Despite designs that make them look like the inspiration for video game weapons that can effortlessly mow down waves of enemy aliens, Nerf’s dart blaster toys aren’t quite as aggressive at burning through ammo, but they’re improving, and the just-revealed Nerf Ultra Speed sets a new performance record.
As fun as it was to run around blasting friends and family with painless foam darts when many of us were kids, the generation that grew up with Nerf’s original blasters are now adults who often find themselves disappointed with the performance of the toys. It’s why grown-up fans of Nerf will often turn to after-market mods to upgrade the speed, power, and accuracy of their blasters, or abandon the brand altogether for competitors, like Dart Zone, who offer premium blasters with more power than you’d want to put into the hands of an eight-year-old.
To help expand the appeal of Nerf’s blasters to a larger and older audience, Hasbro introduced the Nerf Rival brand in 2015 which swapped foam darts for small foam balls that hit speeds of up to 70 MPH. Not only did they fly faster and farther with better accuracy, but the balls also helped improve the firing rate of Nerf’s blasters, with options like the Nerf Rival Perses MXIX-5000 capable of shooting eight rounds every second.
The problem with Nerf’s long squishy darts is that they can easily get jammed in a firing mechanism, particularly with motorised blasters that rely on a pair of spinning flywheels to launch them. But Nerf’s engineers have been slowly improving the performance of its automatic blasters, and the new Nerf Ultra Speed Blaster (revealed during what’s left of Toy Fair 2022 which was cancelled for the second year in a row) can fire up to seven darts per second when you fill its belly with six C-sized batteries.
It’s not light, and at $US72 ($100) when available starting in August it’s not cheap, but Nerf’s dart blasters are still more affordable than its Rival line, and even its new Hyper line introduced last year. The Ultra Speed includes two 12-shot magazines and 24 Nerf Accustrike Ultra darts, but three seconds after you pull the trigger you’ll have emptied both magazines and will have to start the arduous task of collecting all the darts again.