Tuesday, 28 February 2017

2016 Nerf Roundup

I somehow forgot to make this roundup post at the end of 2016, so here it is, two months late.
2016 was an up-and-down year for Nerf, there were some good releases, and some not-so-good releases. Non-Nerf brands had a fantastic year however, with both Buzz Bee and Dart Zone releasing some real winners.
Alien Menace
Alien Menace is a new Nerf theme for 2016, with specially coloured darts and a very different, almost organic aesthetic to the other Nerf lines.
The Incisor is a semi-auto flywheeler with a 16 dart cylinder. Uniquely, its jam door is on the underside, and is opened by swinging out the foregrip piece. It's certainly an unusual blaster, though functionally very similar to the Rebelle Fearless Fire. RRP is 40USD, which is rather high as usual for Nerf's smaller themes.
The Ravager is an odd, 8 dart revolver. It's pump action, and features 8 barrels in groups of 2; each pair of barrels is linked with a Smart AR system. As such, the turret only has 4 positions. It is the first time that Nerf has incorporated their Smart AR tech into a turret system, and with the unique Alien Menace styling makes the Ravager a very unusual blaster. RRP is 30USD, which is very high considering its low capacity.

Doomlands 2169
Doomlands received multiple new releases this year, tripling the size of the theme's range.
The Double Dealer is functionally two Rampages stuck together, operating off one pump and handle. It has two magwells, and fires both barrels at once. Besides a very nice pump handle however, the Double Dealer is mostly disappointment. Despite firing two darts at once, it uses only one plunger tube, and so stock performance is lackluster with two mags. Using just one mag brings performance up to acceptable levels, though really defeats the purpose of the blaster. Furthermore, the Double Dealer is notorious for frequent and severe jamming that make the blaster unusable very quickly. Its RRP is 40USD, which would have been bearable if it performed well and was reliable.
The Persuader is essentially a retooled 4Victory, with a 4 dart Smart AR block and a hammer prime. A much larger shell and vertical Smart AR block however make it far harder to holster, and it's a little lacking in power. Its RRP of13USD isn't too bad, but it faces serious competition from the Hammershot, which is only 2 USD more, while being more powerful and reliable, having significantly better mod potential, and holding an extra dart.

Doomlands also received its own subtheme, Impact Zone. The primary difference is mainly in just aesthetics, with the Impact Zone blasters having white as their main colour.
The Desolator is a semi auto mag fed flywheeler, essentially identical in functionality to a Stryfe. It performs about the same and can be modded in the same ways, so makes for a solid, stylish alternative to the Stryfe for a flywheeler primary. An RRP of 30USD makes it quite reasonable compared to a base Stryfe at 20USD.
The Longarm is essentially a Spectre with a long barrel and a very high price, there's absolutely nothing special about it. Its RRP of 20USD is very high for a basic, slide primed revolver.

The N-Strike line received a few new releases, all single shots.
The Bowstrike is a basic, compact single shot blaster with unnecessary mini bow arms and a pop-up sight. Its RRP of 8USD is not a bad price, but the blaster itself is unremarkable.
The Glowshot is another basic, compact single shot, however has the special feature of lighting up when the button on the back of the handle is pressed. There are actually two variants of the Glowshot, one with trans-green plastic (as pictured), and one with clear plastic. Its RRP is also 8USD, which again isn't bad.
The Sharpfire Delta is just a blue version of the N-Strike Sharpfire, without the barrel and stock. Its RRP of 10USD is not a bad deal considering its substantial mod potential, though is yet another relatively unremarkable release.

The Elite line also received relatively few new releases, though at least only one of them was a single shot.
The Dual-Strike is an unusual blaster, featuring the unique ability (among modern blasters at least) to switch between and fire two different ammo types. It holds 3 of each Elite and Mega darts, in their own set of 3 barrels with Smart ARs. The Dual-Strike also packs tremendous mod potential, with a massive plunger tube allowing for an incredible amount of power. An RRP of 20USD is a little high for such a low capacity, but its unique feature and great mod potential make it worth consideration.
The Hyperfire is a full-auto mag fed flywheeler, which offered a lot of promise when it was first revealed. Instead of using a conventional motorised pusher however, the Hyperfire introduced the conveyor belt feeding mechanism, contained within its jam door. This feeding mech, while new and novel, was far less reliable than a conventional pusher, particularly with used darts and drums. Additionally, the stock flywheel cage of the Hyperfire utilises canted flywheels, which do nothing but spinout darts. Additionally, the Hyperfire's much less conventional design offers non-ideal ergonomics, particularly with the fore-end. Overall, while the Hyperfire showed promise, its execution left it significantly sub-par compared to the Rapidstrike. Its RRP is 50USD, which is a little high, though not completely unexpected.
The Pocketstrike is an odd, rectangular single shot very similar to the Jolt. Uniquely, its plunger tube is actually rectangular, unlike every other Nerf plunger tube which is cylindrical. Besides that though, the Pocketstrike is an unremarkable single shot. Its RRP is 8USD, a little high considering the Jolt is 6USD.
The Stratobow is a very odd bow, featuring a bow-style draw that actually primes a plunger, and a 15 dart clip that advances upwards with each shot. It's very unusual, yet is one of the more practical Nerf blasters released this year owing primarily to the lack of practical Nerf blasters this year. Its RRP is 30USD, which I'd consider to be fairly high for what it is.

Mega only received two new releases this year.
The Lightning Bow is a single shot bow blaster, and like the Stratobow, drawing the string actually just primes the plunger in the handle. Its RRP is 20USD, which is an absolute rip-off for a single shot bow blaster that is completely unremarkable.
The Mastodon is a full-auto flywheeler that uses a 24 dart cylinder. It's a gigantic blaster, with a chainsaw grip much like the Vulcan. With a decent ROF and power, it's a fantastic just-for-fun, ridiculous blaster. An RRP of 80USD is very high, making the Mastodon something you'd only get near retail price if you really, really wanted it.

The Modulus line got a number of additions of varying utility, primarily a variety of blasters to complement its already impressive attachments lineup.
The Battlescout is a pump-action, clip (not mag!) fed blaster. It uses its own proprietary 10 dart clips instead of any pre-existing ones, or Nerf's pre-existing mags. Additionally, it includes a tac rail camera rated for 720p videos, a substantial improvement over their previous camera blaster. Its RRP of 70USD however makes it a very difficult buy to justify, considering the blaster itself is near-useless due to a lack of spare clips, and the camera is still not a particularly good one.
The Ionfire is essentially just a Sharpfire retooled to accept various attachment. It can take barrel and stock attachments, and has two tactical rails. Functionally, the Ionfire is essentially the same blaster, a breech loaded single shot. Compared to the Sharpfire Delta, you're paying 5USD more (RRP of 15USD) for the extra attachments and attachment compatability, which isn't terrible, but it is still just a single shot.
The Recon MkII is essentially a slightly retooled Retaliator with some new attachments. The base blaster has some notable differences, including a handguard and a side tac rail, but functionally is identical to the Retaliator. The front barrel attachment is a new, short design, however due to its length does not support a functional tac rail on the bottom, so serves no real purpose besides aesthetics. Likewise, while the stock is a new design, it is extremely short and so can be rather uncomfortable to shoulder. Furthermore, the Recon MkII includes merely a 6 dart mag, a significant downsize from the Retaliator's 12 mag. All of that, combined with having the same RRP as the Retaliator (25USD), making the Recon MkII a fairly underwhelming blaster, especially compared to the Retaliator.
The Tri-Strike, as its name suggests, can fire 3 different ammo types. The base blaster is a bolt action Retaloid with slam-fire, and comes with a new straight 10 dart mag. The barrel attachment uses a manual plunger and a 4 barrel Smart AR system to fire 4 Megas in quick succession. The Missile launcher attachment attaches to a tactical rail, and is fired by a manual plunger within the stock attachment. While the base blaster itself is perfectly decent, both the Mega and Missile launchers are severely limited in mod potential, and the Missile launcher in particular is very awkward and uncomfortable to use. For an RRP of 50USD, the Tri-Strike is not the best deal around, however it is still one of the better Nerf releases this year, and is quite a bit of fun to play with.

The Rebelle line continues to do well and received a number of new releases in 2016.
The Cornersight is is slide primed blaster with a 4 dart Smart AR block. Its unique feature is the ability for the barrels to turn left or right 90 degrees, which in conjunction with its side mounted mirrors, allow it to shoot around corners without exposing its user. Though not at all a practical blaster for general Nerf combat, it is nonetheless a rare and fun gimmick. An RRP of 20USD is perhaps a little high compared to what else is available in that price range, but it's far from the worst deal out there.
The Epic Action Bow is a bow-action Joltoid, with pulling the string actually drawing back the plunger. With the proliferation of bows, especially in the Rebelle line, the Epic Action Bow is another uninspired, uninteresting "new" blaster. It does have one redeeming feature, that being its low RRP of 10USD.
The Flipside Bow is an odd conglomeration of parts, combining the ever-present spring powered, bow primed action of most of Nerf's bows, with the dual flipping cylinders of the ZS Flipfury. This all makes for a bow that is quite large and unwieldy, and all round rather weird. An RRP of 25USD doesn't help its cause either, as there is a significant variety of good blasters available within that price range.
The Lumanate is essentially a reshell of the Rebelle Messenger, with a light-up feature. It has a 3 dart Smart AR block with a pull-back prime, and some built in lights. In conjunction with light up barrels, the Lumanate also includes darts with glow-in-the-dark tips. For the same RRP as the Messenger, 15USD, the Lumanate is a solid, comfortable pistol that can pack a lot of power as well as having quicker follow-up shots than typical single-shot pistols.
The Trilogy is a Rebelle-ified Triad. It shares essentially the same overall design, with the lines smoothed out and curved to fit in better in the Rebelle line. For an RRP of 8USD, it serves the same purpose as the Triad - a cheap, effective pocket pistol that is easy to use and can pack surprising power.
The Wingspeed is an odd, folding bow firing Rebelle arrows. At an RRP of 20USD, it's the cheapest Rebelle bow to fire arrows, along with the Courage Crossbow. I really have nothing to say about it, bows are really not my thing.

The Rival line received two new blasters to its fledgling lineup, both offering something new to the line.
The Atlas is a pump-action, mag fed Rival blaster that fires two balls at once. It's the first of Nerf's mag fed blasters to fire multiple rounds from the same magazine with one trigger pull, making it one of the truest shotgun blasters among recent releases. Unfortunately, the Atlas is rather lacking in power, and a number of units also suffer from reliability issues that can make the Atlas very hit-and-miss. With a typically high RRP of 40USD, the Atlas is a decent, if flawed, Rival blaster.

The Khaos is a full-auto, mag fed Rival blaster that uses its own proprietary mags. These large mags have a capacity of 40 balls, but are not at all cross compatible with the pre-existing Rival mags. The Khaos is a very good blaster, sporting solid range, reasonable accuracy up to a certain range and a decent ROF. Furthermore, it sports substantial mod potential similar to that of the Rapidstrike - a full overhaul can achieve 10+bps at a good 100+fps. While its RRP is quite high, at 70USD, and its mags are proprietary and only just becoming separately avaliable, the Khaos is one of the best Nerf blasters released this year and is certainly worth a look if Rival is at all interesting to you.

Zombie Strike
The ZS releases this year focus primarily on the roleplay aspect of the series, which is by no means a bad thing.
The Brainsaw is a pump-action blaster that holds 8 darts in a Smart AR block, much like the Roughcut. Unlike the Roughcut however, the Brainsaw fires only one dart at a time, and so fires all eight in sequence. In between the two sets of four barrels is a stylised chainsaw, with the end of it being a circular saw blade made of foam. This foam blade can be spun by pulling the faux starting handle. The Brainsaw is overall not a great blaster, as the pump is not particularly well designed and the excessively long Smart AR system drains a lot of power from subsequent barrels. For the RRP of 30USD, there are definitely many other good blasters that can be had. That said, the Brainsaw is not at all designed for practical performance blasting, and as a roleplay blaster it does the job very nicely.
The Clampdown is just a retooled Jolt with a handguard. In keeping with the cobbled-together aesthetic of the ZS line, the Clampdown's handguard and priming handle are made to look like a clamp, and the blaster overall looks like it has been thrown together from all kinds of parts. For the same RRP as a regular Jolt (6USD), the Clampdown is functionally the same, a solid last-resort blaster, just a little bulkier.
The Crosscut, like the Brainsaw, is a blaster primarily intended for roleplay. It has a 2 dart Smart AR system, with a pull-back prime. In terms of blasting, it functions essentially like a Messenger with one less barrel. Its special feature however is a foam saw blade mounted on the left side, which spins when the secondary lower trigger is pulled. An RRP of 15USD is not a bad price for this fun and thematically appropriate roleplay blaster.

Buzz Bee
Last year's Ultra Tek line gave Buzz Bee a big boost, propelling them into legitimate contender status and really giving Nerf some stiff competition. 2016 saw a number of solid new releases from Buzz Bee, but by far the best of them was the Ultra Tek Destiny.
The Destiny is an air-powered, full-auto blaster that uses its own proprietary 20 dart clips. It is essentially a foam-compatible version of the BoomCo Rapid Madness, with a horizontal clip well, a huge pump stroke and a chamber vent button. After around 20 pumps to fill the bladder, the Destiny can let rip its 20 darts in well less than two seconds - I've clocked it emptying its entire clip in one second, and many others have witnessed reliable 12-14+dps. This incredible ROF, combined with its very reasonable RRP of 25USD made the Destiny one of the most fun, and easily one of the best releases of 2016.

Dart Zone
Like Buzz Bee, Dart Zone really stepped up its game with recent releases, sporting Elite-competitive range claims, and the power to actually meet those claims. Like with Buzz Bee, there was one standout release of the year, the Magnum Superdrum.
The Magnum Superdrum is a slide-primed blaster with a 40 (!) dart cylinder and slam-fire. It packs considerable power, easily reaching its range claim of 80ft, and newer revisions even feature easily swappable drums for quick reloads. All of this for an incredibly low RRP of 20USD made the Magnum Superdrum the best release of the year for many Nerfers.

Overall 2016 wasn't the best year for Nerf, with a distinct lack of good releases across the board with a few exceptions. For the hobby as a whole however, 2016 was a great year. We saw some great blasters from both Buzz Bee and Dart Zone, who look poised to give Nerf a serious run for its money in 2017. We also saw a massive boom in aftermarket parts available for the hobby, including body kits, flywheels, motors and other accessories.


  1. two comments: 1. You forgot the Dart Zone Enforcer. 2. US version of Tri strike really good, with the darts hitting 90+ ft, and the mega darts hitting 75+ ft. with a good pump. Missile really bad, though, hitting 10 ft.-20 ft. at max.

    1. I didn't forget the Enforcer, I just don't consider it anywhere near as good/notable/standout a release as the Magnum Superdrum.
      I focus on grey trigger blasters where possible, as they are the most relevant to me.