It’s been said that you should never meet your hero. Inevitably, they will fail to live up to the expectations you have created for them. It was this fear of unmet expectations, perhaps, that made our review of the Nerf N-Strike Elite Rayven CS-12 Stinger so long in coming. We have no shortage of toy blasters at our disposal, but for me, the Stinger is a personal favorite. It’s the weapon I have hanging from a hook under my desk, ready for action at a moment’s notice. It’s a blaster that I purchased with my own money, and that no one else on our team uses. It’s a product so obscure, all but die-hard Nerf fans even know what it is, or why it’s different. And, unfortunately for me, it’s also one item on our list that is way overdue for a review.
In the course of doing product reviews, it’s not uncommon to receive a highly anticipated item, only to have it fall flat during testing. Those can be hard reviews to write, because the manufacturer is often very excited about what they’ve sent us, yet we still have to be honest in our findings. And sometimes those findings are not very flattering. But every so often, the opposite happens. In the case of the Dart Zone Covert Ops Scorpion Gatling Blaster, “the opposite” happened in a big way. In fact, this just might be one of the most refreshing–and frankly, most surprising–products to come our way so far this year.
What’s the point of making a blaster that can be primed with one hand, only to then make it a muzzle-loader that requires a second hand to feed it? That’s the first thing we wondered about the BOOMco Whipblast, which is otherwise one of the more interesting pieces to come from Mattel’s new blaster brand. And if that glaring usability flaw is enough to turn you off from this intriguing design, we honestly wouldn’t blame you. Nonetheless, we set out to examine this intriguing blaster a little closer, to see if that one misstep alone would be its defining characteristic.
Since the Nerf N-Strike Elite Mega Thunderbow was first announced ahead of Toy Fair earlier this year, we’ve been fairly vocal about our uncertainty regarding this blaster’s place in the Nerf line-up. In fact, we somewhat jokingly suggested 2014 might be “The Year of the Bow,” given how many products were being released to time with the rise of bow-touting pop culture protagonists from the likes of The Walking Dead, Disney’s Brave, The Hunger Games, and The Avengers. But time has passed, and we’ve had several opportunities for hands-on time with the Thunderbow, which has softened our position slightly. Still, we wondered if a “bow” that had more in common with typical Nerf blasters than anything relying on drawstring tension was worthy of the $39.99 price being asked.
On a recent trip through the aisles of our local Toys “R” Us, we spotted a line of water blasters under the Toy “R” Us-exclusive “Air Zone” (now “Sizzlin’ Cool”) brand, called “X2O.” This interesting looking series included no less than four blasters of varying sizes: the Hydromatic, Liquiforce, Aqualizer, and Drenchinator. They ranged in price from $9.99 to $24.99, respectively, and are now on-sale for a couple bucks less (depending on model). We wondered if a value-priced water blaster could possibly compete with the big name brands, so we picked-up the mid-priced Liquiforce and put it to the test!
Along with the Farshot and Rapid Madness, the Twisted Spinner is one of the first in a new line of blasters to be introduced by Mattel under the BOOMco brand. We were impressed by the build quality and ingenuity of the Farshot with its then-new “Smart Stick” dart technology, and we were likewise awed by the insanely quick rate-of-fire produced by the intimidating-looking Rapid Madness. The Twisted Spinner, for its part, sits between these two products in terms of size and price. We were interested, therefore, to see if it could straddle the line between the two in terms of performance and value. What we found surprised even us.
Along with the newly released Nerf Elite Demolisher 2-in-1, the Nerf Zombie Strike Slingfire is undoubtedly one of this year’s most highly sought-after new blasters from Hasbro. Ever since we first laid eyes on the flipping, spinning lever-action reload, we just knew this one would be a crowd-pleaser. But now that the Slingfire is out in the wild, the reality of its design hits home. Can a cool-looking blaster with a unique reloading action cut-it when it comes to anything beyond just looking good? Is the flashy Slingfire built to be something more than a stylish flash in the pan?