Nerf has released around 30 new (or variant) blasters among 10ish sublines, on top of 3 promotional Star Wars blasters.
Buzz Bee released a number of new blasters, but more importantly unveiled the Ultra Tek line, an Elite competitor, and a new Air Max line, a Mega competitor.
BoomCo released 8 new blasters, on top of securing a Halo license including another 5 new blasters.
2015 saw the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and with it came three promotional blasters.
The First Order Stormtrooper Blaster is based on the SE-44C, the sidearm of the FO Stormtroopers. It's a simple single shot pistol that has had its price push way up to ~20AUD, but is still usable. Given its price, it's probably better to just pick up something cheaper like a Jolt or Firestrike.
Doomlands is a new series for Nerf, a line based on a post-apocalyptic future in 2169. It is exclusive to Target in Australia and the US. The paintscheme is an orange/black/clear, with the clear sections being a notable feature. Doomlands launched with 2 blasters, and has at least one more planned for 2016.
The Lawbringer is a 12 dart hammer primed rifle, taking the Hammershot's popular hammer action to the extreme with over double the capacity. Though plagued by below average ranges, a high price of 60AUD and imperfect ergonomics, the effectiveness of a 12 dart hammer blaster cannot be denied. A popular mod is to chop off the barrel and stock, turning the Lawbringer into effectively a 12 dart Hammershot.
The Lawbringer is a 6 shot pump action revolver, best compared to a Guardian Crossbow crossed with a Roughcut.. It is notable for its unusually large and long cylinder and having slam fire, but otherwise has little practical value. A high price of ~25USD doesn't help its case either.
N-Strike saw a bit of a resurgence in the form of some goofy and generally gimmicky blasters, which is a bit of a disappointment since Elite was meant to replace N-Strike and standardise all range claims. These blasters were all unworthy of the Elite title, being that they sported poor ranges. Most of the blasters looked pretty uninspired and uncreative, they feel like filler blasters to me.
The Thunderblast is a pump-to-fire missile launcher, using the same mechanism and missiles as the Elite Demolisher from last year. At price of 35AUD, it's pretty expensive and is not really worth the money. Especially for those of you with access to Buzz Bee Blastzookas, Blastzookas are far superior and are much more worth the money.
The N-Strike Modulus series is a line focused on attachments and modularity. It brings with it on top of a first core blaster 4 Upgrade Kits, containing various attachments and extras. The stand-alone attachment kits are a very welcome addition to the line-up, though the blaster itself is rather mundane. None of the Upgrade Kits are necessary purchases of course, and their desirability will be mainly based on personal preference for tacticool. Unfortunately, the Modulus colour scheme is different to the Elite colour schemes, so not all attachments will match all blasters, though you can get away with Modulus attachments on Elite blasters for the most part. 2016 will see the release of at least 2 more Modulus blasters, with presumably even more attachment kits. Nerf supposedly has big plans for the Modulus line, hopefully those plans are better than what we've seen so far.
The Modulus core blaster is a blaster set with a bunch of attachments, not unlike the original N-Strike Recon. Each of the attachments is new, or at least different from any familiars. The foregrip is a new design, the barrel extension accepts further barrel extensions, the stock holds a spare clip (mag) and the scope is a new design. The blaster itself is just a bulked up Stryfe. On top of the high price of ~70AUD, criticism has also been aimed at the relative uselessness of the attachments and the exceptionally poor handle on the Modulus, among other flaws. While the Stryfe is still available, the Modulus is probably skippable unless you really like the look of the blaster.
The Strike and Defend includes a shield and a stock. The shield is a basic transparent flip-up design. The stock contains a Jolt-like blaster, for which the barrel protrudes just over the top. On certain blasters, the stock blaster can actually fire over the blaster it is attached to, otherwise can be detached and used as a standalone blaster. Naturally the stock can just be used as a stock, as it is quite sturdy.
The Elite line got very few new releases this year. In fairness the past few years have seen a lot of new lines and blasters of all kinds. The Elite line had 2 new releases, and a re-colour/re-release. No doubt Elite will be sticking around for at least a few more years as it is a pretty integral line for Nerf, serving the same role as N-Strike did before Elite came around.
The Splitstrike is a novel blaster, it's a blaster that splits into two symmetrical halves, each being a single shot blaster with two Smart AR barrels. One side is blue with white accents, the other white with blue accents, and both combinations can be found. Performance is as standard, but the biggest issue is the high price of 30AUD, making the Splitstrike rather poor value.
The Mega series saw 3 new blasters added to its lineup, all of which are actually quite good. Though it is getting at least one new release next year, far more important to Mega is Buzz Bee's excellent new Air Max line, which brings the Mega clip (mag) system back in a big way.
The Rotofury is the Cycloneshock's big brother, a 10-shot pump action revolver that almost looks more like a grenade launcher. Like the Cycloneshock, it's big, bulky, badass and powerful, though the lack of a stock is an irritating omission. Its price of 39AUD is somewhat reasonable considering its impressive size, and it actually works as a Mega primary, on top of being a ton of fun.
Rebelle actually received a whole bunch of new blasters, I count no less than 12 this year. These fell into two sublines, the Charmed subline and the Secrets and Spies subline. Rebelle has been quite a commercial success, so no doubt it will flourish in the next few years.
Secrets and Spies:
The Strongheart is effectively a Hearbreaker Bow with a 4 barrel Smart AR block. It's 4 times more practical than a Heartbreaker, which really doesn't mean much. A relatively low price of 25AUD does help its case, but that's really all it has going for it. The Strongheart is not really noteworthy, except for being a pull-and-release blaster.
The Charmed subline is a new subseries with another different aesthetic, with the main gimmick being collectible charms.
The Fair Fortune Crossbow is in a way a minimised Codebreaker, it's a 6 shot revolver crossbow. The design is novel, the cylinder is mostly internally contained with few loading spots. If it's anything like the Codebreaker, it'll have potential but will really, really hate non-perfect darts. Its price of 20USD is probably a little high.
Zombie Strike received only two new blasters this year, both of which are quite similar. It's getting at least one new release next year, and will probably still be hanging around for a few more years.
The Doominator takes the Flipfury to the extreme, with 4 6 dart cylinders and pump action. Unfortunately, the Doominator is plagued by various issues, particularly an especially poor stock range and severe reliability issues. Even when modified, it packs a lower than average range. A high price of ~50AUD means the Doominator is probably something to be left on the shelf, as cool as it looks.
RivalEasily the most interesting of Nerf's 2015 releases, the Rival line fires foam balls instead of darts, and claims 100FPS muzzle velocities, which they actually do achieve! Sadly they're not coming to Australia as they're too powerful, but no doubt we'll be seeing more Rival blasters in the future.
The Zues is a semi-auto flywheeler that accepts mags into its back, which is a rather unusual design. Like the Apollo, the Zues does pack quite a punch and does achieve the 100FPS muzzle veloctiy claims, however the Zues' claim to fame comes from its mod potential. Powering it with a 3s LiPo will shove muzzle velocity up to 120FPS and will better support rapid fire. More importantly however, it can be easily converted from semi- into full-auto, going through a 12 ball mag in about half a second. Hook that up to a large hopper, an extended ball mag or even a backpack and you have a powerful blaster capable of some ridiculous ~20 balls per second suppressive fire. It is pretty darn expensive at 50USD and the stock mag release is perhaps a little awkward, but nothing can match its modified ROF and suppressive fire ability.
Nerf this year had some pretty good releases, but also a number of questionable and poor releases. Since us in Aus aren't getting Rival, 2015 was not a great year for us from Nerf. (in fairness, us in Australia didn't get anything from Buzz Bee, or much from BoomCo either)
Buzz BeeBuzz Bee released some real cool stuff this year.
First up is Buzz Bee's Ultra Tek line, which directly competes with Nerf's Elite line. The Ultra Tek line sports Elite-competitive range claims, as well as a cross compatible clip (mag) system. Unlike Nerf's Elite XD marketing ploy, Ultra Tek blasters actually achieve and often exceed the claimed ranges.
These are the first of Buzz Bee's clip (mag) system blasters. Starting at the top right, going clockwise, we have the Ultra Tek 8/Champion, Ultra Master Tek/Snipe, Ultra Rapid Tek/Sentinel and Ultra Tek Brute. Though perhaps not as sophisticated as Nerf's clip (mag) system offerings, all of them are very solid blasters, and are also significantly cheaper - the UMT/Snipe and UT Brute are a measly 20USD, while the UT8/Champion is a measly 10USD and the URT/Sentinel is no more than 15USD. All of these blasters perform competitively with the Elite line, so if Buzz Bee keeps this up they could seriously challenge Nerf.
Buzz Bee also released a new Air Max line this year, which fire Mega sized darts. Again, the new Air Max line is cross compatible with Nerf's Mega line, but this time, Buzz Bee's releases quite possibly outshine Nerf's Megas.
On the left, we have the Air Max Baron, a simple two shot Mega pistol. It cycles with a rotating plunger tube so alternates top/bottom barrels, but packs quite a punch and is a measly 5USD.
On the right, we have the Air Max Boss, a 3-shot Mega blaster much like the Magnus. Unlike the Magnus though, the Boss is a clip (mag) system Mega blaster, and comes with a 3 dart Mega clip (mag). Incredibly, the Boss is 10USD, 5 less than the Magnus. It packs the same punch as all the Megas as well.
Last but most certainly not least, we have the Air Max Tyrant, a Mega blaster that has a 12 dart Mega clip (mag). It packs the same impressive firepower as the Megas, but the 12 dart Mega clip (mag) is the showpiece. For a mere 20USD, Buzz Bee has a blaster that has more capacity than any Nerf Mega blaster so far. Even better, Buzz Bee's clip (mag) system Air Max blasters are perfectly reliable and usable, in contrast with Nerf's one attempt and colossal failure in the Centurion. Though the Tyrant is rather awkward and very bulky, there's no question that Buzz Bee's new Air Max line is really quite incredible.
2015 has been a fantastic year for Buzz Bee, though they're still far behind in aesthetics and craftmanship, their new blasters are competitive, effective, and fantastic value. We've also just gotten news that Buzz Bee has secured a license for The Walking Dead blasters, which sound like they have some serious potential.
BoomCo suddenly appeared out of nowhere last year, and has grown quite well in 2015. Among other things are its new 90USD flagship, the Colossal Blitz:
Also of note is BoomCo securing a Halo license, allowing them to produce Halo-ish blasters.
While most of them are just reshells of older blasters, there's no doubt that this could produce some really, really awesome blasters. The two single shot pistols of the Plasma Pistol and M6 (~20AUD) are very nice reshells of the Farshot. Simple but powerful, and easily moddable for some pretty good power.
The Covenant Carbine and SMG (~30AUD) are reshells of the Dynamag, a basic slide action clip fed blaster. They're also relatively simple, but effective, and also have various changes that solve issues with the early release Dynamags (later release Dynamags also have these fixes).
The Needler (~45AUD?) is a Twisted Spinner with a trigger, but more importantly it has light up dart holders on the top which turn off as darts are fired. Unfortunately it doesn't reload darts from the top into its cylinder but nevertheless it looks pretty and has some functionality.
I'm not really into BoomCo just yet, they're relatively expensive down here in Australia and not very common. Furthermore, the new ammo system puts me off a little, and unlike in the US, we don't normally get ridiculous clearance prices that would make building a BoomCo system far more viable. We also don't get much of the BoomCo line down here either, which is annoying.
2015 has not really been a great year for Nerf (outside of the Rivals line, which had a very limited release anyway), rather it has been an incredible year for its biggest competitors, Buzz Bee and BoomCo. With all three brands making some pretty big developments, 2016 promises to be a pretty competitive year.
Nerfing in Australia was not particularly interesting in 2015. Besides some incredible clearance sales on awesome blasters ($15 Rapidstrikes anyone?), the new releases were generally relatively boring, overpriced, or just never appeared here, the key exception being Nerf's Mega line.
In non-Nerf news, we have the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which brought with it a whole tonne of new Star Wars merchandise and toys. TFA is on track to become possibly the highest grossing movie, but the sales from merchandise and toys will probably eclipse that easily.
Star Wars Battlefront was also released, but was disappointingly shallow and money grabbing, in typical EA fashion. It's also hilariously broken, in typical DICE fashion.