Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 Nerf Roundup

As we come to the end of another year, let's take a look back at what 2015 brought us.
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.
Star Wars
2015 saw the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and with it came three promotional blasters.
The Chewbacca Bowcaster is obviously based on Chewie's Bowcaster, and is a simple single shot stringer akin to the Rebelle Diamondista. There's really not much to say about it, like the other Star Wars blasters the Star Wars tax has inflated its price to obnoxious levels (~45AUD) and is not worth looking at.
The First Order Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster is based on the FO Stormtrooper's primary weapon, the F-11D. It's a pump action clip (mag) system blaster based on the Elite Rampage, though is noticeably shorter and includes different accessories. The Star Wars tax has pushed its price up pretty high to ~80AUD, but with the scarcity of the Rampage and the exclusivity of the Elite Alpha Trooper, the Deluxe Blaster has become one of the only pump action blasters that are readily available. Given that its internals are Rampage-like, the Deluxe Blaster can be upgraded competitively with the Rampage, though in stock form it is a bit weak compared to orange trigger Elites.

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 2169
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 DoubleDown is a basic two barrel pullback blaster that uses Smart ARs to switch barrels. Besides having an unusually large plunger tube (ideal for modification), the DoubleDown is unremarkable. Its price of 10USD is not the best, but considering how boring the blaster itself is, the price is probably not a concern anyway.
The Sharpfire is probably the most interesting of this year's N-Strike releases, it's a single shot pistol carbine that can be disassembled into a core pistol. The Sharpfire also packs decent mod potential, but in stock form is unremarkable. It's perhaps one of the better looking N-Strike blasters this year, and at 15USD is not overpriced.
The Slingstrike is string powered slingshot. I don't think anything else needs to be said. A price of ~15AUD makes the Slingstrike a total nope.
The N-Strike Snapfire, not to be confused with the similarly named Snapfire 8, is a basic Jolt-like single shot. It has a fair amount of mod potential, but is very plain looking and doesn't match up to the Firestrike. A price of 5USD is decent, but it just looks so boring and uninspired.

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 Flip Clip kit is a simple kit that has 2 slightly altered 12 dart clips (mags), 24 Modulus (white and orange Elite) darts and 2 Flip Clip connectors. The Flip Clip connectors only connect to the special 12 dart clips (mags) included as above, requiring the addition of small nubs on the sides of each clip (mags). This kit is a decent way to stock up on clips (mags), 12 darts clips (mags) are fairly popular and the Flip Clip connectors might be useful for more casual players.
The Long Range kit includes everything necessary to pretend snipe, a large scope, barrel extension and a bipod. Obviously none of them are actually practical, but the attachments look good at least. The scope and bipod fit especially well on a Whiteout Longstrike.
The Stealth Ops kit includes a red dot sight, a folding grip and a short barrel extension. The RDS is similar to the older Pinpoint Sight design, and like its predecessor is mainly for looks than anything else. The folding grip can fold to horizontal, but is otherwise just another foregrip. The barrel extension is a very short piece not dissimilar to the Spectre's suppressor style barrel extension. The SO kit fits especially well on an orange Stryfe.
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 Crossbolt is a proper new release, a clip (mag) fed bullpup stringer. The stringer part allows it quite good stock performance, and obnoxiously easy power modification, though beyond a certain point it slices darts in half instead of firing them. Unfortunately, the Crossbolt has horrendously poor ergonomics: a painful thumbhole, a pathetically, unusably short stock, and an extremely awkward top slide prime. Pump action and a usable stock would have made the Crossbolt quite a darn good blaster, but as is it's only decent. Its price of ~40AUD is not terrible, but it is a little high.
Ah, the Elite Alpha Trooper. Ever since the original EAT release became scarce, people have been calling for a re-release of a fan favourite. Nerf obliged, pairing the awesome EAT with some worthless 6 clips (mags), and the awfully flimsy Spectre stock. Even worse, this EAT re-release is a Kohl's exclusive in the US, resulting in a hilariously high price of 45USD (don't worry, Kohl's is known for their overpricing and often have very large discounts, taking the EAT into a reasonable price range). Unfortunately we have yet to see this re-release in Australia, though my wallet is thankful for that.
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 Bigshock is basically the Mega line's Jolt variant. Though not as powerful as most other Mega blasters, it's relatively cheap at 10USD (though as a TRU exclusive in Aus, enjoys an inflated price of 20AUD) and does its job well enough. A fairly large plunger tube allows for some surprisingly good mod potential, but even without modification packs enough of a punch to fire a Mega dart a fair distance.
The Cycloneshock is a 6-shot slide primed revolver, and is extremely popular and highly acclaimed. It's big, bulky, badass and pretty powerful. Though not particularly cheap at 25AUD, it's quite a good blaster and is a lot of fun.
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 4Victory is in a way a minimised Sweet Revenge: it's a compact 4-shot hammer pistol that uses Smart ARs instead of a cylinder and is much lighter for it. It also comes with its own ambidextrous holster, which while it is pretty cheap, is nice. Like the Sweet Revenge, the 4Victory is quite a solid blaster and is pretty good at sidearm duty. A lowish price of 19AUD is quite decent considering it includes its own holster.
The Arrow Revolution Bow takes the previous Rebelle bow, the Agent Bow, to the absolute extreme, with a 6 arrow rotating quiver. Besides that quiver, it's basically the same as the Agent Bow, using the same elastic drawstring. Unfortunately, the Arrow Rev seems to have a variety of major issues, primarily in the rotating quiver not working optimally. A quite high price of ~50-60AUD doesn't help it's case either.
The Codebreaker Crossbow is an interesting blaster, it's an 8 dart pump action stringer revolver. Ergonomically it's far superior to the Crossbolt, though is perhaps practically rather flawed. Its design requires practically perfect darts to reliably fire, and if the loaded dart is even slightly too squishy or squashed, it will fail to fire completely. As such it's rather poor for scavenging, and its low capacity also makes it poor for primary duty. A price of 40AUD just makes things a little worse.
The Courage Crossbow is a compact crossbow designed to fire Rebelle Arrows. I haven't seen any in Australia, though judging by its retail price of 20USD, I can't imagine it being too popular. Based on what the other bows have provided, I can't imagine it performing too well either.
The Fearless Fire is like an extreme Stockade/Barricade. It's a 20 dart semi auto flywheel revolver. It performs much the same as any other flywheeler, except is more fit for scavenging/loading on the fly duty thanks to its 20 dart cylinder. The use of a cylinder does limit its ROF somewhat. It does have quite a high price of 35USD though, which may be off-putting.
The Mini Mischief is a Jolt-based flip-out blaster that unfolds from a rectangular box. A price of 10USD means it's probably not worth getting over a Jolt for practical purposes, but the flipping action could be enjoyable.
The Secret Shot is a 4 shot Smart AR pump action blaster that folds up into a purse. It's pretty impractical, 4 shots is very small and the Secret Shot is not especially powerful. Its handles are pretty small, which is immediately noticeable upon simply seeing it. Its price of 25AUD does help somewhat, as it is one of the cheaper blasters you can get. The flip-out action of the Secret Shot is extremely fun though, and could be worth getting just for that.
The Slingback is a Rebelle'd Slingstrike, a string powered slingshot. 10USD of garbage.
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 Dauntless is effectively a retooled Messenger, it's a single shot with 3 Smart AR barrels. Perhaps the most interesting change is the new handle, which is far and away superior to the Messenger's awful skeleton grip. A price of 15USD is the same as the Messenger, so choosing between the two is a matter of personal preference.
The Everfierce is effectively a retooled Strongheart, with its barrels in a vertical line rather than a block. I really honestly can't find anything to say about it, the extreme level of retooling/rereleasing older blasters is starting to bore me. Its increased price of 25USD doesn't help its case though.
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
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 Flipfury was the first release, and is effectively a dual cylinder Strongarm. Pretty good for scavenging gamemodes, though perhaps too large to be a sidearm. It is perhaps also a little expensive at ~25AUD, but a capacity of 12 darts in a pistolish form is pretty good, and it packs the same performance as a Strongarm.
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.
Easily 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 Apollo is a hook-primed mag fed blaster. It accepts mags through the handle like a real steel pistol, however has a massive rear end that really stops it from being a proper sidearm. Though it suffers from jamming issues that are rather difficult to clear (Nerf is making an alteration to future batches that will have a jam clear button), it's an effective entry level Rival blaster and does achieve the 100FPS muzzle velocity claims. The price of 25USD is quite high, but that is the price of a higher level of performance and a new ammo ecosystem.
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 Bee
Buzz 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:
The Colossal Blitz is BoomCo's flagship, a monster that packs two 36 dart drums for a total capacity of 72 darts. It also packs a ROF of around 6 darts per second, and matches the Elite line for range. Couple that with the inherent superior accuracy of BoomCo darts, and you have a damn good blaster, possibly the best stock blaster. Sure it's pretty heavy and bulky, and ridiculously expensive, but no stock blaster can match the whole package of the Colossal Blitz. I've yet to see it in Australia, BoomCo really hasn't done too well down here.

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.


  1. Are the Buzz Bee Airmax clips compatible with the Centurion? If not, might that be achievable with modding?

    1. I believe they are, though I've never used or owned a Centurion (thankfully).
      Unless you have/will mod(ded) the Centurion, you'd probably be much better off using the Centurion clip in one of the Buzz Bee megas anyway.