Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Review: Star Wars First Order Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster

I'm a massive Star Wars fan, so you could probably imagine my excitement when a cool looking, clip (mag) system, pump action Star Wars Nerf blaster was revealed. A practical Star Wars blaster? Count me in! Let's just hope it performs to standard.
Since the blaster's full name is quite a mouthful, I'll be referring to it as just the Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster, or even just the Deluxe Blaster.

Note the 65ft/20m range claim despite the orange trigger. There is no grey trigger version, this one blaster is the same one sold throughout the world, regardless of whether they get orange or grey triggers.

Before looking at the blaster itself, let's just take a quick look at the F-11D, the standard issue blaster rifle of the First Order Stormtroopers and the weapon on which the Deluxe Blaster is based.
Captain Phasma sports a chromed F-11D, but this picture is important more because it clearly shows the stock attached.
Credit goes to Wookipedia for these images.

The darts included are slightly special. They're still Elite darts, but are red (obviously), and have transparent heads. Additionally, half of them are printed with First Order symbols, and the Star Wars and Nerf logos, all in black.

Let's look at the main blaster first.
The main blaster is a pretty good looking piece, it packs enough grey to look serious, but enough white and orange to be distinctly a toy.
The barrel shround is a pretty good looking piece, a grey shroud with orange ridges, and some holes along the bottom.
Down the front.
A close up of the right side.

The Deluxe Blaster has a single quite long tac rail on top, pretty standard.
It also accepts all standard stocks on the back, although note that the stock attachment point is rather far back.
Here's the Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster with an EPPS, 6 dart clip (mag) and Lightningstorm stock. Naturally being a Nerf blaster, it accepts Nerf attachments no problem. Though it won't colour match with most of them, it will match with Modulus attachments relatively well, ignoring the vomit green.

In an attempt to replicate the F-11D having its clip load from the side, the Deluxe Blaster uses the design of the Rampage as a basis around which to design a pump action clip (mag) system blaster with the magwell on the left. The F-11D has its clip on the right, however having the Deluxe Blaster's magwell on the right would require further modification of the design, and would also make it more awkward for right handers to use (who are the majority of the population). I think keeping the magwell on the left was a good decision, though being a right-hander, I am biased towards having it ideal for me.
The magwell does bulge out a fair bit even without a clip (mag), and is actually a separate piece in the box. When removed from the box, the first thing to do before the blaster can be used is to attach the magwell piece, otherwise the blaster will not prime.
Looking into the magwell, fairly standard. If you've seen a Raider or Rampage before, this will be nothing new.

The jam door is on the right side, opposite the magwell. It opens quite a decent aperture, though I usually clear jams through the magwell anyway.

The handle, though a little too square at the front, is reasonably comfortable and decently shaped. My hand easily fits on it and is relatively comfortable.
The only issue with the handle is this one sharp ridge just below the trigger, it does cut into your finger a little.

The pump grip is slightly angled downwards, which I think is a really good shape. There's ample room for your off hand to grip, while the slight angle allows easier application of backward force for the priming stroke. It's very comfortable to grip and prime, even in slam-fire.

The firing cycle of the Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster is the same as any other springer clip (mag) system blaster.
First the pump must be pulled back to open the breech.
A clip (mag) can then be replaced/inserted.
When primed, this vent will turn from black to red, and when fired, it turns back from red to black.
Finally push the pump forward to chamber a dart, and pull the trigger to fire. Because the Deluxe Blaster has slam-fire, you can hold down the trigger and just rapidly pump for a higher rate of fire. Unlike the very jam prone Raider, the Deluxe Blaster is pretty reliable. I've slam-fired it several times at full speed emptying whole clips (mags) with no issue.

The clip (mag) is a white 12 dart clip (mag), but is nothing much different. The only main difference is that its right side (as pictured) is opaque, while Elite 12 clips (mags) have a transparent right side. Also of note is that my one seems to load 13 darts in no problem.

The scope is a pretty basic piece, it's just a small grey tube of plastic.
It doesn't even have lenses, just a small notch at the front.
Here's the scope next to an N-Strike Tactical Scope to show just how small it is.

The stock is also a basic piece, unfortunately having no special features.
It's also ridiculously short, shorter than even the Retal stock.
However its lack of length is partly mitigated by the design of the Deluxe Blaster, whose stock attachment point is further back than usual. As such the Deluxe Blaster's stock is slightly longer than a regular blaster (e.g. EAT) with Retal stock.

Here's the stock on an EAT, it's ridiculously, hilariously and pretty much unusably short.

Here's the Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster next to an EAT. Thanks to having its magwell on the side, it can be shorter than an otherwise equivalently sized EAT. Note how close the pump gets to the trigger on the Deluxe compared to the EAT. Besides that, they're functionally very similar.
A closer look at how the stock attachment point positions compare. With the handles lined up, the Deluxe Blaster's stock point is a good 4cm or so further back, which helps compensate for the short length of the stock.

All together, the full Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster. It's a pretty good looking package, and reasonably faithful to the source material. Though there are some obvious flaws (e.g. overall size, magwell on the wrong side, colour scheme), most of them can be excused for the sake of being a firing toy. If you're looking for a perfect replica of the F-11D, you're probably better off making it yourself, but as is the Deluxe Blaster is a good approximation of the F-11D while still being distinctly toyish.
Looking down the top, note how much the 12 clip (mag) and magwell stick out the side.

Finally for performance.

Range wise the Deluxe Blaster is decent by Aussie standards, it achieves 11-12m true flat ranges on average. Not exceptional, but it is on the upper end of the blasters we get. Since the same blaster is released in all regions, for those of you with orange triggers, the Deluxe Blaster will be weaker than most of your blasters.
Accuracy is reasonable, being slightly better than average. Firing at my usual doorway at ~8m range, almost all darts fly through without issue, though they still tend to spread out. Standard Elite dart veering can also occur.
Rate of Fire is pretty good, like with other pump action slam fire clip (mag) system blasters I can get 5-6 darts per second. The only blasters beating this are air powered full autos, overhauled Rapidstrikes and flywheeler semi autos with battery upgrades.

Since the Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster is basically just a retooled Rampage, it performs much the same function. It's a pretty solid all round pump action blaster. It's relatively easy to use, sufficiently powerful (compared to grey trigger blasters), acceptably accurate and relatively fast firing. It might be a little small for your own personal preference, but for a stock out-of-box pump action blaster it's pretty good.

Unfortunately for the Deluxe Blaster, it retails for an obnoxiously high price. The lowest non-sale price you can find it for is 70AUD at BigW. The next cheapest is 80AUD at ToysRUs, then 90AUD at Myer. Despite how good a blaster it is (and looks), I cannot recommend the Deluxe Blaster for its retail price. The maximum I would pay is about 60AUD (which is what I paid for mine), and ignoring Star Wars branding I expect it would have retailed at no more than 50AUD. Unless you're a die hard Star Wars fan, I'd say either wait for a substantial discount or try and find a Rampage/EAT instead.

Pros: Decently powerful and accurate, slam-fire is smooth allowing for fairly high ROF, reliable, looks awesome and is reasonably faithful to the F-11D, very short for good close quarters maneuverability
Cons: Obnoxiously high price, stock is short, even more so on other blasters, side magwell can be somewhat awkward, perhaps a little too small and could have benefitted from being larger for comfort

Power: 5.5/7
Accuracy: 4/5
Rate of Fire: 4.5/5
Usability: 4/5
Value for Money: 2.5/5
Overall: 3.79/5

Personal Rating: 4.5/5 - I love Star Wars, and having a good looking Star Wars blaster that is also quite a good blaster makes me very happy. Even better, it's effectively a mini Rampage which can be easily modded into a very effective superstock blaster.

A link to the review I posted on BlasterHub: link

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