Friday, 15 July 2016

Review: Buzz Bee Destiny (18m/60ft EU)

The Buzz Bee Destiny is one of Buzz Bee's most exciting releases this year. It offers a return to good old air powered rapid fire, a system used by the Nerf Magstrike and BoomCo Rapid Madness, both of which have a significant number of fans. How does Buzz Bee's foray into this tech compare, and how does it stack up in the modern world of blasters?
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.
The box is pretty standard Buzz Bee fare, open style with most bits secured by cable ties.

The Destiny is a large, blocky blaster in typical Buzz Bee style. It doesn't look particularly sophisticated, and has limited shell detailing. It's particularly wide, and a lot of the surfaces are very shiny and smooth, contributing to the cheap look. Buzz Bee's plastic quality is certainly getting better, the Destiny's plastic is certainly much less "creaky" and flexible than previous Buzz Bee blasters, but still not quite Nerf quality.
Being that the handle is at the very back, the Destiny also feels quite unbalanced. Though it is not especially heavy, it still feels a little awkward to handle, certainly more so than most Nerf blasters.
The Destiny is a very large blaster, pictured here next to a Hyperfire. This sheer size is necessary for containing all the internals, but it could have been designed to be much more ergonomic. The Rapid Madness' design in particular is a good setup, since its primary weight is above or behind the handle, and it has a decently sized stock. Moving the trigger to the front handle would certainly improve balance and handling significantly.

Here's a close up of the "fiesta" texture. It does look a bit ridiculous and only adds to the cheap feel and further distances Buzz Bee's aesthetics from Nerf. Buzz Bee have said that future batches will have a "carbon fibre" texture, but the first batches to hit retail will still have the "fiesta" texture.

The Destiny is an air powered blaster, so has a pump on the bottom. It's quite a long stroke, about 20cm or so. A double action pump would have been nice for reducing pump count, but as seen with the Rapid Madness, also makes pumping a lot harder.
The pump handle is fairly small. It's comfortable enough for me, but could be a problem if you have large hands. The pump also freely rotates around.

The handle is decently sized, though again could be a little bigger. My hand fits on it comfortably, but there's not much wiggle room. The one handle complain I do have is the extrusion on the back, in the middle of the handle. It's a significant protrusion and is rather uncomfortable, you can see it digging into my hand in the above picture.

A close look at the Destiny's clipwell. There are several pieces of note. Firstly, the small orange piece at the back of the clipwell. This piece stops the clip from being inserted any further inwards, and lines up the first dart nicely for firing. It retracts when the trigger is pulled to allow the clip to advance, and is held back by the clip after firing the first dart. Also take note of the series of bumps along the channel in the clipwell. These are spring loaded to help keep the clip in place, both during firing and between bursts.

This button is something that was featured on the Rapid Madness. It is labelled as a "jam release" button, and vents the air from the firing chamber. This has a two-fold function. Firstly, the firing mechanism is reset to rest, which allows the clip to be moved freely. Second, by releasing the remaining air in the firing mech, the blaster also cannot autonomously fire after use. This problem occurs when the blaster is fully fired, and the firing chamber partially fills with air. Due to the nature of the system, the blaster is capable of suddenly and randomly firing once with the residual air. Venting the firing chamber naturally eliminates this problem.

The Destiny uses a unique 20 dart clip reminiscent of the Magstrike's clip, as well as BoomCo clips. The top of the clip has arrows showing which way to insert it, and ridges to align in correctly. Note the small cutout at the back of the clip. What this does is catches on the aforementioned small orange piece in the clipwell, preventing the clip from dropping out after being emptied if the trigger is released. This is a useful feature for not dropping the clip after firing, that is also easily bypassed if desired by simply holding the trigger down.
Like with the clips used by the Magstrike and BoomCo lines, the Destiny's clip uses a doublestack design. This allows it to be a lot shorter, but naturally a lot wider. The necessity for full barrels for each dart makes the clip a lot bulkier.
Here's the clip next to an 18 dart Nerf mag. Despite the higher capacity, the doublestack design allows it to be shorter, though is substantially bulkier otherwise. If Nerf darts weren't so squishy, doublestack mags would be something interesting to consider and develop.

Given that the clip is still quite long and the Destiny has a side clipwell, a fully loaded Destiny is quite large. The general bulk of the blaster itself plus the width of the clip can make it a little difficult to handle. Having a sideways clipwell can be helpful for a clip blaster however. Some of the Magstrike's problems stemmed from its vertical clip design. It prevented the use of clips larger than 10 darts, and had a tendency for partially fired clips to slip downwards. Furthermore, some Magstrikes struggled to advance past the first dart unless held sideways. Although a sideways clip is rather clunky, especially with a high capacity, the Destiny solves the Magstrike's aforementioned issues very well.

Finally for performance. How well does the air powered Destiny fare in a blaster world primarily filled with springers and flywheelers?
To fire off all 20 darts, the Destiny needs a minimum of around 15 full pumps. More will not improve performance significantly, but provides good insurance against air loss. A conservative rule of thumb for on-the-fly pumping is 1 pump per dart, besides the first shot which will require 2. The OPRV on the bladder will kick in at about 20 full pumps. Since the blaster is full auto, once it is pumped up, simply pull the trigger and watch darts fly out.

Range is decent, though not exceptional. With the included Ultra Tek darts I was averaging about 10-12m ranges. About average among Nerf's (grey trigger) Elite blasters, though significantly below anything at orange trigger level, in particular many of Buzz Bee's other Ultra Tek offerings. Range is rather inconsistent with the Destiny though, one shot may soar to 13m, the next might drop to 8m. The variance in range is pretty large compared to most other blasters I've used.
Muzzle velocity with light blue FVJs averages somewhere between 50-55fps, which is close to (maybe a little more than) the muzzle velocity of grey trigger Elite blasters.
Shot accuracy is quite poor. Even at just ~8m, I was getting a spread around a metre wide. Using my standard testing doorway at ~8m distance, somewhere between a quarter and a third of darts fired didn't pass through the doorway.
Rate of fire though, oh my. Both the Magstrike and Rapid Madness are extremely impressive, capable of around 10 darts per second with a good amount of air. The Destiny though, at full pressure, can belt out 15-20 darts per second - easily living up to its "20 darts in 2 seconds" box claim. ROF can be highly variable, particularly depending on how much the blaster is pumped. Such a high ROF from a stock blaster is unheard of, and is extremely impressive.

Such a high ROF does have a significant downside though. The trigger response on the Destiny is not very good, so the smallest burst that can be reliably fired is about 3 darts. 2 dart bursts are possible, but not consistently achievable. Single shots are almost impossible, and pretty much impossible in combat conditions. With an entire clip of 20 darts, the most single shots I've gotten from one clip is about 3, and the rest became 2 or 3 dart bursts.

The Destiny serves much the same role as the Nerf Magstrike did, an empty-and-drop blaster, given that they are both air blasters and have ludicrously high ROF for stock blasters. Given how quickly it dumps its load, and how much pumping is required to full it up again, a lot of the time it simply isn't practical to reload in the middle of a game. Whether Buzz Bee will be selling extra clips separately remains to be seen, and will significantly affect its general use viability as cheap spare clips are one of the big advantages of the Rapid Madness. The Destiny is excellent for situations where you simply have to dump a heap of foam in a particular area/direction as quickly as possible. The raw amount of foam it puts out is ideal for room/area clearing and area denial. Its highly variable range, poor accuracy and fire control naturally make it very poor for regular cover-to-cover potshots. In the world of modded blasters, the Destiny faces stiff opposition from high speed Rapidstrike builds, which can put out a load of foam almost as quickly, has a more modular (and generally better) magazine system and doesn't need to be pumped up. For players who dislike flywheels though, the Destiny is the best modern foam firing blaster for raw dart output.

The Destiny should be available soon for 25USD in the US, which is pretty good value. The Nerf Magstrike retailed for around ~20USD when it was still available, and the BoomCo Rapid Madness started off at a very high 50USD. No blaster in that price range offers anywhere near the Destiny's raw foam output potential. Yes there are more sophisticated, accurate and powerful blasters in that range, but for raw fun factor the Destiny is easily one of the top blasters out there. The insane ROF and the awesome sound can give just about anyone a big smile, and that alone makes it a great blaster.

Pros: Ludicrous ROF, awesome firing sound
Cons: Range and accuracy are nothing special, a little awkward to handle, proprietary clip system means no cross-compatability, pumping is always a pain

Power: 5/7
Accuracy: 2/5
Rate of Fire: 5/5
Usability: 3.5/5
Value for Money: 5/5
Overall: 3.81/5

Personal Rating: 4/5 - although pumping is annoying and the ergonomics are not great, it's just impossible to argue with 20 darts in around a second. Even with my significant experience with modded Rapidstrikes, the Destiny brings a smile to my face every time I fire it, and that in itself makes it worth purchasing.

Internally, as I suspected, the Destiny is extremely similar to the Magstrike. Its firing mech is a hybrid springer and air blaster system designed for high ROF and (relatively) low range. The one significant difference is the addition of the side valve, which allows venting of the air from the firing chamber.
The Destiny uses a rubber bladder that's essentially the same as the Magstrike's. It even has a release valve on the back of it like the Magstrike.
Mod potential for the Destiny is not so much about performance as it is about improving generally usability. Cutting down the OPRV on the tank would increase air capacity, though ensure you don't cut off too much, otherwise it won't actuate at all. The most significant mod I can think of though is hooking the Destiny up to a HPA/LPA system so as to completely eliminate the need to pump, and would likely also boost ROF. That, combined with a heap of spare clips, would give essentially the same advantages as a high speed Rapidstrike build without being flywheel.

A link to the review I posted on BlasterHub: link

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