Thursday, 15 December 2016

Review: Nerf Doomlands Desolator (US orange trigger)

The Desolator is a blaster belonging to a sub-theme of Doomlands, Impact Zone. This subtheme features a vastly different colour scheme to regular Doomlands blasters, being primarily white instead of primarily yellow/orange. Regardless, they maintain many distinctive Doomlands-style features, such as the translucent window on the sides of blasters. While the Desolator is essentially "just" a Stryfe, being a Stryfoid is by no means a bad thing, as the Stryfe is a great blaster in itself. What the Desolator offers then, besides being a Stryfoid, is its unique and awesome design, and I was rather excited to get my hands on one. Unfortunately, the Desolator never arrived in Aussie stores, so after months of waiting I eventually purchased one off a fellow Aussie who had imported several.

The Box

Pretty standard open box, with much of the back covered by a Doomlands cartoon strip, much like those seen on other Doomlands boxes.

The Blaster

The Desolator is quite a beautiful blaster, featuring all kinds of details like patterning on the grips and faux screws. I imagine a lot of work had gone into designing it to make it look as unique as possible, and that work has definitely paid off. I consider the Desolator to be one of, if not the most beautiful Nerf blaster from the past couple of years. Like other Doomlands blasters, the Desolator has a translucent window on the side showing part of its workings. In this case, all it shows is the magwell and the flywheel cage, which is rather boring in contrast with what the windows show on some of the springers.

The Desolator is not a particularly thin blaster like the Stryfe, maintaining some bulk throughout. It thins out towards the stock however, which looks quite odd when seen from above.

The Desolator has two tac rails, one up front and one further back. In between them is a flip-up jam door. It has two sling points, one beneath the muzzle and one below the handle.

Part of the Desolator's unique design is its curved foregrip. I personally very much like the look and feel of it, with one caveat. The Desolator's flywheel cage necessitates a large protrusion on the left side to contain the motors, however the large box cuts into the foregrip. As a right-hander, the bottom-left cylinder pokes directly into the palm of my left hand, which is a little awkward and uncomfortable.

The Desolator's handle uses a ribbing texture which makes it look distinct, however I personally am not a fan of the texture. It feels a little sharp and slightly uncomfortable to me. Both triggers and the mag release are easily accessible and usable, which ensures ease of use.
My biggest complaint with the handle however is not to do with the handle itself. Just above the handle, a ribbing pattern is continued, however I find it to be rather sharp and uncomfortable, as it cuts directly into the gap between thumb and forefinger. This can be avoided by shifting grip position slightly, however my most comfortable grip position pushes my hand right up against these ribs.

The Desolator stock is a fixed one, and though it looks good, there are a couple of problems with it. The stock is quite short, so if you're not comfortable with this length of stock, you'll never be properly comfortable with the Desolator. A key advantage of the Stryfe is the ability to accept a variety of stocks, so you can choose the most suitable stock length for you. I personally am ok with this stock length, however would definitely have preferred longer. Another key issue with the stock is its thinness. As mentioned previously, the blaster thins out towards the back, and so the end of the stock is actually quite thin, not much wider than a tac rail. This makes the butt of the stock quite thin and sharp, further making the stock more uncomfortable. I certainly think the stock would have been much more comfortable if it were a little longer and wider.

The stock also houses the battery tray for the Desolator. It takes 4 AAs as per usual for a semi-auto flywheeler.

Though the Desolator's magwell is quite stylish and unusual, functionally it is no different to that of the Stryfe's. It accepts all Nerf mags without issue, including drums despite its appearance and design. Inserting and removing mags is generally quite smooth, and the mag release is easy to actuate.

I do have a minor complaint with the magwell lock. This lock disables the flywheels and locks the trigger if no mag is loaded. Naturally this is there for safety, however the button is extremely stiff, and so inserting mags takes a little more effort than they should. Removal of this lock makes the mag insertion and removal perfectly smooth.

Here's the Desolator next to a similarly outfitted Stryfe. You can see the many similarities such as overall size and layout. For me, the biggest difference is the foregrip. The Stryfe has a tac rail under its barrel to allow the use of foregrip attachments, while the Desolator has its own curved foregrip. I personally find the latter to be much more comfortable, as it seems to fit my hands much more comfortably than any of Nerf's foregrip attachments. Everything considered though, the Desolator is in many ways just a fancy Stryfe with a stock, and there isn't much functional difference between the two.

The 10 Dart Mag

A quick look at the Desolator's unique 10 dart banana mag. It's almost identical to the existing 10 dart banana mag, with the exception of the right side being clear, the detailing on the sides and the piece on the bottom. This piece is quite similar to that found on the bottom of Double Dealer mags, and adds a unique style and flair to otherwise pretty ordinary mags.


Finally for performance. Can the Desolator's blasting match up to its awesome design?

Naturally since this model is an orange trigger, it's getting performance superior to any of my stock grey trigger blasters. Note that I tested the Desolator with near full charge alkalines. Range wise it reaches 11-13m at true flat, easily more with a little upwards angle. In terms of muzzle velocity, it averages 60fps and is quite consistent, rarely dropping below 55fps or firing above 65fps. Naturally during rapid fire muzzle velocity and range drop drastically, as the Desolator takes a good 3 or so seconds to rev up to full speed.
Accuracy is surprisingly good considering its use of Elite darts. Most darts flew quite straight, with veering usually only occuring beyond 9m range. I was seeing quite tight spreads, certainly much better than most other stock blasters using Elites.
Since the Desolator is semi-auto like the Stryfe, its ROF is entirely dependent how fast you can pull the trigger. 4-5dps is easy to achieve with a good trigger technique, and more is possible with practice and special techniques, though you'll stall the flywheels easily if it's still stock.

Game Utility
Since the Desolator is essentially a Stryfe, it fills the same sort of roles. A stock Desolator is most effective in close range, where you can exploit its ROF without worrying too much about range loss. It's less suited to longer range engagements, where more powerful blasters like the Retaliator will have a significant advantage. It is usable as an all-round blaster, but among stock blasters, I find springers to be better at an all-round role due to the significant spin-up time of stock flywheelers.

The Stryfe is significantly more customisable than the Desolator, which allows it to function as a variety of different roles, such as a compact sidearm or large primary. In contrast, the Desolator is stuck as a compact primary, although personally I'm perfectly fine with it as is.

Value and Summary
In the US, the Desolator is a Target exclusive, retailing for 30USD. The Stryfe retails for 20USD, and the Retaliator 25USD. The Desolator represents pretty solid value for money, as for an extra 10USD over the Stryfe, you are getting essentially a complete blaster, with a fixed stock and a larger mag. It doesn't quite compare to the Retaliator, but very little can. Overall, not only is the Desolator a solid blaster, but it's also decent value and looks awesome. It isn't perfect ergonomically, and in particular the stock is strangely short and thin, but it's a great blaster nonetheless. If you're in the market for a decent stock blaster, a great looking flywheeler, or just a fun blaster, the Desolator is definitely a blaster I would recommend considering.

Power: 6/7
Accuracy: 4.5/5
Rate of Fire: 4.5/5
Usability: 3/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall: 4.06/5

Personal Rating: 4.5/5 - on top of being a generally decent blaster, the Desolator just looks so cool. It's quickly become one of my favourite blasters, and will likely serve as a backup primary in the future.

Internally the Desolator is very similar to the Stryfe, and can be overhauled pretty quickly with some prior experience. There is one issue of having to route the wires around the magwell, which is a bit of a pain especially if your wire is thick. I'd recommend considering using slightly thinner wire to run through the magwell for convenience.
For cosmetic modders, there's an additional boon. Many of the coloured sections, such as the black foregrip and the front tac rail, are seperate pieces that are easily removable. This makes painting different segments much easier.

A link to the same post on BlasterHub: link

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