Long ago, in this galaxy right here, Hasbro introduced a blaster called the Nerf Raider Rapid Fire CS-35--a foam dart shooter that included the largest ammo drum released at that time, and that featured a "slam-fire" pump-action handle for continuously rapid firing. At a retail price of roughly $30, the Raider was among the single most impressive blasters of 2009. Perhaps that's why, in 2012, an updated version of the Raider was released with improved performance, and re-named the Elite Rampage.
Now, after another 3 year interval, Hasbro has released the Nerf Star Wars First Order Stormtrooper Deluxe Blaster which, you guessed it, is a further evolution of the original Rampage. Confused? Just know the Star Wars blaster you see here is essentially based on a design that is at least 6 years old, but without the original's massive dart drum, and retailing for more than that initial version, as well. But the newer model does have one significant thing going for it: it's modeled after the blasters in the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" movie!
Changes to the Original
Fortunately, time has been kind to the basic format of the Stormtrooper Deluxe, because this blaster looks really, really good. Star Wars fans will no-doubt feel as though Hasbro has done an admirable job of translating the on-screen blaster into the modestly scaled-down toy that it is. And with detailing on both sides of this foam dart shooting version (a level of detail we can't say is kept up with every Nerf product these days), the feeling isn't broken by a lack of investment in aesthetics.
The only "flaw" is the ammo clip that protrudes from the left-hand side of the Nerf product--an inevitable byproduct of both the attempt at mimicking the film version of the gun (by hiding the required dart clip), and the re-use of the original Raider side-clip format. Otherwise, the look and feel are very good, all around.
One noticeable change on the Stormtrooper Deluxe blaster versus most other contemporary Nerf products is the age rating of 6+, versus the standard 8+. From our point-of-view, this has resulted in a blaster that feels like it is about 9/10ths the size of what we would expect, with about 9/10ths the performance. While on the ever-so-slightly small size (which the on-screen version appears to be, as well), everything is still comfortable for teen or even adult use, with one exception--the shoulder stock is removable, but not extendable. Bummer. And on the performance side, the Stormtrooper Deluxe is rated for ranges of up to 65 feet versus most Nerf Elite products that are rated at 75 feet (or more). We tested dart velocities on a chronograph, and sure enough, with an average of just 58 feet-per-second, the Stormtrooper Deluxe is pushing darts out at about 10 feet-per-second below the typical Nerf Elite blaster. This will likely result in reasonably good accuracy, but don't expect record-breaking distance shots.
Ease of Use
So, this blaster is great for kids, right? Yes and no. While the slightly more modest performance and generally compact overall dimensions would imply a good match for younger Nerf fans, the priming, loading, and firing complexity of the original Raider remain.
This sequence is as follows:
- Load the 12 round clip with the included darts.
- Pull the pump handle back until it stops.
- Insert the ammo clip (making sure it faces the right direction).
- Push the pump handle the whole way forward until it stops.
- Pull trigger.
Now, that doesn't sound too bad, but users are also required to pull the pump handle all the way back anytime they want to load or unload a clip, or even open the jam door. It's not intuitive for first-time Nerf users, and even experienced Nerf fans will likely be annoyed by the fact that in order to store the blaster with the clip loaded, the pump has to be primed (putting tension on the spring). Firing a single dart to relieve the tension then leaves a random dart with no place to be stored--unlike many Nerf blasters, there's no hidden dart storage in the handle.
Fortunately, the inherently positive aspects of the original Raider (and Rampage) can still be found in the First Order Stormtrooper Deluxe blaster, including a good overall feel, extremely rapid firing, and time-proven mechanics that resist jamming. Add to this mix the awesome Star Wars styling, and the Stormtrooper Deluxe is very compelling. We're still not sure we'd recommended it for the youngest players among us, nor can we find a way to reasonably justify an increase in price versus the original Raider/Rampage models given the modest performance and much smaller standard clip capacity. But for Star Wars fans looking for a way to re-live battles in galaxies far, far away, the First Order Stormtrooper Deluxe is definitely--perhaps ironically--on the light side of the force!
- Spot-on Star Wars styling (including detailing on both sides of the blaster!)
- Rated at ages 6+, it's an option for slightly younger audiences
- Good overall performance, including solid slam-fire action
- Based on a design that itself was derivative, the MSRP feels too high.
- The removable shoulder stock is not adjustable and the scope is just for looks
- Despite the younger age rating, there is some complexity to the priming/firing sequence