Monday, 4 May 2015

Review: HobbyMods EAT Spring Mod Kit

HobbyMods (link left) is an Aussie based aftermarket/mod parts seller who does springs and 3D mod parts. Being that the EAT is one of my favourite blasters and HobbyMods have an excellent mod kit for it, I decided to pick up a set (as well as another for a friend).
As I installed the kit at night, unfortunately the pics have rather bad lighting, but hopefully you can still see the important parts.

 Here's all the parts you get. From top to bottom, left to right, we have:
  • 7kg main spring
  • upgraded catch spring
  • lubricant
  • 3D printed catch
  • 3D printed spring rest

The 3D printed stuff is of a quality I've never seen before, the resolution is extremely good and it's very difficult to see or even feel that the parts are even printed (except the back surfaces). The surfaces are extremely smooth and are extremely cleanly done.
Here's a comparison of the stock parts (right) vs the new mod parts (left).
Looking at the main spring (top) first, you can see that the mod spring is made of a much thicker wire than the stock spring, which gives it the extra power.
The catch springs (middle) differ in the same way as the main springs, in that the mod spring uses much thicker wire and is much stronger than the stock spring.
Finally the catch plates, and immediately you can see that the new catch plate is significantly thicker and more heavily reinforced than the stock plate. This makes the new plate much less flexible and far more robust compared to the old plate.

Naturally the best way to get more power from a springer is to put in a more powerful main spring, which is the main component in the kit. To contain and catch a more powerful spring, a more powerful catch spring is required. Now due to the extra force of the new main spring, the catch plate also comes under a lot more force. While a number of blasters have fairly robust stock catch plates (thus not requiring a new one), the EAT's catch plate is quite thin and flexible. While I haven't personally seen any issues arise from it, I believe there are other Nerfers who use their blasters extremely frequently who have complained about the weakness of the stock catch.
The spring rest fits the main spring quite well, and has a hole for the plunger tube. As far as I can tell it's not a necessity as I've run OMW springs in EATs for over a year with no issue. It does help to ensure that the spring remains in place and the plunger feeds smoothly, so if your blaster is extremely worn you may feel a difference.
Here's the stock internals.
Here's the internals with the all the new mod parts. Note the location of the spring rest.
The new catch and catch spring also significantly improve the feel of pulling the trigger, giving a solid pull more akin to that of a Retaliator, as opposed to the "squishy" feel of a stock EAT due to the slam fire mech.

Installation is easy if you have any experience with removing and inserting internal components. Since all of the mod parts are drop-in pieces, no shell work is required, and thus the only tool needed is a suitable sized screwdriver (0pt should do).
New performance is quite impressive. I don't have a chronograph or a long enough tape measure, but Foam Data Services has a data sheet on it here, with an average of 85fps using Elite darts, with the AR intact. For reference, a stock grey trigger EAT gets maybe 50fps average, and an orange trigger gets up to 60fps average. An increase of up to 30fps for just a few minutes work and no effort at all is pretty good.
Priming is naturally significantly harder thanks to the new spring, which is a little under 3x stronger than an orange trigger spring, and about 3.5x stronger than a grey trigger spring. If you're as strong as even an average 14 or so year old, you should have no trouble priming it, though of course kids will probably have trouble using it if they're not fairly strong.
Accuracy is still mostly dependent on the darts you use, with my Kooshes I was getting quite good groupings from both the stock and modded EATs. Elites are likely to fly all over the place, as they really don't tolerate high power very well.

The HobbyMods EAT kit costs 20AUD + postage, which starts at about 8AUD for a domestic parcel. Is it worth the cost?
Well the kit is certainly more expensive than the equivalent OMW mod kit (the "Stage 1"), which includes largerly the same pieces and costs 13USD. However if the OMW kit is similar to the other kits they've produced, the springs and lubricant are the only useful bits, as I've heard about issues with the metal catches not catching properly and shaving out the inside of the shell. Every single part of the HobbyMods kit does its job well, and each of the 3D pieces is beautifully produced and shaped, and fit perfectly.
For me personally I would definitely stick with the HobbyMods kit. Though the price is higher (and shipping will be pretty high for you non-Aussies), the HobbyMods kit overall fits better and works better than the OMW kit.
20AUD is quite a lot to pay for a blaster that cost at most 30AUD (and regularly went on sale for 20AUD and even less), but the HobbyMods kit really makes it quite a lot better, giving it excellent power while still maintaining usability, as well as providing everything needed to support the new power.

If you're on a tight budget and want a good EAT, you only need the main spring (which is available for 12AUD) and a new catch spring, which can be salvaged from all manner of Nerf and non-Nerf related things. If you want a solid, reliable EAT that you won't need to worry about for a long time, the full HobbyMods kit is what you'll want.

1 comment:

  1. The poor catch feel on the eat is caused by the thin "wing" parts in the centre of the stock catch, which Oznerfnerd's catch does away with. They were a hangover from the OAT and make the stock catch much less strong than the Retaliator and Rampage ones.
    Another trick for more consistency in the EAT is to switch the faux barrel for a fluted one from an OAT or cut down Raider one. Produces much les hang ups with Koosh and may give you an FPS or two.
    All my tests are done with elites unless stated otherwise.