Friday, 25 September 2015

Review: Nerf N-Strike Thunderblast

The Demolisher 2 in 1 is the first Nerf blaster since the Titan to fire missiles. Since not everyone has the use for a missile launcher attached to a semi auto flywheeler, a number of modders (including myself) cut off the missile launcher to make a stand alone blaster. Nerf eventually released their own standalone missile launcher, the Thunderblast.
Note that this Thunderblast belongs to a friend, as such my use of it is more limited than most blasters.
The box is fairly standard open type fare, one thing I saw was that the paper ties are coloured to blend in with the blaster.
Out of the box, just the Thunderblast and 2 Elite missiles.

The Thunderblast is a rather oddly designed and proportioned, the three parts (body, stock, pump) don't really work together stylistically, and the colour disparity doesn't help either. Rather than looking like an official cohesive blaster, the Thunderblast looks more like it was cobbled together from three different blasters.

The stock is naturally very similar to that of the Demolisher. It's a very similar (if not identical) grey, and is also very stylistically similar. Lengthwise it's just a little longer than the Demolisher's stock.
The rearmost gap in the stock frame can be used as a sling point.
The Thunderblast has a single tac rail on top, and a single proper sling point on the front.

The Thunderblast, like the Demolisher, is a pump-to-fire blaster and so has no trigger. The pump grip, again like the Demolisher, is quite large, but unlike the Demolisher has a foregrip built into it. As the body of the pump is quite long, the Thunderblast's pump can be held either as a shotgun grip or a foregrip, and both are reasonably effective for firing it.
Unlike the Demolisher, the Thunderblast's pump locks back in place, and so doesn't shake about while running. The above picture shows the furthest back the pump can get without locking.
The pump has a decent stroke, not so long that it's difficult to do in a snap motion, but long enough to displace a good amount of air. Pretty much the same as the Demolisher.
Like the Demolisher, the Thunderblast has a grille on the front of the barrel post that stifles air flow somewhat.

Here's the Thunderblast loaded. Side on you can't really see the head of the rocket, the long length of the Thunderblast allows it to conceal the rocket mostly internally.
Through the gaps in the body of the Thunderblast you can see the fins of the missile, though unless you reach straight in you're unlikely to ever touch the missile fins at any point.

Like the Demolisher's stock, the Thunderblast is designed to hold extra missiles, however as the Thunderblast has a solid, non-detachable stock, it has more space in which to fit a second missile holder.

Interestingly while the Demolisher stock holds its missile facing forwards, the Thunderblast stock holds its missiles facing backwards.
The missile holders retain the missiles very well, however there are a few ridges around the rings that feel like they cut into the foam bodies of the missiles when inserting/removing them. In the above picture the ridge in question is roughly in the centre, a very small strip of extra grey. While I have yet to *see* obvious damage to missiles that have been put in the holders, the feeling when pulling the missiles out is not good, it feels very much like scraping the missile along sharp plastic lines.
Besides shouldering the Thunderblast like a rifle, the stock also features this cutout in the bottom, designed for shoulder firing.
For the most part I actually don't find the Thunderblast very comfortable to shoulder, the stock is too thin and so cuts into my shoulder.
The Thunderblast also has this small grip piece just above the main handle.

Here's me holding the Thunderblast shouldered like a rifle. Much the same as the Demolisher, besides obviously the foregrip on the pump.
And here's me holding the Thunderblast mounted on my shoulder. While it does feel cooler to shoulder-mount rocket launchers, I struggle to get any decent shots firing the Thunderblast in this position. The regular rifle shouldering position is much more conducive to getting stable, powerful shots.
And here's the Thunderblast next to my Modular Demolisher Missile blaster. Besides the small stock length difference, the Thunderblast is also a fair bit longer, with more empty space between the launcher part and the handle.
And an FPS shot, note how the gaps in the shell lead straight out the muzzle.

Now for performance.
Range wise, the Thunderblast performs much the same as the Demolisher's underslung missile launcher, 12m+ is entirely possible. Naturally younger children will probably struggle to get these sorts of ranges, but besides that good ranges are not hard to achieve.
With a good technique and the stock braced against your shoulder accuracy is actually not that bad. Hitting a human sized target at about 8m range is entirely possible, though the pump-to-fire still throws off accuracy a little, and the rockets don't fly perfectly straight either.
Rate of fire is naturally pretty abysmal. Like the Demolisher, the barrel post is quite tight on rockets so loading a new rocket does take more effort than ideal. Even in an idea situation, the time between missiles is easily several seconds. But you don't exactly get a missile launcher for the ROF.

The Thunderblast retails for 25USD, and is seemingly a BigW exclusive in Australia for 35AUD, though sales can bring it down to 30AUD. Unfortunately the Blastzooka is not available in Australia, so our only alternative missile launcher is the Demolisher, which could be found for about 45AUD at the right time. In North America, the most prominent alternative is the Buzz Bee Blastzooka which retails for 10USD. Honestly though, I wouldn't really recommend the Thunderblast regardless.

As an overall blaster the Demolisher is obviously far more practical, and gets the same performance in a much smaller package, which is attached to a standard semi-auto flywheeler. The Demolisher also isn't a whole lot more expensive, and the additional money you pay is certainly worth the extras. If you're so inclined, you can use a spare blaster shell to turn the Demolisher's underslung missile launcher into a standalone one like mine:
So if you're considering the Thunderblast and Demolisher, the only reasons I can think of to go with the Thunderblast are that you want to spend an absolute minimum of money on a missile launcher (the Demolisher is of course more expensive), or you particularly like the Thunderblast's shell for whatever reason.

Comparing the Thunderblast and Blastzooka, I think it's a no-brainer. The Blastzooka costs a mere 40% of what the Thunderblast costs, performs comparably, isn't a pump-to-fire and has immense modding potential. Sure the Thunderblast does have a nicer shell, and being pump to fire still has a faster ROF than the Blastzooka, but overall I prefer the control provided by the Blastzooka being triggered, as well as the incredible mod potential if I decide to do so.
I would only recommend the Thunderblast over the Blastzooka if you particularly liked the Thunderblast's shell, or if you really, really want the faster ROF (and even then I'd recommend the Blastzooka anyway, because it's a lot nicer to use).

If you're after a missile blaster, I'd recommend the Blastzooka (if it's available) or Demolisher (if you have modding skills and a suitable spare shell) over the Thunderblast, but I accept that for some people neither of those options are viable. It's not that the Thunderblast is that bad of a blaster as such, I just think it's quite overpriced and that it at least should have been smaller and able to attach to other blasters.

Pros: surprisingly usable performance considering it's a pump-to-fire, storage for 2 extra rockets is good
Cons: pump-to-fire greatly inhibits stable firing and reduces mod potential

Power: 7/7
Accuracy: 3.5/5
Usability: 3/5
Rate of Fire: 0.5/5
Value for Money: 2.5/5
Overall: 2.9/5

Personal Rating: 1.5/5 - To me it feels unnecessarily large, and I'm not a huge fan of the pump handle or stock. The price doesn't help either.



  2. Curious, what was the modular demolisher launcher. (I am assuming you don't have it any more.)

    1. You could have found it yourself with a simple search, but here's the link my post on it: