As of last night, lots of speculation about the Dart Zone Pro blaster ended. The Mk1 Collector’s Edition, along with all its goodies and a new dart type, retailing for $180. Which is admittedly high. Nevertheless, I’m buying one, and there are some solid reasons to consider getting one. It really comes down to what you want in a blaster, and how much you value your own tinkering in this weird space we call the Nerf Internet Community.
The Official Release Info
• Upper Receiver/ Front Blaster Body with Pre-Installed Metal Barrel
• Lower Receiver/ Rear Blaster Body
• Optional Plastic Barrel Included
• Adjustable Shoulder Stock
• Front Handle
• Rear and Front Sight for Tactical Picatinny Rail
• Thumb Screws (x2)
• Connector Pins (x2)
• O-Rings (x2)
• 15-Standard Dart Magazine (x1) (AUTHOR NOTE: NERF MAGAZINES ARE COMPATIBLE)
• 15-Half-Length Dart Magazine (x1)
• Half-Length Magazine Clip Adaptor (x1)
• 15 Dart Zone® Pro Standard Darts
• 15 Dart Zone® Pro Half-Length Darts
• Certificate of Authenticity – Individually Numbered
(# of 1000 Limited Edition MK-1)
Bonus Offer included with all MK-1 Collector’s Edition Orders:
• Pro Dart Refill Set Included (a $29.99 Value for FREE!)
– Includes 120 Dart Zone® Pro Standard Darts
– Includes 120 Dart Zone® Pro Half-Length Darts
**Ships separately from MK-1 Collector’s Edition’s Case
**Brings Total Ammo Count up to 270 New Dart Zone® Pro Darts!
Note that this is online only, and US only. There are various legal issues with selling high-power blasters worldwide.
Blaster Performance and Build
Because it may as well be considered “official info”: as per Drac’s video, the 150fps claims seem to be rather conservative – with both full length and half length darts (and the tighter metal barrel), shots in the 160s and 170s were consistent. Even so, let’s assume 150fps for the sake of safe claims.
Based on the existing video, we can tell that the blaster has very thick plastic, thick metal priming bars, and shouldn’t be breaking under normal use. So it’s solidly built; that, the time taken for new molds and testing, etc, makes the cost of the blaster at least make sense.
Also, the darts seem to be both durable and extremely accurate, and I want to try them as soon as possible.
But What About Other Options?
I’m going to make several assumptions here. The blaster is listed as $180, but with free shipping, a carry case, and a free pack of darts valued at $30 (it is a new dart type they’ve developed, after all). Assuming shipping is $20 for a few pounds of plastic and metal in a special case, that puts the cost of the blaster itself at around $130. Trying to order a comparably performing Worker Prophecy costs more. A Jet Blasters CEDA might cost the same or less, but is arguably a worse blaster due to the bad plastic shell (I’ve held one, and it just feels bad, even if you make the internals better).
Homemade blasters can do better of course. Using the prolific Captain Slug’s products for comparison: Caliburn kits cost about the same, and Talon Claws (while short dart only) have admirable performance for a bit more in cost. But that also falls deeper into the rabbit hole that is…THE COST OF TIME.
The Cost of Nerfing: Time and Money
Here we get to the crux of the matter: if you value all the stuff that comes with the Dart Zone Pro (as listed for the Collector’s Edition preorder), then it’s an amazing deal. If you’re low on time needed for assembling a blaster or building and maintaining one from components, it’s even better. Presumably, all that thick plastic and metal means the blaster is unlikely to break anytime soon. Especially with 3D printed blasters, though, regular maintenance (and part replacement) becomes a reality. Ignoring the cost of a 3D printer (if you’re that deep into the hobby, there’s a good chance the printer has paid for itself), there is a cost in at least time and filament. Even with kits like the Prophecy, you’ll probably have to open up the blaster shell, install the internals, and close it back up.
In my case, I don’t mind doing all those things involving blaster maintenance and repair; I’ve been in this hobby for ten years and done everything from Doomsayers and hardware store blasters to dual stage flywheel blasters. Finding the time to do it is the hard part. Especially when I spend so much time traveling to or playing games.
Maybe you have the time to dedicate to making things work even better than the Dart Zone Pro. If so, that’s great! But if you don’t have the time, or are newer and don’t yet have the skill, this offers a great platform for higher fps play. And easy access is a good thing, as well.
Naturally, if you already have several high power blasters on hand, this argument holds a lot less weight. To that, all I can say is use what you love! I’ve seen people play well just using a Kronos converted to use short dart magazines, after all.
The Waiting Game
There’s 1000 blasters total (over 100 preordered as of this post), and they aren’t due until October. So at least for now, there’s time to decide whether the Dart Zone Pro is appealing or not. I would argue that it’s worth the price for the full set, and I hope that this venture by a name-brand blaster maker into our unique space is a success; ideally, this will widen the number of people interested in competitive Nerf and create a market that way. In any case, we have until October to see what the true impact of this foray is on the wider Nerf community.
Whatever you decide, make sure you’re out there having fun!