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 #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

BlasterInQuestion1FIRST 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 #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 #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 #0023: Poe Dameron Blaster

POE DAMERON BLASTER

STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI

While the vast majority of the Force Friday haul was action figures for Ethan, I did manage to pick up something for myself, and, big surprise, it’s a Nerf blaster.  It is the smallest and cheapest of this year’s Star Wars releases.  I am, of course, talking about the Poe Dameron Blaster pistol.  Let’s take a look at it.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Poe Dameron Blaster was released in 2017 as part of the Force Friday lineup of new products promoting the upcoming Star Wars Episode VIII.  The blaster is about as simple as it gets, mechanically.  It is a single shot muzzle loaded pistol with a priming tab in the rear of the blaster.  The tab is a separate piece from the plunger and has its own return spring so it doesn’t stick out the back of the blaster when primed like the Nitefinder or Firestrike.  In addition to priming the action of the blaster, pulling the tab back also activates the Glowstrike feature which is part of every Star Wars branded blaster at this point.  There is a single purple LED with a clear inner barrel that “charges” up the dart so it glows in the dark when fired.  The light turns off following a trigger pull which, in turn, fires the dart and sets off the blaster’s light effect and sound.  I can’t speak for the accuracy of the sound as the film has not yet come out, but I have to say I find the light effect a little disappointing.  I wasn’t expecting the same level of light effects as are on higher end blasters, but the single light on only one side of the blaster feels a bit underwhelming.  This is only accentuated by the fact that the light stays on for almost a full second after the trigger is pulled.  Even with the lackluster setup, I would have much preferred a quick flash of light than the drawn out night light effect the blaster has.  Ultimately, it’s kind of a nit-picky criticism to make, but I know Nerf have the capability to deliver better and I wish they had done it just a little different.  The form factor of Poe’s blaster, thankfully, brings us back to the positives.  Like with most of the prop blasters in Star Wars, Poe’s blaster in the film is built on the frame of a real world firearm, in this case the Sig Sauer P226.  This won’t matter to 98% of people who buy the Nerf replica, but what it means is that the grip is exceptionally comfortable.  It may seem like a small detail, but if a blaster is genuinely pleasant to hold, even if it’s only so-so otherwise, I’m much more likely to pick it up and pew pew around my house than I am with a functionally superior but less comfortable blaster.  The handle also houses the single AA battery that powers the light, sound, and Glowstrike feature.  The little bit of extra weight in the grip also helps with comfort.  The build quality is good and everything feels solid, as you’d expect from a Nerf blaster.  Poe’s blaster has an attachment rail on the top for accessories if you really think it needs them.  Unsurprisingly, Poe’s blaster is a bit underpowered compared to the Elite series.  This is the case with just about all licensed blasters Nerf makes so it’s not surprising.  This is an indoor blaster, plain and simple.  It doesn’t pack nearly the same punch as core Nerf blasters, but that just means you’re less likely to accidentally injure your younger siblings when you burst into their room.  Besides, the glowing darts and sound effects leave enough of an impression to make up for it, especially for nighttime ambushes.  The Poe Dameron Blaster comes packaged with 3 Star Wars branded Glowstrike darts and one AA battery already installed.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

To be completely honest, I was pretty disappointed with this years selection of Star Wars Nerf.  I didn’t even buy this blaster just because I wanted it but because Target was giving away freebies if you bought something from Force Friday.  That being said, do I regret buying this blaster?  No.  It has plenty of issues and I wouldn’t put it anywhere near my top 10, but for what it is, I feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of it.  And besides, it’s just so dang comfortable.

 

The Blaster In Question #0021: Hammershot

HAMMERSHOT

ZOMBIE STRIKE

Zombies: everyone’s favorite guilt-free shooting target.  In just about every iteration of modern zombie fiction, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before everyone has a gun and is lighting up the undead left and right.  The fine people over at Hasbro certainly took notice of this trend when they started the Zombie Strike series of blasters back in 2013, a product line that persists to this day, which is a feat in and of itself.  So what laid the groundwork for such a line?  That’s what we’ll be looking at today with the Hammershot.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Hammershot was one of the very first Zombie Strike blasters, released in 2013 alongside the Sledgefire.  The Hammershot is a 5-round revolver style blaster, which, itself is nothing new.  What sets the Hammershot apart from other blasters like the Spectre REV-5 or even the Strongarm is its priming mechanism.  Instead of a traditional priming slide which would require a second hand to operate, the Hammershot uses, unsurprisingly, a hammer style of prime that can be operated entirely one-handed.  If you read my previous review, you’ll know that the premise of effective dual-wieldable blasters is quite alluring to me, so it should come as no surprise that I own a couple of these, thanks in part to my boy Ethan.  The outer shell of the blaster is entirely original work and has a lot of really nice layering of plastic which gives it some visual depth.  This is also helped by the use of this super cool, very subtle swirly metallic orange plastic which I believe is completely unique to this blaster.  There’s some interesting texture work going on too with the faux wood grain and faux cloth wrap on the handle.  I was skeptical of the cloth wrap at first because I thought it looked goofy and sort of out of place, but ergonomically it works just fine with no harsh lines or edges.  The handle itself is rather long, extending well past the bottom of my hand, but the extra length does provide a nice amount of surface to grip while working the priming hammer with your thumb.  As something of a side note, the distribution of weight around the trigger as well as the larger grip make it very easy and entertaining to spin the blaster around your index finger like a gunslinger.  In doing so, I’ve managed to fling mine into the floor several times without so much as a scratch, which speaks to the build quality of the blaster.  This is probably largely due to the relative simplicity of the internal mechanisms and outer construction.  Unlike blasters such as the Spectre, the Hammershot has no barrel or stock attachment points though it does have a single attachment rail along the top of the blaster.  The blaster performs admirably with shots flying far and hitting with substantial force.  I would recommend it more for outdoor play and advise caution before using it to light up your younger siblings unannounced.  The Hammershot comes packaged with 5 Zombie Strike green Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the Zombie Strike line was first announced, for me, the Hammershot took the back seat as far as my attention goes.  There had been more than a handful of revolver blasters over the years and the premise of the shotgun style Sledgefire overshadowed the Hammershot.  While it’s true the Sledgefire may be the more mechanically interesting of the two, it’s hard to deny the sheer utility of the Hammershot.

 

The Blaster In Question #0020: Voidcaster

VOIDCASTER

ALIEN MENACE

If I had to attribute my love for toy blasters to one thing, it’s wanting to recreate my favorite video games in real life, one of the most notable examples being the Halo franchise.  These two were brought together a couple years ago when Mattel gained the Halo license for its BoomCo line of blasters.  The thing is, while trying to create accurate replicas of the in-game weapons while also fitting them around recycled, but mostly functional mechanics, they ended up being pretty disappointing, not really doing a good job on either front.  Cue Hasbro who launched the Alien Menace Nerf line, seemingly as a direct counter to Boomco’s Halo branded products.  I’ve already reviewed the Ravager from the series, but today I’ll be taking a look at one of the line’s brand new additions, the Voidcaster.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Voidcaster was released in 2017 as part of the TRU exclusive Alien Menace line.  If you’ve read my review of the Ravager from the same line, you’ll know that one of the blaster’s highlights were the amount of fine detail and texture work put into the shell.  The same is true for the Voidcaster which sports faux ray skin, bone, and even crystalline elements throughout it’s uniquely molded shell.  Internally, the Voidcaster borrows its primary mechanism from the Snapfire 8 of the Dart Tag line.  Unlike most other blasters, the Voidcaster does not require batteries nor does it need to be manually cycled between shots.  The large trigger —which takes up almost the entire length of the grip— uses its long pull to push the plunger back, releasing it once the trigger has been compressed fully.  Aside from using stored air pressure in a tank, this is the only way I am aware of to achieve a semi-automatic blaster without the need for batteries.  The blaster has 4 barrels linked via smart AR.  The overall shape of the blaster is reminiscent of the iconic plasma rifle from the Halo series and the 8 dart holders on the bottom portion of the blaster, when fully loaded, resemble design features of the needler from the same games.  The blaster feels solid in the hand but it does suffer from a lack of secondary grip points, making one-handed firing practically the only option, however, the semi-auto nature of the blaster means that dual wielding is not a problem.  Accuracy is a bit of a weak point for the blaster.  By extending the trigger down the front of the grip, compressing the spring is much easier than with a single finger trigger, but it also means the blaster jostles around a fair bit when firing, more so if firing in rapid succession.  Because priming the blaster relies on the grip strength of the user, and because it is a toy for children, the spring driving the plunger is not especially strong and as such, power and distance are noticeably sub-par compared to more conventional blasters.  This is definitely an indoor blaster and if you can manage to get your hands on two of them, I highly recommend dual wielding for busting into your younger siblings’ rooms and blasting away.  The included darts are a little frustrating for someone like me who has to keep blasters with the darts they are meant to use.  In this case, given the 4 barrels and 8 dart holders on the blaster, I would have like it to include enough to completely fill all available spaces, but sadly it only comes packaged with 8.  Additionally, the previous 2 Alien Menace blasters came with darts that had grey bodies and purple tips.  The Voidcaster’s included darts are grey with blue tips and, as of me writing this, are the only ones with this color scheme.  Available Alien Menace dart packs only feature purple tips.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was very excited for this blaster since it was announced in Nerf’s pre-Toy Fair press release.  Between then and now, though, there had been basically no word on it.  I was caught quite off guard when I found it at a TRU in South Carolina, so much so that I bought it then and there without a second thought.  It’s a really fun snappy little blaster with some really cool aesthetics, and it’s only enhance by the addition of a second for your other hand.

The Blaster In Question #0019: Lumanate

LUMANATE

REBELLE

In general, I’m a fan of the aesthetic choices that go into most Nerf blasters.  By and large they are styled after sci-fi interpretations of regular firearms and that’s cool, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it “pretty.”  Today’s blaster is the complete opposite of that.  My initial reaction to seeing it was something along the lines of “Wow, that’s a pretty gun.”  This blaster is none other than the Lumanate, so let’s take a look.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Lumanate was released in 2016 as part of the Rebelle series.  Similar to the blasters from last week’s review, the mechanics of this blaster are really nothing new with most features being taken from blasters like the Triad or Messenger from previous years.  It uses a front loading, 3-barrel smart AR setup with an inline plunger, keeping everything pretty simple.  The real points of distinction for this blaster are the shell, first of all, and the light-up feature that works with the darts specifically provided with the blaster.  As you probably figured out, I’m a big fan of the work on the shell of this blaster.  It has a lot of really nice flowing lines and smooth surfaces as well as some eye-catching transparent blue accents on the side panel and trigger.  Sadly, only one side has the blue panel, leaving the other a plain white which is a little disappointing.  Just below the cool blue trigger is a hot pink button which activates the blaster’s light-up feature.  Truth be told, this was pretty disappointing too.  Initially, I expected the entirety of the transparent blue panel to light up when the button was pressed, but instead, there is a single UV LED in the transparent orange muzzle of the blaster.  What this does is it “charges” the special glow-in-the-dark tips of the included darts which is intended to create a kind of tracer effect when fired.  It kind of works, kind of.  Not really.  The tiny LED only exposes about a third of dart tip (not the whole dart, mind you, just the rubber piece at the end) when turned on.  It’s one of those features that technically works, but doesn’t add anything practical to the function of the blaster.  The light-up feature requires 3 AAA batteries to operate but is not integral to the function of the blaster otherwise.  Coming back to the work on the shell, the smooth curved lines make the ergonomics of the Lumanate rather enjoyable.  I can see how the hand guard in front of the grip might make holding the blaster cramped and uncomfortable for some people with larger hands, but Rebelle products consistently have smaller grips than those in the N-Strike Elite series, so it’s not surprising here.  The size of the grip does lend to the overall very compact feel of the blaster in hand.  The Lumanate has an attachment rail on the top of the blaster for accessories.  Putting the disappointing light feature aside, the actual blaster works pretty well, especially compared to other Rebelle blasters.  Darts travel a decent distance given the blaster’s size and hit with the usual amount of force.  This blaster is probably best suited for indoor use because regular darts won’t respond to the UV light, and the 3 that come with the blaster are all you can get without buying a whole new Lumanate.  If you don’t mind messing with the color scheme, though, the Glowstrike darts from the Star Wars: Rogue One series of blasters will also glow.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was really excited to pick this blaster up at first but became gradually less enthused when I discovered the extent of the “illumination.”  Even still, I was very happy with the overall looks of the blaster and feel of it in the hand.  It really reminds me of something the Asari from Mass Effect would have designed, and anything that helps me pretend I’m in Mass Effect is a winner in my book.  Honestly, my biggest pet peeve with the blaster is the name.  Why they spelled it “Lumanate” as opposed to “Luminate” I guess we’ll never know.  I guess if that’s my biggest complaint, though, that tells you my opinion of it.  It’s good.  I like it.

The Blaster In Question #0018: Glowshot & Bowstrike

GLOWSHOT & BOWSTRIKE

N-STRIKE

With a line of products as vast as Nerf’s, you know every little thing can’t be AAA gold tier amazing. So how do you make the low tier blasters stand out to potential buyers? Often a lower price point to make them more accessible, but you can also add in gimmicks. Given the functional and punctual similarities, I will be reviewing two such blasters today, so let’s take a look at the Glowshot and the Bowstrike.

THE BLASTERS THEMSELVES

The Glowshot and Bowstrike were both released in 2016 as part of the N-Strike line. Both blasters work in essentially the exact same way, omitting their respective gimmicks which I’ll get to later. They are both single-shot barrel-loading blasters which fall into the “in-line jolt” variation of the oft-copied jolt reskins. Not really a whole lot to say about it. It works, it’s simple, that’s about it. Neither blaster is really a great performer, as these were branded for the regular N-Strike line even after the Elite series had been around for a few years. They’re both definitely better suited for indoor use and/or taking pot-shots at your younger siblings. Both blasters come packaged with 3 Elite darts. Now what makes these blasters unique?

GLOWSHOT

Initially, looking at the GS, you may notice that its outer shell is a semi-transparent material (mine is white though a green variant also exists). This is critical for its gimmick which allows the blaster to light up with a few green LEDs inside the shell when the switch on the back of the grip is pressed. Thecolor of the outer shell does not affect the color of the lights, nor is the light-up feature needed to make the blaster shoot. It’s purely aesthetic and requires 2 AA batteries to make it work. The grip on the GS is a little small and my pinky just barely fits onto the handle. The light switch can dig into the webbing of your hand a little but neither of these are surprising nor are they deal-breakers given the price point.

BOWSTRIKE

The BS takes a slightly different approach to its gimmick, which does not require any batteries at all as it is purely mechanical. Like the GS, it’s completely for looks only but is activated upon priming the blaster. When the priming handle is pulled back, the grey “bow” arms and sight pop up. They then lay flat again once the blaster has been fired. The BS also features a much smaller than usual grip with all the same issues as the GS as well as needed a bit more sculpting to accommodate the thumb. As it stands, there’s something of an edge that can become irritating if the blaster is held for any considerable amount of time.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As with most of my reviews, I like to drive home the point that these toys are still a lot of fun even with their problems. You really have to take the whole picture into account. These aren’t meant to be competition-grade laser guns. They’re goofy little plinkers, and in that regard, I think they do a great job. Plus, I’m always for making Nerf more accessible.