Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Review: Nerf Modulus Recon MkII

With the first Modulus blaster being a flywheeler, the next logical blaster to release is a Retaliator-based springer, being that the Retaliator platform has the most tacticool potential. Nerf did exactly that, releasing the Recon MkII. How does it compare to the still available Retaliator?
Pretty standard Modulus style box, open front with the Modulus advert on the back.

Let's take a look at the base Recon MkII blaster first.
The Recon MkII is based on the Recon/Retaliator platform, and so is a compact slide primed, clip (mag) system blaster. Compared to its older siblings, it has a unique Modulus aesthetic, in particular the different handle and slide designs, the entirely new handguard and side tac rail. Unfortunately, like so many other blasters released recently, it is lacking detail on the left side. This is particularly irritating as the slide and front body look especially plain and boring.

Looking at the front, note how the shell is completely flat. Especially take note of the lack of divot below the muzzle that is found on the Recon/Retaliator.
Sling loop at the bottom of the handle, pretty standard, though the triangular shape is new.
The Recon MkII has two tac rails, one on the slide (ala Recon/Retaliator), but also one on the side.

This side rail is ideal for lights, though the lack of Nerf-made lights recently is perplexing. This point looks to be resolved soon once those new Modulus attachments get released.

The handle is a more curved design than that found in the N-Strike line. I personally like it, it's a good size and quite smooth, with the cuts in the handle being unnoticable. The handguard is perhaps a little small, especially that strange edge just below the trigger.
The slide is also a slightly different design to that on the Recon/Retal. The first difference is that the slide doesn't actually rest flush with the front surface, which is especially disconcerting with barrel attachments. I feel that the flow of the body with barrels works much better if the slide goes all the way forward.

More troublesome however is the tac rail, which is raised slightly above that of a Recon/Retal. I find that the raised rail digs much more into my hand compared to a Recon/Retal.

The jam door is a flip open as normal for this platform, and has the same aperture.

The firing cycle of the Recon MkII is much same as other springer clip (mag) system blasters.
Pull the slide back to prime the spring and open the bolt.
Switch clips if needed with the slide back.

Push the slide forward to close the bolt and load a dart.
Pull the trigger to fire, then repeat.

Note that my Recon MkII is a revised model from the original. There are a few key physical differences that you can spot while still in box.
The first is that the revised model lacks a small nub at the front that the original model had. This is probably the easiest change to spot.
Closer examination reveals a small slot cut into the back of the magwell, circled in red. Additionally, the handguard has been recessed slightly, and is vertical and rectangular, rather than slightly angled and trapezoidal.
The key functional difference however is clip (mag) compatability. The original model only worked with 6 and 12 dart clips (mags), which is completely ridiculous and unacceptable. Making a blaster incompatible with probably the most popular of all clips (mags) is an incredibly stupid oversight, how this got past initial design phases I have no clue. The new revised model is compatible with all clip (mag) sized, as demonstrated below:

Let's look at how the Recon MkII compares to the Retal. After all, they are extremely similar.

In terms of basic shape and function, the two are pretty much the same. Though they have significant aesthetic differences, there is pretty much no functional difference between the two.

 While the handles are quite different, the trigger and clip (mag) release switches are not.

The slides are somewhat different, especially with the Recon MkII's not going forward all the way, but they have the same travel anyway and feel quite similar besides the tac rail differences.
The jam doors and jam door apertures are pretty much the same.
The magwells are rather different, the Recon MkII's is boxier but slightly lower profile.

Take note of the difference in the front. The Recon MkII's is completely flat and excessively boring, while the Retal's has more detail, and more importantly a small divot below the muzzle. This divot allows locking of most barrel extensions onto the muzzle. Without it, barrel extensions that rely on this divot are not locked in place and are somewhat looser. This is especially a problem for the Recon MkII given that the whole Modulus idea is about customisability.

Let's take a look at the Recon MkII's new barrel extension.
The barrel extension is a very short piece, but a cool looking one at that. It's drastically different from most other barrels in style, being quite aggressively cut and an unusual muzzle piece. I personally quite like it.
Oddly, from the front, the barrel extension is actually rather hollow - there are a lot of gaps throughout the shell, much like the barrel shroud of a Rapidstrike.
The back is pretty standard, with one exception. Instead of using a spring loaded dome below the barrel as with most barrel extensions of this type, this one uses a barrel locking mechanism akin to the Modulus Proximity Barrel. I see this as a bit of an issue, as this method is generally less secure than with the spring loaded dome. This method is necessary for barrels like the Proximity Barrel which don't have the space for it, and acceptable as such barrels are typically lighter and so shake themselves less.
The barrel extension also has a faux tactical rail on the bottom. Though I would have liked it to be functional, given its length I understand why they chose to block it out.
Certain attachments can sort of grab on to it, but won't be secure and can fall off or be knocked off very easily.
Here's the Recon MkII barrel extension compared to various others. As you can tell, even compared to a half-length Recon/Retal barrel it's shorter. The only barrel of comparable length could be the Modulus Proximity Barrel but I sold mine off some time ago so didn't have it for comparison.
Like a lot of other barrel extensions, the Recon MkII's doesn't serve much, if any, purpose besides looking cool.

Now let's take a quick look at the Recon MkII's stock.

Unlike the barrel extension, the stock is quite boring, being a solid grey piece with no special feature. It's also extremely short, as the next picture shows. At very least it's solid.
The stock is painfully short, comparable to the Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster's extremely short stock. On a Recon MkII (and most other blasters for that matter), I find this stock pretty much unusably short and overall not very good, easily one of the worst of Nerf's stocks.

Finally let's look at the fully assembled Recon MkII.

It's a decent looking piece, the parts stylistically work together to form a neat looking micro-carbine sort of thing. The left side is a little bland, but the right side looks rather nice.
Next to a full Retal set. The Retal is much more substantial and has more useful parts, though I'd suggest that the Recon MkII's parts are more aesthetically focused. Both have annoyingly short stocks, but while the Recon MkII's barrel is basically pointless, the Retal's barrel is ideal for mounting pump grips, and the foregrip is useful for a DIY vertical pump grip.

Finally for performance. Does the Recon MkII match up to the original Recon replacement, the Retaliator?

Sadly not. Ranges are pretty poor for an Elite-era blaster, about 9-10m true flat range. Really not remarkable, and not close to the range claim of 21m.
Accuracy is not very good either, but certainly not the worst I've seen. Spread at full range of ~9m is about 1m wide, and a lot of darts tend to swerve, but for the most part the spread is better than some other blasters I've seen.
Rate of fire is about the same as a Retal, 2-3dps is possible, especially with locks removed.

The Recon MkII works best as a large pistol, given its compact base blaster size and slide prime. In stock form, stocks and barrels are just a disservice to mobility and performance. Unfortunately, it suffers from obsolescence despite being a newer blaster, as the Retaliator can fill the exact same roles and performs better. Even worse, the Retaliator can fill some roles that the Recon MkII cannot, such as firing potshots at long(ish) range with surprising accuracy.

The Recon MkII retails for about 40AUD, with sales bringing it down usually to 30AUD. I picked mine up for 20AUD from Myer thanks to a catalogue error (the Ion Fire and Recon MkII prices got switched), but even for that price I don't think I got that good a deal. For ~30AUD I would not even have consider it at all. The Retaliator can be had for 29AUD from Kmart regularly, and offers far superior value. Not only does it include more and better accessories (primarily the 12 clip [mag] and barrel for pump grips), but it is also a superior performer. Outside of aesthetics or abnormal circumstances, I cannot think of a legitimate reason to buy a Recon MkII over a Retaliator.
In a way, the Recon MkII is faithful to its namesake - it is completely outclassed by the Retaliator.

Pros: Has a new and different aesthetic that I personally like, new barrel extension piece is quite cool
Cons: Outclassed in just about every respect by the Retaliator

Power: 3.5/7
Accuracy: 3/5
Rate of Fire: 3.5/5
Usability: 3.5/5
Value for Money: 2/5
Overall: 2.9/5

Personal Rating: 2.5/5 - it should be on par with the Retaliator for performance and yet isn't, and is sold for a higher price. I like its aesthetic and the barrel extension, but that's all I can really say about it.

A link to the review I posted on BlasterHub: link

1 comment: