage, Elite Alpha Trooper, and Stormtrooper Deluxe blaster (the first one) that all fill the role of pump-action magazine fed blasters.  Well, with Nerf’s latest wave of products, we have yet another to check off those boxes and then some.  Let’s have a look at the Modulus Mediator.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

mediator2First things first, I have no idea why they went with “Mediator” for the name of a blaster.  It doesn’t have quite the same sort of imposing punchy quality as something like the Rampage or Retaliator.  Even in the context of a conflict, a mediator is supposed to be a neutral third party that gets two opposing sides to agree on something.  I don’t know, just feels like a weird choice, but that’s what it’s called so I guess let’s just roll with it.  The Mediator was released in 2018 as part of the Modulus line of products,  Like I said, the Mediator operates much like other pump mag blasters but with 2 major differences.  I would say they’re improvements, but I’m sure there are people who aren’t fans.  Probably the same weirdos that thought The Last Jedi was the worst thing ever, but that’s neither here nor there.  The shell of the Mediator is all new work apart from the standard Nerf barrel and stock attachment points.  That actually brings us to the first big improvement, that being customizability.  While you could expect to find a stock attachment and a rail on pretty much all other pump mag blasters, what you never found was a second rail (I’m counting the Raider/Rampage’s rails as one big one, fight me) or a barrel attachment lug, both of which the Mediator provides quite handily.  The extra rail on the right mediator3side obviously grants you greater potential for decking out your blaster with tactics.  That’s all well and good, but the inclusion of the barrel lug is really what’s new.  Given blasters like the Rampage and Alpha Trooper needed already pretty lengthy front ends to accommodate the pump action, extending the barrel further doesn’t make much sense as it would only work to slow the dart after being fired.  As such, they never had barrel extension lugs, but the Mediator pulls it off thanks to it’s second major improvement over previous blasters.  The whole thing is super compact with just a short little barrel.  This means adding extra barrels doesn’t drastically reduce performance, which in turn means even more customization.  The ergonomics of the Mediator are pretty great.  I’d say it’s probably the best we’ve seen from the Modulus line so far.  The pistol grip is a good size and has a really nice grippy texture to it that I haven’t seen before but certainly hope to see again.  The same texture is also on the pump grip, which is a little short, but not enough to hinder, and I can understand the desire to not have it protrude too far from the body of the blaster.  Everything feels nice and solid, though I wish the ratcheting on the pump grip was a little quieter when cycling the bolt.  Nothing a little light modification can’t fix, though.  My last gripe is purely aesthetic.  I wish the blaster had a raised front sight parallel to the very prominent rear one.  While this would have looked better in my opinion, it turns out the little stubby nub at the front end IS a front sight and is even relatively well calibrated to give slightly arced shots for a subtle boost to the range.  On that note, the performance of the Mediator is decent.  Shots fly and impact right on par with those of other comparable blasters.  The ability to slam-fire is also a plus when busting into your younger sibling’s room and laying down heavy fire.  The Mediator comes packaged with the magazine well detached (needs to be installed to operate the blaster), a 6 round magazine, and 6 white Modulus styled Elite darts.

 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got the Mediator on a trip to Target with my boi, Ethan.  I didn’t expect to come out with it, but I knew I had to buy something and there it was.  See, the night before, Ethan texted me that he had come across another blaster that I was looking for (more on that next week) and offered to grab it for me and I would pay him back.  I didn’t have any cash on me, so when we were hanging out the next day, I suggested we stop by Target so I could get some cash back.  Long story short, I bought a Nerf blaster so I could pay for another Nerf blaster.

The Blaster In Question #0040: Helios XVIII-700

BlasterInQuestion1

HELIOS XVIII-700

RIVAL (PHANTOM CORPS)

helios1Alright, I know it would have been thematically more appropriate to do this review last week what with the whole Christmas thing that happened, but this is my (subsection on someone else’s) review site and I will do what I like.  Besides, Ethan is still working through his annual haul, so it’s fine.  Now that that’s out of the way, let’s have a look at the first Nerf blaster I’ve received for Christmas in, like, 8ish years.  That would be the Rival Helios XVIII-700.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

helios2The Helios was officially slated for release in 2018 but as you may have figured out, they slipped into circulation just a little early.  So far it is only available in the Target exclusive Phantom Corps subset which means white is your only color option for the blaster itself.  At first glance, it looks like just a revised design of Apollo and I suppose that’s not far off, functionally, but it’s certainly not just a reskin.  Only the Jolt can get away with that.  Like the Apollo, it is a spring powered blaster that uses standard Rival tube magazines loaded through the pistol grip.  What’s different about the Helios is the addition of proper fore-grip and stock pieces, a jam door, and a new style of priming handle.  Instead of being a vertical pull and push bolt handle like on the Apollo, the Helios has a side-mounted bolt handle with a spring return, so you just pull it back and let it snap forward again on its own.  The whole motion is very satisfying and makes the Helios feel like an SMG or machine pistol. The fun doesn’t stop there, though, because those crafty folks at Hasbro worked out how to make the bolt handle removable and reversible, making the blaster helios3completely ambidextrous for all you sinister people out there. Either that or if you’re one of those Ghost Recon/Sam Fisher Ubisoft properties who might need to switch hands at a moments notice. Besides the obvious benefit of just a better priming action, the orientation of the bolt handle means there’s an actually usable line of sight as well as a bunch more rail space for attachments. As with all Rival blasters, it should be noted that it’s not an N-Strike style rail, so only Rival accessories will work.  They’ve also changed the style of safety from a push button on the Apollo to a switch on both sides of the blaster, sticking with the ambidextrous theme.  All put together, you have a very compact, solid blaster that is just a joy to operate and feels good in hand.  The blaster runs very smooth, like how you would expect an improved Apollo to run.  The power of the blaster is right on par with other Rival blasters, flying straight and hitting hard, definitely not something to use lightly when busting into your younger sibling’s room.  Maybe save it for when they’ve actually earned it.  The Helios comes packaged with a 7 round magazine, 7 Rival rounds, and, specific to the Phantom Corps line, two colored team flags, one red, one blue.  I believe the purpose is for them to be attached to your person or your blaster to denote your team when playing competitively, but I just like putting them on my bag so everyone knows I’m a huge nerd who plays with Nerf blasters.helios4

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Helios was a present from my parents this past Christmas.  Before that, it was the Dart Tag Furyfire 2-pack when it was new.  That should give you an idea of how long it’s been since I’ve found a blaster under the tree.  Ordinarily I would have already purchased a blaster like this myself and so ruling Nerf out as a potential gift, but recent financial constraints have somewhat slowed my consumption of Nerf lately, but I fully intend to pick up the slack eventually, just have to see when that is.

The Blaster In Question #0039: BarrelStrike

BlasterInQuestion1

BARRELSTRIKE

MODULUS

The great thing about the Modulus series, since its inception (BWAAAAHHHH) has been the increased variety of accessory pieces and attachments with which you can equip your blaster. Oftentimes these attachments come with and serve to compliment a larger blaster, but what about attachments that ARE the blaster? That, dear reader, is how we got the Modulus BarrelStrike. How exactly does that work? To find out, we have to go deeper (BWAAAAAHHHH).

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The BarrelStrike was released in 2017 as part of a wave of standalone Modulus accessory products, meaning they weren’t packaged in with a bigger blaster but could be purchased in a more a la carte manner. As a blaster in its own right, the BarrelStrike is a 4-shot muzzle loaded blaster with the standard style of Jolt-esque prime and a staged smart AR setup, like the Triad but with an additional barrel. The outer shell of the blaster is all original and features a hinged stock with a barrel tube running through it. Pressing a button on the right side of the blaster releases the stock which can then be folded up over the top of the blaster, revealing the barrel attachment ring that gives the BarrelStrike its titular feature. When folded up, the stock of the blaster can act like a standard Nerf barrel attachment for any other blaster with the corresponding lug. In this way, the BarrelStrike can act like an under-barrel alternate fire weapon, providing 4 additional shots to whatever you chose to mount it to, and in a way that is far more secure than simply using a rail attachment. The BarrelStrike does have a single attachment rail on the top of the blaster but this is only usable when the stock is deployed. Personally, I prefer to leave the BarrelStrike on its own with the stock down as I don’t think the boxy shape of the stock fits particularly well with the aesthetics of any current blaster, but the functionality of it is hard to deny. I suppose you could argue that it should use a different ammo type like the MEGA darts or even the Demolisher missiles, and you mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling (BWAAAAAAHHHHH), but as far as back-up blasters, you can do a lot worse. Being so compact, the construction is solid. The grip is a good size, granted it has to accommodate an air cylinder and plunger. The stock, when deployed, is a bit short, but I’m not mad at it. It’s a small blaster with a small stock, what do you want? It still locks into place pretty securely and doesn’t flex or bend when you put pressure on it, so I’d say it’s still functional. As a barrel attachment, the distance from the bore to the grip means that its fairly easy to accidentally twist the whole thing off the attachment lug of another blaster if you’re not paying attention, but as I stated before, I don’t tend to bother with this configuration so it’s less of a problem for me. The BarrelStrike has a considerable prime length which contributes to its actually pretty respectable performance. Shots fly far and hit hard, just so long as you don’t leave darts in the barrels for more than a day or so as they can get crimped and lose pressure when fired. Also, with such a lengthy priming stroke, if you don’t fully prime the blaster and release the plunger, it has a tendency to spit out one or two darts with a pitiful amount of force. Just make sure you know how to run the blaster reliably before busting into any younger sibling’s rooms otherwise you may end up getting a defiant chuckle instead of the shrieks of terror you’re going for. The BarrelStrike comes packaged with 4 white Modulus Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When it was announced, I was less excited about the BarrelStrike’s ability to attach to another blaster than I was to have a blaster with a folding stock akin to that of the vz.61 Skorpion machine pistol, especially given the relative size of the blaster, it just seemed so fitting. Yes, the stock could stand to be a little longer but it definitely serves its purpose, and I can’t speak for anyone else, but snapping it into place before busting into one of my siblings’ rooms makes me feel like a SWAT trooper.

P.S. The Inception jokes have nothing to do with the blaster, if you were curious. I’ve just had Inception on my mind, that’s all.

The Blaster In Question #0038: First Order Stormtrooper Blaster

FIRST ORDER STROMTROOPER BLASTER

STAR WARS

stormpistol1One little word sure can make a big difference, especially when that word is “deluxe.”  Yes, this is in fact a different blaster review from last week, it’s not a typo.  So what does the First Order have to offer when “deluxe” is off the table?  Well… not very much, as it happens, but let’s have a look at it anyway.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

stormpistol2The First Order Stormtrooper Blaster was released in 2015, alongside the deluxe version as a promotion for The Force Awakens.  If you’re not sure what part of the movie it’s from, you can be forgiven for missing it because it doesn’t get a lot of screen-time, but it’s there, I promise.  Now, having just recently The Last Jedi, I can tell you it gets a couple scenes where characters using it are front and center on the screen, so that’s nice.  The blaster itself is almost as basic as you can get.  It is a single shot, muzzle loaded pistol with a little spring loaded priming tab in the back.  While the tab does a good job of maintaining the blaster’s aesthetics even when primed, it does mean the actual size of the plunger tube is severely limited.  You can really get a sense of this by how short and light the priming stroke is.  The outer shell is completely new to resemble the blaster from the film and looks pretty accurate… until you actually hold it.  In the film, the SE-44C blaster, which this is designed after, is built on a Glock 17 pistol.  If you’ve been keeping up with my Star Wars Nerf reviews, you’ll know that in general the Nerf blasters have pretty good ergonomics as they’re modeled after props that used real world firearms.  In the case of the FOSB, the shape is right, but the scale is waaaaayyy off.  It feels tiny in the hand.  As such, the normally quite comfortable grip of the Glock has been shrunk down so it no longer lines up with regular human sized hands.   I understand the reasoning behind it, because otherwise there would be just an unnecessarily large body housing a small internal mechanism.  Sure, they could have scaled up the plunger tube to get more air into the system but that… actually, that’s a good idea.  Why didn’t they just do that?  I guess it’s probably safe to assume that it all comes down to cost cutting measures, as is so often the case.  But hey, at least it comes with a cool attachment piece, right?  I mean, it does come with an attachment piece which clips onto the standard Nerf rail on the top of the blaster, but what even is the piece supposed to be?  As far as I can tell it’s a sight(ish) but it sits in the dead center of the blaster and has no other sight to line up to, so it’s kinda useless.  It’s actually really useless, but its on the blaster in the film, so there it is.  The FOSB’s performance is about what you’d expect for a Stormtrooper’s backup blaster.  Distance and power are lacking pretty heavily from that of a regular N-Strike Elite blaster, but you can usually hit your target if the muzzle is just about 5 or 6 inches away from it, so… yay?  Stormtroopers are meant to be imposing and scary, but a couple shot from this blaster and I doubt you’ll be able to maintain that kind of fear-based dominance over your younger siblings when you bust into their room.  The First Order Stormtrooper Blaster comes packaged with the useless sight/spike thingy and 3 of the red Star Wars branded Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got the FOSB at the same time I bought its deluxe bigger brother.  I think having the deluxe blaster there distracted me from how lackluster the pistol was.  I’m not saying I regret buying it or owning it, but for the price, we essentially got a Star Wars logo that came with a free Nerf blaster.

The Blaster In Question #0037: First Order Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster

BlasterInQuestion1

FIRST ORDER STROMTROOPER DELUXE BLASTER

STAR WARS

stormrifle1Look at this post.  Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so punctual.  Ok ok, technically this week’s blaster isn’t from the “empire” so to speak, but the First Order is basically the Empire 2.0, so yeah.  Also, I know there is a more recent First Order Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster on the market now, but I couldn’t justify hefty price tag on that one just yet so we’re going with the older one.  But that’s enough about that, on with the review!

THE BLASTER ITSELF

stormrifle2The First Order Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster (the first one) was released in 2015 as part of Nerf’s Star Wars tie-in products, at the time, corresponding with the release of The Force Awakens.  Functionally, the blaster operates just like the N-Strike Elite Rampage, or Raider before it as it built on virtually the same internal mechanism using a pump-action magazine fed setup.  This makes a lot of sense as a design choice since it probably saved the good people at Hasbro some time and therefore money working out how the blaster was going to work.  Also, given that the Sterling Mk. IV SMG (the real steel firearm on which the F-11D Stormtrooper rifle is based) loads magazines from the side, I’d say the decision practically made itself.  The blaster looks and feels pretty good.  Leaving enough to clearly denoted it as a toy, the blaster resembles the prop from the film pretty closely.  Being modeled after a real world firearm, the ergonomics are pretty good.  The pistol grip is simple but does the job well.  The pump grip could be a little more rounded for comfort in my opinion, but it’s understandable squaring it off to accommodate the proportions of the blaster body.  As a fun side-note, most of the official promotional stormrifle3images for the blaster show it with the pump grip installed backwards.  The FOSDB also comes with a scope and stock accessories that fit onto standard Nerf attachment rails and lugs, respectively.  The scope is very low-profile and actually provides quite a nice sight picture for what that’s worth in a Nerf attachment.  The stock is nice and solid, if a bit short on its own but the way the body of the blaster extends back past the grip means it’s at least a useable length when attached.  At the very least, it fits with the overall compact size of the blaster.  Without the stock, the blaster itself is really sized more like a large handgun than a rifle, something that it has over the Rampage.  That and the fun primed indicator disguised as a vent that changes from black to red when the blaster is primed.  Both of these little improvements make it that much more disappointing that the performance isn’t up to the same standard as Elite blasters.  I’ve been over the reasons why this is the case, but it still bums me out sometimes, especially with blasters that should be awesome by all rights.  Even if you’re not getting exactly the same range and power, at least you can throw out movie quotes as you bust into your younger sibling’s room and start blasting.  Good luck hitting anything, though.  It is a Stormtrooper rifle, after all.  The FOSDB comes packaged with a scope, a stock, an all-white 12 round magazine, and 12 red Star Wars branded Elite darts with transparent red tips.stormrifle4

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This blaster was really the first Star Wars Nerf blaster I can remember seeing and getting excited about.  Before this series, the best we got always seemed to be single shot, muzzle loaders, so it was really great to see tie-in blasters get more serious designs, even if they’re almost direct copies of existing blasters.  Clones, maybe.  Wait, no, we’ve confirmed the First Order doesn’t do clones.  Only bad movies do that, that’d be stupid.

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 #0035: Atlas XVI-1200

ATLAS XVI-1200

RIVAL

Ok, listen, we all knew that Ethan is way better at this whole “staying on top of regularly scheduled content” thing, but I just moved so I think a little slack is due to be cut here. Anyway, to make it up to you, I’m reviewing yet another shotgun. I’m not sure how that makes sense, but it’s what I’m doing so take it or leave it. This week, I’m looking at the Atlas XVI-1200, named for the titan of Greek mythology, or maybe that one robot from Portal 2, cool guy either way. Cool blaster too. Lemme show you.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Altas XVI-1200 was released in 2016 in the second wave of Rival series blasters. One of the great things about Rival blasters is how unique they are from anything else, mechanically speaking. Inside and out, the Atlas is all original. It’s a big blaster, there’s no getting around the fact. It’s just about the same size as the Zeus, but it doesn’t feel like it’s meant to be a primary blaster. That might be due to the fact that it effectively only has 6 shots, each trigger-pull firing 2 rounds simultaneously, creating the shotgun effect. Like the Zeus, it uses the 12 round Rival magazines and in an in-line orientation, except instead of sitting in the middle of the blaster, the Atlas’ magazine lays along the top, loading in a very similar manner to the FN P90. The Atlas is spring powered and primed via the pump grip on the underneath of the blaster. As you would hope with any pump action shotgun style blaster, priming it makes a rather imposing ker-chunk sound. While the ability to fire two rounds at once is fun, it would have made the blaster a whole lot cooler if there was a switch or toggle that let you change it to single fire if you wanted. The Atlas has a short attachment rail on the top along with a front sight, but sadly, there isn’t a rear sight to go with it, so it’s a little useless. Of all things, the jam door on the Atlas is actually somewhat interesting for two reasons. First, it’s on the left side of the blaster which is odd for a side-mounted jam door, but also, the door isn’t connected to any locks. This means you can operate the blaster entirely with the jam door open if you want. It is cool to be able to see how the internals of the blaster work, but it does mean there’s a big gaping hole in the side of the blaster, and I hate big gaping holes in blasters. Unsurprisingly for the Rival line, the Atlas feels nice and solid in the hand, though the pistol grip is kind of small for a Rival blaster. This means it’s just normal sized instead of extra large like on the Apollo, so not really a problem, just odd. Performance is just a hair under what other Rival blasters achieve, but this is because all the others only have to deal with one round at a time. This is really negligible in the eyes of any younger siblings into who’s rooms you bust while wielding this thing, and the premise of getting hit twice adds another layer of intimidation. The Atlas XVI-1200 comes packaged with a 12 round magazine and 12 Rival rounds.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was really surprised when I found the Atlas actually in a store. I had seen it at Toy Fair and knew it was coming out but I wasn’t expecting to find it when I did. It was maybe one of the fastest purchases I’ve ever made since I guess at the time I was under the impression that they had only just come out and would be impossible to find for months like the Apollo. This turned out not to be the case, but I was still glad to have one.

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 #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.