Anticipation is building as the release date for the Vortex series grows ever closer. Ever since Nerf held their exclusive media event in New York but a short couple weeks ago, we have been buzzing over our experience with this innovative disc blaster series. Now that we’ve seen what these blasters can do, it’s time to spread the word to one and all with a preview review of the remaining 3 blasters of the Vortex series. Check out our full review of the Vortex Vigilon by following this link.
The Vortex series oozes SciFi goodness from every inch of their highly detailed forms. With their out of this world designs, toxic neon color scheme and a dramatic naming convention adding to the alien allure, the Vortex series stakes its claim as an entity far removed from the very familiar N-Strike series. Add the introduction of new mini frizbee inspired ammo in the XLR Disc, and it is clear that Nerf can do pretty much anything with some plastic and a bit of foam.
The Vortex Proton fires a single shot and is relatively light weight, but it really just feels like the awkward little brother of the series. The Profile is a little reminiscent of a 1950’s Scifi ray gun but there’s not much of anything towards the back of the blaster, save for the pull ring for the loading mechanism which I’ll talk about later. Instead we get an overbuilt midsection throwing the Proton a little off balance. The mass protruding from the front of the trigger guard makes me imagine steam tanks and I wonder, if this blaster had a darker metallic paint scheme would it look like a completely different genre?
That’s not to say that the Proton isn’t a nifty blaster. My favorite detail happens to be the 1950’s coin operated machine inspired slide action. When you pull on the ring at the rear of the blaster you reveal a single round hole to put the disc into and honestly it felt like dropping a quarter into an old vending machine. Ambidextrous buttons above the trigger retract the disc, loading the blaster. The Proton gets pretty good range and is really fun to fire upside down, behind the back, under the leg, and pretty much any other way you can imagine.
The Vortex Praxis was a favorite of many at the event and I gotta say, it has a pretty cool design. It feels like a hybrid of the N-Strike Raider and the N-Strike Recon. When I noticed that the pump action on the Praxis extended beyond the barrel I didn’t think I would like this blaster but after playing with it, I’m ok with it as the pump doesn’t impede the disc’s flight. Another cool feature on the Praxis is the removable butt stock which is a rather sharp and more sturdy reinvention of the Recon butt stock.
The Praxis is the first of the Vortex series that we tested to use the newly designed 10 round disc clips. The clips are great, a simple single center spring gives balanced resistance while a half moon cover on top keeps the discs from falling out. There are also quite a few really awesome detail lines scrawled along the clips, similar to the digital camo on the Raider.
Sadly the Praxis gave us the most problems at the event, it was the only blaster I tested that jammed, and two of the demo units had to be decommissioned due to similar issues. That being said, the blasters at the event were early production models so hopefully those bugs have been worked out by now. Even with a couple problems the Praxis was well received and all in all is a balanced, well weighted midrange disc blaster that tried to steal the show.
The Vortex Nitron is surely the monster of the series. This battery operated, fly wheel driven rival to the N-Strike Stampede almost looks like something from the movie Men in Black. It surpasses the Praxis in ammo capacity, sporting 20 round versions of the new clips. The Nitron has room in the butt stock for a back up clip, which snaps up into a hole on the underside, and is easily removed for a quick reload. Instead of having a power switch to forget to turn on or off, the Nitron has two triggers. The trigger on the handle turns the fly wheel motor on so the blaster is only active when you want to be blasting discs, which will greatly save on battery life.
While all of the blasters in the Vortex series continue to have tactical rails which have not changed from N-Strike, lending more customizability to the blasters, the Nitron is the first of this series to come with an attachment. A battery powered tactical sight tags along with the Nitron and is a step removed from what we’ve seen with N-Strike accessories. Three light up panels with different sizes polygons flash on the inside, giving the illusion of a three ranged sight. While this piece is pretty much decorative only, the design is cool and fits well with the Nitron.
One of our big questions for the people at Nerf had to do with the built in handle on the front of the Nitron. When asked why the handle wasn’t created as a tactical rail attachment like the bipod handle on the Stampede, those secretive Nerf people just said that originally the handle had some extra functionality that was scrapped later in development to keep the cost of the blaster down. I can accept that without much complaining, the handle looks great as a piece of the blaster and doesn’t necessarily need to be a rail attachment.
Not much else needs to be said for the Vortex blasters, they are all fun, unique and innovative. The 09/10/11 release date is sneaking up fast and we can’t wait to hear your opinions on this series. Stay tunes to AFoN for all the latest news and reviews for your favorite Nerf dart and disc blasters.