Thursday, 4 August 2016

Review: Buzz Bee Cyclonic (22m/72ft EU)

Everyone loves spinning barrels, so it's always exciting when a promising blaster is released with them. The Cyclonic is a full auto flywheeler, which Buzz Bee proved they can do decently with the Brute. I wanted to acquire one for myself to see how it would stack up as a budget full auto flywheeler.
Disclosure: This blaster was sent to me by Buzz Bee Toys for review. I would like to thank them for their contribution, however note that it will not bias the review in any way.
Pretty standard Buzz Bee box. Cable ties for the big things, plastic tray for the darts.

The Cyclonic is an oddly proportioned blaster. It's big and chunky to support the spinning barrel yet has no stock or rear weight to support the significant weight and bulk. It's a little clumsy to handle, certainly more so than most other blasters.
This top shot demonstrates the bulk of the blaster, I have seen very few blasters that are this wide.

The Cyclonic is one of Buzz Bee's first blasters to receive this new shell detail, dubbed the "fiesta" pattern by some. It covers most of the sides of the Cyclonic, though is not present on the top or bottom surfaces.
There is also a diagonal hatching pattern on some areas of the Cyclonic, perhaps a precursor to the supposed "carbon fibre" texture on newer waves of these new blasters.

Obviously one of the Cyclonic's key features is its spinning barrel piece. It's simply a faux barrel with mini faux barrels molded on the outside, to give the impression of spinning barrels without complicating firing. This style of spinning barrel is the usual type, since functional spinning barrels would be very difficult to time reliably.
Here's the spinning barrel in action. There are two LEDs which light up the barrel.

The Cyclonic is powered by 4 AAs, and has its battery tray at the back, just behind the handle. Here it is shown with 2 IMRs and 2 dummies. Using weak batteries like AAs does present the Cyclonic with issues, which I'll detail later in performance.

Despite its huge bulk, the Cyclonic's handle is roughly normal size, perhaps even a tad small. It's decently shaped, nicely curved, though I feel it could do with a bit more bulk.
The Cyclonic is a full auto flywheeler, however has no separate rev trigger. This is the same as previous Buzz Bee flywheelers, and contrasts with the majority of Nerf's flywheelers. A partial pull of the trigger spins up the flywheels and starts the spinning barrel and LEDs.
When the trigger is fully depressed, the pusher is also activated and begins to cycle. The full trigger pull is quite long, certainly far longer than what I'm used to. It's perhaps even a little longer than a typical semi auto Nerf flywheeler's trigger pull. It's also substantially stiffer, with quite a strong return spring latched on. This makes triggering the Cyclonic far more taxing than one would expect for a foam blaster.

The Cyclonic is another of Buzz Bee's mag fed blasters. Like its brethren, it is seamlessly cross compatible with Nerf's clip (mag) system. This magwell is relatively loose, and simply tapping the mag release is usually enough to drop the current mag. The one internal button is a safety that prevents the flywheels and pusher from moving if a mag is not loaded. The spinning barrel and LEDs can still be activated by the trigger, in fact the box even has a "try me" label and the Cyclonic actually includes 4 AAs.
The Cyclonic uses the same mag release as found on other Ultra Tek blasters. It's a simple cylindrical button that is actuated by being pushed upwards. I find it to be just a little bit out of range of my middle finger without stretching, which is a little bit awkward. Besides that it's very easy to use. Although the Nerf style button or a lever mag release would have been preferred, this button works ok.
As mentioned before, the Cyclonic is cross compatible with Nerf's clip (mag) system. It's pictured above with a Nerf 18 straight mag and 25 drum. It works fine with either Buzz Bee or Nerf mags.

Considering it has no stock, the Cyclonic is pretty big and bulky. It completely dwarfs the Stryfe, even without taking into account the spinning barrel.

As part of Buzz Bee's foray into magazine fed blasters, they've come out with a 20 dart mag. In many ways it is directly comparable/very close to Nerf's 18, including length, capacity, and the fact that they came out after the original very small mags (Nerf 6s and Buzz Bee 8s). They're also both available separately outside of being included with blasters. There are some obvious aesthetic differences, but otherwise the 20 mag serves much the same purpose as the Nerf 18.
Like Buzz Bee's 8 mag, the 20 mag is designed to be cross compatible with Nerf's clip (mag) system blasters. They work nicely in some blasters, such as the Stryfe and Hyperfire pictured above, but are very tight in others, such as the Rapidstrike and Rayven. If you're not using a blaster that is really tight with Buzz Bee's 20 mags, they serve as quite a good substitute for Nerf 18s. Functionally they're pretty much the same, and Buzz Bee's 20s hold 2 extra darts which is always nice.

Here's the Cyclonic all loaded up. I find it rather odd, on the one hand its bulk and spinning barrel lend towards it being a heavy weapon. On the other hand, it has no stock or notably good fore end grip. I personally think the Cyclonic is rather awkwardly designed, given its significant front weight with no way to balance it.

Now for performance. Does the (EU) Cyclonic keep up with the excellent performance of the Ultra Tek line?

Sadly, no. Range is quite poor, I was averaging about 8-10m with the included darts. There seems to be a *lot* of flywheel deceleration through firing, as if there's a significant lack of current, or a significant voltage sag.
Accuracy is quite good, though really only because the Cyclonic is too weak to send darts on errant paths.
Rate of fire is very disappointing for a full auto blaster. I was getting probably only around 1.5-2 darts per second with AAs (depending on the exact voltage of the batteries). Significantly discharged AAs, or even slightly discharged rechargeable AAs, have a significantly worse performance and reliability. Using a set of ~1.3V AAs, the Cyclonic worked fine, however when I tried a set of rechargeable AAs at around 1.1V each, the blaster struggled to fire any darts at all.
 These problems all stem from the fact that typical AA sized batteries (or any other similar low discharge cells) should not be used in a serious flywheeler. In a typical semi auto flywheeler, the only significant load is 2 motors, and even then the flywheels can take quite a while to spool up. The Cyclonic has 4 motors plus 2 LEDs, which combine for a much higher power demand. It is very apparent upon using the Cyclonic how much the batteries are struggling to keep up with the current demands. After revving up to full speed, as soon as the trigger is pulled all the way, the flywheels and spinning barrel decelerate significantly and accelerate back up to speed very slowly. The pusher also slows down quite noticeably when there are darts loaded (and thus a much greater load) compared to when it is empty.

Something to note is that when I first got the Cyclonic out of box and tried it out, it had massive problems and would constantly jam up. I noticed that one of the flywheels seemed to be spinning slower than the other, so opened it up and got into the offending motor. As it turns out, the slower motor actually had some grey paste inside it, on the metal brushes. This appeared to be applying extra friction to the commutator, slowing the motor down. After cleaning out this paste, the motor matched speed with the other one quite well. I doubt this would be a common or Buzz Bee specific issue as I expect Nerf and Buzz Bee would just outsource their motors, but it was an interesting and unusual problem.

Although its overall performance is nothing special, the Cyclonic does have one notable advantage. Even on just AAs, its flywheels rev up quite fast, certainly much faster than a lot of (grey trigger) Nerf flywheelers I've seen. This allows you to fire off full power shots less than a second after revving, in contrast with often up to 2 seconds for stock Nerf flywheelers. Besides that, the (EU) Cyclonic is not notably good in any aspect. It is otherwise easily beaten for performance by many other blasters. Even many springers can beat it for ROF. Unless you must have a full auto mag fed flywheeler on a tight budget, there's no role in which the (EU) Cyclonic really excels.

The Cyclonic has a retail price of 20USD, which if it were better, would be a great deal (maybe the US spec Cyclonic performs better, in which case it would be quite a deal). The Stryfe has a regular retail price of about the same, and any of Nerf's full auto flywheelers retail at at least 30USD. As is though, its relatively mundane performance make the Cyclonic only a decent buy. I have no doubt that it can be made much better, but out of box it is not exceptional. It's certainly still a decently fun blaster, especially with the spinning barrel (provided you can keep up with its power demands), but a number of flaws hold it back from being a properly good blaster.

Pros: Awesome spinning barrel, low price, fast flywheel spinup
Cons: Lackluster performance for a full auto blaster, a little awkward and unbalanced, spinning barrel saps a lot of power, really struggles if the batteries are not new/fully charged

Power: 3/7
Accuracy: 4/5
Rate of Fire: 2.5/5
Usability: 3.5/5
Value for Money: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.13/5

Personal Rating: 3/5 - a prime example of why running full autos in particular off alkalines is a bad idea. Simply throwing in a pair of IMRs makes the blaster much more usable and menacing sounding, though ROF is still very slow for a full auto. Spinning barrels, as useless as they are, are always a fun gimmick. I personally just don't like dual-stage triggers though, and that combined with the very slow ROF make this somewhat of a "meh" for me.

For the most part, the Cyclonic is relatively ordinary internally.
The spinning barrel assembly is pretty much as expected. A 130-sized motor drives the spinning barrels through a series of gears. The LEDs are fixed in place and are wired parallel to the motor.
The flywheels are standard Buzz Bee fare, though are quite different from Nerf style. Note the lack of flywheel cage, just a plate on which the motors are mounted. The flywheels are also quite different, being toothed and with four thinned out circles. The motors are just 130s, though they seem far more powerful than typical stock (grey trigger) Nerf motors. The flywheel gap is also larger than most Nerf blasters, which presents an issue when modding the Cyclonic. Since friction is the determining factor ones the flywheels are at high enough speeds, a larger flywheel gap has less friction, and so a lower velocity ceiling. Naturally the flywheel cage can be altered to reduce the gap, but this introduces another step of modding required to make it a top level flywheeler.
The pusher mech on the other hand, is rather more complex. When the trigger is pulled all the way, the pusher cycles as per normal. However, if the trigger is released part way through a cycle, the pusher is automatically retracted. This is very different to the Rapidstrike pusher mechanism. The Cyclonic's mech does have benefits compared to the Rapidstrike's mech (primarily in that runaway is physically impossible and the pusher is never left out), but also disadvantages (primarily that the pusher cannot complete a cycle if the trigger is released part way through, and the painfully long trigger pull).
Also of note in this picture are the tab switches actuated by the trigger.

A link to the same post on BlasterHub: link

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