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.

Advertisements

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 #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 #0027: Zeus MXV-1200

ZEUS MXV-1200

RIVAL

You know what this page needs?  It needs more balls.  Like, just a little pile over there, like 2 cubic tons.  Ok, maybe not that many, more like just a few ounces.  And obviously, I’m talking about the Nerf Rival High-Impact Rounds.  What else could it be, you weirdo.  Yes, it’s another Rival review, and this time we’re looking at part 2 of the line’s debut release, named for the king of the gods himself, the Zeus MXV-1200.  Let’s check it out.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

Here’s a fun fact, the names of the Rival blasters are actually quite informative.  Let me break it down for you.  So far they all are named for a deity from the ancient Greek pantheon and that’s just to sound cool.  After that, if the first letter is an M, that stands for “motorized.”  If there’s no M, you can assume it’s spring powered.  The next letters are the Roman numerals for the last 2 digits of the blaster’s release year.  XV is 15, hence, the Zeus and Apollo came out in 2015.  Lastly, the number after the hyphen is the blaster’s initial magazine capacity multiplied by 100.  All clear?  Good, let’s move on.  As the name suggests, the Zeus is a semi-automatic flywheel powered blaster with a 12 round capacity using the included magazine.  The flywheel mechanism itself is nothing new, though it has been substantially beefed up to deliver the expected Rival performance.  The shell of the Zeus is completely original and features a unique in-line side loaded orientation for the magazine, using the magazine spring itself to feed rounds into the flywheels rather than some other pusher mechanism.  Exchanging magazines is a little tricky at first because of how unconventional the layout is, but with a little time you get used to it.  Something worth noting is that the Rival 12 round magazines are the only ones that will work with the Zeus.  The Zeus’s handling is pretty good, though I do have some minor gripes.  The blaster feels solid and rather hefty in the hand, but the housing for the motors sticks out kind of abruptly from the left side and can dig into your palm if you’re not holding it just right.  Also, the pistol grip feels a little slim and I might have preferred just a bit more there to hold onto.  There is a lever safety above the trigger that prevents the rev switch from being pressed when it’s engaged, but it’s got a lot of play before it actually clicks into place and feels like it was probably a last minute addition.  The Zeus sports 3 Rival attachment rails (not the standard Nerf rail, these are specific to Rival), one on each side and a longer one along the top of the blaster.  It also has flip-up sights to help with aiming but they sit a little low compared to the back end of the blaster so you have to really mash your face into the cheek rest to get a decent sight picture.  Functionally, the only complaint I have is that I wish inserting a magazine didn’t automatically make it push a round into the blaster.  Again, these are minor issues that I have and don’t affect my overall opinion of the blaster that much.  That’s because actually shooting the Zeus is a joy.  Unlike other flywheel dart blasters, the Zeus revs up with a sound I’ve often described as a bag of angry hornets, and that sound is very much understandable once you pull the trigger a few times.  It launches rounds on more or less a straight line trajectory for a good 50 feet before they exhibit any noticeable drop.  Rounds also hit hard, making indoor shooting kind of a bad idea if you don’t want to risk breaking anything.  The plus side of this is that usually, you don’t even need to shoot anything to freak out your sibling when you bust into their room.  Just rev the darn thing like a mother-something chainsaw (what?) and that’ll get your point across. The Zeus MXV-1200 requires 6 C batteries and comes packaged with 12 High-Impact Rounds and a 12 round magazine.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Zeus isn’t perfect.  Almost no blasters out there are, but it’s easily in the top 10% and very much a force to be reckoned with.  It sounds like thunder when it revs up, buzzy, high pitched thunder.  It hits like lightning.  There might be some hyperbole in there but you get the point.  It seems “Zeus” is an appropriate name for this blaster.  It’s not much of a womanizer though, so I guess that’s probably a point in it’s favor.

The Blaster In Question #0015: Apollo XV-700

APOLLO XV-700

RIVAL

I don’t think there was ever a more anticipated Nerf release than there was for the 2015 debut of the Rival line of blasters.  The N-Strike Elite series was already considered to be the performance driven group of blasters with just a few gimmicks here and there.  Rival took that even further with entirely new hardware built from the ground up with zero gimmicks to provide what is likely the best out-of-the-box foam blaster performance available.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of the two premier blasters from the Rival line, the Apollo XV-700.  Let’s get right into it.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Apollo hit retail in 2015 alongside the Zeus MXV-1200 to kick off the Rival brand.  I mentioned earlier that these blasters were entirely new and I meant entirely. They fire the golf-ball inspired High-Impact Rounds instead of traditional darts, which greatly contributes to their performance potential.  The magazines were also completely new, unsurprisingly, which in the case of the Apollo, meant we got the first magazine-fed Nerf blaster that loaded through the grip like a proper pistol.  Holding the Apollo in hand really gives away the fact that Nerf was really gearing these products toward an older demographic than their typical audience.  The grip is large and solidly made.  The priming handle on the top of the blaster requires a considerable amount of force to cycle it but it does make a very satisfying racking sound like cocking a shotgun, and it gives you a good idea of exactly how powerful the blaster is even before you fire it.  The Apollo has a short attachment rail at the front of the blaster for accessories, although it should be noted that it is a proprietary Rival rail and not the traditional Nerf rail found on dart- firing blasters.  The body of the Apollo extends a good ways behind the grip and can be effectively shouldered like a stock, which makes it odd in my opinion that the designers behind the blaster didn’t put one in.  That is one of my two very minor complaints about the Apollo, the other being that the priming handle prevents any kind of sighting along the top of the blaster unless you happen to have one of the awesome Rival Red Dot Sight attachments (sold separately) on hand.  Either way, these are petty complaints that do very little to sway my opinion of the blaster overall.  Being released alongside the Zeus, the Apollo definitely feels like it was intended as a sidearm and it can work as one of those if you should choose, but it can also hold its own as a primary if you feel like running it as one.  Reloading is super fast with the Rival magazines and with a little practice, you can fire off rounds in pretty rapid succession.  As with pretty much all Rival blasters, the Apollo is an outside blaster.  Shots travel fast and far and hit hard when they land.  Unless you have very very forgiving siblings, I would recommend not busting into their rooms and opening fire with this one.  It kinda speaks to the power of the blaster when Nerf feels the need to release full face masks for the Rival line.  The Apollo comes packaged with a 7-round magazine and 7 Rival High-Impact Rounds.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ll be completely honest, I was expecting this review to be one of those counterintuitive moments where the blaster is awesome but the review is kinda dull cause it’s just me going on and on about how great the thing is.  Hopefully I didn’t bore you too badly.  When Rival first started hitting shelves, they were just about impossible to find anywhere in my area.  My boy Ethan managed to pick up a Zeus for me fairly early on, but the Apollo took me a good month or so of regular Target, TRU, and Walmart stops to find one.  The whole ordeal was a major pain, but I gotta say, it was super worth it.