I don’t generally write toy reviews- in the past when I’ve done them I usually just make a video, but I don’t really have the time or patience anymore to put one together, what with running a ton of other stuff, where it gets to the point where i’m even lucky if I can find time to review the latest big games, which have always really been my primary focus, followed by movies.
And then along came NERF.
Now, I have previously written about my love of NERF blasters, particularly as to how they were clearly intended for adult use (ages 12 and up does indeed include me, so there), and for a while now they’ve been focused on their hugely popular N-Strike line of blasters, including the now iconic Maverick and the impossible to find Longshot, which have proven to all be huge hits with both the professional tournament folks, the modding community and having become the weapon of choice for all Humans Vs. Zombies players. Easily recogniseable by their bright yellow colouration, they even looked pretty enough to mount on your wall.
But last month they released their new line of blasters- the Vortex line. There are currently four Vortex blasters, and each is fairly analogous to guns in the N-Strike range. The small, one shot Proton is a clear evolution of the Nite Finder, and the Vigilon is the mid-range five shot Maverick of the line, and is almost certainly destined to be the most popular, while the large rifle-style Praxis and Nitron fill the roles of Recon and Longshot respectively.
It might be worth noting at this point, that while all the guns have a different look, they share several common points-
1) The ammo. The Vortex line uses a new kind of ammo, a far departure from the Foam Darts used in previous NERF blasters, the Vortex ammo consists of discs with foam edges. This simple redesign means that shots will go much further than before, where the best range you could hope for with an unmodified N-Strike blaster might be 40 feet, every Vortex blaster has an average (and deeply impressive) unmodified range of 60 feet. Add to that an entire new layer of use for the guns- Trick shots. Darts were tricky to do much more than shoot something dead-on with, while the discs have the capacity for some serious ricochet action.
2) The colour scheme. This isn’t something I’m so keen on, to be honest, and I’m sure many buyers who have the know-how will be working on re-painting their guns to look nicer. See, they’re all green and orange, which is not an aesthetically pleasing mix at the best of times. I can understand that they want to differentiate between their product lines, but they could have picked something like didn’t look like it had been irradiated with Gamma rays. This is part of the reason why I chose to buy the Vigilon as my first gun from the series, as it is mostly orange, which looks more NERFy than the green.
3) Compatability with the N-Strike rail attachments. All of the Vortex guns have the tactical rails used by N-Strike guns, allowing for some truly colour-clashing accessorisation, but it’s a nice little touch, and what with the hugely increased range, a scope on the larger blasters may now actually be useful.
4) Width. A side-effect of the new ammo type is that the guns have to be noticeably wider, to allow for the passage of the discs- which makes the Vigilon in particular look seriously chunky. Compared to the positively sleek N-Strike blasters, which with a simple paint application could pass for real weapons, you’d be hard pressed to mod these and make them look like anything other than science fiction props.
So what do I make of the Vigilon? Well, I got it for a very reasonable price in a sale, which meant that instead of the standard £17.99 price tag, I picked it up for £12.99, which is incidentally what the Proton is generally selling for. Bargain. For what is essentially £18 though, i’d rather go to Toys ‘R’ Us and get a Barrel Break, though. Pricing: 5/10.
The blaster is fun and simple to use, with a smooth and easy reloading system, and tradition cocking/firing mechanisms. To prepare a shot, you simply pull back on a slider on top of the gun, just like on the Maverick. A simple thumb switch on both sides of the blaster allows you to pop open the magazine and reload. As well as this, there is also a nice little slide on the side of the gun for clearing jams, not that I’ve had a single one yet. Ease of use: 10/10.
The guns do once again seem to have been designed and built with adult hands in mind, and this time around they pack a fair bit of weight, too, meaning younger users might find them unwieldy, but in adult hands they feel just right. Comfort: 7/10.
I personally find the green and orange colouration gaudy and strange, but I have to remind myself they are supposedly aimed at children. Aesthetics: 5/10.
The new ammo allows for a lot of fun, and trying out new trick shots is great fun. An unwilling test subject has noted that being hit with one of the discs is actually quite painful, but having shot myself on bare skin at point blank range, I don’t think it’s any worse than the N-Strike darts. The added range is always welcome, although I do wonder if the green discs will be easier or harder to find if lost outdoors. Fun factor: 8/10.
Overall verdict: 7/10. There are good ideas at work here, but the gun, and the line in general is let down by the colouration and the high pricing. With any luck, NERF should address both issues in time.