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.

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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 #30: Sledgefire

SLEDGEFIRE

ZOMBIE STRIKE

Boo! Haunted house!  What else could be scarier than a late review?  Muahahaha!  Ok, well, lots of things, I suppose.  Zombies, for instance. And if there are zombies, you know you’re gonna need to shoot at least a couple of them, you know, just to try it out. Sure, you could, in theory, use any of the quality blasters in the Nerf catalog, but what if one or even two darts at a time isn’t enough?  That’s when it’s time to consider the Sledgefire, and consider it we shall.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Sledgefire was released in 2013 as part of the first wave of Zombie Strike blasters alongside the Hammershot. Like the Barrel Break from last week, it operates using a break action with darts being loaded tip first into the barrel. The big difference between the Barrel Break and the Sledgefire is that the Sledgefire uses proprietary shells for loading which hold three darts a piece. Pressing the orange tab above the grip unlocks the barrel, allowing you to simultaneously open the action of the blaster and prime the air plunger. Once fully opened, you insert a shell and close the breach back up. Pulling the trigger fires all three darts out of the shell in one blast, there isn’t a staged trigger like on the Barrel Break, so it’s effectively a one-shot blaster that has a spread pattern. The outer shell is all original, featuring a pretty aggressive looking attachment rail on top, and sports a rather appealing turquoise blue color that we are yet to see on any other Nerf blaster, which I feel is a shame. The shells are unique to the Sledgefire and serve simply to hold the darts in position for loading and firing. The stock has cutouts that allow you to store the shells with the blaster so they don’t get lost, which is a nice feature since the blaster cannot work without the shells. You can buy more shells, but only through Amazon or via the Hasbro Toy Shop website, which is nice that they’re available, but I wish they had a proper retail release.  The ergonomics of the Sledgefire are pretty nice, the grip is comfortable even at such a steep angle which seems to be Nerf shorthand for “this is meant to be a shotgun” at this point. Everything feels nice and solid especially around the breach which is important for something like this to work well. Loading the shells into the blaster is pretty fiddly and takes a bit of time to get used to, but it’s novel and has nice mechanical feedback so the fun of reloading makes up for some of the required fine motor control needed. Performance isn’t really the focus of the blaster, and as such, spreading the air pressure of a single plunger across three darts does make them fly a little shorter and softer than typical.  Additionally, I’m not sure what it is, but the Sledgefire is on of the worst blasters as far as dart crimping, where if you leave the darts loaded in the shells for any period of time more than a day or so, they get compressed and don’t fit the chamber as snugly so performance drops pretty dramatically.  It’s still quite effective against younger siblings whether you’re busting into their room or waiting in ambush to blast them. The imposing ka-chunk if snapping the breach closed only adds to the shock and awe impression its sure to leave. The Sledgefire comes packaged with 3 shells and 9 green Zombie Strike colored Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I figured this would be a pretty fun blaster to look at for Hallowe’en (or Samhain if that’s more your style) weekend.  It’s not really a practical blaster at all, but once again, the fun of it makes up for that in spades.  You can always count on shotguns for fun.

 

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

BARREL BREAK IX-2

N-STRIKE

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

THE BLASTER ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

 

The Blaster In Question #0007: Roughcut 2×4

ROUGHCUT 2X4

N-STRIKE ELITE

Shotguns are kind of a weird area for Nerf.  There are plenty of blasters available that do a decent job replicating the look and feel of a shotgun, but it’s a rarer thing to find one that actually functions like one i.e. actually firing a spread of darts.  One of the more successful implementations of this feature came to us in the form of the Roughcut 2×4.  While the name evokes a plank of wood, the actual blaster is a lot more interesting, unless you’re one of those lumber fanatics, in which case, no judgement, more power to you.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The Roughcut 2×4 was released in 2013 as one of the first original blasters in the N-Strike Elite line.  It was also one of 2 blasters in the very short-lived Multi-Shot Madness collection alongside the Diatron from the disk-based Vortex series.  Mechanically, the blaster borrows heavily from the Barrel Break IX-2, featuring 2 separate plunger systems side by side.  If your trigger finger is very precise, this setup allows the user to fire either one barrel at a time or both at once.  Even the grips of both blasters are severely inclined, almost parallel with the barrels.  The main difference is that the Roughcut opted for a more straightforward front loading design with 8 barrels arranged in 2 columns of 4 (hence the name) as opposed to the Barrel Break’s weird breach-loading action and only 2 barrels.  Additionally, the Roughcut is pump-operated, so successive shots can be fired off much faster.  Aside from the aforementioned grip, the blaster is pretty run-of-the-mill in terms of how it feels.  Everything that’s supposed to move moves well, and everything that isn’t feels sturdy.  The Roughcut features some sights, although they do strike me as a little more of an after-the-fact addition than on a lot of other blasters.  There’s also a rail along the top of the blaster for attachments.  Being part of the core N-Strike Elite series, performance is strong.  Darts fly a good distance and land with a solid impact.  Decent range paired with a fairly compact form-factor and the ability to shotgun darts makes the Roughcut great for either ranged outdoor battles or just to keep handy for close encounters.  Just try not to hit anything fragile like your mom’s china or someone’s face.  The Roughcut 2×4 comes packaged with 8 Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Man, do I love shotguns.  Practically every shotgun-type blaster that Nerf has released in the last 15 years has been a favorite of mine.  The Hornet AS-6 was great apart from its cumbersome cocking and pumping mechanism.  The Barrel Break IX-2 was great apart from its awkward slide and break breach mechanism.  The Sledgefire was great apart from its finicky— you see the pattern.  To be fair, when working with Nerf darts, making an actual shotgun that works well in all aspects is difficult and things can get complicated very quickly.  Just goes to show that, in the case of the Roughcut, simplicity pays off