Southern Brisbane Nerf Club

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Nerf, Nerf N-Strike, Nerf N-Strike Elite, Nerf N-Strike Elite Mega... then what?

Nerf has come a long way since that spongey foam ball in the 1960s. Today they are one of the most recognised toy brands along with Barbie, Hotwheels and LEGO. But where does a brand go once they release their flagship item?

To some the answer is simple, make a better flagship blaster. But I really don't see how Hasbro can top the Rapidstrike CS-18. Some people are waiting for an Elite Stampede, but I don't see one happening because flywheels are more efficient at rapid fire than a motor driven plunger. They're lighter too.

Let's look at N-Strike. When we got the Vulcan and the Stampede, that was it. It didn't get any better than that. Then Elite came out with better ranges, better colours better darts and better mechanics (excluding the Centurion). We got the Rampage, Retaliator, Strongarm and Hailfire to name a few. Then there was the Rapidstrike CS-18!

This is the blaster every Nerfer wants at the moment. Finally, a full-auto Elite blaster with a very good rate of fire (ROF). Adjustable shoulder stock, clip-fed, barrel extension attachment point, 4000 tactical rails and a drink holder. That's pretty good as far as blasters go, I would probably go as far as to say, the best. Every modder knows Nerf blasters are capable of higher ranges than they are stock. Even with air-restrictors intact, all it takes is a more powerful spring. So why not use the more powerful spring to begin with? The only answer I can think of is toy safety regulations. And the reason Elite gets more range than N-Strike is because, maybe, the toy safety regulations were revised and relaxed a little. This paved the way for Hasbro to release Nerf Elite and without another revision of toy safety regulations I don't see how Nerf can improve on the Elite line. Yes we have Mega now that can fire up to 100 feet, so, why not make Elite blasters that can fire 100 feet, well, if they did that, why would we buy Mega blasters with money? But if you've seen Random Shadow 09's range test of the Mega Centurion, it's not that great. There must be a loophole that Hasbro found that allows the Centurion to fire as far as it does.

RS09's Centurion range test

At the end of the day, these are toys, and kids play with toys. And projectile toys can be particularly dangerous. I recall an episode at home when my daughter (3 years old at the time of this post) shot herself in the nose at point blank range with a Jolt. She's only 3, that hurt her and yes she did get cuddles from daddy to make it better :) When it happened, she was wearing safety goggles, but what if she wasn't? And what if the Jolt shot her in the eye? It's for these types of scenarios toy safety regulations exist. As a modder and a father, I'm not against them. The blasters I let my kids play with are stock. Although I would prefer it if we Aussies were charged fairly for Nerf products that have been tuned down.

It seems every year, Nerf comes out with something that makes us weak at the knees, but this year, has been/will be, a good year with Rapidstrike CS-18, Mega Centurion, Rebelle and Zombiestrike.

Let us have a look at Rebelle and Zombie Strike. Ok so Rebelle is just Hasbro seeing a hole (albeit a small one) in the market and them trying to fill it. While Zombie Strike is definitely targeted at boys, but, wait. Aren't Elite blasters boy's toys already? Why does Nerf need two lines that could potentially (and most likely will) compete with each other? Both the Rebelle and Zombie Strike blasters are capable of firing 75 feet. Tek Recon blasters fire up to 75 feet also, so I'm inclined to think that 75 feet the limit toy safety regulations will allow. Nerf can't make any more Elite blasters. Yes they could (and have) make Elite variants of N-Strike blasters, but, then what? If 75 feet is the new standard range, why is Elite, still elite? With Hasbro devoting so much time and money to Rebelle and Zombie Strike, if it weren't for the Rapidstrike, you'd be forgiven for thinking Hasbro had forgotten about Elite. Is Zombie Strike the first sign of Elite's demise? Is Nerf going to (eventually) drop the N-strike line all together and just bring out different themed blasters? We already have a zombie apocalypse theme, would the next be a sci-fi theme with sound effects and LEDs? Maybe a proper steam punk themed line and then an assault line, with blasters that look a bit more real (except for the paint job of course). All of these lines could be capable of 75 feet with current blaster mechanics. So how can Elite, stay Elite? How can it be Elite if other non-elite blasters attain the same range?

I don't think MEGA is the future of Elite blasters. MEGA is a sub-line of Elite and I'm talking about Elite in general. Without another relaxation of the toy safety regulations, I don't see a follow up (more powerful) series to Elite coming. All I can see is multiple lines of various themes being released in parallel to each other, that's what Nerf is doing now with Rebelle, Zombie Strike and Elite. All three will be available for sale at the same time parallel to each other with the same firing ranges. Perfect example of this is LEGO. Different themed playsets to cater for a multitude of tastes and interests all available at the same time and on the same store shelf.

I liked Nerf N-Strike, but when Elite came out, I really got into the whole foam dart blaster scene. N-Strike had such a large range of blasters too, how large I hear you ask? Well:

Longshot CS-6 (2007)
Recon CS-6 (2008)
Raider Rapid Fire CS-35 (2009)
Alpha Trooper CS-18 (2010)
Deploy CS-6 (2010)
Longstrike CS-6 (2010)
Rayven CS-18 (2012)
Firefly REV-8(2005)
Maverick REV-6(2005)
Spectre REV-5(2010)
Nite Finder EX-3(2004)
Element EX-6 (2008)
Switch Shot EX-3 (2008)
Jolt EX-1 (2011)
Vulcan Vulcan EBF-25 (2008)
Stampede ECS (2010)
Scout IX-3 (2004)
Reflex IX-1 (2009)
Barrel Break IX-2 (2010)
Rapid Fire AS-20 (2001)
Hornet AS-6 (2004)
Titan AS-V.1 (2004)
Secret Strike AS-1 (2005)
Magstrike AS-10 (2007)
Barricade RV-10 (2010)
Big Bad Bow (2011)
Blazin' Bow (2013)

That's a lot, at the moment there are 14 Elite blasters including the Rapidstrike CS-18, the Mega Centurion and the Elite Spectre. To me, that seems like a good number, in my opinion there were/are too many N-Strike blasters, many of these blasters shared the same internals and therefore performance. What I like about the Elite line is that each blaster has it's own purpose and don't overlap each other. And if Nerf feel the same, where does Elite go after the Rapidstrike storm luls?

If toy safety regulations aren't revised for our benefit. I can only hope that whatever Hasbro does with Nerf blasters in the future. They don't repeat the same mistake they made with the 2014 Zombie Strike blasters, and the next themed line is fresh from the designer's sketch book.

~ Rob


  1. I think the ZS needs a top blaster - like the Elite line has the RS - Mega has the centurion and rumoured Javelin etc I dont care if all they do is take an existing elite blaster and zombify it - ZS roughcut or ZS Stryfe anyone? Hopefully the baidu rumoured Winchester surfaces.

    Elite I agree the RS is the pinnacle of the line and would be a fitting sendoff to the line - Elite Stampede/Elite Vulcan will never happen because they would be priced insanely (I know the RS and Centurion are already expensive)

    1. ZS needs a halo blaster, where's that Winchester?

    2. mate, I only agree with the part you said they should charge fairly I mean yes if Hasbro can't find someway around the safety standards (or bribe them to let them sell 75ft Nerf blasters here). because i will not pay 50% more than what Americans pay for these pieces of BS.
      And yes safety is important but is it through safety we invented stuff?; is it through safety we advanced in all fields (medicine, technology etc.)?; most importantly is it through safe science that we evolved?
      it is through dangerous experimentation.
      do feel exhilaration when playing safe?
      do we technologically advance through inventions and research if we or our relatives don't suffer a few injuries through not playing safe?
      i rest my case

    3. I don't see how plastic toy gun development will usher in a new technological age and cure disease

  2. I think there is always room for tuning and additional features while making things simpler,more durable, and easier to mod.

    Lets face it as a single adult man I have far more money to spend on nerf blasters than any 10 year old child. What I want are modifiable options to shoot my idiot friends with when we hang out.

    I can see things like the upcoming CAM model being a template for what nerf does in the future. Adding a barrel cam to record your kill shots is neat, but would it be much harder to add say an ammo counter to my rapid strike? Would nerf not benefit from selling more tac rale items like a semi powerful flashlight, a reasonably powered laser sight? or for the love of god a red dot sight that I can go buy in a store?

    There is also room to recycle ideas: Would nerf not benefit from creating a mega vulcan and selling it at 65 or 75 dollars to modders and children of middle class parents?

    I know you have to concern yourself with safety laws but at the same time there is so much room left to tweak the line of existing toys.

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