$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.
Buzz Bee Toys came out swinging last year with a number of great items; the Thermal Hunter, the Zenith, and the Thermal Sensor were standouts for me. The Monorail was a good idea but it had some reliability issues when I tried it and that kept it off my favorites list. There were other blasters that had Overall though, the creation of Precision Darts, Long Distance Darts, and sucker darts was some great stuff that came out of Buzz Bee last year.
This year, Buzz Bee seems to have gone the other way. I saw a lot of bolt-action style blasters in their room, such as a new Snipe and their walkie-talkie blasters. Most telling though is that their headlining item, the Mutator – is going to be bolt-action. I can’t blame them either, the tactile feedback from sliding a bolt handle into firing is pretty cool, and plays heavily into the roleplay aspect of the blaster.
The Buzz Bee Mutator
Buzz Bee Covert Squad – walkie talkies and single shot blasters
There are some exceptions, such as the new Demolisher for The Walking Dead line of blasters, and the PowerMech 20, but otherwise the majority of the blasters I saw on display were either out or bolt-action. Interesting how that works out given Nerf continuing to use flywheels, pump-action, or the traditional pullback slide.
The Mutator gets its name from the quick change it can pull off in the middle of a blaster fight. There are two magazines because you can load each one with a different type of ammo. One magazine is loaded with the precision darts, and the other loaded with the long distance ammo for farther targets. Pull the barrel forward on The Mutator to shift between either ammo type, bolt-action, and fire. The prototype was still very early, so I didn’t fire it but I did carry it a bit and manipulate the barrel. Interested to see the final product, for sure.
What I like about the Mutator is it’s a big show-me blaster and the reloading without needing to pop a magazine out and slap a new one in is a time-saving and efficient idea. I believe I heard a few more tweaks are needed and the blaster may not be out til 2019 to make sure it’s firing on all cylinders. I hope that’s not the case and we’ll see it sooner, to figure out more tricks to do with a blaster that reloads as the Mutator does.
The Covert Squad blasters were single-shot bolt action blasters, but the walkie-talkie action is a nice little twist. The blasters are compact enough to not be a bulky unit to hold up, and it’s just a neat gimmick feature for a simple blaster. If you remember the old Nerf Commlink, this is similar but a much greater range (300′), much more streamlined form, earbud connection, and more streamlined unit. For $24.99 (in a two-pack) I’ll go ahead and put this on my Gift Ideas list for the holidays.
The Demolisher was a flywheel unit, and then the PowerMech 20, but the real gem of the room was the Velocity X chronograph.
The big notes on the Velocity X are that it’s a chronograph, AND accommodates Nerf Rival and Mega ammo as well. The unit could be held in hand against the muzzle, or set up to stand on its own via tripod, but this will have a home with maybe arena owners and general users. One concern so far is if the device will be able to read higher (modded) velocities, but I don’t think anyone’s tried yet. All the same, a really good idea.
I got a few readings off it, and it was easy enough to use, but it’s a prototype as far as I’m concerned so when I see the production model I’ll chip in my 2 cents for a full, honest review. What was really cool was the range estimates; it would give distance estimates at an angle vs parallel to the ground. While the Nerf chronobarrel attaches to the barrel of the blaster and functions as an ammo counter, the distance reading, ammo diversity, and price ($14.99 MSRP!) get the edge here for Buzz Bee. At this stage in the game it’s too early in my opinion to really give my own review about anything, the Monorail was hyped last year but changed quite a bit before production. The Demolisher was a bit wonky from what I heard, so I didn’t really give that a try either, as prototypes tend to be. Prototypes from Toy Fair (if they work at all) may get altered en route to release. And that’s what could happen here. What we see at release may even be better, but you never can be sure. Is it great to know these things are coming out, however? You bet!
Buzz Bee had their thermal sensor packaged separately now and their own version of a red dot sight. That means more accessories for your tactical rails, and with the Buzz Bee adapter these will work on your Nerf blasters too, if you need to change things up on your loadout. New light-up swords that attach at the handle (think Darth Maul’s double-sided lightsaber) are coming out as well, but I didn’t notice anything like Michonne’s sword. Still, if you run games with melee weapons the Buzz Bee swords are not only some of the most budget friendly items out there but also pretty durable for the cost. There were some other items that I think were not released for full info yet (though I think they made it out of Nuremburg, if you search the right videos you may see them) so there will still be a few different releases past the press release. I think I can say though, just keep an eye out for these items in Walmart’s “Adventure Force” line.
Overall though, the Buzz Bee showroom showed that Buzz Bee continues to work their own place in the community with continued power increases and innovations from the brand. The Walking Dead license (for the comic, not the show!) and some different gimmicks and tech are on the way, which is a huge step for them to build on last year’s showing. Interestingly enough, they haven’t gone the Rival compatible route, opting to stick with the foam dart category and focusing on making some sweet blasters for dart users. The Demolisher’s aesthetic isn’t a Prometheus but I got a kick out of getting a feel for a gatling-styled blaster (Captain Xavier’s mod notwithstanding!) Definitely looking forward to more, and can’t wait to see the full form of the Mutator at release. Big thanks to Buzz Bee for having me, and see you on the shelves later this year.
Fresh off the press kit, here’s the pricing information and copy from the new Buzz Bee items for 2018. Yes, there’s a chronograph/distance accessory among them. Yes, it accommodates Rival ammo and Mega ammo.
● Covert Squad [MSRP $24.99; Ages 6+]: Team up to embark on a covert mission with these two walkie talkie blasters by Buzz Bee Toys. Each blaster has a built in Walkie Talkie with earbud communication that works up to 300 feet range so your opponents won’t hear you coming. With blasting power up to 100 feet, you will be unbeatable! ○ Additional Notes: ■ Includes 2 blasters, 8 long distance darts, and 2 sets of earbuds.
● Velocity X [MSRP $14.99; Ages 6+]: The Velocity X by Buzz Bee Toys measures dart speed and distance from any blaster, at any angle. Its versatility offers three modes so you can use in a hand-held position, on a tripod stand, or you can attach it to compatible dart blasters for continuous readings!
● Mutator [MSRP $29.99; Ages 6+]: The Mutator by Buzz Bee Toys offers unparalleled versatility that allows users to expand the barrel, transform the blaster and select distance blasting up to 100 feet or extreme accuracy with PrecisePro darts.
○ Additional Notes: ■ Includes blaster, 10 long distance darts, 10 PrecisePro darts, two 10 count clips, and removable stock. ● The Walking Dead Abraham’s Demolisher [MSRP $29.99; Ages 6+]: You can have the same blasting power as Abraham with this Demolisher by Buzz Bee Toys! This fully automatic, high speed dart blaster with a motorized barrel will blast darts up to 100 feet! ○ Additional Notes:
Includes blaster, 30 long distance darts, dart clip, and shoulder strap. Batteries are required.
● Thermal Hunter [MSRP $29.99; Ages 6+]: E scape is not an option with the Thermal Hunter! Its heatseeking scope detects a heat source up to 60 feet away, and its crosshairs will turn red to let you know when you’re on target. Its unbeatable spring power and pump action allows you to blast darts up to 100 feet thanks to Buzz Bee Toy’s long distance darts! The unique design lets you customize and build the perfect blaster with other brand’s accessories – and you can even place this scope on other brand’s blasters! ○ Additional Notes: ■ Includes blaster, 20 long distance darts, heatseeking scope, stock, rail adapter, and a 10 count dart clip. Batteries are required.
● Predator [MSRP $9.99; Ages 6+]: Get ready for high-power, bolt action blasting with the Predator! This bolt action dart blaster by Buzz Bee Toys blasts up to 100 feet and also comes with soft and safe foam suction darts that pack staying power like never before! And with its secret storage area, you’ll never have to waste time refilling this blaster. ○ Additional Notes: ■ Includes blaster, 4 suction darts, 4 long distance darts, scope adapter, and scope. ● The Walking Dead Andrea’s Rifle [MSRP $14.99; Ages 6+]: Put yourself in your favorite Walking Dead character’s shoes with this clip fed, bolt action dart blaster by Buzz Bee Toys! With a detachable scope you’ll be able to see walkers from afar, and you’ll never have to get too close with blasting power up to 100 feet! ○ Additional Notes: ■ Includes blaster, scope, 8 long distance darts and an 8 count dart clip.
Product provided! Opinions remain my own, thanks K’Nex!
Ultimately, the blaster took me over an hour to build, from dumping out the contents to the first shot. I did make some mistakes during the build, but unfortunately I didn’t catch them until well after they happened which meant backtracking and dismantling parts of the build to go back. As someone unfamiliar with using K’Nex construction kits, maybe this is growing pains at learning a different medium. The build isn’t even entirely like the one on the box because I messed something up and would have had to flip pieces that I installed at the beginning. But that’s the point of the line, right? Making your own blaster ultimately, after building the one shown?
For a blaster that reports 75′ on the box for 5 shots, at approximately $25 for the whole thing the replay value is potentially endless for a kit you can build and rebuild, with additional shots and turrets if you have the other kits. Is it worth it? If you aren’t heavily modding your blasters already, and do enjoy the satisfaction that comes from completing puzzles and building kits, this could be a neat addition for your collection. The colors are eye-catching for sure, and there are some spots on the blaster body I naturally found to be good for gripping, I didn’t stab my hands on any corners. Minus anything that resembled a stock, holding the blaster seemed pretty intuitive.
Battle-tested, I have tried some k’nex blasters at games before and maybe it’s just me but I definitely worry about losing the odd connector or slamming the blaster unexpectedly and spraying pieces everywhere. It hasn’t happened yet, but I have lost the odd piece from the body… maybe 2 at this point on other kits. Not a terribly bad ratio I guess but that’s not something you worry about right off the bat from other blasters.
K’Nex is planning on being at New York Toy Fair again, and so will I! Don’t forget to tune in here please and see what I find. (Full schedule posted shortly before the trip)
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I want to get some game time with this blaster before coming up with a proper review, but right off the bat the Adventure Zone Enforcer belt-fed blaster from Dart Zone got AT LEAST 140′ right out of the box. That’s pretty impressive for a freshly opened blaster. That being said, reloading this beast would be a moderate pain since I don’t think there are plans to sell the ammo belts separately. And to head off another question, yes, this blaster is branded “Adventure Zone” but that’s to identify the Wal-Mart specific brand of action toys associated with this and other blasters undoubtedly coming out as Wal-Mart exclusives. It’s a Dart Zone blaster, same as the LegendFire and Magnum. It unloads its ammo payload pretty quickly, and should give any rushing team a reason to pause but the groupings are pretty wide the farther out you shoot. For $29.99 though you are getting good power, good ammo capacity, and a really satisfying shooting experience feeling the chains move and hearing the blaster chug through darts. Kids are gonna love the gatling feel of this blaster, and older users are going to like the power. And for $29.99, the price is just right compared to other blasters out there that shoot either less ammo or slightly shorter max ranges. I don’t say this often, but if you have to spend on any blaster, definitely give this a look. I’ll update this review with some gameplay thoughts once I actually field test it, but until then, color me impressed for now.
A long time coming, here is a playlist of the firing videos I’ve made of the Precision RBS shooters. Feel free to subscribe, and hopefully give me a “Like” on a video or two! Part 1 of the Review Part 2 of the Review (exclusive Q&A with the inventor)
F2A Exclusive: Q&A with Ben Stack, Inventor of the Precision RBS Vas The Stampede
Many thanks again to Super Impulse and Precision RBS for the samples, and this Q&A with Ben Stack, the inventor of the Precision RBS Launchers! I met Ben at New York Toy Fair, and followed up in email with a series of questions. I thank him for the time he took to answer them. His responses are in bold.
Ben on the right, at New York Toy Fair
– What did you study? Feel free to share a little info about yourself such as hobbies and experience in toy industry.
I most recently went to school for product design, but I had a bit of a background before that in engineering from various hobbies and jobs making things. I’ve dabbled in robotics, carpentry, soft goods, and yes, many years of projectile launchers and other homemade entertainment. – How long was RBS in development?
It’s hard to say when Precision RBS as a potential product line really started. I’ve been launching rubberbands since I was about 6 when my brother and I made clothespin launchers with my father. That’s when I accidentally discovered the “rifling” or “spinning” technique that Precision RBS still uses today.
In high school, after making dozens of launchers in middle school, I set out to really perfect a modular, high performance series of launchers. In college, I took the concept to a more finished state as my thesis project, where I was connected to SI and we then spent another busy few months converting the line to a robust injection moldable ABS design. Taking out the off years in between, I’d say there’s at least 5 years of my own development work in these 3 products we have now.
The core pistols of Precision RBS launchers
– Can you talk about what inspiration you drew on for the look of the RBS shooters?
Precision RBS from the start was conceived as a skill toy that you could actually use safely in public without any worries. This meant throwing the visual concept of a “gun” out the window and really striving for something cool that wasn’t threatening. Science fiction and sports equipment was the only place you could find that. I went through hundreds of renderings, color combinations, and graphical applications before settling on what we have today.
– Why rubber band ammo? What advantages do you find there vs other mediums, and how is RBS different from what is out there currently, including among other rubber band shooters?
The Hyperion: note the included pack of all three rubber band sizes.
Rubber bands are cheap, plentiful, multi-use, accessible to anyone anywhere, versatile, but most of all accurate! What fun is trying build your skills launching projectiles if you’re not going to reliably hit what you’re aiming at? Rubber bands are just the most amazing indoor target practice ammo. Rubber bands don’t bounce and roll away into dark corners either, to be forever lost. Rubber bands don’t get crushed if you step on them. They actually are affected by wind less than foam too, as the cross section density is higher.
The main thing holding back rubber bands all these years has been accuracy and range, and I think we’ve finally cracked it. When properly “rifled”, 117 rubber bands can reach out to 50 ft with a shot grouping well inside a standing silhouette. Inside of 30 feet, the grouping gets down to about 6 inches across. Fly hunting starts happening at around 8 feet.
Finally, and this is one that tends to get overlooked, escapement rubber band launchers basically act like a beautiful hybrid between flywheel and springer launchers: high rate of fire without any rev-up time or pumping. Your ROF is practically unlimited, it’s however fast you can pull the trigger. Just like flywheel blasters, you never have to readjust your sight picture until your launcher is empty.
I want to emphasize: Rubber bands shine when the target is behind cover and the window of opportunity is short.
As for other rubber band launchers out there, we’re committed to using all standard sized rubber bands so you have the option of refilling in bulk at office supply stores. On top of that, we’ve packed in just so many features unique to my rubber band launchers I’ve designed over my life, like the ability to always launch and store multiple sizes of rubber band, and the modular “barrel” lengths (wow, a barrel that actually does something?).
– Do you recommend certain shooters for certain ages?
Not really! It’s the band size that makes the difference. All of our precision RBS launchers are safety tested for ages 8+ and have been play tested by all ages, but loading size 117 bands can be more difficult for young kids. It’s not that it takes a great amount of force to draw the band back, but more that it is a long draw length, almost 24 inches. It usually just means younger kids have to brace the launcher against the ground to load it.
What’s really awesome with rubber bands is the size of the band really makes a performance difference.
Size 117 bands reduce the number you can load at one time down to 6, but increase range out to 50 feet with high accuracy. The size 33 is the sweet spot for indoor play in the middle, giving medium range, about 35 feet, and around 8-10 in loading capacity. Size 16s are for quantity over quality, giving you up to 12 shots with around 30 feet of range and close-in accuracy.
– How many designs do you have in mind past the launch?
Oh wow, so many. I have a lifetime of folders for this stuff. These first 3 are the basic, “standard issue” series, and we’re starting to get more specialized in next year’s line.
– I noticed a holster, will those be available as well in the future?
I definitely had holsters in mind when I designed the core “pistol” style launcher, but we’re not sure how it would fit in the line yet. It might be soon, it might be later. We’ll see how it works out.
– What is your favorite feature about any of the blasters?
I have a soft spot for Chiron in general as it was the first Precision RBS launcher that I concepted in high school for high speed play. It’s designed to be versatile, able to take on both long ranged Hyperion and high capacity dual wielders by maximizing size 33 reload rate with the Quick Loader, and able to launch the 117 bands with the hand launcher. Masters of the hand launcher should be able to pickup, load, and launch 117 bands in a single motion, which can overwhelm the slower-to- load Hyperion, and out-range the smaller two bands.
Lots of info and insight, thanks again to Ben for taking the time to answer my questions! I’ll be updating this post later today with some additional video on the Precision RBS launchers, but until then see you next time.If you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out Part 1 here.
Super Impulse’s Precision RBS – Rubber band launching system
EDIT: updated with firing video playlist –
The fine folks at Super Impulse provided samples of their latest offering, a rubber band shooting system called the Precision RBS. All opinions remain my own.
I first ran into Precision RBS at New York Toy Fair in February 2016. It was a new type of rubber band launcher, not to be confused with a previous brand the year before. Precision RBS offered something different from that previous toy in a variety of differences. It used normal rubber bands you could find at any major retailer, didn’t need a magazine, and most importantly HAD A FUNCTIONING TRIGGER. I saw 3 different models, each offering a little twist on rubber band launching. Aesthetically, I found the Precision RBS models elegant, with the smooth lines and round shape of the each shooter very different from many of the angular toys on the market today, adopting an alien/futuristic look, and the colors really stood out as well.
“The lightweight Talos holds up to 20 rubber bands in two sizes, launches up to 30 feet and includes a built-in extender for even more power when you need it. It’s perfect for quick, smooth action.
“The Chiron has storage for up to 100 rubber bands, so you’ll never run out of ammo! Other features include the quick-loading design and a release option to separate into 2 completely different RBS Shooters, including a hand launcher. You’ll dominate your opponent with tons of ammo power!
“Nothing surpasses the Hyperion: with pinpoint accuracy and extended range! Capacity to hold three different band sizes, with extra side storage. Plus Hyperion has an unbelievable BURST feature and can launch 14 bands at once!
Right away, the entire line is a relatively low cost offering, and with easily available rubber band ammo in large packs (and a secondary use as a tool around the house), there are a few perks before even talking about the toys themselves.
I mentioned my favorite parts of the aesthetics of the Precision RBS shooters. Besides the looks, the Talos has a very comfortable grip, and each toy makes uses of the body of the launcher, removing the necessity for attachments and accessories. The ammo holders are built INTO the body of the launcher, but by no means do they take away from the structure or the solid feel of the toys. Depending on the model, the ammo storage ranges from “adequate” on the Hyperion to “overwhelming” on the Chiron. But it’s these differences that really make for a compelling case at buying either model past the Talos.
The Talos acts as the “base” model of the line, while the Chiron and Hyperion are attachments onto the Talos that add another dimension to how you play with the launcher. The Chiron adds a humongous amount of ammo storage, along with the ability to shoot larger ammo and split into the Talos and a manually fired frame to shoot rubber bands from. For parents, this could easily be considered a two-player pack where one can use the pistol form and the other the hand launcher. The manual frame of the Chiron is easy to reload with practice, and can fire any size rubber band without an attachment, unlike the other models that can only fit one of the three standard sizes at any time. Here are the features among each launcher:
The Talos has an “extender arm” which allows it to shoot two different sized bands.
The Chiron adds an additional ammo holder and essentially a second manual shooter to go with the included Talos. Larger rubber bands may be shot on the Chiron as well when connected or separate from the Talos
The Hyperion can use small, medium, and large rubber bands, has an ammo holder for each type, and an undermounted shooter that sprays rubber bands or can shoot a massive clump of them at once.
The Talos pack is comprises of the Talos and two different sizes of rubber bands. The Chiron includes the Talos and the Chiron attachment/frame to shoot rubber bands by hand (and it protects your hand from being spiked by the rubber band upon launch). The Hyperion comes with all three different sizes of rubber bands as well as a Talos and the attachment for the Hyperion.
The rubber band ammo is pretty cool! Here’s how you load a Precision RBS launcher.
Why rubber bands? I’ll post an interview in part 2, but here’s a quote from the inventor, Ben Stack:
“What’s really awesome with rubber bands is the size of the band really makes a performance difference. Size 117 bands reduce the number you can load at one time down to 6, but increase range out to 50 feet with high accuracy. The size 33 is the sweet spot for indoor play in the middle, giving medium range, about 35 feet, and around 8-10 in loading capacity. Size 16s are for quantity over quality, giving you up to 12 shots with around 30 feet of range and close-in accuracy.”
The rubber bands aren’t a perfect solution, though. The smaller sizes are particularly hard to see and find again, even at close range. I’d be hesitant to use them in a park area with wildlife. I am not sure I would use the line at all outside in a park, given how difficult it might be to gather the rubber bands up again. Maybe a concrete outside structure, but I’m too worried about the local woodland creatures. Also, the rubber bands in windy weather lose a lot of “oomph” and are very hard to aim, if they even reach their target. Not unlike other similar toys shot in the wind, but rubber bands are especially vulnerable to the elements. These toys excel indoors, and given the amount of cover in a home and/or office, Precision RBS would definitely offer a very intense play experience. And if you’re worried about pain, it’s minute and extremely temporary. The worst I ever felt was shooting my palm point blank with the Talos, and taking a hit 10’ away from the Hyperion. Otherwise, most of the energy is dispersed seconds after launching the rubber bands, and contact doesn’t hurt a lot, if at all. Considering the “pain scale” nurses might use, it goes from a 6 to a 1 in a matter of seconds of flight. My biggest recommendation is eye protection, because accidents do happen.
Edit: I wanted to capture a few more thoughts I had on this toy after the initial review – 5/4/16
One really neat trick about the rubber bands is the ability to “shotgun” them on a single nock, or in the case of the Hyperion one big clump of rubberbands instead of a stream of them. You can also shotgun load them onto the ammo holders, which makes restocking your reserve ammo elementary in practice. While shotgunning is possible with other toys, it’s not quite like this, and it’s pretty cool!
I found the launchers in Precision RBS very comfortable to hold, it didn’t feel built for small hands as some toys in the 8+ range are. And even if something like the Talos is oversized, there’s always the Chiron, probably the most versatile toy in the bunch because of the manual firing option. I almost wish the Hyperion had a stock, but it’s unnecessary. Its omission also probably helped keep costs low on the line, and again I find the prices a winner. Even moreso because of the lack of inherent costs in restocking a proprietary ammo, since the rubber bands are available everywhere.
Ammo holders on the Hyperion
And don’t let the various types of ammo dissuade you! I’ve found that with practice you can load multiple types of rubber band ammo onto the RBS, and as I mentioned with the Chiron frame it doesn’t matter.
It’s ingenious how the Precision RBS launchers are designed. The shooters barely have any moving components, outside of the nock wheel, the extender arm, and the slide on the Hyperion. The rubber band ammo is a self-contained propulsion projectile. I see those factors eliminating needs for maintenance to the toys, leaving not as many chances for a launcher to fail or misfire during a game. No fiddling with gears or wondering if your plunger is damaged, no spring tension or air bladders to worry about. Everything about the launcher is right there in front of you. It’s that simplicity of the Precision RBS that I really like, combined with the cost and ease of use this is a good buy for anyone looking to add something new to their arsenal or activities.
Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow, where I release exclusive F2A Q&A I had with Ben, the inventor of the RBS launchers. I’ll also update with videos on these launchers tomorrow as well. Thanks!