Citizens, I need firepower!

You’ve seen Mulan, right? That one scene where Mushu dons a scary costume, jumps into a fireworks box, and asks the attendants for some serious firepower?

One of my many (varied) vices is that I’m a bit of a Nerf enthusiast. Only a little bit, mind you, but that’s enough.

I now own the vast majority of dart-firing Nerf N-Strike toy guns, and I can count the models of same that I don’t own on one hand. I’ve imported Nerf toy guns from the US (thanks Amazon!) to get them just that little bit earlier, and when I saw that Nerf had introduced some new, disc-firing weapons (the Vortex series), my curiosity was piqued.

That being that, and having just started holidays, I decided to acquire some of these disc-based toy guns. My usual source (Target) didn’t have any of the new disc-firing Vortex series, much to my disappointment, so I decided to venture out to Toyworld.

Bear in mind the last time I went out to Toyworld was easily 10+ years ago, back when I was a young ‘un. My church was not too far from there, and sometimes, after the service on Sundays, a friend and I would venture down and explore the sheer excitement that was the huge, massive assortment of toys.

I went back to Toyworld today, and it was like nothing had changed. Every wall was packed full of toys. LEGO. Assorted water and sporting goods. Model cars. Model trains. Toys for girls, toys for boys — and most of all, Nerf toys.

I picked up all three Nerf toys Ben Kuchera recommended in his piece for Ars: the Vortex Praxis, the Vortex Vigilon, and the Vortex Proton. I might have even picked up the full-auto Nitron, but Toyworld didn’t have stock. That particular model will just have to wait.

Vortex Praxis: love the shotgun action. Pump-action handle better and more comfortable than the similar style on the N-Stike Alpha Trooper, and the 10-disc clip ejects like the magazine of a real assault rifle. Totally my style, and very fun to use. Only downside is the slightly non-too-sturdy stock — two thin arms are all that support the buttstock.

Vortex Vigilon: five round, with the same cocking action as the N-Strike Maverick. Instead of a rotating barrel, the Vigilon has a sort of “chamber” where you slot discs in. It’s not bad, but I probably wouldn’t trade my modded Maverick for it.

Vortex Proton: single shot, single disc. I absolutely adore the loading mechanism on this: pull the tab, slot a disc into the slot that appears, then hit one of the “slide return levers”, which retracts the tab you pulled out, and readies the gun for firing, all with a satisfying noise and action. Yeah, it’s only single shot, but it’s really, really cool to use. Plus, it’s the most compact of the new Vortex series — perfect for execution-style killings.

Range on all three disc-firing Vortex blasters was much improved over their dart-based cousins. Where the darts have pretty severe “bullet drop”, the discs kind of “catch” the air. The downside of their epic range (roughly 1.5x that of my best N-Strike blaster, the Maverick) is that because the discs are spinning, their accuracy isn’t as great as the darts (and they don’t whistle, or glow in the dark, or stick to things). You could probably expect to (accurately) hit a human-sized target about 12, perhaps even up to 15 meters away, but then again, a dart could do that kind of distance as well.

My only other gripe with the new Vortex series is that they’re pretty darn bulky. I’m not quite sure if it’s a mechanism thing for the discs, or whether Hasbro are just going for a new style, but seriously, although some of the space in front of the trigger is where the discs are loaded, pretty much everything below the Vigilon text is empty. There’s no way the Vigilon needs all of the bulk in front of the trigger, and neither does the Proton. The width I get — the discs are about 5-6cm in diameter — but otherwise, I’m pretty sure all that bulk could be cut down a little.

Overall, these new disc-based Vortex blasters aren’t bad.

Now I have to hunt down some of those clip-based water pistols… but that’s for another time. 😉

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