Toy companies don’t just make products and expect stores to sell them. There’s a process of showing off samples, negotiating prices, and presenting marketing data to show the toy will sell. Other times, a store will ask for a specific item to fill their shelves, be it due to good sales or for needing to fill aisle space (e.g. Nerf Doomlands at Target during the pandemic).
Even so, it’s not often that a completely abandoned concept or product line gets revisited. Such is the case with the Air Max Boss. Buzz Bee’s Mega-firing dart blasters launched in 2015, but they were abandoned after disappointing sales in many places (I still have boxes full of $1 or less refill packs from Walmart, as well as magazines from clearance Tyrants). One store they apparently did not disappoint was Dollar General, which carried the Air Max Boss for $10. Now, just for this year, they’re appearing on shelves again. The price is up a bit ($13), but even then, it’s still one of the best Mega blasters you can buy.
All About the Magazine
When Hasbro introduced the Mega Centurion in 2013, it gave us the Mega magazine. However, Hasbro wouldn’t release another Mega blaster with a removable magazine until the Motostryke in 2020. In came Buzz Bee Toys with a competing line of blasters, two of which could use magazines (3-dart capacity for the Boss, and 12 for the Tyrant). They were simple in design and function but were arguably better in both battle and performance, with 80ft range claims being easily exceeded.
This time around, the Boss only advertises 65′ ranges. However, aside from the new box and sticker, it’s almost identical to the one that came before. We’ll cover that key difference at the end.
As before, the Boss is fairly plain in design, relying on the color contrast of the plastic pieces instead of any paint. It still manages to look a little futuristic with the molding in front; mainly, though, it’s because the design language is different from the Nerf Mega Magnus (which was released a year before). The main handle is smooth, but it’s also large and comfortable. The top priming slide is on the small side but still has enough real estate for easy use. The magazine release is…very Buzz Bee in nature. Unless you have large hands and can hit the button while grabbing the magazine, you’ll probably need two hands to reload.
The blaster comes with 6 XL darts (as opposed to 3 last time). And it operates like most magazine-fed blasters. Pull back the priming slide, insert the magazine, push the slide forward, and fire. A system of internal locks keeps you from accidentally firing until all steps are completed.
In my testing, the Air Max Boss averaged 61fps with the included darts (which have suction cups and stick fairly well). This is less than the original, which often averaged in the low 70s. The rate of fire averaged two darts per second. That stat is less important in stock form, considering the capacity. If you have larger magazines, however, the calculus does change. You won’t be spamming shots, but you’ll have staying power if you insert a Motostryke or Tyrant magazine.
I have yet to jam the blaster in normal operation.
Here’s where things get interesting. The Boss has a fairly standard layout, with a floating breech sealing off the front of the plunger tube. The front orange barrel is solvent-welded in place (as well as hiding one screw), but you can open the shell enough without messing with that to see and handle the guts.
The reason why the blaster is weaker? There’s a hole drilled into the base of the breech, behind the air restrictor! The blaster still works with the hole there, just much less efficiently. I filled the hole, perhaps overzealously, with JB weld, placed a strip of tape over that spot, then turned the part upside down and let cure. After that, I was averaging 76fps. For Mega darts, that’s a huge difference, and you’re hitting 90’+ at an angle. And since this type of dart is reasonably accurate, you’re looking at a very effective blaster. A spring spacer at the back could boost the numbers a little higher still.
The Air Max Boss was a winner in my book when it was originally released, and it’s still one of the best Mega blasters out there, even with the slightly higher price (curse you, inflation!). It’s great in stock form, albeit made weaker than before; that’s the one reason it isn’t scored higher. And if you’re one to care that much about performance, it’s easy to rectify those concerns.
Add in the universal mag compatibility, and you’re looking at a Mega blaster you could run as a primary, if you really wanted to. Believe me, I’ve done that in Humans v Zombies games before, and it was amazing.
It’s a blaster that’s great for any age, and any level of play. At least if you try hard enough on the extreme end of things 😉