The Blaster In Question #0066: Venom Blaster

BlasterInQuestion1VENOM BLASTER

DART TAG (SPIDER-MAN)

venom1I was wondering what would break first: your spirit, OR YOUR BO- what? Oh sorry, wrong Tom Hardy role.  Why Tom Hardy, you ask.  That’s because he will be playing Eddie Brock in the upcoming Venom movie.  So in the spirit of that film, I thought I’d showcase something that only exists for its context to Spider-Man, but without any mention of Spider-Man on my part.  I give you the Dart Tag Venom Blaster.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

venom2The Venom blaster was actually part of the Spider-Man vs. Venom set in the Dart Tag line, released as a tie-in with the film Spider-Man 3 back in 2007.  It uses a pretty unique mechanism as far as I’m aware, featuring an air pump and 3-tier staged trigger.  This allows you to fire each of the 3 barrels one after the other in semi-auto fashion, or just mash the trigger down to launch all 3 simultaneously.  The shells of both the Venom blaster and the matching Spider-Man blaster in the set are the same aside from the colors, but beyond that, they are unique.  Being Spider-Man themed, the ergonomics are a little strange, but perfectly functional. You secure the blaster to your inner forearm using the Velcro strap, with the trigger in reach of your middle and ring fingers.  While on your arm, the most awkward part of the operation is by far pumping up the air tank as it takes a decent amount of force to actuate the pump handle, particularly when you get close to maximum pressure.  That being said, they do stay pretty secure on your arm, and the cloth Velcro strap doesn’t cut into your arm the way the plastic venom3watch strap things on more recent arm blasters do.  The performance isn’t the best, but keep in mind these came out well before N-Strike Elite was even a thing, and they’re licensed blasters, so it’s pretty easy to forgive.  While it won’t hit very hard, you do effectively have a 3-round burst strapped to your arm which can be somewhat concealed fairly easily, especially if you’re already holding a blaster in your hand.  That way, when your younger siblings think its safe because you’re out of ammo, you can blast them with an extra 3 shots they didn’t know existed.  That’s how you know you’re the cool older sibling: subterfuge and treachery.  The Spider-Man vs. Venom set originally came with the 2 blasters, 1 in each color scheme, a Dart Tag vest for each, a set of Vision Gear goggles that also matched, and a total of 12 Dart Tag darts, 6 for Spider-Man, and 6 for Venom.  I, however, picked mine up second hand, and as a result, only have the Venom blaster.  No Spider-Man anywhere.  But if Marvel wants to use any of my review in their current Tom Holland Spider-Man movies, I’d be more than willing to license it out to them. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

Movie politics aside, I was actually one of those kids growing up who didn’t really care about Spider-Man, the character, but I thought Venom was awesome.  Pair that with Nerf and it was fairly inevitable that I would pick one of these up sooner or later.  And to be fair, the movies I’ve seen that had Tom Hardy in them, for the most part, I thought he did a good job.  Overall, my opinion on the blaster is it’s a bit dated but still fairly fun and I’m glad to have it.  Do I think the movie will be any good?  I think Mad Max said it best when he said “Hgrmngr rgn rgmrn mrgrnm…”

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The Blaster In Question #0065: 4 Victory

BlasterInQuestion1

4 VICTORY

REBELLE

4vicEveryone agrees that its way cooler and easier to read when you replace words or letters in tex with numbers that approximate their shape or phonetic pronunciation.  Just ask F3ar, Sk8r boi, or the cast of 673453 (that’s the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th sequels to Grease, all as a single movie, if you weren’t aware).  You get extra points if the number(s) indicate something beyond just the iteration, like in today’s blaster, the 4 Victory, or as the ancient Romans would have called it, “IV Hoc non sunt inventa adhuc.”

THE BLASTER ITSELF

4vic2The 4 Victory was released in 2015 in the Rebelle line of blasters.  It uses the same hammer-action style of priming that was used on the Hammershot and the Sweet Revenge, but instead of using a revolving cylinder, the 4 Victory uses a 4-barrel smart AR system.  This means lower capacity but also a substantially smaller blaster overall, which Nerf really tried to showcase by including a holster with the blaster.  The holster is specific to the 4 Victory, so it doesn’t really work with other blasters, but that means that it fits the 4 Vic quite nicely.  The shell to the 4 Vic is all original except for maybe the hammer, and features an accessory rail along the top of the blaster, though adding anything to the rail prevents the use of the holster.  Unlike a lot of Rebelle blasters, the 4 Vic actually feels decent in hand, from a sizing perspective.  Many other Rebelle pistols in particular tend to have very small grips that aren’t really designed to accommodate big man hands like mine, or even big woman hands like a woman with big hands would have.  Such is not the case here, though, and I appreciate it.  The shape of the grip is a little odd in the way it curves forward but it does lend itself well to reaching up to prime the hammer with your thumb.  The 4 Vic shoots decently hard, not just for a pistol, but also for a Rebelle blaster, and a blaster with a smart AR, both things that historically have indicated slightly poorer performance.  Sure, there are pistols with higher capacity, but as a backup blaster when you need to really drive the message home to your younger siblings that you are not to be trifled with, this serves quite well in that respect.  I guess it would also do well in any other similar situation that would call for a backup blaster.  The 4 Victory comes packaged with the holster, 3 collectible Rebelle darts, 1 secret message dart, and a decoder. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

If there’s one thing I want you guys to learn from this, it’s that it would have been so easy to do the progressively less correct name gag again this week but I decided to spare you from 4 Fast 4 Victory and the like, so you’re welcome. I actually picked up my 4 Vic from my local 5 Below, on 6/7 at 8:09… 10.  Ok, the date and time part was a lie, but the location is correct and I couldn’t resist.  My sister actually had one of these before me and obviously that cannot stand, so I bought my own.  I’m kind of surprised neither of us has tried dual wielding them, but then again, that would be 2×4 Victory, or 8 Victory and I don’t know if anyone could handle that much victory.  That’s a lotta victory.

The Blaster In Question #0064: Ripchain

BlasterInQuestion1

RIPCHAIN

ZOMBIE STRIKE

ripchain1If there’s one universal truth that Todd McFarlane knows, it’s that kids love chains, and I think we can all learn from that.  It seems like Nerf certainly has, with the recent release of their second belt-fed blaster.  So with this much Nerf chain out on the market for kids to love, this blaster obviously needs a name in line with something from the McFarlane universe.  Let’s see, Overt-kill is already taken, so we’ll have to go with Ripchain.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

ripchain2The Zombie Strike Ripchain was released in 2018 and features a 25-round loop belt which is fed through the blaster by pump-action.  The system bares some similarity to the manual fire mode from the Vulcan EBF-25, but without the option for automatic fire.  Sorry Todd, no wires on this one.  Also, I did try, but sadly the belts from the Vulcan are not compatible in the Ripclaw.  To load the Riptor, you fill the belt with 25 darts, lift the hatch on the upper front portion of the blaster, slip the belt over and into place, close the hatch and you can then proceed with firing.  Like the Vulcan before it, the Riptide has a mechanism that locks the hatch in place when closed over the belt, however it also has a switch that can unlock the hatch, making unloading the blaster much easier.  The ergonomics of the Cy-Gor aren’t exactly its strong suit, but they’re functional, at least.  Having the belt all the way in the front makes loading and unloading much easier but it also makes the blaster very front heavy.  Additionally, the plastic piece imitating a ripchain3cloth wrap on the pistol grip isn’t completely locked into the rest of the grip and wobbles just enough to make me concerned about the grip’s structural integrity, particularly if you try holding it by just the pistol grip.  The pump grip is a little blocky but it’s a decent enough shape overall.  The shell of the Malebogia is completely original and features a single accessory rail on the top.   Performance-wise, the Necrid actually has decent range and power given the potential for a poor air seal between the plunger tube and the individual links on the belt.  The belt itself is all plastic with pins connecting the individual links, rather than the cloth strap the Vulcan belts use.  This means turning quickly while holding the blaster causes the belt to swing side to side with a rather distinctive clacking sound.  This can either come across as silly if it’s unintended or can be a foreboding herald just before you bust into your younger siblings’ room and open fire.  The Ripchain come packaged with a 25-round loop belt, and 25 Zombie Strike Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

Ok, first things first, I know all of the goofy names I used weren’t McFarlane properties but I felt it was more important to gradually warm you up to the joke with other “Rip” names first.  I suppose I could have used Rip Torn in there but I actually like stuff he was in so he gets a pass.  Anyway, I think it’s a cool, slightly gimmicky blaster.  Should you get it to be a purely practical blaster? Probably not.  Should you get it to be fun and because it’s belt fed?  Aw heck, yeah.

The Blaster In Question #0061: Cam ECS-12

 

 

BlasterInQuestion1

CAM ECS-12

N-STRIKE ELITE

cam1There’s one thing that Nerf keeps trying to do that I don’t think I’ll ever understand, and that’s attaching cameras to their blasters.  They tried it with the Battlescout and that was no good, but that was hardly their first attempt at this particular gimmick.  That one also suffered because the blaster itself was pretty crap, but what if they had tried using an actually decent mechanism as a starting point.  Well, in that case, you end up with the Cam ECS-12, which I’ll be reviewing today.  Let’s check it out.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

cam2The Cam ECS-12 was released in 2014 under the core N-Strike Elite line of blasters.  It was built on the old standby semi-auto flywheel mechanism we’ve seen again and again.  The main draw was the integrated “battle cam” that could function more or less like a scope while also being able to take photos and record video of whatever Nerf shenanigans you might choose to get up to.  With the 4 buttons just below the viewing screen, you can power the camera on and off, play/pause, skip forward, and delete files.  The actual capture button is located on the left side of the blue fore-grip area so you could press it from a firing position with your thumb (or index finger for lefties).  Rather wisely, the camera is run off its own entirely separate bank of AA batteries so having the cam on or off doesn’t affect the performance of the blaster at all and the two can be operated completely independently of each other.  The down-side is that the camera is just the worst.  It only captures images and videos in a tiny square format which matches the tiny square screen on the back end.  Videos also capture sound using a built in microphone which, as you can probably imagine, sounds horrendous should you do something stupid like rev up the flywheels ever.  The video feed to the screen always shows which format (photo/video) the camera is set to and how much capacity is left on the SD card as well as a square crosshairs reticle for aiming, I guess.  None of these actually get recorded onto any photos or videos, so that’s nice at least.  Turning the camera on, you are greeted by a Nerf logo on screen and a bizarre series of sound effects which I really can’t understand what they’re suppose to be.  cam3If you don’t touch any of the camera controls for about 5 mins, the blaster will start beeping and you’ll see a countdown from 10 on the screen, at the end of which, the whole thing explodes.  I mean, the camera auto shuts off, but you still have to hear that beeping so it might as well.  The slot for the SD card is on the forward left side of the “scope” and comes with a 4GB card already installed.  There was also originally a big orange shade on my blaster above the viewing screen, but It’s not really necessary and I found it flopped around and annoyed me so I took it off.  That’s probably enough about the bad camera, let’s end on a positive note.  The shell of the blaster is all original and boy does it look good.  Sure the barrel is kinda long and that slightly reduces its performance, but it just looks so sleek.  In all honesty, if Nerf tweaked the shell to get rid of the camera, and by extension drop the price substantially, I would buy another one of these in a heartbeat.  Some Nerf designs, while cool and I love them, can feel weird and goofy in hand.  This feels like a rifle, and I like it a lot.  It definitely gives it a more aggressive feel without being cartoonish and as long as you don’t intend to actually record anything, the video “scope” can make you feel like some sort of high-tech Halo-esque cool guy when you bust into your younger sibling’s room with it.  The Cam ECS-12 comes packaged with a 12 round magazine, 12 Elite darts, and the 4GB SD card.  The blaster takes 4 AA batteries to run and the camera takes another 4.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

This blaster got everyone super excited when Nerf first showed it off because, let’s be honest, it just looks cool.  The thing is, people got very unexcited when they saw the $75 price tag.  As such, hardly anyone bought one.  I managed to grab mine on a Black Friday sale for much less than MSRP, but I don’t know that looks and feel alone would have made me shell out that much money.  All this just makes their later attempt with the Battlescout all the more baffling.

The Blaster In Question #0060: Sharp Shot

BlasterInQuestion1

SHARP SHOT

DART TAG

sharpshot1It’s always exciting to see new and innovative systems and mechanisms in Nerf blasters, whether they actually work or not.  It’s nice to see the effort and the willingness to try.  What really makes entirely new systems so exciting is how many other blasters use the same old tried and (usually) true methods in between.  Today, we’ll be looking at one of those old classic designs, the slide-primed single shot pistol, specifically the Dart Tag Sharp Shot.  So what sets this one apart from any other single shot pistol out there?  Let’s have a look and find out.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

sharpshot2The Sharp Shot was released in 2011 for the newly revamped Dart Tag line and then again the following year with allegedly improved internals, denoted by a blue trigger.  As mentioned above, it uses functionally the same system we’ve seen on other pistols like the Scout IX-3 or Eliminator where you load a dart in the muzzle, rack the slide and fire.  The big difference between the Sharp Shot and any other similar pistol is really the looks.  Keeping in line with that particular iteration of the Dart Tag series, the Sharp Shot features smooth, rounded edges and a nicely contoured overall shape.  Not only does this serve to look real nice, but it actually works to ensure there aren’t any weird sculpted areas that could create hot shots while using the blaster.  The other thing that was different about the Sharp Shot was the accessory that came with it.  sharpshot3Originally, the blaster was packed with a 2-ended plastic carabiner that had a ball joint swivel in the middle.  The idea behind this was so that you could clip the pistol to a belt loop or whatever so it was on your person but then if you needed to grab it quickly, the ball joint would pop apart with a stout pull, making it act kind of sort of maybe like a holster in theory.  Personally, I never once used it and mine has since gone missing, but I can’t say I feel bad about it.  For the time, the Sharp Shot had ok performance.  It was still a pistol after all, so no one really expected it to shoot like a laser.  In this day and age, however, it doesn’t hold up so great.  I’d say if you have one or can find one for cheap, it feels great in the hand and looks pretty cool to boot, but unless you’re planning on effectively overhauling the entire mechanism, don’t expect it to be much help busting into your younger sibling’s room.  The Sharp Shot comes packaged with the quick detach clip and 4 Dart Tag Velcro whistler darts. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

I don’t remember too much of how and when I bought this blaster.  It was a few years ago at this point.  I probably bought it mainly for the looks, which is understandable.  I want to keep this one in its original condition, but if I happen to find another one, it might be a good base for a prop blaster, should the need arise.

The Blaster In Question #0059: Barricade RV-10

BlasterInQuestion1

BARRICADE RV-10

N-STRIKE

barricade1Just about everyone has at least heard of the Stryfe or the RapidStrike or Modulus ECS-10.  Any of the big names in the wide range of electric flywheel blasters Nerf has produced over the years.  The blaster most people these days don’t remember is the one that actually started the entire flywheel class of blasters at Nerf, the Barricade RV-10.  Not the police car from Transformers, this is a different Barricade, both Hasbro properties, though.  Who?  No, Dwayne Johnson played Roadblock from G.I. Joe, another entirely different still Hasbro property.  Anyway, let’s take a look at the blaster.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

barricade2The Barricade RV-10 was released in 2010 as part of the N-Strike line, kind of the only line Nerf had going at the time.  It was the first (I believe) flywheel blaster to come from Nerf.  There was at least one blaster from Buzz Bee Toys that used flywheels before the Barricade, but we don’t talk about that.  I mean, we could, but people will laugh and throw things.  The Barricade uses more or less the same mechanical configuration we’re used to on modern flywheel blasters but with 2 main exceptions.  First, it fires from a 10 round rotating cylinder rather than a magazine.  The second major difference is that instead of having a rev trigger just beneath the firing trigger like we’re used to, it has an on/off toggle switch that sits just above your thumb like a safety or fire selector switch, assuming you’re holding the blaster in your right hand.  The Barricade’s shell is all original, although it was reused in the Prime barricade3variant- I mean, the Elite version, which came with a stock and was renamed the Stockade.  Amazing.  It features a stock attachment lug on the back of the blaster and an accessory rail up top.  There’s also a interesting front sight that has a hole going through it, maybe so you can still see your target when aiming?  Who knows, but it has no rear sight to line up with and it’s on a pre-Elite blaster so it’s about as useful as.. something… not useful.  Wow, good job, Tim.  By today’s standards, the plastic of the shell feels a little thin and creaky, but that was about par for the course with the original N-Strike blasters.  Also somewhat outclassed by modern blasters is the Barricade’s performance.  Yes it is semi-auto, but with old motors running off of only 3 AA batteries, it can’t really keep up with today’s flywheels.  Given the lengthy rev-up time and the lack of any substantial power, I’d recommend setting this one aside as a collection piece rather than trying to bust into your younger sibling’s room with it.  The Barricade RV-10 comes with 10 Sonic Micro darts and requires 3 AA batteries.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

To be honest, I was not excited for the Barricade when it was announced.  I’m still not that into it.  I only bought mine because it came in a value pack with a stock that I really wanted.  I didn’t have it on hand so I left it out of the review.  Regardless, even if I’m not crazy about the Barricade, I do quite enjoy many of the other flywheel blasters that have come out since then, so I guess I can give it credit for that.  And I got a cool stock out of it too.

The Blaster In Question #0058: Mediator Stock

BlasterInQuestion1

MEDIATOR STOCK

MODULUS

medstock1A couple things recently came to my attention.  First, today is Sunday, but there’s not much I can do to change that.  Second, however, is that I never finished talking about the 3-part kit that composes the Modulus Mediator.  That, I can change, so today I’ll be looking at the third and final piece of the Mediator ensemble, the stock.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

medstock2“How can a stock warrant its own review?” I hear you say.  Well, dear reader, this is no ordinary stock.  It uses a never before seen set of intricate mechanisms in tandem with what I must assume is some kind of ancient magic to achieve the results we can observe.  Not really.  They made it big and hollow and stuck a pistol inside.  Complex?  No.  Useful?  Eeeehhhhmmmmmmaaaaaaaybe.  Anyway, the Mediator Stock was released with the other 2 components in 2018.  It came in two parts, the stock/holster, and the pistol.  The stock itself is pretty straightforward.  It attaches to any Nerf blaster with a stock attachment lug and is simply a fixed stock albeit with a rather long length of pull for a Nerf stock and some extra rubber overlays on the back end to make it grippy.  The rear end of the stock is open to allow the pistol to be inserted or removed and this makes it feel a little odd when pressed against your shoulder, but it’s not uncomfortable.  Just takes a second to get used to.  There is a belt clip on the left side of the stock that allows you to attach it to your pants or belt to act as a dedicated holster for the pistol, if you so choose. The pistol is functionally identical to the  Doublestrike from the Zombie Strike line, using a hammer primed, 2 barrel smart AR setup.  Sure, it’s not much, but I get the feeling this is meant as a backup blaster rather than your primary.  medstock3The shell of the blaster is all new and has been sculpted to allow a fairly firm friction fit into the stock/holster. The performance of the pistol is about what you’d expect from a backup blaster.  The range and power might not be quite on par with a larger blaster but if your younger siblings don’t know that you have a second blaster, the surprise can be rather entertaining.  The Modulus Mediator Stock comes with the stock/holster, the pistol and 4 Modulus Elite darts.  

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

As soon as I bought the first 2 components of the larger Mediator set, I was basically guaranteed to grab the last one eventually.  If I recall, I got mine from a local TRU, which is something only Canadians can say now.  There’s really not much to say about this set.  The stock is pretty decent quality and is a good size.  The pistol shoots.  Really, the one thing I might have liked to see is if they had redesigned the grip of the pistol to have a stock attachment lug so you could put the stock on it rather than it just being a holster on its own.  Stocked pistols are totally a thing and I would have been so excited to have that as an option, but oh well.  It does what it does well enough.

The Blaster In Question #0057: Vigilon

BlasterInQuestion1

VIGILON

VORTEX

vigilon1I know what you’re about to ask, so let me go ahead and answer it before you do.  No, I’ve still not heard anything from Mads but I’m staying optimistic.  That’s not what you were gonna ask?  Ok, weirdo.  Oh, right, that.  Yeah, I have no idea what the heck a vigilon is either but it’s the name of this week’s blaster.  Maybe taking a look at the blaster will inform us on the matter.  Let’s find out if that’s the case.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

vigilon2It’s not the case, it’s a made up word.  Anyway, the Vigilon was released in 2011 as part of the Vortex series of blasters.  It then disappeared with the apparent death of the Vortex line a few years later, only to be brought back in 2018 in the Target exclusive Vortex VTX line-up.  Really all that changed is the colors, so I’ll be reviewing them both as the same blaster here.  The Vigilon uses the same mechanism for launching the Vortex discs as most blasters in the line but with the added bonus of an integrated internal magazine that holds (officially) 5 discs.  I find it odd that the Vigilon has only ever been marketed as a 5-round blaster despite the fact that I can fit 6 discs in the magazine just fine without using any trickery, plus, you can keep another disc in the chamber, effectively giving the blaster a 7-round capacity.  The magazine vigilon3itself is an interesting design in which you open the loading gate with the release levers just above the trigger and load rounds in the side of the blaster rather than the top or front like we’re used to seeing on dart blasters.  Releasing the magazine cover is also rather satisfyingly snappy and makes it feel like something akin to a plasma weapon from the Halo franchise venting heat.  The outer shell is all original to the Vigilon, and while the green and orange color scheme of the first wave was fine at the time, the sky blue/neon green VTX colors really do it for me.  Just- MM, so good.  Naturally, the new colors are also carried over to the ammo which also looks quite nice and again, an improvement over the older version.  I mean, they work the same, they just look nicer while they do it.  The Vigilon gets the same performance as just about every other Vortex blaster out there.  The discs do travel far, but they vigilon4slow down as they fly through the air and end up floating a bit near the end of their flight path.  If you’re planning on using this as a weapon against your younger siblings, just make sure they’re not too far away, otherwise, even if your shots hit, they won’t have nearly the same impact as they would at closer range.  Plus, with some practice, you can do crazy stuff like bank shots off the wall and whatnot.  Then you can really make them feel like they’ll never be safe again, and isn’t that really the goal?  What do you mean that sounds abusive?  I’m just saying they shouldn’t feel completely at ease in their own home cuz they’ll never see the radtastic VTX discs coming.  Well, yeah, when you say it like that, you can make anything sound like abuse.  Anyway, the original Vigilon came packaged with just 5 Vortex discs, but the new VTX version comes with 10 and they look way cooler to boot.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

I don’t normally care too much about straight recolors, but the Vortex series was different and innovative in a way not often seen in the toy blaster market.  Moreover, it seemed to garner a decent fan base over traditional darts, so it’s fairly unique in that regard.  In reality, though, I just think the folks over at Nerf did a great job with the new colors.  I wish this had been what Vortex looked like from the get-go.  It’s just so- MMM, I love it.

The Blaster In Question #0056: Vagabond

BlasterInQuestion1

VAGABOND

DOOMLANDS 2169

vagabond1I had an idea for a game show the other day.  It would be a similar structure to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire but instead of answering general knowledge and trivia questions, you have to memorize details of a persona that you’re given and then Mads Mikkelson interrogates you about it while being as menacing as possible.  What does this have to do with Nerf?  I have no idea but I could not think of an intro for this blaster to save my life, so here we are.  This week we’ll be taking a look at another entry in the “we can’t legally just call it Borderlands” series, a.k.a. Doomlands 2169,  Specifically, let’s talk about the Vagabond.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

vagabond2The Vagabond was released in 2015 as part of the Border- Doomlands 2169 series of blasters, a full 154 years before when the name suggests.  It uses a 6-round rotating cylinder like the Strongarm or Disruptor, but in the case of the Vagabond, it is pump action instead of slide action.  The shell of the Vagabond is all original, including the cylinder itself which is way longer than it needs to be.  In keeping with the Doomlands look, there is a panel on the right side of the blaster that is clear and allows you to see the internals, which is a nice touch.  With the cylinder being as crazy long as it is, the barrels have openings almost all the way down their length so you can put a dart in the side and push it to the back to seat it ready for firing.  It’s an odd choice and vagabond3makes me wonder why they didn’t just shorten it down and have it load from the front like a normal revolver style blaster, not to mention all the plastic and weight they’d save by getting rid of the enormous front end.  It really seems like Nerf was going for a shotgun here, given the pump action and the sharply angled grip, but without any ability to fire multiple darts at once, it just ends up being a really big revolver in need of a nose job.  The pump grip itself is large and nicely textured so you can get a solid hold of it.  There’s a rail along the top of the blaster for accessories like scopes and whatnot, at least in theory.  The angle of the grip makes aiming down the barrel kind of hard to do comfortably, but it too is well sized and has enough texture to provide the necessary traction.  Performance-wise, the Vagabond gets a resounding “it’s fine.”  It shoots just a little softer than most other blasters on average, probably in part due to the internals being taken directly from the Rebelle Guardian Crossbow.  It’s not a huge difference, and it will probably get overlooked by your younger siblings when you bust into their room, plus there’s that great big front end that’ll most likely leave an impression.  The Vagabond comes packaged with 6 Doomlands colored Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

I really can’t think of any reason why the front of the Vagabond is that huge.  I guess it’s just a stylistic choice.  I mean, we’ve seen similar enormous extraneous pieces of plastic on other Doomlands blasters like the Negotiator, but I didn’t really care for those either.  As long as it doesn’t affect the blaster’s ability to, you know, blast, I suppose it can stay.  But seriously though, Mads, if you’re reading this, hit me up about that game show.

The Blaster In Question #0055: Proton

BlasterInQuestion1

PROTON

VORTEX

proton1You may have heard that Vortex is back.  Yes, it seems the once-thought dead line of blasters has miraculous come back to life like Jesus, or Dracula.  While my money is squarely on this being a hasty rejiggering of an intended TRU exclusive, the Vortex VTX line seems to be solely in Target’s hands now.  So while the hype train is just slowly starting to pull away from the station, I figured I’d jump on board in order to bring you today’s review of the Proton.  I’m feeling pretty positive about this one.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

proton2Ok, while this is a Vortex blaster, it’s not part of the VTX lineup, so I’m less of a passenger on the hype train and more of that guy with the accordion who just walks from car to car demanding money in exchange for giving you tinnitus.  The Proton was released in 2011 as the smallest (at the time) entry in the newly unveiled Vortex series of blasters.  The big draw for Vortex blasters was their supposed super long ranges thanks to the mini-frisbee type of ammo instead of traditional darts.  The disks use their aerofoil shape to glide through the air which does allow them to travel pretty far, all things considered, but it also means that they lose speed quite quickly.  I’ve talked about this before in my Revonix 360 review and it holds true here and across the line.  The Proton, specifically, is a single shot pistol which is loaded through the rear of the blaster by pulling back the slide, placing a diskproton3 in the tray, and hitting the slide release lever on the side of the blaster.  Honestly, this was the feature that made me buy the Proton in the first place.  Regardless of performance, I just wanted a blaster with a functional slide release lever so I could do dramatic reloads while creeping around the house at 2:00 AM.  The shell of the Proton is all original which you’d kind of expect given how vastly different the internals of this blaster are compared to something like the NiteFinder.  There is at least a standard Nerf rail on the top of the barrel, but there’s not really anything you can put on it without making the blaster really top and front heavy, and that’s no good.  The Proton is meant to be nice and light, right around 1.67×10-27kg.  Not literally light, that’s photon, with an h.  Running the action of the Proton is nice and smooth and unless you did something really wrong, it’s very uncommon to have any kind of jam or malfunction, so that’s a positive.  The ergonomics are decent with all the controls where it makes sense for them to be.  The grip is a little skinny but not so much that it’s really a problem.  As with most Vortex blasters, there are a lot of safety locks inside the Proton, the most important of which prevents the trigger from being pulled when the chamber is empty. proton4 It’s good to know so that, if you’re storing the blaster somewhere for more than a day, it’s probably smart to fire off one round just to de-prime the blaster so you won’t wear out the spring.  If that happens, it’s like it loses its charge, and you’re left with a neutron.  It’s also a good idea to keep it away from stray electrons, because then it just becomes hydrogen, and that  tends to poof away into the air.  As far as using the Proton against younger siblings, I’d recommend it for longer-distance pot shots rather than the whole busting into their room method.  The Proton comes packaged with 3 Vortex disks in the classic Vortex green.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

Ah, I see you made it past my science jokes.  Good for you.  All in all, for as lukewarm as I am to the Vortex series as a whole, I actually quite like the Proton.  It’s fairly compact and has that really unique loading mechanism, which is honestly fun to play with just that.  While I don’t usually go for recolors of existing blasters, I must admit, the blue and green VTX color scheme looks pretty sharp, so I might not mind picking up another Proton if they come out with it.  Then I just need some neutrons and I can whip up some helium.