Nerf better be watching its back. Because after testing out Mattel's new BOOMco line of dart blasters, we are happy to report the secret formula backing its new Smart Stick darts works like magic -- and makes for one hell of a good time.
But before we get to the science, it's worth noting that the various blasters can supposedly shoot straighter and faster than their Nerf-branded brethern. The validity of that claim seems questionable at best; as far as we could tell, speed seemed pretty comparable. But the real secret sauce comes in BOOMco's proprietary, extra-sticky dart formula -- a stickiness that's activated by the target and absolutely nothing else.
When you touch the tip of the dart, it feels like a slightly rougher sort of rubber, but that's about it. It doesn't stick to your fingers, clothes, or carpet. But jam it onto one of the BOOMco targets included with each of their blasters, and pulling that sucker off actually takes some considerable effort.
Mattel's keeping its lips sealed regarding what actually went into creating the magic material, but a Mattel rep was at least able to share with us the happy accident that led to its creation. In a conversation with Gizmodo, a spokesperson explained:
We went to our internal Chem Lab and asked them to crate something that would stick to anything. One of the things that they gave us was this ball, and it had suction cups all around it -- but it was also made out of this material. The suction cups didn't work, obviously, and in a moment of frustration, one of our designers just chucked it against the wall as fast as he could. We actually had some of the special material mounted for a different purpose on the wall, and it just happened to stick like crazy.
But the special material isn't just mounted on an unmoving target, they have also slapped it onto a set of mechanical wings mounted on the gun itself -- acting as a shield and catcher's mitt for enemy fire.
The special lock-and-key system behind the darts really is pretty incredible to see in person -- and understandably necessary, especially in its Rapid Madness Blaster (seen up top), a fully-automatic beast that shoots off 20 of the Smart Stick darts in just three seconds.
The whole blaster series, which ranges in price from about $20-$60, won't be hitting store shelves until sometime this July. But if this preview is a sign of things to come, Nerf finally has some real competition in the ring. [Mattel]