Author’s note: I wrote this review after buying one, but then got a free sample from Dart Zone. Thanks for the extra data points for comparison!
Dart Zone keeps hitting high notes this year. Between blasters like the DZP 1.1, Nexus Pro, and the Spectrum, you’d expect something to eventually be a miss. So far, though, that’s not the case.
The Villainator is yet another blaster getting top marks, not only performing well for $20, but far outshining the direct competition from Hasbro on the exact same shelf. Whether it’s starting a basic blaster war or playing a long game of Humans v Zombies, it’s a blaster you absolutely should buy.
Dart Zone is no stranger to high-capacity drums, starting with the Magnum and continuing with other blasters. Now, the Villainator takes that concept and puts it in a more ergonomic package. Instead of forty darts in one circle, there are now two circles of twenty darts each, firing in a staggered pattern. The compact design helps shrink the drum down, preventing awkward things like your off arm rubbing against the drum. The open design also makes reloading a breeze, and the drum is easy to turn by hand when doing so. Did I mention the drum is fully removable, if for some reason you want to swap drums?
The Villainator gets major points for comfort, with both the main grip/trigger area and the foregrip fitting the hands nicely. In addition, the long stock puts the blaster at a nice distance – just long enough for most adults while still being kid-centric in size. It should be noted that the stock attachment point and the top rail are compatible with the accessories from the Adventure Force Spectrum. Having a standard across the line is a nice development!
The shell of the blaster is nicely molded, with fine textures on the surfaces. There are other nice touches, as well, including a small pop-up sight at the front.
The Villainator performs well for a stock blaster, in my case averaging 88fps across two blasters. When using slamfire (yep, this blaster has it!), I can fire off four darts per second. And with forty darts at my disposal, I can keep up that rate of fire if I absolutely need to do so.
The included waffle darts are, as always, quite accurate.
The Villainator is easy to open up, exposing all the relevant mechanical workings. There is a secondary catch inside the blaster, which holds the plunger back when the operator is using slamfire. The drum is rotated by an arm that lifts to engage the teeth at the back of the drum.
Should you like to pop out the side panels, u/abquintic has already designed replacement ones you can print. Just download the files, alter to your liking, and load on a 3d printer!
I have yet to post a review of the Nerf Elite 2.0 Shockwave. Even so, given the presence of a $20, 88fps, 40-rd blaster of the same format on the same shelf, it’s clear which is the better buy for your collection. Go out and grab one and start flinging some foam!