PRICE: UNDER $25
AVAILABLE: NOW (Walmart exclusive under “Adventure Force”)
HIGHLY RECOMMEND (Product provided as a free sample, but opinions remain my own.)
PRICE: UNDER $25
AVAILABLE: NOW (Walmart exclusive under “Adventure Force”)
HIGHLY RECOMMEND (Product provided as a free sample, but opinions remain my own.)
Free product provided by Nerf, thanks to them!
Thanks for the kit, Nerf! Check out the unboxing and see what came in.
Yeah, this year in review is super late. With New York Toy Fair fast approaching, it’s still good to see where we’ve been and it might shed some light on where we’re going. I’ll address the more Big Box/Major Brands in the blaster space and provide some anecdotal pontificating about the industry, how it did, and what I hope to see in New York later this week.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. Nerf KILLED it this year releasing the Nerf Rival Perses. Compact, high-powered, hopper fed, rechargeable (although proprietary) battery, for stock and modified players the Perses was definitely on everyone’s radar whatever your skill set. It had the price tag to go with it, but if you could get one you were in for some super fun times. I had other favorites like the Nerf Mega Megalodon, but the Perses is what really made the Year in Nerf for me. The Nerf Titan CS-50 deserves a mention, but mostly for being released with the fabled 50 round drum.
The Nerf Knockout was another memorable release, with the low cost and impressive pop. I was a fan after I received my sample, and even stock I thought it was a neat sidearm. Other blasters were not single shot blasters, but the design and tactile loading made for a satisfying experience for me. Initially some folks thought it was too many steps or too much time between shots, but considering how many mods I’ve seen for the Nerf Knockout, it has at least found a home with someone.
Nerf Hits an Ultra Rough Spot – Limping Out of 2019
The big conflict for Nerf this year wasn’t the release of Nerf Alpha Strike though, it was the rollout of the Nerf Ultra One. Besides some off-site shenanigans, the Nerf Ultra One was the following:
Nerf released a new, pricier (and considered unnecessary by some groups) ammo type, that didn’t fire straight or hit the marketed distance. The Nerf Ultra One blaster didn’t really offer anything new in functionality (we’ve seen front loading motorized flywheel blasters before) and even though the darts cost more, no extremely noticeable range/benefit existed between them and already available ammo. As a side note, the ammo is also dark colored, so for a new expensive ammo it is also easier to lose. Arguably, the ammo is also more fragile and while Nerf streamline darts may bend, they don’t break in half. I could go on about Nerf Ultra, but that’s an entirely separate post on its own.
Sprinting for 2020
Nerf did sneak a few more releases out recently: the Nerf Rival Takedown, Nerf Rival Charger, Nerf Star Wars Mandalorian Gauntlet, Nerf Alpha Strike Flyte, and the Nerf Ultra Two. These are probably closer to being 2020 releases but some pretty favorable blasters in that mix. More on those as the year progresses.
If these blasters are any indication, Nerf is trying new things but knowing what works and going with that angle as well. Could Ultra have gone better? Absolutely. I have this theory that Nerf Ultra will be Nerf’s fill-in for areas that they can’t sell Rival easily (Australia, waiting to hear from you) but as with a lot of things in this hobby, all we have is speculation.
Besides blasters that have leaked, Nerf’s in this position where they do so many blasters and styles it’s hard to say what they will release next. Nerf Ultra is probably still big on their push for 2020 and Nerf Rival, but what will come from Elite and Zombie Strike is too big to guess. Maybe Nerf will double down on additional Fortnite “skins” to complement the Axeroni and Drift weapon recently released.
There may be additional Icon releases, and obviously Nerf Alpha Strike isn’t going anywhere. Nerf still has licensed properties such as Transformers, Star Wars, Overwatch, and Fortnite to produce. Given the emergence of the new GI Joe movie and mobile game, maybe (hopefully?) some proper G.I. Joe blasters are not too far from prototyping either.
*Nerf announced a new partnership with Microsoft and 343 Industries, makers of the Halo Infinite game. With the MA40 full size blaster, SPNKr and Needler Micro Shots, a fresh excitement was palpable. Now producing Halo blasters instead of Mattel and BOOMco, I’m curious as to where this new license leads. Even with the missteps during the year, Nerf still remains a frontrunner in blasters and brand awareness, becoming synonymous with “blaster play” and pretty much any toy dart blaster/launcher out there. The other brands are making strong cases for themselves but Nerf’s still the brand to chase.
*Edit: this was announced just before Toy Fair, when the Nerf section was already written. New Halo developments factored in. Yay, for editorial delays! There was additional info released as of 2020/02/21, but those will be covered in a future post.
XShot/Zuru came out of New York Toy Fair swinging for the fences in 2019, marketing the new Chaos line HARD. They announced their Rival-compatible line and made a pretty big buzz, in spite of the lack of new XShot dart blasters. Instead, XShot struck a deal with Ninja (the game streamer, first on Twitch now on Mixer) to rebrand existing blasters with his face and personality. The Turbo Fire was the only really new dart blaster for 2019, but the availability of the cost-effective XShot Chaos blasters definitely make up for it in price and performance. That there’s a pistol and release and both are easily affordable is a great combo from XShot.
XShot sent out gold blasters to XShot League members with their samples this year, making a striking image on social media. It looks like partially gold blasters will come out later in 2020 as well, for anyone not in the XShot League.
XShot to 2020
XShot continues to perform strongly with a predominantly lower priced product. Their build quality is still adequate or beyond sufficient for what you pay, and some of their blasters still offer additional tactile feedback in with recoil action. Nice touches that really make the line stand out. I only hope they have some new designs across the board this year for both Chaos and the dart blasters, especially since Nerf is now going into their category as Alpha Strike. To date, I still don’t know of any electronic XShot blaster but maybe this is the year they go into batteries. I was also impressed to see them tap Ninja as a license, so if they continue this trend it will be interesting to see what they do next.
Dart Zone/PrimeTime Toys
Dart Zone swung for the fences this year, most notably with the Dart Zone Pro line. After building up a lot of buzz around a hobbyist level blaster, Dart Zone released it. The reviews were mostly positive, but as I didn’t get the blaster (It was a bit out of my budget at $180) I didn’t review it and will refrain from commenting too deeply on it since I haven’t actually used it. I will say it was surprising to see a major company release a hobby grade item through their website and avoid the regulations of big box retail. To date, there looks to be a Target release of another Dart Zone Pro blaster and more info on that from New York Toy Fair.
Dart Zone didn’t just release the Dart Zone Pro, though. They reinforced their BallistixOps and Dart Zone lines, with the Apex Revolver, the Liberator, the Savage Spin and the V-Twin, to name a few. They consistently serve up high-powered impressive product at a budget friendly price and 2020 will be no different from the looks of it. The Apex was fun, but I think the Liberator might be my favorite from the line this year. Solid form, smooth loading mechanism, fun to use.
Dart Zone still doesn’t have any major licenses for blasters, but they continue to distribute well through Walmart’s “Adventure Force” line of toys. In this case, they continue to produce such quality product that they don’t even really need a licensed property and find attention by just making fun product. Can’t wait to see more from them out of Toy Fair and into 2020.
Buzz Bee Toys
Buzz Bee has not opted into making a HIR Rival equivalent ammo yet, opting to stick with dart ammo so far. Not sure what they will produce for 2020 but I definitely won’t mind more pump-action blasters.
Of their lineup this past year I think the Max Morpher was my favorite. It had the most stable stock and the wackiest transformation of the other transforming blasters. It was fun, and also upheld the tradition of low cost/comparable performance that Buzz Bee Toys has really emphasized over time. I do feel the Mutator was a slight misstep, it was too big and the mechanism was interesting but made the blaster ungainly to wield.
All the same, they continue to produce and produce interesting blasters of good quality for an affordable price. I didn’t see any new Walking Dead blasters, so no telling if the license is finally done or they are gearing up for additional designs. Stay tuned, because Buzz Bee Toys continues to chug along and if you sleep on them you might miss a great blaster.
Zing came in hot, with new BOWS. They were back, and this time with PvP action on their minds with the Hyperstrike bows. With some new design tweaks, such as replaceable bands and a collapsible frame the new bows were definitely a welcome sight. The new arrows were a touch softer than the original Zing arrows, and while not totally comfortable to get hit with the changes were noticeable.
I anticipate more bows from Zing, and their continued pursuit of team based combat games. It will be certainly interesting to also see what happens now that they’ve purchased the Marshmallow Fun Company, makers of Marshmallow Shooters. Stay tuned to this space and my social links, as I find the news, I’ll post about it! 2020 just might be one of the biggest years for blasters, let’s go to work.
HASBRO PARTNERS WITH 343 INDUSTRIES TO LAUNCH HALO INFINITE NERF BLASTERS
Hasbro Unveils NERF Halo MA40 Blaster and MicroShots Assortment Inspired by the Legendary Halo Franchise
PAWTUCKET, R.I. (February 18, 2020) – Global play and entertainment company Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) today announced a partnership with 343 Industries to introduce a range of officially licensed Halo® NERF blasters, including a first look at the NERF Halo MA40 Blaster and NERF Halo MicroShots assortment hitting shelves this fall in the U.S. and U.K.
This partnership will unite two leading brands: Halo, who has fundamentally changed the videogame landscape for nearly two decades, and NERF, who has captivated generations of fans as the leader in foam, action-based performance toys.
The NERF Halo blasters will immerse Halo fans into the highly anticipated next chapter of the legendary Halo franchise, Halo Infinite, featuring the iconic Master Chief. Through an epic line-up of sci-fi inspired NERF blasters designed to look like the accessories featured in the game, fans can play out the heroic battles in an interstellar war between humanity and an overwhelming alien threat.
“Halo consumer products licensees and categories have expanded significantly since the launch of Halo 5: Guardians in 2015,” said John Friend, Head of Consumer Products at 343 Industries. “Halo has grown to become one of the leading sci-fi transmedia and entertainment franchises through the release of our many books, comics, apparel, and so much more. Hasbro is the perfect partner to bring the heroism of the Master Chief to fans of all ages and expand the Halo Universe to a new generation.”
To kick off the partnership, Hasbro unveiled three forthcoming products: the NERF Halo MA40 Blaster, a motorized, semi-automatic blaster that includes a 10-dart clip and 10 ELITE darts, and two collectible single-shot MicroShots blasters inspired by iconic Halo launchers – SPNKr and The Needler. Select products will also include an exclusive Halo Infinite code for unlockable game add-on content.
The NERF Halo MA40 Blaster, NERF Halo SPNKr MicroShot, and NERF Halo NEEDLER MicroShot will debut at most major retailers in the U.S. and the U.K. this fall, with additional markets to follow in 2021. The segment will continue to build with additional blasters, accessories, and retail exclusives launching later in the year.
“NERF and Halo are both heritage brands that kids have grown up with and loved for decades, and we’ve found a strong overlap within our consumers,” said Adam Kleinman, Vice President of Global Brand Strategy and Marketing, Hasbro. “We are constantly looking into ways to bring more innovation and excitement to the NERF brand, and saw an incredible opportunity to collaborate with 343 industries’ as they reinvent HALO for the next generation.”
Halo Infinite is set to release this Holiday alongside the next generation Xbox gaming console, the Xbox Series X. Follow NERF on social (Instagram.com/NERF and Facebook.com/NERF) for more information on Halo and upcoming releases.
When I first heard about the Nerf Ultra One I wasn’t sure what to think. 120’ (Rival style ranges? Higher “power” than Elite? What?) but being around blasters for so long I know not to buy 100% into the marketing. And when I saw the Ultra One press copy read that the blasters were for “8+”, that told me how to dial in my expectations. Honestly, Rival is designed for 14+. What would you expect?
The Nerf Ultra One to me doesn’t seem that revolutionary. I reliably hit my target (which you can hear in the video), the Ultra darts don’t seem to have the same wacky flight patterns as Nerf streamline darts, and it achieves better range than Nerf Accustrike.
But it’s a semiauto blaster with a drum you load. Nothing we haven’t seen from Nerf or other brands, and for a first blaster it’s underwhelming. I remember not a lot of people too impressed with the Apollo in the beginning, so the naysayers with Ultra isn’t surprising. Maybe future designs will be more innovative to that end, but that remains to be seen.
The “dart DRM” as it’s been called is discussed in the video. I don’t really like that Nerf went with this kind of mechanic to enforce using Nerf darts only, but outside the fandom I don’t think it matters to consumers. I’ve seen a number of non-hobbyist posts about the Ultra One (not just the sponsored ads) that like the blaster. And more casual consumers don’t have a hoard of ammo that won’t work or the myriad of other complaints about the DRM. Hobbyists, arena/mobile party owners, game groups with a communal supply will be affected. I will hazard a guess that most consumers will be outside those populations, buy the Ultra One and an extra pack of ammo, and call it a day.
I had this very conversation in the toy aisle. A mom and her child were trying to find a Nerf blaster to buy. They looked at the Ultra One and remarked at how it was a new blaster. I informed them that the Ultra One would only work with the darts it comes with, so the mom told her child that they would get it on his birthday, with extra ammo. No remarks about how unfair it was, Hasbro market share, stock quotes, nothing. Just a promise to get it as a gift and a pack of ammo.
In addition, PUT THOSE TORCHES AND PITCHFORKS DOWN. Yes, You too. And you. STOP.
THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME HASBRO HAS INTRODUCED NEW AMMO.
THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME HASBRO HAS MADE AMMO THAT FITS ONLY IN CERTAIN BLASTERS.
Back in the 90s, you had micro darts, old school megas, Arrows of Unusual Size, and all sorts of other stuff. Let’s look at some history.
Even before Nerf Ultra, Nerf released streamlines, the original mega darts, rip rockets, whatever the darts were that came with the SM 3000, arrows, Dart Tag Darts (of various incarnations), whistler darts, suction darts, Vortex discs, Mega darts, Elite Streamlines, Accustrikes, Mega Accustrikes, Rival rounds, the list goes on. Every few years they release something new to fire. In the case of Vortex, Mega, and Rival those only fit their specified brands unless otherwise noted. Not just any dart into an n-strike magazine and make it work, and you definitely couldn’t cross other brand ammo in other blasters unless they were front-loading. If Nerf were taking existing ammo off the market, that would be another story. As it stands, the Ultra ammo segment is an addition, not a whole paradigm shift leading to the elimination of everything we already have.
Nerf Rival is also not sold everywhere in the world. I don’t work for Hasbro, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Nerf Ultra satisfies demand for a “higher range” blaster in areas where Rival cannot go, such as Australia. Now the range is questionable, but as long as Nerf can make it to other areas with a new segment, that may not matter to most consumers. They’ll just be happy to see the latest Nerf blasters in their stores.
Again, I’m glad that Hasbro sent me a sample and saved me the trouble of buying one. The blaster features aren’t revolutionary and the dart type is interesting for something new, but past the first pack of ammo I am not sold on this line yet. Yeah, you can snap the ammo in half and some of it even got gouged by my Dart Rover but it’s not super brittle and in your pocket it’ll keep shape better than current Nerf darts. My favorite segment from Nerf is still Rival, but that’s a different market from Ultra, ultimately.
I recognize that the blaster is made for 8+ and is intended for younger users, like everything else in this hobby. My biggest complaint is the drum and the trigger working with the new dart recognition mechanism. It’s pretty uncomfortable to slam my finger against the trigger when a dart isn’t correct or loaded properly, which happens a noticeable amount of times. When in the thick of a blaster battle or trying to shoot targets, that jolt against your finger from a missing/jammed dart really sucks.
In the end, I can’t give the Ultra One a high recommendation like the Nerf Perses. It looks cool, but needing C batteries, the annoyance of the Nerf-only dart mechanism, and the overall cost are problematic. There are a lot of other great, more reliable blasters out there worth your money, Nerf or not Nerf brand. I would suggest waiting for the Nerf Ultra One to drop in price as a sale (probably Black Friday) before dropping your money on it. And you may not want an Ultra One for any number of reasons, THAT IS TOTALLY OK.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading! Totally appreciate your coming by and getting through my rambling. Make sure to check me out on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube for continued updates, reviews, and other content! Thanks again to Click Click BAMF as well for putting in some work on the video.
XShot made some major moves this week. From Toy Fair 2019 to today, they finally released their own entry in the 14+, advanced range blaster market with the XShot Chaos line, looking to “disrupt” the current market as they claim to have done with dart blasters.
I don’t know if this line will turn the market on its head, but XShot makes a very compelling case with these blasters. At under $20, that is the sweet spot for many purchases, promising performance on par against other blasters that cost considerably more, and with more budget friendly ammo, parents may not want to drop $40 on a Nerf Hypnos, which is the most current pump-action Nerf Rival blaster at this time. (The Helios and Jupiter are bolt/side knob, the Hades is last year and not readily on shelves from what I’ve seen, and the Artemis is mostly out of circulation on store shelves as well.)
As far as a manual blaster to buy goes, the Orbit and Meteor have very strong factors working in its favor to get bought. XShot is certainly working to get the blasters visible to consumers.
It is a bit of a shame that there are only two blasters in this line right now, but the Orbit and the Meteor are a fine start. The Meteor is a fun pistol to handle and use, and as far as I am concerned a pump action blaster is always the way to go.
Loading the Meteor through the handle offers a very different pattern than other brand pistols, and is a welcome change of pace. The Orbit has some questions for me as far as design goes, but firing from the hip with it works just fine for me.
In the realm of high impact rounds, the XShot Chaos is a strong contender against Nerf and Dart Zone, strictly speaking on performance. Nerf I would say still has the advantage in marketing, but XShot certainly is taking steps to address that. All this talk of XShot as a low price brand, but Dart Zone Blasters has had mostly comparable/if not better items at competitive prices to XShot and Nerf. They are still chugging away making new product, as XShot is doing, and keeping prices on blasters and ammo low. Buzz Bee is remaining strong in their section of the market with dart blasters thankfully, possibly content to let the other companies battle it out and leave the dart market open just a bit.
Kudos to XShot for their accomplishment at making the Chaos line a reality, and for giving budget-minded folks another choice in the market. It’s still incredibly interesting to see what happens next, and I hope you tune in here to get my take on things.
Thanks, XShot for the samples, and Click Click BAMF for the editing work on the video!
Thanks as well to Wicked Ball Chicago for letting me use your arena! If you are looking to hold a party and live near Lombard, Illinois, check them out!
Looking at the Nerf Rival Perses. I dug it. $99 is a hefty tag, but sometimes it’s worth it. And just because the Prometheus is the same price currently, you get a much more mobile blaster that’s easier to move with, aim, and did I mention maneuver? The convenient release on the battery is a super nice piece of design, even though it’s a shame the old Nerf battery packs do not work with it. Thanks for reading this far, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube for more videos!
Thanks, Nerf for the sample, and Click Click BAMF for the editing work on the video!
Adventure Force Tactical Strike Liberator
Video filmed at Wicked Ball Chicago in Lombard, IL. Check them out, and thanks to them for letting me film!
Product provided by Dart Zone Blasters, but opinions remain my own.
Special mention to ClickClickBAMF for doing the editing on my video!
NERF ULTRA ONE BLASTER
(HASBRO/Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $49.99/Available: Fall 2019)
NERF is changing the game with NERF ULTRA blasters and darts! NERF ULTRA blasters have advanced design and performance to deliver extreme distance, accuracy, and speed. They include ground-breaking NERF ULTRA darts — the farthest flying NERF darts EVER, featuring lightweight foam material, an innovative flight tip and Aerofin Technology. Take your game to the next level with NERF ULTRA blasters and darts! NERF ULTRA blasters work only with NERF ULTRA darts. The NERF ULTRA ONE motorized blaster has a high-capacity 25-dart dart drum and comes with 25 NERF ULTRA darts. Fire more than 2 dozen darts with the high-performance advantages of this NERF ULTRA blaster. Send darts flying through the air up to 120 feet (36 meters). There’s on-board dart storage for quick reloading. You have the skills and the expertise as a NERF battler, now you have the blaster and darts for game-changing superiority! Includes: blaster, drum, 25 darts, and instructions. Requires 4 C alkaline batteries. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide.
I have thoughts. Watch this space for additional content.
Yes, I was actually sent content this time and am actually, legitimately posting as myself.