There aren’t too many new things in the world of soakers this year. For the most part, we have variations of products from last year, just in a different or larger format. Prime Time Toys (makers of Dart Zone), though, seems to have settled for a throwback of sorts. The Tidal Storm Aqua Thunder is a battery-operated water blaster that is fed by “magazines”, not unlike the Nerf Super Soakers of a decade ago (or models far older than that). The capacity is limited (both by volume and by a current lack of replacement magazines), as is the range. But the ergonomics are great, and there are a couple other surprises in store for hobbyists, should they want to tear it apart.
In any case, when it comes to arming the children, the Aqua Thunder does the job.
The Aqua Thunder looks GOOD. It has the looks of a PDW that many hobbyists want their dart blasters to emulate. The grip is large enough for even adult hands to use comfortably. The stock, while certainly kid-sized, is attached via an N-Strike mounting point, so alternatives can be used. A large top-mounted rail can be used for the included iron sight, and there’s a large hand grip in front of the magazine well.
If Dart Zone doesn’t have a version of this blaster firing darts in the near future, I’d be very disappointed.
Speaking of magazines, the Aqua Thunder comes with a single magazine, holding ~187mL of fluid inside. Coincidentally, that’s the same size as those mini wine bottles you sometimes see. Use that information however you please…
Jokes aside, the magazine’s relatively small capacity is the main disadvantage of this blaster. Since you only have one, you’ll have to run to a hose or bucket to refill the magazine. Thankfully, that doesn’t take long at all (eject the magazine, pop the plug out of its hole, fill with water, plug hole, reinsert magazine).
The blaster takes 4 AA batteries, which hide under a door on the left side of the blaster. Once you’ve put in the batteries, a master switch of sorts (really, it just lines up the trigger and the firing switch) can be toggled on the right side.
The Aqua Thunder, when using fresh batteries, fires about 10mL of water per second. Given the volume of the magazine, that’s just under 19 seconds of firing time. It doesn’t sound like much, but without the need for pumping, you can simply point and fire, especially if you’re chasing your opponent. Duck over to the bucket or hose for a refill when you get low, and keep going.
In terms of range, 28′ was the practical limit. That’s higher than the 25′ box claims. Of course, it’s not a coherent stream of water hitting the target that far out, so anyone standing that far away will feel the water, but not much of it. But outside of actual, pressurized soakers that can maintain an arc at target, most of these toys will behave in this manner. Better keep your targets close!
Internals and Potential
This is where things get interesting. There’s always a personal interest in how things work, but after playing with the blaster, I want so much more.
The battery and switch sit on one side of the blaster, while the motor and attached pump sit on the other. That’s all there is to this blaster.
The thing that has me interested, though, is the size and and aesthetics of the blaster shell. Along with the fact that, with a couple small shims, you can basically insert Talon magazines inside the blaster! There’s lots of plastic to clip out, and lots more 3D modeling to do, but this blaster is just asking for someone to fit a Flycore system inside it. The motors and flywheels may need a bit of extra space (requiring motor covers on the sides of the blaster), but this would be a fun HvZ blaster for sure.
How much time do I want to devote to making this happen, as opposed to writing articles? We’ll see!
Fun hobby projects aside, the Aqua Thunder is a nice blaster to see on shelves this year. The capacity may be limited, but it looks cool, feels great, and it simply works. I’m tempted to leave a couple of these with the neighborhood kids, just to see what chaos they cause.