July 5, 2014

Mattel BoomCo Rapid Madness Review and Modification

As most of you know, Mattel has officially entered the blaster market with the BoomCo line! Between their Smart Stick darts and targets, industrial looks, and heavy promotion of team gaming, Mattel hopes to grab some of Hasbro's long-secure market share. How does the flagship blaster hold up, then? It's certainly not the greatest value blaster ever, but it's plenty of fun, performs as advertised, and can be improved with a bit of modding!

Say hello to my little friend!

To see another good review, look over at Blaster Labs. For further thoughts, look after the break!

The Rapid Madness operates on the same principle as the Nerf Magstrike - you pump up a rubber bladder with air, with the reservoir providing a decently consistent pressure. Pulling the trigger sends air into a spring-loaded chamber that meters the shots, in addition to advancing the clip. Finally, there is a way to depressurize the firing chamber so as to reset the clip advancement mechanism - the Magstrike used a normally-closed three way valve in the trigger to drain excess air. The Rapid Madness, meanwhile, uses a push-button relief valve; Mattel has chosen to conserve as much air as possible, and then draining the remaining air after play.

FEED ME DARTS

In terms of performance, my results were fairly close to those listed by Blaster Labs. My tested range (using their methodology of best angle) was 55' to 65', with most darts falling in the middle and resulting in a nice bell curve for dart distance. My blaster also took 15 full pumps before the bladder expanded far enough back to activate its pressure relief valve. Great performance, albeit a bit pricey ($49.99 - although I got mine + an extra pack of darts for $44 at Target thanks to a new release promotion). Still, if you want a BoomCo blaster that works well, is large enough to grip with adult hands, and works reliably, this blaster is for you.

Enough about stock performance, however. Let's open this baby up! It's time to take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!

I'm Ms. Frizzle, and I approve this message.

After removing a couple dozen screws and popping off the cap on the air pump (it's glued in place, but careful application of a regular screwdriver can pop it loose), we have the innards exposed. Here you can see the path the air takes.
Dual-action pumps are nice!

Before messing with the firing chamber, let's look behind the rubber bladder, at the black plastic in the stock. There's a triangular-headed screw that goes into the blaster, behind a free-floating plastic bumper. This is how you adjust the air bladder's capacity - the tip of the screw is the endpoint of that bumper's travel, and when it is reached, any excess air will be vented through the relief valve that presses against it.

It's all floppy!

Righty tighty, lefty loosey. Turning to the right lowers the maximum capacity, while the left raises it. If you wish, you can just take out that screw.

Security screws. What a pain in the ass.

Now for the firing chamber. Fellow modder Bobololo has already taken his apart for science, and the pics can be seen here. However, I aim to be able to put everything back together. So after you familiarize yourself with the internals, press on and keep track of your parts (keep the plastic pieces and their screws together as you disassemble, and make this easier on yourself).

NOM NOM NOM

Immediately, you can put the button and spring from the air dumping valve to the side. First, you need to unscrew the two plates, top and bottom, that hold the moving tabs in place. Once you do that, you can lift out the two swiveling pieces - these are safeties which only permit firing if a clip is present. Each has a small spring in its well holding it in place, so remove them carefully. No need to have pieces bouncing away.

Partway done!

Next, remove the top and bottom plates, which help form the clip well. NOW, you can remove the large, circular side piece and get to the heart of the beast. And it's nice and blue, too!

Circles in circles...

Air enters the chamber through the rear, passes under the circular black plate, and pushes in the cylinder on the left. That in turn also engages the clip advancing mechanism. After compressing so far, an outlet opens, letting air blast into the rear of the dart. The cylinder then returns to its default position, and in doing so resets the clip advancement.

If you turn the chamber around to the far side (the one facing the shell when you've opened up the blaster), you can see a few moving parts that contribute to this elaborate dance. Detach the spring from that swivel arm, and pull it out.
Are all your pieces organized? You should double-check.

Remove the last four screws (you know, the ones that look important), and you can separate the two halves. Here you can see the two springs that control the pressure at which the chamber fires. For future reference, they measure about 2 1/4" long, 5/16" OD, and 1/4" ID. They're also fairly weak, but there's only so much room in the chamber. Also, the spring has to actually compress enough for the cylinder to reach the spring-loaded release at the end. At the moment, I have no suggestions for spring replacements.

The Magstrike piston is so much less complex...

I do, however, recommend cutting ~3/8" long pieces of 3/8" OD PEX tubing, with cuts as straight as possible. There's room to shove spacers onto the guide poles, and small wells where the ends of the springs normally sit. You may need to hammer in the spacers when you reach the bottom of the poles, using a screwdriver as a punch. Since you're using a decently pliable plastic, though, the spacers will deform just enough to reach their destination.

If you can't replace the spring...at least make sure you're compressing it more.

Take your time and reassemble your pieces, going in reverse order. Be sure your springs stay aligned when you merge the two halves again. At that point, you should once again have a working blaster!

My modified Rapid Madness showed noticeable improvement - it did fire at a higher pressure, and the extra room for bladder expansion helped compensate for the loss of shots one would expect from the higher firing pressure.



While rate of fire decreased slightly, almost all of my shots were now landing in a tight grouping in the 70' - 75' range. In addition, it was easier to shoot darts singly as per the instructions, thanks to the slight decrease in rate of fire.

I'll keep looking for good replacement springs. I imagine Magstrike modifications like the addition of bike tire tubing would be applicable here. I can also imagine reworking the end of the tube containing the rubber bladder - with the right spring, you could retard the movement of the bladder's free end and force it to store air at a higher overall pressure. Keep in mind, however, that you'd be further increasing the time it takes to fill the system with air.

Coming up next: I'm taking on the Air Max 6, and finally giving it the proper tank expansion it deserves!

And you won't even be able to tell from the outside!

4 comments:

  1. this is awesome it tryed it and it worked

    ReplyDelete
  2. this is awesome it tryed it and it worked

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have a rapid madness that only shoots one side of clip. Shoots all on top half of clip and none of bottom half. Very frustrated. Any suggestions on fixing this problem?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have a rapid madness that only shoots one side of clip. Shoots all on top half of clip and none of bottom half. Very frustrated. Any suggestions on fixing this problem?

    ReplyDelete