2011 has come and gone. In its wake we have a lot to reflect on, it’s been a BIG year in the world of Nerf. Not to leave anything out, we’re not going to do a “best of” for the year. Instead, we’re going to break down all the Nerfy goodness of 2011(in no particular order) and throw it all on the chopping block for one last year end review. There’s a lot of material to cover so sit down, strap in and prepare for takeoff!
Summer fun got a big shot of awesome in 2011 with some major overhauls to the Super Soaker line. Not only did the entire lineup get a frosty new paint job, but some new blasters changed the face of modern Super Soaker play. There were a few impressive additions to aqua warfare coolness, most basic of which being the Point Break and Scatter Blast. For those still not sure about Super Soakers, these cheaper blasters are a good way to get your feet wet so-to-speak. We got to see the first Nerf branded water blaster to use batteries in the ThunderStorm. Revolving streams of water spiraled from the TornadoStrike, complete with a removable shoulder stock! The Super Soaker line got a huge heavy hitter in the form of the Hydro Cannon, which sported a unique tactical rail shield attachment. Loading and reloading your Super Soakers finally got you away from the hose or spigot and kept you in the action with the addition of water clip ammo storage. I have to say I was most impressed with the ease and effectiveness of the clips and strongly encourage all of you dart only Nerfers to delve into the new awesomeness of the Super Soaker line.
White Out Series
Walmart gained a sweet exclusive line in 2011 in the form of the White Out series. This line consisted of repaints of some of our favorite N-Strike blasters. With a name like White Out you can guess that all of the blasters are white and you’d be right, but what makes this recolor really shine are the details painted on top of this flat white base. A darker grey accents essential parts of the blasters giving classics like the Maverick and Deploy a whole new feel and appeal. Targeting reticules in grey and orange nicely placed on each blaster add to this appeal and in my opinion complete the look and solidify this line as my personal favorite repaint series of the year. If you haven’t had a chance to check out this slick line, what are you waiting for? Check it out!
Since we’re talking about repaints we can’t forget about the Sonic series. This Toys R Us exclusive line started in 2010 and broke into 2011 with some surprises. The Sonic series took the idea of seeing the internals of our favorite N-Strike blasters from the Clear series and took it up a notch. Instead of simple clear plastic, this time we have an almost eery green clear plastic. Why green? I have no idea. Honestly I enjoy the novelty of being able to see the internals without tearing my blasters apart, but I got my fix of that thru the Clear series. I enjoy the fact that Nerf added new blasters to “X-ray mode” including the Stampede and Long Strike, but lets just say I didn’t rush out to the store to pick my Sonic version up. If you enjoy the ability to peer thru the casing to see the springs and other bits that make your darts fly more than I do hit up Toys R Us and start sporting Sonic green power!
Probably the most exciting and surprising re-imagining of a Nerf series came in 2011 with the release of the new Dart Tag line. This completely new take on a favorite mode of play changed how we looked at the game as a whole. Everything associated with this line got an overhaul; new vision gear finally gave us something that feels like real safety glasses, while new jerseys in orange and blue varieties replaced the old style vests or “bibs” that were uncomfortable and not all that effective especially for adult dart tag players. Revolutionary design sprung forth from the Dart Tag pool in the form of two blasters equipped with built in clips; the Speed Load 6 and Quick 16. While jamming problems are a pain and can destroy darts, careful play with these blasters yields great reward thru faster reload time which keeps you in the action. Dart Tag also got a new beastly battery powered blaster with the SwarmFire. This high capacity blaster uses 6 “C” batteries and has a rotating cylinder firing a full load of 20 darts quickly and with enough range and power to get the job done. We can’t wait to see what Nerf has up their sleeve for Dart Tag in 2012, keep knocking them out of the park guys!
Here at AFoN we haven’t really touched on the N-Force line. We like N-Force, we like it a lot. It’s sad when things fall through the cracks and we plan on expanding our review and news lineup to include N-Force for 2012. But we’re talking about 2011 and there was one major addition to the N-Force collection that I personally love. I’m talking about the Vendetta double short sword set. This slick looking light weight set of 2 futuristic looking swords function great on their own, but the real fun is rocking it Darth Maul style by connecting the pommels of the swords together with a short twist of the wrist locking them together. It’s fun to twirl and flip the double bladed foam super sword around and makes for really innovative fun play scenarios. The N-Force line has been impressive, and the Vendetta set is my gem of the lot so far. Even if you’re not a cosplayer or live action role player, N-Force is just plain fun that should not be ignored.
Nerf has been saving their major releases for their anniversary in September and in 2011 they shook the Nerf world with the release of the Vortex line of blasters. The Vortex line broke the current mold of foam projectile play by introducing a new ammo type, the XLR disc. These Frisbee inspired foam discs are only the first part of the major innovations brought to the table. The Proton offered a new way to load your single shot blaster through a slide mechanism reminiscent of an old laundry machine. The Vigilon took internal clips to a new level via a little childhood inspiration, really, they modeled the clip mechanism off a Pez dispenser. Discs met clips with the Praxis, a pump action blaster with plenty of get up and go. Being the first of the Vortex blasters to offer the 10 round completely redesigned disc clip, the Praxis also sported a newly designed removable shoulder stock. Not to be undone, the Nitron completed the set with battery operated fly wheel fueled awesomeness, complete with an exclusive 20 round clip and a light up tactical rail sight. Shortly after the full launch of the series, Nerf made fans happy by adding disc refill kits and finally started selling clips separately, though it’s only the 10 rounder. I am fully impressed with the Vortex blasters, they are awesome for both indoor and outdoor use. The discs get a lot of hang time and fly farther than their N-Strike equivalent pretty much consistently. Get out there and pick them up if you don’t have them already, they are just simply that cool.
Gear Up Series
Prior to the launch of the amazing Vortex line, Nerf gave us a preview of their new ammo through the Gear Up series. Another repaint series of N-Strike favorites, these blasters came with decorated darts matching the black striping on the blasters orange base paint. Also included with each Gear Up blaster was a sample XLR disc, the new ammo type for the Vortex line of blasters. While the Gear Up blasters didn’t actually have the ability to fire the discs, it was pretty cool to get to see the new ammo before the blasters they were intended for were on shelves. I have to admit, I was a little confused at first look as to how Nerf was going to pull off a blaster that would shoot these discs but they didn’t disappoint. The Gear Up series wasn’t really anything new and some of the blasters didn’t fire as well as their N-Strike incarnation, but they look pretty sharp and would look nice in a shelf display somewhere in your collection.
2011 also gave us a new small single shot “pea shooter”. The Jolt is cute, and a well designed pocket sized blaster. We here at AFoN love the Jolt and both Mr. K and I carry it on our person during all of our meetings. You might have seen us use the Jolt in one of our earlier episodes of The AFoN Show. With such a low price I can’t think of a reason not to pick one up. There’s not much else to say about the Jolt, it’s orange for caution and can spring out of nowhere.
Comic Con Exclusive Barricades
With all of the major releases Nerf had in 2011 it’s hard to remember everything, but lets not forget a pair of exclusive repaints that caught my eye personally as well, I’m a HUGE Transformers fan. For the big Comic Con in San Diego Nerf offered at the show(and for a short time on hasbrotoyshop.com) the Optimus Prime Barricade. Wow was this a repaint. It looked like they threw comic book art all over this thing and it looks amazing. The painting on the blaster wasn’t the only impressive piece to this exclusive as the packaging got a major overhaul. This blaster has made a special place in my collection and I hope to never take it out of the box.
The second exclusive Comic Con blaster was offered at New York(and at hasbrotoyshop.com). The Bumblebee Barricade took all of the awesomeness from the Optimus Prime blaster and made it Yellow. I had to pick this one up as well because well, it’s Transformers and Nerf, what’s not to like there? The artwork on the blaster is just as cool as the Prime blaster and everything red on the packaging of the Prime blaster is a slick metallic yellow. These are fun display pieces great for both Transformers and Nerf collectors.
So that’s Nerf in 2011. I told you there was a lot. It’s been a blockbuster year with many surprises and amazing products. If there’s something you’d like to add that I may have forgotten or just some fun comments please let us know. Here’s to hoping 2012 is as momentous as 2011, happy Nerfing all and happy belated new year!