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.)
$19.99, available at Target now! The Buzz Bee Air Warriors Agitator allows you to hit your target every time! With the capability to blast targets from up to 100 feet away, this three foot blaster keeps the fun going with a flip clip so you don’t run out mid-battle. When one is empty, simply flip it around for another 10 count clip. Never lose sight of your target with the detachable barrel, which also doubles as a scope! [MSRP: $19.99; Ages 6+] $20, comes with a flip clip, and detachable barrel attaches to the top as a scope/sight.
See how my testing went, looking at mobility, mechanics, firing, and loading. Overall a pretty solid blaster at a great price. Comes with 20 XL Distance darts, but I recommend the PrecisePro instead.
Thanks to Buzz Bee Toys for the sample, and Wicked Ball Chicago for letting me use your space! Check them out for parties, including archery tag, Nerf Wars, Laser Tag, and Bubble Soccer. Wicked Ball Chicago is in Yorktown Mall, in Lombard, IL.
Dart Zone Destructor! Exclusive First Look, First Reveal!
Available: Fall – TARGET EXCLUSIVE
Capacity: 30 darts (that’s how many it comes with) but able to hold more.
Rev Trigger: YES
FPS readings: Initial reads seem to indicate at least 100 FPS on occasion
Tactical Rails: Aesthetic
Sling Points: YES
Batteries: 6 AA (Not included)
HUGE THANKS to Dart Zone Blasters for the exclusive first look! And for such a great blaster, too! Easy on the wallet, high on impact. There were some minor, tiny, issues with feeding but nothing that you didn’t see out of the CommandFire. I have a few more mobility tests to do for my own reasons, but fresh out of the box this thing is pretty sweet at first impression. And for that price it’s definitely worth a look. Watch this space for more on this blaster!
EXCLUSIVE reveal coming this week to foamfromabove! Dart Zone has a new look arriving exclusively to Target! I don’t know exactly what it is, but it’s coming 🙂
Original live broadcast on 2/19/2019, after New York Toy Fair. Panelists include Vas from FoamFromaAbove.com, Nerfers101 from Instagram, and Nikki from NY Dart Zone. Producer is Gabe E. of NY Dart Zone.
We talk about EVERYTHING we saw! HUGE THANKS (in no particular order) to Nerf, Dart Zone Blasters, Buzz Bee Toys, Top Secret Toys, Zing, Marshmallow Fun, Far Out Toys, and Paper Shooters (Spitball Blasterz)! Appreciate the samples provided!
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2018 was witness to one of the biggest moments for me in the toy industry: the Fall of Toys R Us. If you read any of the Rock Father’s coverage, Toys R Us going bankrupt in the U.S. and shuttering its doors at all U.S. locations was a watershed moment that left ripples throughout the toy industry. While the brand lives on in Canada and Asia, losing the U.S. side of the business left a hole in consumer spending that many retailers tried to take advantage of. And after some initial reports, it’s not likely any true winner arose.
That meant more retailers carrying blasters, carrying exclusives, and a lot of private label items under air zone and stats had to find homes elsewhere. The Toys R Us exclusive brands and Nerf skins like the sonic series (there were still some fire/ice kits around), Alien Menace, all needed new homes too. Where once many blasters were consolidated under the House of Geoffrey, they scattered to new retailers, eager to draw in new business. One BIG example is Walmart making a grab with Adventure Force, their private label. Two of the brands below are distributed through Adventure Force, making some of those blasters Walmart exclusives. Target locked in their own exclusive deals as well, but this makes collecting and finding the blasters difficult for fans who make it a point to find what they can, and casual buyers couldn’t care less as long as the price is right.
Most of the products/brands on this list I had personal experience with, or was able to gain reliable discourse from trusted third party sources. If you think your product should be on this list, get in touch and let me know! I might not even know your product exists.
Nerf had a pretty big year for 2018, and going into 2019 it makes me wonder what’s coming next. When I outlined it, Nerf had a ton of releases this year compared to everyone else. Sure, there were reskins/jolts, but considering volume alone there was a lot of shelf space that Nerf occupied. Besides blasters, Nerf released new goggles, pushed ahead some merchandise with Jazwares, and maintained some new exclusivity agreements across the board. Kohl’s, Amazon, Walmart, and Target were some of the exclusives I heard about, and Academy Sports is the only carrier of the Kronos battle sets (red or blue) as of this writing. Currently, a lot of the Nerf merchandise there is on clearance, so it makes me wonder how well it actually sold at those stores.
Regardless of the sales, Nerf certainly went big this year. Big in the form of the Nerf Prometheus, a $200 Rival blaster that shot faster and had a much higher capacity than a lot of the market, holding over 200 Rival rounds, firing 8 shots/sec, at about 100 FPS. After that they had the Nerf Rival Hades, a bigger version of the Nerf Rival Artemis that held 60 rounds and had slamfire. The Nerf Rival Stormtrooper blaster was functionally similar to a Helios. While still a good blaster, it looked good but didn’t offer anything new mechanism wise.
Other releases included the auto-loading Nerf Infinus (a first in tech), new Mega Accustrike darts released with the Mega Thunderhawk, revisiting light-up and clear plastic designs in the Ghost Ops Evader, and putting out a new chain blaster for Zombie Strike with the Ripchain. Other releases included* (and there were probably others I missed):
– Nerf Chronobarrel/ammo counter
– Nerf Ghost Ops reflective targeting set
– Nerf Rival Deadpool Apollo
– Nerf Modulus Longstrike
– Nerf Modulus Demolisher
– Nerf Vortex blasters (3 – Vigilon, Praxis, Pyragon)
– Star Wars dart blasters (Han, Qi’Ra, Chewbacca, Tobias Beckett)
– Nerf Microshots series 2 (Stryfe, Crossfire, Roughcut)
– Nerf BattleCamo (Stryfe, Firestrike, Roughcut, Battlescout, Splitstrike)
– Nerf Surgefire- Nerf Kronos Battle Sets
– Nerf Mediator Core blaster, stock, and barrel attachments
– Nerf Mega Tri-Break
– Nerf Kronos (technically, scheduled release for Spring 2018 in Phantom Corps)*Not including the Overwatch blasters since they were originally scheduled for 2019.
Nerf also brought back a new version of laser tag, calling it Laser Ops Pro. It was decently priced, sold as a rifle (DeltaBurst), pistol (AlphaPoint), or a two-player starter pack. Laser Ops Pro was pretty neat that it only needed one phone/mobile device to run an app to host online play, amidst a bevy of other features. Aside from all that, players could easily just turn on blasters and play right out of the box (after getting batteries). Here’s hoping they continue to support the new line down the road. From what I heard, there’s at least another year in the works with Laser Ops Pro, and we might see more at Toy Fair in February, if nothing leaks out ahead of time.
Besides the entertainment centers coming up, I think some of the biggest hits this year for Nerf/Hasbro came in the form of licensing. Not only did Hasbro take Power Rangers (and I expect more than a few blasters out of that line) but they gained a deal to make Fortnite and Overwatch themed blasters.
Considering the popularity of each game, this is a move to clearly pull new fans from larger audiences into picking up Nerf. Nerfnation is large, but there is still a lot of attention to be gained from expanding to new audiences, including gamers and cosplayers who may not have considered buying nerf blasters until now. Coupled with a renewed GI Joe brand, Star Wars, and Transformers, Nerf has a lot of licenses to generate blasters for, and it will be interesting to see what comes out this year and years down the road.
If I had to make noise about anything Nerf/Hasbro is doing, it’s the creeping prices on high-profile blasters. The Nerf Rival Prometheus ultimately got marked down, but consumers predictably balked at a $200 price tag. There’s a whole psychology at work in pricing and marketing, but to start right off the bat with that price took down the interest quite a bit I think. The Nerf Rival Hades was a good buy, and the Kronos DEFINITELY a good buy for this year. But a majority of the big ticket blasters that Nerf pushed (Infinus, Scravenger, Mega Thunderhawk, Prometheus, Evader) had pretty high price tags. The price tags on the Modulus Longstrike and Modulus Demolisher are way higher than I would expect as well, even with upgraded parts and new kit pieces.
The argument is that with each of those, Nerf also released a Scout Mk II, Quadrant, or Surgefire. That’s not what people were looking at this year though, and those releases quietly moved forward. As you will see, those prices could also backfire as lower cost alternatives grows in recognition all the time. And for many casual players, the price is definitely right when it comes to non-Nerf brands.
Bottom line for me is, that Nerf led the charge with higher ranges in foam darts and then changed the landscape with Nerf Rival. They continue to influence the market in big ways, regardless of where they come up short.
Zuru, or XShot, continues to astound in the pricing of their blasters. They offer high ranges and (in the case of the Turbo Advance) high capacity blasting for much lower pricing than Nerf. The only real shortcomings are that there are no magfed designs compatible with Nerf blasters, and most magazines for XShot blasters are too small for Nerf size darts. The only exception is the Bug Attack Crossbow. XShot darts are also shorter than most other brands, and while it doesn’t seem to affect performance, it’s something not a lot of people are aware of. This doesn’t affect the front-loading/turret style blaster but it sometimes affects magfed blasters.
XShot also does not have a wide variety of styles to choose from. The Turbo Fire is basically a smaller version of the Turbo Advance (with a different priming mechanism and slamfire) and the other blasters are styles we saw before, but with some mechanical changes. The Vigilante 2.0 is now better able to accommodate longer darts, some XShot blasters now have a recoil feature (for blasting play without the ammo, much like a light and sound toy blaster). What is nice is the Swarm Seeker and Regenerator use the same clip, in spite of being in different segments. Previously, it was a huge disappointment that the Bug Attack Crossbow was not compatible with magazines from the Max Attack.
If you wonder how XShot manages such low pricing, look to their manufacturing. Their factories are almost entirely automated, cutting down on costs. What that also means though is why there is such a limited number of different designs. Yes, the argument could be made that Nerf puts the same internals in multiple blaster shells (Jolt and Kronos) but the point is they have different looks to offer different consumers. With XShot they keep a few designs but can’t have a lot of different tooling molds due to the automated process. That’s why you don’t see a lot of compelling exclusives on the level Nerf does.
HOWEVER, you will definitely have a hard time saying no to the prices they have their blasters and ammo. And in this case, you get a pretty good product for what you pay for. Keep in mind, when you see “Adventure Force” you might see XShot blasters, and the performance is worth the price.
– Swarm Seeker
– Turbo Advance
– Max Attack
– Vigilante Mk 2
Dart Zone made HUGE noise last year coming out with a Rival-compatible line, BallistixOps (or Adventure Force, if you shop at Walmart). Lower cost ammo, lower cost blasters with comparable range and ammo capacity, hopper fed mechanisms, and again at a much lower cost. Aside from some design differences (always-on vs accelerator trigger) Dart Zone continues to put out Rival level product that is worth a look if Nerf blasters are out of your budget. The BallistixOps ammo is on part with Nerf Rival, and in some reviews even a little bit firmer than Nerf, so it flies a little better.
Dart Zone/Adventure Force blasters don’t neglect darts either. Dart Zone introduced their version of “waffle-head” type ammo, similar to the K’next K-Force darts of the past. These waffle darts fly pretty well out of all blasters, are compatible with Nerf, and unlike the XShot ammo are of the same length as Nerf darts. But you can also get 200 rounds at Walmart for around $10. Definitely worth the money for that much ammo. The BallistixOps ammo gets up to 150 rounds for $20, which is pretty good as well, considering the cost of Nerf Rival ammo. The key note here is this is mass market produced ammo and safety tested for sale in a major chain, as opposed to some products you find on Amazon.
I mentioned the Dart Blasters, and Dart Zone represented well. The CommandFire is their take on the reloading mechanism like the Nerf Infinus, but with a larger amount of ammo, not just one dart at a time. They continued using chain blasters, making the Titan from the Light Command, a fan favorite. The Double Trouble is a fun front-loading blaster that is not something you would holster, but definitely worth looking at for gameplay. For $20, Dart Zone did a good job at matching price with functionality. Definitely glad to see them producing for another year.
– Releases this year from Dart Zone/Adventure Force:
– Waffle-tip darts for CHEAP
– Rival compatible ammo
Buzz Bee had a somewhat quiet 2018. The releases they managed, as seen below:
+Reissues/Battle sets through Adventure Force of previous releases
The blasters Buzz Bee put out were good, but where last year saw the Thermal Scope on the Thermal Hunter, this year didn’t have a standout product. At Toy Fair, they had a handheld chronograph, the Velocity X, and the Mutator. Neither saw release in the United States (and I don’t think the Velocity X released at all) but the ideas were sound. The Velocity X was a handheld chronograph that was usable for darts, rival ammo, mega ammo, but it didn’t move forward. The Mutator I hear is only available overseas. Adventure Force carried the above blasters for the most part, while Target picked up the Covert Squad blasters, walkie-talkie bolt-action blasters.
The Night Attack and Crossbow didn’t use bolt-action, but the Covert Squad, Thermal Tracker, and Mutator did. Buzz Bee does believe in the bolt-action play pattern for blasters, and it’s interesting that they continue to use it. I always felt like it made usage more difficult for left handed players, but maybe I’m wrong? And considering the Nerf Jupiter leaked some time ago, it looks like Nerf believes in the bolt-action play pattern as well.
Buzz Bee blasters fire on par with Nerf blasters now, and Buzz Bee also has Precision, XL Distance, and suction cup darts, depending on the type of blasting a player wants to use. The darts and magazines for Buzz Bee blasters are compatible with Nerf as well, and Buzz Bee still produces a tactical rail adapter for Nerf blasters, making it possible to use accessories between the two brands still. On top of all the compatibility, Buzz Bee blasters are also much lower in price compared to Nerf blasters, and the ammo too. Buzz Bee hasn’t made the jump to a higher-impact play segment like Dart Zone, but they continue to crank out product in their segment that stands well against Nerf product.
Third party products are a whole post on their own. There are many to choose from, and all I can say for now is you do the research and be sure of the product you are getting. These products don’t always go through the same safety testing channels that Nerf and other brands in stores go through, so it can be a mixed bag what you are getting. Sometimes darts that say “Nerf” are actually solid plastic/rubber headed foam darts with stronger impact, or just smell funny. Whatever the case, when buying online, follow your common sense protocols. If there’s enough interest, I’ll do a deep-dive post on third party products,
I’ll keep this short and sweet. 2019 looks to have quite a few huge events on the horizon. The Nerf arenas opening, Overwatch and Fortnite blasters being released, continued steady competition from other blaster brands, and the continued search for a new de facto toy store. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Here are some things I would like/feel I will see in 2019-
– If you HAVE SLAMFIRE, PLEASE
o Stock to stabilize firing motion
o If you’re making a new blaster line, please make sure your blaster uses a trigger, unless there’s a very good thematic reason not to.
– Continued Growth of Nerf Rival (kinda obvious)
– Water ball blasters…. They were done poorly in the past (except for the Vapor line, that was pretty decent at the time) but definitely popular elsewhere in the world. Only a matter of time before they make their way back here.
– Better, much better GI Joe blasters to tie-in with the new movie (Though to be fair, no Bumblebee blasters yet).
– Hasbro will pick up more licenses, somewhere
– Big plans for Toy Fair in February
– Nerf will put out something even bigger than the Prometheus. Why? Because they can.
– More info coming up on the Nerf 50th anniversary, I am sure.
Nerf Fest rolled out of Illinois over the weekend, and last I heard they were near Indiana! I stopped by the Hodgkins, IL stop and went to see what was up.
The staff was friendly, but if you are expecting to see anyone who works for the Nerf offices, they aren’t on this tour. You won’t get a lot of info on upcoming releases or talk shop, the road teams aren’t prepped for that.
They are familiar with the new product (in this case I saw a Hades, the Nerf blaster rack, Evader, battle camo stryfe, split strike, Infinus, Apollo, and Surgefire), have small freebies, including a blaster poster of Nerf releases through the years, darts, a button, and I even got some sunglasses. You can also sign up for Nerf Perks (and there’s a code for more points), see Nerf Dog toys, the Laser Ops pro, some licensed party supplies, and I think a charging station.
All that being said, I have questions.
Where was the press release? Apparently one was made but myself and other fan sites would have loved to learn about this ahead of time to push it. But only the local news apparently was made aware for each stop. I guess it boils down to what the goal of the tour was, brand awareness and demos for People of Walmart as opposed to straight up attendance numbers that could be brought in from fan sources. Missed opportunity to get large crowds and compelling images.
No free blaster giveaways? Even a spinning prizw wheel or raffle would have been nice to give away a Jolt or Triad. You got darts sure, but the thinly-veiled push to buy blasters was a bit awkward. For a free shirt you go into Walmart and buy over $24.88 of Nerf goodies, show your receipt, and pick your shirt from 8 different syles. Staff remained engaged and took pics, talked to the crowd, they did a fine job. I don’t think they had enough backing, prepping, and supplies.
The fandom is a small population sure, but NerfNation could do better. Ultimately, each stop is only a few hours so they couldn’t have a huge setup but after years of seeing things like this I really wish the fandom would be involved or represented somehow on events like this.
Still, I am glad I went and hope they do this again. As for the $14.88 I spent on a BattleCamo Firestrike…. That’s a rant for a different day.
NerfFest is a thing! 500 Walmarts around America to be Visited by Nerf Mobile Tour. The tour is already underway, but here are the remaining dates and stops.
Just what the title says! Walmart and Nerf are partnering up to bring Nerf Fest at various locations (see the images above.) They don’t hit every state, but maybe you’ll be near one? They’ll bring the new blasters (not sure which ones) to try out, definitely Rival from what I heard. Be ready to see the Prometheus I would guess! There will be some promo items (while supplies last) it sounds like, such as a promo shirt after you spend $25. The stops in Illinois are coming up, I’ll be checking it out I hope!
She had a big day filming content with Nerf at the Nerfnation Show, so watch for that soon!
Let’s look at the new blasters.
|Nerf Ghost Ops Shadow (Springer!)|
|Nerf Mega Bulldog|
Some things to note….
The holidays will definitely make for an interesting buying season, with all the blasters on shelves and no Toys R Us. Happy hunting!
More info as it comes out, but check out Nerfers101 if you haven’t already!
|Epic Games/Fortnite X Nerf teamup!|
So it’s crazy enough that Nerf landed the Overwatch blaster license for Rival but now they have Fortnite too? And don’t forget, G.I. Joe is due for a revival soon if I heard some whispers at Toy Fair right.
So the big question for me is that some of the phrasing up above doesn’t have me sold entirely on the blasters for Fortnite being darts or Rival. Key points being:
That’s all I got here for this, we’ll see maybe by Toy Fair or hopefully later this year. Thanks for visiting!