It's been a busy year for Nerf, with many new releases across pretty much all of their ranges. We'll start off with the Vortex Range.
The new Vortex line was released in 2011 and differs from the N-Strike line in that the blasters fire their own unique ammo. The 'XLR Disc' is basically a small Frisbee made of a soft, rigid plastic surrounded by a ring of foam. These disks are capable of greater distances than the traditional dart due to their shape and the fact that they spin, stabilising their flight. Although, the discs are capable of great distance, they travel slowly and suffer from terrible accuracy due to their design.
There are currently 5 blasters in the Vortex line.
The Proton is the entry level blaster of the Vortex range. Single shot with a spring loaded disc tray on the back. Pull the lever with your thumb and the tray pops out. Insert a disc and push the tray closed and the blaster is primed and ready to fire. Obviously this blaster suffers from a terrible rate of fire but that has to be expected. Otherwise this is a really natty blaster. I quite like it as a side arm, although I seldom use it.
Lorddraconical created a clip mod for the proton which greatly increases the ROF.
Next is the Vigilon. This blaster is semi-automatic with a built in 5 disc magazine. Pull the lever with your thumb and the cool spring loaded door on the mag slides down. Slam the door closed, Pull back the slide above the handle and fire. From using this blaster, it has been discovered that you can actually increase the ammo capacity by one disc. Simply insert a disc, prime the blaster and then insert 5 more discs.
This blaster is massive. Almost too big to be classed as a pistol but lacks the ammo capacity to be anything else. That being said, the way you reload this blaster wins it for me.
The Praxis is the first of the vortex blasters that uses a removable 'clip'. Semi-automatic again, this blaster feels a lot like the N-Strike Alpha Trooper but it is not capable of slam fire. The magazines can hold up to 10 discs and coupled with the range, this can be quite a formidable blaster. Plus it looks the business. The stock is removable but suffers from the same problems as that of the N-Strike Recon. It is really flimsy and I find it a little too short.
The Nitron the top of the Vortex range. This blaster is electronic and uses a fly wheel system to fire the discs. Although the Nitron is fully automatic, the ROF is lower than that of the Praxis. The batteries (4x AAA) are located in the stock, just behind the handle. This position helps keep the weight of the blaster fairly well balanced and although the stock is not removable, it is fairly comfortable. The Nitron also features a 20 disc magazine giving it the highest capacity of the Vortex line.
Generally I'm not really a fan of the Vortex range. Their range is very impressive but the speed at which the discs move makes them quite easy to avoid. Unless you fire the discs perfectly level they tend to peel off to the right (because of the way they spin) and they are also very susceptible to moisture. As soon as they get damp your range and accuracy go out the window which isn't good for outdoor wars.
Because the Vortex blasters (with the exception of the Nitron) are powered by a torsion spring, it is difficult to modify them. Several people have managed to relocate the springs to increase power, but I'm not sure that it is really worth the effort.
The Vortex range does look amazing and I really like the colour scheme, but I won't be going crazy for them. Among other things, I don't really want to have to stock yet another type of ammo.