The Helios has been on shelves for a while now, as a Phantom Corps addition to the Rival line. Somehow, despite buying one and taking pictures, I never actually got around to writing a review. Now that the new colors are coming to store shelves (and appearing at Toy Fair), I’m going to fix that.
The Helios is, as you’d expect, a respectable update to the original Apollo design. It demands a bit of patience in operation, but otherwise is a reliable, smaller spring-powered primary.
Note that this blaster came from Canada, where it is already on Walmart store shelves.
Lemme Upgrade You
The Helios shares the same solid, no-nonsense blaster body design as other Rival blasters. It has a large handle, due to it also serving as the magazine well. The back of the blaster is thick and curved, allowing use as a shoulder stock. A sling mount sits underneath the stock. A priming indicator also sits at the rear, showing the orange plunger when the blaster is ready to fire. The safety switch sits on both sides, allowing for ambidextrous use.
Also allowing ambidextrous use is the priming handle, which is a separate piece that can be inserted (and removed) on either side of the blaster, simply by pulling back a button on the priming sled. It makes for easy, comfortable priming. Note also the spring return on the priming handle, an improvement over the Apollo’s stiff priming hook.
A single Rival rail sits on top of the blaster, to use with various accessories. The blaster comes with a single, seven-round magazine.
Operation and Performance
The Helios is an easy to use blaster, with one caveat. The loading mechanism usually works flawlessly, provided you either let the breech return naturally or (if you’re not one to let go of the priming handle) push it back back fast enough to match. Anything different can cause the internal “barrel” to get stuck trying to squish a Rival round, leading to the user needing to unjam the mechanism. It’s simply a matter of how the blaster works, and operating it as intended.
In testing, the Helios averaged 96fps with the included balls. That’s a respectable velocity you’d expect from Rival, which usually claims “up to 100fps”. In addition, proficient use can average 2 balls per second when it comes to the rate of fire. If you want faster rate of fire, you’ll have to upgrade to more expensive (and electric) Rival blasters.
Internally, the Helios is what you’d expect. Gears mounted on either side of the plunger allow you to trade a long priming distance for a shorter prime of a beefy spring. If you’re in the mood for more power, the plunger is capable of accommodating short lengths of various aftermarket springs – I tend to add half of a spring from thrifted Xploderz blasters, but K26 and other spring replacements are also common. Just keep in mind that you’re making the blaster harder to prime and adding more force internally that what it’s made for.
The Helios design is a year old now, but still a potent package, and it’ll now be in team colors. Rival-standard performance, comfortable (if large) handle, and easy to wield regardless of dominant hand? At the very worst, the Helios is a solid blaster to keep as a backup or loaner. But with its easy handling and use of magazines, it’d work just as well as your first choice for methodical target (or opponent) blasting. Go ahead and buy one!