With news that Mattel are making a new venture into the world of toy blasters spreading like wildfire across the NIC, I thought it was about time to dispell some of the rumour and speculation and actually get these blasters in hand for a review.
First thing this morning, I went to my local Argos and purchased every BOOMco. blaster they had and I have been playing with them all day. Below you will find an in depth review of the blasters that I purchased.
Brace yourselves. There are some surprises.
I will go through the blasters one by one and then follow up with comments and observations about the darts and targets towards the end.
Being the entry level blaster for the range, I thought it best to start here and work my way up. The first thing I noticed was that the handle for the blaster folds around the body making this little fellow very compact. It's still bigger than a Jolt but there is an integrated 'clip' in the priming rod which allows you to store the blaster on a belt loop. The handle swings down smoothly and locks in place and there is a button on the black of the blaster which releases the handle again.
Interestingly, you can prime the Clipfire without a dart loaded but you can't fire it. It seems that Mattel have opted to go for some sort of locking mechanism over the more traditional air restrictor. Very clever.
As is probably obvious from the photos, this is your traditional plunger powered blaster.
Performance wise this thing definitely delivers the ranges stated on the box. I was firing at the target on a wall ~25' away and the darts that missed bounced back at least half way, It has to be said, there is a lot of poke in this little chappy.
For £5.99, I'd say this is a little pricey. For that you get the blaster, two darts and a target but it's still not a very good deal in my mind.
For me at least, this was one of the more exciting blasters of the current range. Aesthetically it is a beautiful thing and would be really nice for a cosplay blaster. The whole grey piece on the top is a priming slide and the blue piece at the back is the end of the plunger rod. The prime is pretty heavy. Almost too heavy for a blaster of this size. It might just be me with my big hams for hands but I find it al little difficult to grip the slide as you prime it.
Single shot with two darts stored in the handle, the Farshot has the same lock as the Clipfire. It can be primed but not fired without a dart loaded in the barrel. Like it or hate it, this is a pretty nifty idea.
One of the features of the Farshot is the folding shield (or target, depending on how you look at it). The shield folds out manually and forms part of a rail attachment. When folded up, the shield integrates nicely with the shape of the blaster but remove it and the blaster looks... well, fugly.
Performance wise the Farshot gets similar results to the Clipfire and has really respectable ranges.
All in all I've lost the love I initially had for this blaster. It is actually a lot smaller than it looks and I found it really difficult to use. It's not cumbersome or fiddly at all, it's just designed for hands far smaller than mine.
At £9.99 the Farshot is massively overpriced. For a single shot blaster that comes with three darts and a target, you'd be much better off putting your money elsewhere.
Interesting in every aspect, the Twisted Spinner is full of surprises. The first thing I noticed was the distinct lack of trigger. Call me old fashioned but I like a trigger. Even my lawnmower has a trigger and it is the one thing that makes gardening bearable.
Holding 8 darts in the front turret, the Twisted Spinner fires by pulling back on the front handle. pushing the handle forward again rotates the barrel to the next dart but not the way you'd expect. Instead of simply indexing to the next dart, the barrels rotate a full 315°. It takes a bit of getting used to but it is quite a satisfying mechanism and looks very cool.
Like the Farshot, the Twisted Spinner also comes with a shield, but this one has a few more bells and whistles. Pressing the red button on the top causes the shield to pop out automatically. Pretty slick. Makes the blaster look a little bit like the 'Spitter' from Jurassic Park (or Dilophosaurus for the palaeontologists among you). It's good fun popping the shield out but I can't really see the benefit of having it. Like the Farshot, the shield on the Twisted Spinner integrates into the shell and looks like part of the blaster. It is also a removable tactical rail accessory but unlike the Farshot, the Twisted Spinner doesn't look ugly without it.
Again the Twisted Spinner is a really great performer. It hits hard but due to the fact you have to play it like an accordion, accuracy isn't it's strong suit. I spent a good hour shooting this at the wall and only hit the target a handfull of times.
At £24.99 the Twisted Spinner is probably the worst value of the bunch. You don't really get anything for your money except a blaster that works like a chest expander. Sure you get 8 darts and a target but any less and I would have marched on Argos with a burning torch and a pitch fork.
In terms of quality, I cant really fault BOOMco. The plastic has a really nice matt finish and with the exception of the flappy bits on the Farshot and Twisted Spinner, they don't rattle and they feel really solid. You don't get the creaking you get when playing with a NERF blaster and they all have a good weight to them.
Now, on to the information I'm sure you've all been waiting for.
You might need to sit down at this point. Some of you are going to be disappointed.
The darts are not made of foam. Instead they are made of a rigid plastic tube with a soft rubbery tip (more on that later). They remind me a bit of drinking straws albeit, a lot thicker so as not to be as flimsy. This makes them a fair bit lighter than the foam darts we have come to love but the distribution of mass makes for much better flight characteristics. This means that the darts have incredible accuracy over their range and so far I have not seen any fishtailing or excessive swerving. Sadly the darts don't take too kindly to being trodden on. Unlike their foam counterparts, they crush easily and become unusable.
The 'sticky' aspect of the darts is where it gets really interesting. I half expected these to be like every other sticky dart technology, made from something akin to the rubbery caterpillars you used to throw at the window and watch it crawl down. Although the BOOMco. darts are similar, they don't feel as sticky. In fact I have been trying different materials and surfaces all day and I can't find anything they will stick to apart from the targets. Not windows, paper, clothing, nothing.
They do however stick to the targets... very well indeed. I tried throwing the target in the air and shooting at it. Every dart that hit, stuck. The only downside of the darts (besides the price. £4.99 for 16. Ouch!) is the fact that if they hit the floor, they pick up all the dust and then you have the job of cleaning them. The instructions show that you can do this with tape or hot water. Neither of which I could really be bothered with but rubbing the end with a finger seemed to do the trick. Apart from that, the darts seem to just keep on going. as long as they don't hit the floor!
The major, major downside to these darts is that they are a lot thinner than conventional foam darts. This means that you couldn't adapt these blasters to fire NERF darts without a lot of work. All of you out there who were interested in these blasters purely for aesthetics are going to be gutted with this news.
The targets are about as simple as it gets. Made of some kind of paper (feels a bit like matt photo paper), they are basically a big sticker that the darts stick to. A sticky, sticky sticker if you will. The graphic designer tasked with making these must have been having an off day. They are a bit boring.
In my humble opinion, these blasters aren't going to be wining many consumers. They represent terrible value for money and the decision to use unique darts could end up being the wrong one. Mattel are obviously backing their own ammo 100% which is gutsy, but historically blasters that don't have cross compatible ammo tend to fall by the wayside.
Will BOOMco. be the brand to shoot the blaster crown from Hasbro's head? I doubt it but these blaster are certainly worth a punt and they are jolly good fun, but certainly not worth the current price tag.