One Dart Short

Nerf Rule #1: You never have enough darts!

Review: BoomCo Clipfire

Fully deployed

Fully deployed

I've always liked the tiny, easily concealable style of blaster. A mostly dismantled Nerf Secret Shot remains my favourite palm blaster, but the BoomCo Clipfire is a nice entry into this part of the market. The blaster is a front loading, single shot model, with storage space for one dart on top. It has a plastic clip at the rear as its cocking mechanism, which can also double for clipping on to things for transport. It's not a robust enough mechanism to allow for one handed attachment/detachment on a hurry, but if you had it on a cord or lanyard, you can probably cock the blaster by shortening the cord and pulling the blaster hard, then releasing the cord and firing. 

Closeup of the handle release button

Closeup of the handle release button

The handle of the blaster folds up onto the body quite snugly once you push the release button, and the blaster is quite fireable even closed up (though aiming would be tricky). Performance is average (for a depowered version), and it's unfortunate that Mattel seem to have been more concerned about that than Hasbro, with the difference between USA and (most) international models being noticeably more severe. Pity the AU dollar is so crap at the moment, it's harder to justify buy USA imports 😔. Anyways, this comes with a couple of darts and a tiny target, and makes for a nice little addition if you like the small stuff!

All folded up

All folded up

Review: Nerf Mega Cycloneshock

Left side

Left side

Stylistically, the Cycloneshock is very much the spiritual big brother of the Stongarm. As a six shooter, rotating barrel, front loader, firing Mega darts, this makes for a good solid sidearm. There's a decent weight to the blaster–feels a bit front heavy, but nothing serious (no more than a Stryfe, or a Retaliator with a barrel extension).

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Functionally, the differences between the Cycloneshock and the Strongarm are: no slamfire, the cylinder doesn't move out for reloading, and the cylinder spins the next dart into position on cocking rather than on pulling the trigger. I never use slamfire anyway, so no loss as far as I can see. Being unable to move the cylinder out for reloading is only a minor inconvenience. It slows down reloading a bit, but it does mean the overall firing mechanism is a bit more solid (at the opposite end of the scale, for example, the Spectre is pretty much crap because of the cylinder being too loose). And having the cylinder rotate on cocking is always better; less trigger pull means improved accuracy. And as with the Strongarm, there's a single tactical rail above the cylinder (though I'm yet to see a good Mega accessory). 

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Visually, the strong red of the body looks good, and the bulk of the blaster really lets you know you're firing a Mega! Cocking is done via the standard slide at the upper rear of blaster, and is a nice smooth process. As mentioned before, by having the cylinder rotate on cocking, the actual firing mechanism is noticeably smoother, with the reduced weight of the trigger pull helping with accuracy. Generally, range and accuracy seem on par for the Mega line, and about identical to a Magnum. Speaking of which, the Cycloneshock is about 30% heavier, with most of the weight around the cylinder.  

Down the barrel

Down the barrel

Review: Nerf Thunderblast

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The second Nerf blaster to fire the Nerf Missile ammo (after the Demolisher 2-in-1), the Thunderblast is actually pretty lame. It's a single piece blaster, no detachable stock or anything, and comes with three of the new missiles. The stock holds two missiles, and is probably the most interesting part of the blaster: in addition to holding the blaster in the normal way, if you're kid-sized, the rear of the stock can actually sit over your shoulder kind of like a shoulder mounted rocket launcher. 

Firing the Thunderblast is the same, regardless of whether or not you shoulder mount it. The missile is loaded in the front, then the front hand grip is pushed all the way forward, then pulled back sharply to fire. Needless to say, attempting to do this with any degree of force pulls the blaster out of alignment (assuming you're right handed this generally means to the left). This is made worse by the foregrip being significantly lower on the barrel than the rear grip. While to some degree this can be managed with practice, it's still a poor design. At least the bulk of the Demolisher (plus the difference in foregrip) alleviated this issue to a reasonable degree, and it's only a secondary ammo type there in any case. As it is, the Thunderblast really doesn't cut the mustard. I strongly recommend that you avoid getting one. If you particularly like the new Nerf missiles, either get a Demolisher, or wait for the new Modulus blaster coming out later this year that has a tactical rail mounted missile launcher! Haven't seen exactly how that operates yet, but really hoping for an actual trigger mechanism. 

Review: Nerf Modulus Ionfire

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I'm not entirely sure where Hasbro thought they were going with the Ionfire. While the four dart tactical rail attachment is a nice addition, and the first such we've seen since the original pre-Elite Barrel Break IX-2 (the Elite-coloured version ditched this unfortunately), the barrel extension is tiny, and the blaster itself is simply a large form factor single shot with a weird cocking mechanism. 

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The Ionfire has two tactical rails (Hasbro seem to be more generous with these on the Modulus line), one above, one below, along with capability to attach both a stock and barrel extension. The latter two are kind of pointless on such a basic single shot blaster though.

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Cocking this blaster is where it kind of falls apart. The grey slide on the top pulls back to expose the breach and also loads up the spring. Unfortunately it doesn't actually slide back far enough, meaning you have to deform the dart slightly just to fit it in! Nerf darts wear out fast enough as it is–the idea of bending each dart as you load it is just stupid. Performance and accuracy both seem acceptable so far; if I haven't disposed of this prior to my next range test, I'll update you with details. Oh, and it comes with four of the new Modulus white/orange style darts, code Y if anyone's interested. In summary, maybe consider buying this on sale, purely for the dart holder. Don't get this if you want a good single shot blaster–the Jolt remains the king there.

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Review: Nerf Star Wars Han Solo & Rey Blasters

Rey - Right Side

Rey - Right Side

On a random Big W visit recently I was luckily enough to come across a pair of the latest Nerf Star Wars blasters, Han Solo's and Rey's. On the overpriced side of things (typical for the Star Wars branded blasters), but such is life. These two blasters are functionally almost identical (I'm yet to dismantle them but I'm betting the internals are an exact match). I'll go through the common details first.

Han Solo - Left Side

Han Solo - Left Side

These blasters have a four dart internal magazine (same as the Nerf Mega Magnus). Darts are loaded by pulling the top slide back to expose the internal mag, then load each dart, pushing the rest down (pretty much just like loading a standard magazine). Pushing the top slide forward then cocks the blaster and you're set. Pulling the slide back then forward allows a dart to load then cocks the blaster each time. On the left side of the blaster is what I'm guessing is a jam clearing button. It's not mentioned in the manual, but some other blasters have a similar mechanism. Lastly, there's a single tactical rail located underneath the internal magazine.

Rey - Left Side

Rey - Left Side

As appears standard for their cross-branding blasters, there doesn't appear to be multiple versions of these Star Wars blasters. There's just the orange trigger version, even for the Australian market, and the listed range is consistent at 20m (65'). Compared to some of my grey trigger blasters, the range seems almost identical. Accuracy is also about average compared to the greys. The four darts included are the blue Star Wars branded ones, J marked. 

Han Solo - Right

Han Solo - Right

On to the differences: Rey's blaster has better colouring (in my opinion), being primarily white, with orange and grey trim. Han Solo's blaster is a very plain looking blue, again with orange and grey trim. The grey really doesn't go well against the blue, and I'm thinking that this one is heading to the top of my repaint list. I'd love to get it looking like the picture on the box, all grimy dark brown and metal. We'll see what can be done… Aside from the colouring, the most obvious difference is the scope on the top of Han Solo's blaster. As usual for Nerf scopes, it doesn't actually provide any magnification, but at least it can be seen through, and has a single sight marker at the end. Unlike the others though, this one is permanently fixed to the blaster. This would be because of the aforementioned cocking mechanism, as the scope is part of the top slide. And while it initially may not seem it, the scope actually makes the Han Solo blaster easier to cock, as you don't need to even grip the slide--you can just push against it (or even just push it against something else).

Both blasters have plenty of finger space in behind the trigger guard, but the plastic at the bottom part of the guard on the Rey blaster is noticeably thicker, and you can feel it when pulling the trigger. Combined with the slightly larger handle of the Rey blaster, this makes it just a little less comfortable to fire, especially for smaller hands. The pull strength on the Rey blaster also seems a little stronger, which doesn't help matters. 

So all in all, while these two blasters may seen at first glance to be only differentiated by colour, I find that the Han Solo blaster is the more comfortable of the two to use. And hopefully once I get around to repainting it, it'll look cooler too!

Han Solo - Box Front

Han Solo - Box Front

Rey - Box Front

Rey - Box Front

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Review: Nerf Modulus Recon MkII

All set! 

All set! 

This new Modulus version of the Recon is technically the third iteration of the original Recon blaster (and could be considered the spiritual ancestor of the current Modulus lineup), counting the Retaliator as the second. That said, the Recon Mk II is a fairly average addition. The included stock extension is solid, if not really long enough. The inclusion of a six dart magazine rather than a 12 is also disappointing (it's also the old pre-Elite style with both sides opaque), while the lack of forehand grip is kind of understandable (I'm not generally a fan of those).

Another annoyance (on my blaster at least), barrel extensions of all sorts are a loose fit. It looks as though Hasbro have been going the cheap route over the past year or two, and no longer pay quite as much attention to the fit as they used to. Many of the older barrel extensions had a small plastic springy nub that would fit into a small divot on the blaster and help hold the extension in place (even the Modulus Barrel Extender has this). Without this, it's very hit or miss as to how well the blaster extension fits (for example my new Ionfire fits all my barrel extensions perfectly). Possibly a small dollop of silicone might help, we'll see... And to top things off, this barrel extender has two more issues: first, the rifling goes the wrong way! It spirals in the opposite direction to at least three other barrels I checked (this would be more of an issue if the rifling actually did anything). Second, the plastic ring that actually holds the extension to the blaster is loose (see picture below), meaning the extension is loose on nearly all my blasters. I don't know if this is a general problem, or I just got unlucky, please leave a comment below if you have/haven't got the same issue. Either way, it kinda sucks. 

Bare bones

Bare bones

One more change from the Retaliator is the addition of an actually useable tactical rail on right hand side of the blaster! There's also the completely wasted one on the top of the cocking grip. I honestly don't know of anything you could put there that wouldn't interfere with cocking the blaster, but I guess two rails sounds better in the marketing material. Sizing is good; the grip is quite comfortable for a larger hand. Functionally, there's no real changes. As with all non-flywheel clip system blasters, you need to half cock the blaster to eject or insert the clip. Performance appears about standard for the Elite line, despite the claimed 27 meter range. And as seems fairly standard, the new Recon II comes with six of the Modulus white/orange darts (code J).

Box front

Box front

Looking down the barrel

Looking down the barrel

All in all, while this is actually a slight step down from the Retaliator functionally, it's a minor improvement in appearance. 

Review: Nerf Rival Apollo XV-700

Loot! 

Loot! 

I figured it was time for me to get a bit ballsy for my next review 😁! With Amazon finally getting stock in again of all the Nerf Rival gear (and at a decent price), I took the opportunity to check out Hasbro's latest attempt at a new ammunition type. A pair of Apollos (I was curious which colour looked the best) with extra magazines and ammo duly arrived. The blaster packaging is a pretty standard Nerf affair, with cardboard and plastic tabs taped down. One annoyance though: obviously as part of pushing the new Rival ammo, one of the balls is exposed on the front of the box. In one case this has resulted in a fairly dirty ball (which reminds me: when is someone going to come up with a better name for this ammo type?). So far, the dirt hasn't shifted, either. I haven't had any of the other ammo get dirty yet, so I'm not sure if this is a bad sign for the ammo generally, or if this particular dirt was abnormally oily or something similarly resistant to cleaning. The extra 12 round magazines and ammo are just in hard plastic, safe enough from damage.

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So, on to the good stuff! First impressions were good; the Apollo is large for a pistol style blaster, partially due to the magazine loading via the grip. For my large hands this is no problem, but I could definitely see this as an issue for any younger Nerfer, or even anyone with smaller than average hands. For me, perfect. The weight reflects its size fairly accurately, in fact it's pretty close in both size and weight to a fully stripped down Longshot.

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As I mentioned, the magazine loads via the grip, with a medium sized button at the bottom rear of the grip to release it. It comes with a seven round magazine, and there's also a 12 round magazine which also works fine with it. Despite the larger capacity, I really prefer the form factor of the smaller magazine, and have actually sold off one of my Apollo's with the bigger magazine and kept the smaller. Cocking the blaster via the hooked lever on the top is easy enough, though requires a little more force than your average N-Strike blaster. As an aside, I've seen a mod that lets the cocking lever automatically move back into position after pulling it back, sounds like it'd make things easier.

Easy pickup! 

Easy pickup! 

Firing the Apollo is probably going to startle anyone who's not used to modded blasters–there's a good chunky *bang*! The range seems good, definitely superior to darts, and accuracy is great. I managed a 20 meter headshot on a guy at work first shot when showing it off to work mates, über cool! The new Rival ball ammo really performs well, and collecting rounds off the floor straight into magazines is very nifty (see picture). One downside though: balls bounce… after a 20 meter shot down a hall, the ball can then bounce a good 10-15 meters, all over the place. Probably fine outside, but indoor you'll find most of your ammo ending up hiding under desks. 

The Rival series seems to be a big success, love the range and accuracy, and really looking forward to seeing the fully automatic Khaos when it comes out later this year! That'll be one loud and scary blaster!

Review: Nerf N-Strike Bowstrike

Fully deployed! 

Fully deployed! 

The Bowstrike is an amusing little addition to the lower end of the Nerf blaster spectrum. While from a functional perspective it adds nothing new (at a first glance its form factor is almost identical to the Firestrike, hence part of the name), it adds a bit of fun by having a couple of bow arms and a sight pop out of the sides and top respectively when cocking the blaster. Firing the blaster then retracts the bow arms and sight again.

Unpacked  

Unpacked

 

Grip size-wise, it's about average, perhaps a smidgen small. It fits in my hands acceptably, but I wouldn't want it any smaller. It's a front loader and rear pull cocking mechanism (same as the Firestrike), however due to the addition of the sight, it has no tactical rail on top. This is a fairly small loss–I've rarely found tactical rails on the smaller blasters to be overly useful. From a performance perspective, while it's not labelled as an Elite blaster, in my initial test firing it seems to hold up quite well to Elite blasters. I'm now way overdue to do a round of performance testing on all my latest blasters, and will try to include this little fella when I do, and update this review appropriately!

Box front

Box front

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Given the price on these, I think the Bowstrike makes for a fun variation on the current Jolt/Firestrike/Triad/Doublestrike/etc selection. Particularly worth considering as a cheap gift for anyone whom you're trying to get interested in Nerf! Included are three standard Elite darts (code J). Oh, and for reference, this is an orange trigger import model 😄 

Review: Nerf N-Strike Elite Rhino-Fire

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A beast I've had my eye on for a while, the Rhino-fire (sometimes referred to just as the Rhinofire) is Hasbro's current top of the line blaster (at least price wise). While it's been available for a while now, its cost has been rather prohibitive. Luckily, Target have regular sales, plus the habit of overstocking their higher end Nerf gear, so I was able to finally pick one up at half price.

Packing dual 25-dart magazines (and coming with 50 Elite darts) the Rhino-fire tops out all other Nerf blasters in capacity. It's the Elite upgrade to the old Vulcan, even the tripod attachment is identical (unfortunately).  As with the Vulcan, the blaster won't actually balance just on the tripod (the joint is too weak), even though, weight-wise, the legs are quite strong enough to support it. Still, if you're going to use this as an emplacement blaster, the tripod isn't completed useless. 

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The Rhino-fire runs off six D sized batteries, and is probably going to be the only device in your house that does! In my case I didn't have any available, and generally use Trustfires anyway, so I popped in four of these plus a couple of dummy batteries as spacers. Given that this was providing 13-14 volts, I was expecting a pretty impressive rate of fire and range. My expectations were not met. It seems that driving the mechanics barrel "decoration" (the ends of the barrels alternate in and out on each shot) takes a fair chunk of power. I'm going to look at modding this to either completely disconnect this mechanism, or possibly pop in a small on/off switch to enable if needed, then we'll see how it performs.

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Weight-wise, this blaster is easy enough to use two-handed for me, though again a kid under 12 or so would probably struggle a fraction. Build quality seems good; unlike some reviewers I saw no sign of an issues with the included 25-dart drum magazines, the appear identical to the Rampage version as far as I can tell. Battery life I can't say much about due to my use of Trustfires, but D batteries hold a fair bit of juice, so my bet would be you could get a lot of shots off before having battery issues. That said, as with all battery powered Nerf blasters, you'll need a screwdriver to switch batteries, and I wouldn't want to be trying it in a the middle of noisy battlefield. 

One extra note, that I think only applies to the grey trigger version: other reviews I've seen describe a two stage trigger, where half pushing down the trigger starts the flywheels spinning. This allows the flywheels to be at full speed before the first shot is fired. Unfortunately, my Rhino-fire doesn't appear to have this feature, and I suspect it's specific to all grey trigger Nerf blasters. The only other blaster I'm aware of with a similar two stage trigger is the Roughcut. In that case a half pull of the trigger is supposed to fire a single dart, while a full pull fires both. Now my orange trigger Roughcut works exactly this way, while both my grey trigger versions (one a Whiteout version, so a different batch) always fires both barrels. If you're reading this and have access to a Rhino-fire or Roughcut, I'd be really curious if you could post a comment with your experience with the two stage trigger! Unfortunately, lack of a two-stage trigger means that the first dart out of the Rhino-fire is pretty much wasted (goes 50-60% of distance of the other darts).

That all said, being able to hold down the trigger and send 50 darts streaming down at your target in the space of ten seconds or so is a pretty fun experience! This isn't one of Hasbro's better value blasters; the Rapidstrike remains the top automatic, and the Stryfe the top flywheel generally, but if you're able to pick one up on sale, you won't be dissapointed!

Checking out the competition

With the current shortage of any new Nerf gear on the market, I'm thinking I might start looking around into some of the competitors that have been creeping up on Hasbro lately. The biggest of these would have to be Mattel, with their BoomCo line, but there's also a few other, smaller, players such as X-Shot, and Tek Recon. I've also seen some articles mentioning a couple of other possibles, so I'm going to see what I can see. Of course, bugger all of this stuff is likely to ever be sold in Australia, so it'll be back to Amazon for me for a while! Wish me luck… 😉 

Review: BoomCo Halo Combine Needler

Be afraid! 

Be afraid! 

I was very interested to see the recent release of Halo branded BoomCo blasters–both because it's always fun to see new stuff, plus the fact that Mattel are continuing to back their new brand enough to snag the lucrative Halo brand! Their starting lineup consists of the UNSC M6, the UNSC M7, the Marine Blaster ASC, the Covenant Plasma Type-25, the Covenant Carbine, and Covenant Needler. So far, all I've spotted locally in Oz are the M6 and the Needler, and as the M6 looks kinda basic, I picked up a Needler!

First up, I have to say that I'm generally pretty impressed with the design and quality of the BoomCo blasters. They're very obviously trying hard to take a chunk of the market share away from Nerf, and I really hope they manage it. Some healthy completion between the two can only benefit the end consumer. That said, I might wish they'd try still harder, and also recognise the buying power of the slightly older blaster enthusiast! Ah well, in time perhaps this too may come to pass… 😉

Box front

Box front

Easy opening! 

Easy opening! 

Box back

Box back

So, first impressions. The packaging is decent, standard "exposed" blaster in a half box. As this blaster has a slight lighting effect, Mattel have been good enough to include batteries and a test mode to show it off to a potential buyer. In this test mode, pulling the trigger makes the darts stored on the top of the blaster light up briefly. More on the lighting later. Unpacking the blaster is very easy, just need to deal with half a dozen tape covered tabs, plus three rather unusual clips (see photo), which just require a quarter turn counterclockwise to "unlock". They're actually connected all the way through into the blaster. I'm not sure if this is intended as an anti-theft mechanism or just trying to simplify the unpacking, but I think it's a good touch. As well as the blaster, the 16 darts and a target are included (always happy to get a good complement of darts). The darts are purple, this seems to be the Covenant colouring decided upon by Halo/Mattel. 

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Once it's out, the Needler looks pretty ferocious! Definitely happy with the visuals, it really looks authentically alien and mean. It has eight darts ready to fire in a circle at the front, and storage for eight more on top, looking like spikes or needles. It has a quite cool lightning mechanism too, which slowly pulses to light up the stored darts. It also works as an ammo counter–each pull of the trigger turns off one dart light, making it nice and easy to see at a glance how many shots you have left. Pity it's done via trigger pulls instead of actual sensors in the loaded dart section, but it's still pretty cool. The blaster is cocked by pulling back on the underneath section, however it then stays locked down/back until you fire, unlike most other blaster cocking mechanisms, and takes a little getting used to. After firing, pushing the cocking handle forward also rotates the next dart into place (the topmost slot is always the next to fire). For some reason the barrel spins 315° counterclockwise instead of just 45° clockwise to get the next dart into position, I'm guessing just for effect. One thing I really don't like about the cocking mechanism though is how loud it is! I seriously thought I'd broken something the first time I cocked it, especially when combined with the cocking arm then not moving forward again until after you fire. I'm used to it now, but it's still way too loud. 

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Firing the Needler is definitely a bit strange… because of the shape of the top part, you have no clear visual indicator of how high you're actually aiming the blaster. Even after firing 16 shots off, I still find myself shooting on a far higher angle than I'm intending. Maybe that's deliberate though, as it leads me into the most disappointing thing about this blaster: shot distance. As I'm unfortunately stuck with de-powered retail versions, this is the wimpy 15 meter (hah!) blaster. Except it's not even up to that task. Eight shots, fired flat from shoulder height, hit the ground after seven meters. I've got stock Nerf blasters that fire flat at that range, no problem. Hell, that includes de-powered Mega blasters! Did Mattel even try to get the higher performance blasters into other countries, or did they just assume that they had to drop 40% of the range off in order to sell them here?

Anyway, in summary, this is still a very cool looking blaster, being very different from anything else on the market. The lighting mechanism is not something I've seen on any stock blaster before, and so if you're not too concerned about the performance, then this could be the blaster for you! 

Review: Nerf Demolisher 2-In-1 (repost)

(Note: This is a repost of my original review dated 07/Jul/2014)

Hot on the heels of my shiny new Slingfire, on my doorstop this morning was another package: the newly released Demolisher 2-in-1!

The packaging pushes both the range increase (the claim is 90'), and the new missile component (a single dart and missile are visible through a clear plastic section of the box).

Pausing to take some box shots, I opened up the box to see the new beastie in full! Included with the base blaster is a stock extension that also holds an additional missile, the amusingly styled "banana" ten dart magazine, ten Elite darts (Type E), and two of the new missiles. Missing (as expected) is the four AA batteries required to power the flywheels. The Demolisher has two tactical rails, one on top and a shorter one on the right side (the battery compartment is on the left). It's also able to take barrel extensions, and has sling attachment points at the barrel end and the base of the stock.

The Demolisher's standard dart firing is functionally the same as the Stryfe/Rayven. There's an acceleration trigger (a bit better feel to it too) which spins up the flywheels, and the trigger then fires as usual. Given that the voltage (6V) is the same as the Stryfe, but is supposed to be capable of an extra 15' distance, the logical assumption is that they've improved the flywheel motors (a not uncommon mod). This also means that if we're able to identify those motors, they become a completely safe swap into a Stryfe (or any other current flywheel blaster) to upgrade it. Obviously a quick check of the rest of the circuitry would be in order first, but sounds pretty straightforward.

Now on to the missile! My first couple of attempts at firing it were pretty woeful... The mechanism is simply a single air chamber that fires that missile as you pull the grip back towards the blaster. I was being either being way too cautious or it was sticking a lot at first use, but my first shot didn't even get out of the blaster! After checking the mechanism and the manual, I tried again and am now getting consistently accurate and ranges shots with it. It's a quite fun little addition, although the missile holder in the stock has a nasty habit of leaving marks on the missile rather too easily. Shooting flat, I'm hitting 12 meter (40 feet) ranges without any problem. Tends to pull to the right as a result of how you shoot it, but still pretty accurate! Can't wait to try it somewhere I can really try some long angled shots!

The ten dart banana magazine is, as expected, very much just a gimmick. Actually looks quite good on a Longshot though! Any of the usual bigger magazines go nicely, and even though the balance of the blaster is very far forward (even with the stock extension), the missile firing mechanism is great for the second hand. But seriously, don't expect to use this as a one-handed, even though it's a flywheel blaster.

I’m overdue to do some range testing on a whole heap of my blasters, this now being added to them. So far, it does seem to out-shoot most of my stock Elite blasters, so seems to fit the claims on the box. Range and accuracy on the missile seems decent for what it is. I suspect the fins are assisting accuracy, or it could be wishful thinking on my part!

In summary, I can see why some people just consider this a gimmicky version of a Stryfe, but I still like it. The missile is a bit of fun, it’s got the extra range, and comes with the detachable stock. All are pluses. Against that, the Stryfe can often be picked up extremely cheaply, and easily upgraded with some Trustfire batteries. Anyway, I like it!

Review: Nerf Thunderblast

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The Thunderblast very much appears to be an afterthought that someone at Hasbro had, after the release of the Demolisher. Functionally, it's a basic single shot blaster that fires the new Nerf Mega Missiles (as debuted with the Demolisher). It comes with two of these Missiles, and has storage space on the stock for both.

Down the barrel of the beast! 

Down the barrel of the beast! 

With no trigger, the blaster is fired directly by pulling the front grip back. As you'd expect, the harder you pull, the greater the range. The problem here is that the harder you pull, the more out of alignment the blaster goes, meaning most shots pull fairly significantly to the left (assuming you're right handed). The Demolisher doesn't really suffer from this problem, due to the pump firing mechanism on that being more like that of a cocking a pump action shotgun. The hand eases off the mechanism automatically as you pull it back, and so doesn't pull the blaster off target. While this would have dropped power slightly, it's a shame they didn't go this route for the Thunderblast. Range doesn't mean much when your shot hits 3-4 meters to the side!

One last thing: someone seems to have gotten imaginative with the stock on this blaster, and it's actually designed so that it can sit on a (fairly small) shoulder, making it seem like a shoulder mounted rocket launcher! Kind of cool for smaller people, and seems like it's quite usable in that way. Always nice to see something new! 

Review: Nerf Zombie Strike Slingfire (repost)

(Note: This is a repost of my original review dated 04/Jul/2014)

It's been a long dry spell for Nerf, and I suspect I'm not alone in looking forward to the batch of blasters announced at the various toy fairs earlier in the year! August was supposed to be the release month for them all, but, as seems usual, there are some early releases. It looks like the Slingfire, the Demolisher, and the Mega Thunderbow all dropped at the start if this month. And thanks to unusually fast shipping from Amazon, I just got my hands on a Slingfire (and should have a Demolisher at the start of next week). The Slingfire is (as seems the common thread for the Zombie Strike range) very much patterned on a specific gun. In this case, it's the classic Winchester rifle, with its distinctive under-trigger lever cocking mechanism. It comes with a six dart magazine and six green Elite darts. As usual, the magazine can only be loaded with the blaster half-cocked, and made a little more awkward by also requiring the magazine release button to be pressed. While this is normal, it stands out a bit more for the Slingfire due to cocking with the dominant hand.

Since seeing the original teaser for this blaster, I know many of us were hoping to be able to cock it by spinning the blaster around by the cocking lever (always a favourite move in Hollywood Westerns). Unfortunately, the blaster really doesn't have the weight or balance to achieve this. In addition, the cocking lever itself is relatively flimsy, so even if you tried to rebalance the blaster, you'd be risking either breaking the lever itself, or stripping the plastic gear teeth used in the process. (Edit: the cocking lever seems more robust than I initially thought, and the trick to spinning it is to start with the lever already all the way down!)

The Slingfire does look über-cool with the green magazine from a Rayven!

That said, the blaster is a very cool styled addition to the arsenal (the Zombie Strike lineup is pretty damn awesome)! The firing rate isn't fantastic, being a bit slower than a Hammershot, but the range and accuracy seem up to scratch for the currently Nerf lineup. All in all, very happy with it, and it's a great blaster for casually firing a couple of darts through the office! Edit: Been trying some more accuracy tests, and getting a bit disappointed. The spread is definitely appearing worse than I initially thought. Almost as bad as the Sledgefire...

Mod: Longshot Immortal Kit from OMW (repost)

(Note: This is a repost of my original post dated 01/May/2014)

Finally managed to snag an out of production Longshot Immortal Kit from OrangeModWorks, and ripped one of my mint Longshots out of its box to put it in!

While I also had a spare 10KG Longshot spring, I ended up just using the 8KG spring included in the kit. This was mostly due to some problems I was having getting the Longshot back together and working (the 10KG made trying to test it while it was misbehaving a bit hard).

Anyway, finally got it all back together and working. Removed most of the locks, the extending stock, the jam access panel, and the bipod, and it's now light and deadly! The replacement cocking handles make it very easy to cock one-handed, even with the 8KG spring (two times stock strength), and while I haven't range tested it properly yet, it already seems to be able to shoot easily 22-24 meters! Loud bugger too!

Review: Nerf Mega Bigshock

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I've seen a few fairly negative reports around about the Mega version of the Jolt, and now that I've managed to snag a Bigshock at a sale price (on a side note, is anyone else getting as pissed off as I am at all the Toys'r'us exclusives?), here's my take on it.

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The Bigshock comes with the usual two Mega darts, and basic packaging. On first picking up the blaster, it has a very hefty feel about it. The grip of the blaster is probably the largest of any of the Nerf blasters I've seen, presumably as the only way to fit in a plunger large enough to propel a Mega dart to expected ranges. I think that any kid using this blaster is going to find it uncomfortably large, especially younger kids. That side, I find it sits quite well in my larger hand. 

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Functionally, the Bigshock is (as expected) simply a scaled up Jolt. It cocks via a pull handle at the base of the grip. One difference is a storage slot above the barrel for a single Mega dart. Interestingly, at the front of this section is a small hole, which can function as a basic sighting mechanism. Not sure if it's intended that way or not.

As my model is a grey triggered low power version, I wasn't expecting too much performance-wise, and I wasn't dissapointed. This blaster is actually shooting a shorter distance than even a grey trigger Jolt! Accuracy is also pretty poor, again marginally worse than a Jolt. Given this, I wouldn't really recommend this as a blaster, especially due to the pricing (the Cycloneshock is only twice the price, and way superior as a Mega blaster). 

Review: Zombie Strike Target Set (repost)

(Note: This is a repost of my original review dated 12/Feb/2014)

This is just a quick review, as there's really not a lot to this item. It's simply a re-coloured Jolt, a clip-on that doubles as a sight and two dart holder, three targets, and three Zombie Strike darts (with the actual Zombie Strike logo, type E).

The Jolt and clip-on attachment are predominantly coloured bright lime green to match up with some of the other Zombie Strike blasters, and in structure it's identical to the currently available pseudo-Elite Jolt. The clip-on attachment will fit any other Jolt, but really doesn't serve much purpose; sighting down the barrel is going to give you just as much accuracy, so it's only really of any use if you like the extra two darts being handy. Personally, I'd recommend the Jolt Dart Holder from SlyDev as a better value product.

The three targets include are in three sizes, mostly plastic, but with a small cardboard centre with zombie imagery on it. Wouldn't surprise me to see these targets re-released in some other package just with different cardboard insets. The targets fall easily enough, in fact almost too easily–my first shot at one of them missed, then dropped the target on a rebound! Extra weight in the base would have been nice, may be worth a bit of blue tack to hold them a bit more stably?

So, is it worth getting? If you like collecting different coloured Jolts, yes. If you like "proper" targets to shoot at, perhaps. If you're only after the dart storage clip-on, no, look to SlyDev for a better option.

Mod: Easiest Vulcan Ammo Box removal ever! (repost)

(Note: This is a repost of my original post dated 26/Jan/2014)

While I'd been meaning to do a few mods to my Vulcan for ages, I've been kind of slack about it. Now I've finally come up with the simplest and quickest method of removing the Ammo Box from it (just a cosmetic mod, makes it look a bit better in my opinion). I'm betting you won't see a simpler method of doing this, ever!

So, for this mod, you'll need the following:

  • A Nerf N-Strike Vulcan EBF-25.
  • A tall bookshelf (or similar high place to put your Vulcan).
  • An investigative cat (breed is not really critical, but I chose a Bengal this time around).

The steps involved are:

  1. Place your Vulcan at the top of the bookshelf.
  2. Leave your cat in the same room as the Vulcan.
  3. Leave the room.
  4. Wait for the sound of a crash.
  5. Return, and you'll find the Ammo Box no longer attached, the Vulcan appears to still be working 100%, and the cat is nowhere to be found!

Hope you enjoyed this handy mod tip! ;-)

Review: Zombie Strike Fusefire

While not normally a huge fan of either Vortex (they don't tend to be modifiable) or Firefly tech (all my Nerfing is done in bright light), the Fusefire first caught my attention by having the Firefly tech built into the blaster. This isn't new, in fact the first of the glow-in-the-dark blasters was the Electric Eel, released back in 1997, followed by the Firefly REV-8 in 2005. However, all the Firefly tech blasters in recent years have used magazine based systems with the lighting mechanism built into the magazine itself. While this has had the advantage of letting any magazine style blaster fire glow-in-the-dark rounds, you'd have to have multiple Firefly magazines to keep going without reloading.

On to the Fusefire itself: there's nothing particular special about the packaging, other than the reference to the still absent Nerf Zombie App that's been advertised on some of the other recent Zombie Strike blasters. Despite the packaging claiming that the blaster comes with five Zombie Strike glow-in-the-dark discs, they are absolutely identical to the normal glow-in-the-dark discs that have been around for the past couple of years. Maybe there's a subtle difference to the glow or something, but I can't pick it.

The Fusefire has an internal magazine capable of holding five discs, loaded from the rear,,just above the cocking pull mechanism. The discs have to be pushed quite far in to be loaded properly (a small plastic catch moves in behind the disc when it's in position correctly). There is also additional storage for another five discs at the front of the blaster underneath the muzzle.

The Firefly tech is powered by three AAA sized batteries, stored in the handle off the blaster, with an on/off switch located on the left side, just in front of the trigger guard. Switching it on also lights up the translucent green tactical rail on the top of the blaster in two spots, giving it a nice glow, but also telling the zombies exactly where you are! One minor design problem is that the battery compartment lid feels a fraction loose, which is somewhat noticeable when you're holding the blaster normally. Probably easily fixable with a little bit of paper or something wedged in there. No biggie. The blaster is fairly heavy in hand, but feels quite sturdy. I haven't had a chance to really try it out in the dark yet, but overall I'm very happy with the Fusefire. This plus the Revonix seem to be the two best Vortex blasters around.

Mod: HammerShot Spring Upgrade (repost)

(Note: This is a repost of my original review dated 14/Jan/2014)

This was just a quick one (something to do while the temperature was edging up to 43° this afternoon). OrangeModWorks mentioned that their 6kg Vulcan spring was a perfect fit for the HammerShot, and I happened to have a spare floating around (still haven't got around to modding my Vulcan), so I thought I'd give it a quick try.

I must admit, when I first opened up the HammerShot I thought I must have the wrong spring. Normally when upgrading the spring you want a replacement which is approximately the same physical dimensions, but is just a fair bit stiffer. As a second pick, one that's the same width but longer will generally do (just means it's always going to be under more stress). The Vulcan spring, however, is both a lot longer, a fair bit wider, oh, and the HammerShot spring is actually slightly flared at the base.

Surprisingly though, the replacement spring swaps in extremely easily. Just had to pop out the barrel unit (no catches), lift out the complete firing mechanism (I also removed the two obvious screws, but I'm not 100% sure that was even required), slightly lift the spring post to remove the stock spring, then, using a bit of force, fit the replacement spring in. Put everything back together, screw it all up (so glad they use the same size screws on most of the newer blasters), and you're done!

OMW claim an improvement from 65fps muzzle velocity to around 75fps, and my initial testing did seem to be any extra 10-15% range improvement, which seems to match up nicely. I'm way overdue for my next range test, but this'll be in it.
That's it, happy modding!