We've talked about how Buzz Bee delivered one of the best MEGA dart compatible blasters to-date with the impressive Air Max Boss, so it seemed appropriate that we should also revisit one of the best MEGA blasters currently available from the creator of the category--Nerf! After all, there was a time when MEGA meant only one thing: Centurion. And, as many fans of Nerf are keenly aware, that name has baggage: it was the first product to wear the "MEGA" name, and it was indeed "mega" in size, price, and claimed range.
But the Centurion also came with mega problems, including a propensity to eat darts, jam, and fire with inconsistent ranges. Hasbro, to their credit, resolved the majority of the Centurion's problems over the course of its life, but it wasn't until the MEGA Magnus came to market that fans began to regain hope for the fledgling sub-brand. And the subject of this review, the MEGA CycloneShock, is arguably the blaster that definitely puts to rest any remaining concerns about MEGA's place in the Nerf hierarchy.
Design and Ergonomics
When you see the Nerf N-Strike Elite Mega CycloneShock on a store shelf in real life, it feels at once familiar and brand new. It’s as though the designers and engineers at Hasbro took the best parts from several existing Nerf blasters, and put them together to form a sort of Nerf Voltron: the cocking mechanism from an Elite Strongarm, the easy-to-load dart barrel from an Elite Stockade, and the handle and overall aesthetic from a Mega Magnus.
Of course, mashing together different parts from different blasters can sometimes lead to a Frankenstein’s monster. But in this case, the result just looks right… like the design has been with us for years already, yet still seems fresh. Of course, there’s something else you notice when you first lay eyes on the CycloneShock–it is LARGE!
And you just can’t stop looking at it. Consider the first impressions to be good ones, all around.
Taking a closer look at the Nerf N-Strike Elite Mega CycloneShock, you begin to notice the details that really make this blaster stand out from cheaper products from other brands (yes, we're talking about you again, flat-looking Air Max Boss). It becomes apparent in things like the “digital camo” texture embossed into the body, the two-tone pistol grip, the use of numerous paint and plastic colors, the absence of stickers and doodads, the rifling of the barrel, and in the sculpting of faux rivets and seams. There’s also clearly been an attention to design balance in that Hasbro has created a product that looks sleeker than it should for its actual size. In short, this is one smartly designed, good-looking blaster. Whoever was assigned this project should be let loose to do more. Well done, design team.
From an ergonomic perspective, the CycloneShock is a joy to hold and fire, especially for older players. The pistol grip is adequately sized (but not too big), the trigger action feels pretty good, the priming slide is beefy, the rotating dart cylinder has a solid “click” when spun, and there’s even a large foregrip that acknowledges this blaster’s overall heft.
The CycloneShock is somewhat heavy, as one might expect, particularly toward the front. But in this case, that overall heft only seems to add to this blaster’s message of being big and formidable. All told, we have nary a complaint when it comes to how this blaster feels and functions in human hands--but it's not for the younger Nerf fans out there, we'll admit.
Use and Performance
All of our fawning over how the Mega CylconeShock looks and feels would be of little value if it didn’t perform, but fortunately, it does perform. Granted, we got better numbers from Buzz Bee's Air Max Boss, but we were able to hit a maximum distance of 73 feet, 7 inches, which is in-line with both our standard and “XD” versions of the Mega Magnus (which reached maximum distances of just over 75 and 72 feet, respectively).
No, it still doesn’t quite hit the “90 Feet” proclaimed on the box, but we have yet to test a Nerf-branded product that does. As far as we’re concerned, that’s a “best case, firing downhill, wind-at-your-back” claim that no blaster of this generation is likely to achieve. So, in context, the CycloneShock is a very solid performer, and we believe claims that the CycloneShock performs any less well than the typical Magnus to be inaccurate.
And that range is no surprise, given how the CycloneShock performed in our chronograph testing. We hit a max dart velocity of 67 feet-per-second, with an average velocity of 65 feet-per-second. Those speeds don’t set any records (the Dart Zone Scorpion is our champ there, with nearly 100 feet-per-second out-of-the-box, and the Air Max Boss displayed an average of 69 feet-per-second), but it’s a fairly expected score for a Nerf blaster, and clearly, contributes to the overall shot ranges we recorded.
Of course, distance and dart velocity are all well and good, but if you can’t hit your target, they’re really kind of meaningless. Sadly, this has been the downfall of many otherwise good Nerf products, including good performers like the Elite Retaliator. It seems that Hasbro just can’t figure out how to design a dart that flies accurately. Fortunately, Mega darts are somewhat better in this regard than Elite darts, but even the CycloneShock can’t overcome this inherent weakness. While our shot accuracy overall was “ok,” we still saw our share of Mega darts flying aimlessly in different directions. Again, we’re blaming this more on the dart than the blaster, but the two come as a package.
Finally, with our rate-of-fire testing, the Mega CycloneShock did surprisingly well, especially considering it lacks the “slamfire” ability that can be found in other blasters like the Elite Strongarm. That blaster can fire off about 1.2 darts per second. The CycloneShock somehow blasted through 3 darts per second (!). In other words, we were able to empty the entire cylinder drum (6 shots) in only 2 seconds.
That’s very impressive considering this isn’t a flywheel-based blaster or even one equipped with slamfire. Reloading can take a bit of time due to the fact that the barrel doesn’t release or drop-down. But all told, the CycloneShock is far better than a single-shot Magnus, in terms of rapid-fire Mega options.
Value and Fun
If there was a chink in the armor of the mighty MEGA CycloneShock aside from dart inaccuracy, it would have to be the question of value–at an MSRP of around $20, the CycloneShock is at least double the price of the Buzz Bee Air Max Boss, which can often be found for under $10. And that's after Hasbro reduced the price of the CycloneShock from it's original, $30 MSRP. Ouch. Fortunately, the MEGA CycloneShock redeems itself with a discernibly superior build quality and aesthetic. And it also does well in one other metric: it's a flat-out fun product! It’s fun to look at, fun to hold, fun to own, and most of all, a lot of fun to play with.
When the Mega line was first introduced, Hasbro took the route of introducing the line with something suitably large: the MEGA Centurion. Unfortunately, that product had some well-documented issues (at least with initial runs), and it gave the Mega line a black eye before it even had a chance to gain traction. The Mega Magnus showed there was promise with Mega, but it’s in the CycloneShock that we see that promise more fully realized. This is a big blaster that delivers big fun, without apology. Whatever miscues the Mega brand has had to-date, the CycloneShock sets them right. It’s one of the best MEGA products available, and it’s very highly recommended!
- Looks terrific, especially for its size
- Fires very fast, and reasonably far
- Very good built quality
- Too big for a sidearm; equally too large for youngest of Nerf fans
- Reloading can take time
- Not especially accurate