Saturday, July 14, 2012

Nerf N-Strike Elite Retaliator: Retaliate this!

With so much buzz regarding the upcoming N-Strike Elite series, we can't help but want to get our hands on a blaster to see what all the fuss is about.  You've seen all the pics, reviews and our friends in the US are already enjoying them well before official launch, but we down here in Australia probably won't be getting them till official launch date (and then likely to be after). Oh what to do? 

It just so happens our good pal Neil from the Canberra + Southern NSW Dart Tag crew picked a new Retaliator up recently, and graciously brought it to UT HQ for us to give it a whirl. It's a US model and therefore boasts the 75ft ranges as opposed to the detuned performance proposed for our shores.

So how good is the new Elite series? Is it all that it's cracked up to be? Personally? I think It's pretty damn cool:D

The N-Strike Elite design cues have been around for a while now, at least since the Wii game from a few years ago. Personally I'm a fan- while still bright, vibrant and clearly a toy, it's not as gaudy as the previous yellow and orange colour schemes from the N-Strike line. Obviously the box reflects this- the blue, white and orange is prominent, as is obvious new branding of the N-Strike Elite logo.

The physical shell of the Retaliator is essentially the N-Strike Recon CS-6, and in turn this new blaster follows the same "4 blasters in one" themes of it's older brother. This time around, the Retaliator brings to the table new attachments- a reworked barrel extension (with 'rifling'), a never before seen new stock, and replaces the tactical light for a new "Assault grip" attachment.

Of course the box also shows the upcoming Big Bad Hailfire and the Rampage; interesting how the Stockade doesn't make this box cut. I still think it's disappointing the Rampage doesn't come with the shield that was originally flagged in the early concept drawings, but ahh well.

Neil has himself a Retaliator from the US, so it's boasting the 75ft ranges all over the box. I assume our boxes in Australia will have a different badge.. or have it scribbled out in marker:P

Inside the box, you'll get the blaster itself, the 12 round clip, Barrel extension, the new stock, assault grip and 12 of these new you beaut elite darts.

Put the pieces together and you really do have a nice looking piece of kit. Regardless of how I KNOW we're working with a Recon, it still just looks so much cooler! The colour scheme JUST looks fantastic and everything just works. Aesthetic wins all round on this one.

Back to the whole "Recon" thing. Most of the pieces of this blaster are identical to the Recon, however the good peeps at Nerf have made a new mold for the cocking slide mechanism to feature the "Retaliator" label and a new 'camo' etching in the plastic. It's subtle, but it works:)

The grip features the N-Strike Elite logo- again, subtle, but it's weird how these subtle differences just take you away from the obvious Recon feel.

I come back to the colour scheme. Nerf have done a great job of this- being a graphic/visual designer in a previous life, I'm all about clever colour schemes that coordinate seamlessly, and it's just fantastic that this particular blue and white just go with so many different attachments from other Nerf blaster lines. Whiteout, Gear Up, Super Soaker- they all seem to go nicely (which I'll demonstrate below) with these Elite palette. Even Clear and Sonic Series actually don't look BAD per se.  

Now on to the new darts. We've seen so many images that suggest the new Elite darts are considerably bigger than a streamline, but really, thees not a great deal of difference between the old and the new. I can't personally tell if the foam is heavier/denser, but I do believe the new Elite darts are a tad heavier in the tip. They're also kinda pretty too:D The new Elite clips actually don't look that different to the old ones, and you'll find these new blasters can interchange seamlessly with the existing N-Strike clips and vice versa.

I do love the new 'Assault grip' that comes with the Retaliator. Which is weird, cos I don't really use it, but I like the way it looks on the blaster. It's short and stocky and probably not that comfortable for larger hands, but for my iddy biddy kid sized ones- it fits nicely. I actually prefer it to the Stampede grip because it's so short.

You can see the Retaliator and the Recon ARE pretty much identical in size, given they're basically the same shell.

The new stock is unlike anything seen before in the Nerf line, which I like. New design is good as opposed to just a repaint, and I do think this stock is quite good looking and pretty comfortable to use. It is shorter than the Recon's stock but cooler in my opinion.

The closest stock it resembles would be the Super Soaker Thunder Strike's.. admittedly that's even a bit of a stretch:D

 Now comes the important stuff. Ranges. Straight up, I don't know if I could say I was hitting those 75ft ranges but it's definitely a decent improvement on the current N-Strike line. It's probably similar to the performances of an AR removed N-Strike blaster, but without the loud cracking noise that we're so used to with moded blasters. Word has it the Retaliator uses a direct plunger and rather unique internals which explains the increased stock ranges.

Trying it with an existing N-Strike clip does fire a stock Streamline dart further than a regular N-Strike blaster. Swapping the clips over, an N-Strike elite darts in a stock Recon PROBABLY went further but nothing really to write home about. I'd have to say the theories that the improved ranges were all in the darts is wrong- there's some pretty cool things going on in the blaster's internals  that are making it happen*.

We've got a few pics on the fly of the internals here:

*At the time of writing this, Neil's cracking the Retaliator open, so we'll hopefully hear more about the Canberra and Southern NSW Dart Tag crew's thoughts on that soon.

Bottom line thoughts? I'm a fan. Love the aesthetics, like the colour scheme, love the new attachments, and especially dig the increased ranges without the loud crack of a modded blaster. I am still baffled as to how I can like this blaster so much when the Recon CS-6 would have to be one of my LEAST favourite Nerf blasters ever. In any case- Nerf have done a great job, and I for one am very keen to have a play with future guns in the N-Strike Elite line..

Now- just a bit of Retaliator attachment mix and match fun. It all.. goes:D

Lightning storm stock and shield, Shot blast scope, Longstrike (white out) barrel

Recon (Gear Up) barrel with Stampede bipod, Shotblast scope and Raider stock

Recon (Gear Up), AT drum and Pinpoint sight

Raider and Shotblast scope

Longstrike with Shotblast scope


Alpha Trooper and Pinpoint Sight

Add on a Recon (Gear Up) tactical light

Tactical light(Gear Up) and Spectre stock

Lightning Storm Shield and Recon tac light


  1. Excellent. I recently picked up a Rampage here in Minnesota, and it is everything I hoped it would be. There is also a new weapon featured on the left side of the ELITE boxes that will be debuting in 2013, reminiscent of the NiteFinder. I am glad that NERF retained the iconic look of the Recon and Raider but it will be nice to see what new molds paired with retooled internals there are to come.

  2. Oh man that Gear Up Tactical Light is what the Retaliator needs. I kinda wanted to try to replicate the Recon's lines after I got it just for the heck of it, but the light just didn't work well on it. But since the Gear Up light mixes well with the clip's coloring...

    Overall I'm glad to see you got your hands on a North American version of the blaster. I was hoping you would; God knows you wouldn't have stopped until you had your hands on one and that there would probably be an enormous cache of NA Retaliators you were trying to order stuck in a room somewhere at customs or something.

  3. Hello, fellow Minnesota nerfer :D

  4. First of all, Hasbro's claim of 75 feet range is if you are firing with the blaster aiming upward, not at parallel-to-ground angle. People at US already said parallel-to-ground range is more like 50 feet. So if Aussie version has Hasbro's claim of 50 feet range, then the parallel-to-ground range would be like 35 feet, which is not much different from standard N-Strike range. That is just crap and nothing "elite" about it :(

  5. Pocket,

    I have some questions:
    1)I thought you promised Nerf that you won't get unreleased blasters.
    2) How accurate is the elite darts compared to Vortex discs and org streamlines?

    To Hasbro: No offense Hasbro, but the aussie version of N-Strike Elite seems crap unless it gets 15m FLAT.

  6. pros:
    direct plunger
    riffled barrel
    hand grip
    aus. version SUCKS
    hand grip is useless unless you put it on the cocking mech

  7. These will likely be 30-40 bucks when released in Aus, whats funny is Amazon will deliver a 75 foot shooting American version to your door for 38AUD...

  8. How did he get it here. Is it possible to order the US version and ship it here to aus?

  9. For some reason I can't cock mine all the way. It's not like it's jammed or anything, it's just that priming slide thing won't go past halfway down the dart access. :( I might have to get a new one.