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.

 

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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 #0009: Fair Fortune Crossbow

FAIR FORTUNE CROSSBOW

REBELLE (CHARMED)

If there’s one thing the Rebelle line can’t get enough of, it’s bows.  Early on in the series, these were mostly just regular air-chamber blasters dressed up to look and operate more like a conventional bow.  It took a couple releases before Nerf finally released an assortment of “stringer” elastic powered blasters that took another step toward proper bow mechanics.  Of course, with all these bows, you have to be able to distinguish them from each other otherwise the market gets flooded.  Today, we’ll be looking at one of the more visually unique bow (well, crossbow, but you understand) blasters from Rebelle, the Fair Fortune Crossbow.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Fair Fortune Crossbow was released in 2014 as part of the Charmed subset of Rebelle blasters.  It uses the same elastic chord system that first appeared on the Rebelle Diamodista, except instead of being a single shot blaster, the FFC features a 6 round rotating cylinder.  Given the unique aesthetics of the blaster, it shouldn’t be a surprise that all the hardware is original.  The ornateness of the faux filigree paired with the unusual upholstered patterning on the grip and slide gives the blaster a feel very reminiscent of something from the Bayonetta video game series, something I am rather fond of.  This point is further driven home when you attach the included charm bracelet (hence the Charmed moniker) to the blaster, adding a little bit of sparkle accompanied by a satisfying jingling sound.  The bracelets in particular surprised me.  When I initially heard about the upcoming release of this line, I thought it sounded gimmicky and pointless, and I guess I was kinda right.  However, the bracelets themselves are metal and so have a decent heft to them.  Additionally, the charms on each of the bracelets (which are all unique to their specific blaster) are well designed and eye-catching.  The one problem with the bracelets is their size.  I have two much younger sisters, and even they struggled getting the bracelets around their wrists.  Alright, enough about that, back to the blaster.  The grip on the FFC is a little odd.  First of all, it’s severely inclined, almost parallel with the body of the blaster.  Second, it has a loop for your middle finger just below the trigger, so only very specific ways of holding it are comfortable.  Once you’ve worked out how to hold the darn thing, it feels pretty good in the hand.  The aforementioned upholstery-like texture provide a decent amount of traction.  The plastic that surrounds the cylinder is a little on the thin side, but it’s not vital to the structure of the blaster so it’s fine.  The FFC has no sights of any kind, and I normally wouldn’t bother talking about what the blaster doesn’t  have, but the priming slide sticks up enough on the top of the blaster that it actually obscures your view, so it’s worth noting.  Because it uses the elastic to fire darts as opposed to an air plunger, the blaster is very quiet when firing.  It hits a little on the soft side of Nerf blasters and, in my experience, it seems like standard Rebelle and Elite darts are more prone to swerving than when fired from a more traditional blaster.  Taking these things into account, the FFC is definitely an indoor blaster, especially if you’re particularly attached to the collectible Rebelle darts that come packaged.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I think this blaster is a good example of one that, while it doesn’t necessarily perform terribly well in comparison to others, is a lot of fun despite it’s shortcomings.  Personally, what attracts me to a blaster is often how easily I can fit it in with a particular pretend-play and the FFC has a lot of potential in this regard.  Whenever I pick it up, I can very easily form a story around it, and admittedly, this has occasionally included playing “Fly Me to the Moon (Climax Remix)” while making a number of stylish poses.

The Blaster In Question #0006: Allegiant Blaster

ALLEGIANT BLASTER

REBELLE

If you’ve read the title of this review, you can probably tell that I’m a big fan of Divergent. I especially liked the part where Katniss has to play Nerve because she’s made of grenades— what’s that?… I’m being told that’s not in Divergent. Are you sure? Well, I mean, that’s just, like, your opinion, man. Ok ok ok, I don’t actually know or care much about the Divergent series but they did get a couple Nerf blaster tie-ins and I do care about those. So let’s take a look at the biggest blaster from the bunch, the Allegiant Blaster.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Allegiant Blaster was released in 2016 as a promotional item for the new Allegiant movie from the Divergent series. The blaster itself is a recolor of the Rapid Glow, also in the Rebelle line, which in turn is essentially a reskin of the Recon or Retaliator which are built on the Bucky Cap body. Wait, scratch that last part. Differing from the Rapid Glow is the magazine which is the same type used in the Rapid Red, though also recolored. As with many blasters in the Rebelle line, the proportions on this blaster almost seem like they’ve been shrunken down, which I don’t entirely understand. I know Rebelle is targeted to girls, and statistically speaking, girls tend to be slightly smaller than boys, but the size difference on things like the grip and stock versus core N-Strike equivalents is kind of absurd. As such, the grip feels very cramped for me and my adult hands, and the stock is almost entirely cosmetic with no practical use. However, despite its size, the overall shape of the blaster is very smooth with rounded edges and flowing lines, which do add a little bit to the ergonomics. I just wish the dang thing were bigger. The magazine holds 12 darts and is completely interchangeable with other Nerf magazines. The blaster doesn’t feature and sights but has a single attachment rail on the slide. In addition to being typically smaller, most Rebelle blasters perform just slightly worse than core N-Strike Elite and this is also the case here. It’s not the kind of difference that will make or break the blaster for most people, but side by side, it is noticeable, making it more suited for indoor play. This is doubly true if you are like me and have to keep all the original darts with the gun since it comes with its own custom assortment of colors. The blaster comes packed with the magazine and 12 “collectible” darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Several of my friends and myself volunteer as tribute (like in Divergent) to help run a local convention every year. I purchased this blaster from Amazon so I could arm them to help enforce some of the rules. Unfortunately, the blaster didn’t arrive in time, so I was forced to bring a selection of other blasters in my arsenal. All in all it didn’t seem to affect our ability to lay down the law, Judge Dredd style, and either way, I got a new blaster out of it. While it’s not a standout blaster in any measurable sense, one of my favorite things about it is the aesthetics with the nice color scheme and the pictures of the mockingjays. And with that, I’m gonna end the review before actual Divergent fans start throwing things.

 

P.S. What day is it today? Thursday? Good gods, it seems like I missed my regularly scheduled time slot. I hope you don’t mind too much since the last weekend almost killed me with school work. Regular posts will resume Saturday, so don’t worry.