June 12, 2015

Ultra Tek Modding - Good And Bad News

Experiments with the Ultra Tek Champion have been rather fruitful! I've been adding and removing things, in different combinations, to see the effects on performance. First, the good news on the effects of modding!

For spring additions, you need some kind of washer to serve as support. This is limited by the 5/8" diameter of the stock spring rest and the 1.125" ID of the sliding plunger tube. The easiest thing to do is slice the ridge off of a 3/4" x 1/2" CPVC bushing and place it over the stock spring rest.

I've found that springs from Recons, Raiders, and similar N-Strike blasters are a perfect candidate for addition - they fit in with a little pre-compression, and they have sufficient clearance from both the plunger tube wall and the stock spring.

For removing the air restrictor, you simply need to punch out these three plastic supports inside the plunger tube.

It should come out pretty easily. If it doesn't, then you're doing it wrong.

Now, here were the chronograph readings for each separate modification.

  • Stock: 77 fps
  • Spring addition: 84 fps
  • AR removal: 79 fps
  • Both AR removal and spring addition: 86 fps
Here's where we hit the bad news. Either mod by itself noticeably improves performance, but there is minimal benefit from doing both. That means the stock barrel/breech is far too short under those circumstances, requiring a sealed breech a la most Longshots. Simple solution, right?

Wrong. The draw on this blaster (and presumably the other Ultra Tek blasters with clips and 72' range claims) is 3", but the minimum required for clearing the magazine and preventing dart jams is 3.25". As such, the plunger tube's forward position will need to increase by 1/4", shell adjustments will be needed, etc. On the bright side, it will leave less dead space!

I'll end this on a positive note. For the hell of it, I temporarily singled the blaster, with 7" of 9/16" brass tubing (with tightening rings) as a barrel. Chrony readings jumped to the 120s, now that a longer barrel was attached! So, at least when I'm done with a new breech, I can expect pretty good things to happen!

June 11, 2015

Looking Up Patents: The Hong Kong Files

This is more of an informational post than anything. Most people can search through patents simply by using Google. Seriously, try Google Patents.

There's one place that Google doesn't cover, for some reason. Hong Kong is important mainly for looking up the designs of off-brands like Buzz Bee.

If you go to their database website, you can search trademarks, patents, and registered designs. In the case of patents, you can come across interesting things, like Buzz Bee's patent on a blowgun triggering mechanism. Seriously, check it out. You prime and/or pressurize the toy, and blow a small shuttle piece to either trigger the plunger or hit the blast button.

You can also come across design patents, many of which are for the upcoming blasters. I'll be honest here - I've known what many of the new Buzz Bee blasters were going to look like for quite a while. The information really ism't that hard to come by. I just tend to wait for things to near the end of development/approach production before saying anything.

After all, why spoil the fun so early, especially when first impressions can be wildly incorrect?

June 8, 2015

Buzz Bee Ultra Tek Champion Review

Just when I thought I was done finding new blasters, one shows up at a newly built Dollar General. With the Ultra Tek line, Buzz Bee Toys is finally entering its "Elite" period. The $10 Champion blaster won't win any beauty contests, but the increased range over previous BBT blasters is welcome, as is its first real dart magazine a la the Nerf Recon/Retaliator. Add to that a cool new dart type and cross-compatibility with Nerf magazines, and you have a solid competitor on the field.

June 7, 2015

New and Updated Dart Zone Blasters!

While checking store websites for updates and weekly ad specials, I came across two interesting entries on Target's website: an updated Scorpion Commander blaster, and the Powerbolt Belt Blaster!
The Powerbolt, as listed, comes with two dart belts and 36 darts (18 darts per belt) and is advertised with 80' ranges. By all appearances, this is a springer similar to the antiquated Buzz Bee Belt Blaster, but with much better performance. It's nice to see PTT making extra belts available, instead of only being able to order extras online directly from them. They do appear to be made slightly different from Scorpion dart belts, though, with an extra wide ridge on one end (for air restrictors?), so they may not be cross compatible.

 Speaking of the Scorpion, there's going to be an updated version, with 18 darts as opposed to 20 in the first version. It would seem 18 darts is their new standard belt length.
 It still has the rotating barrel, of course, that does nothing for performance but still looks cool.
Both blasters retail for $19.99. Looks like Nerf's going to have some serious competition coming this summer and fall!

EDIT: Blasterlabs informed me that the official release date for these blasters is August 2nd. Be sure to check their website for updates, as product samples will soon start filtering toward the PTT offices (should be sometime this week).

June 4, 2015

Xshot Bug Attack Rapid Fire Review

Until recently, the only news we've had on Zuru's Xshot Bug Attack line has been from various posts by Blasterlabs. That changed today, with an unexpected sighting at my local shopping mall, of all places. Fresh off the truck, as the employee at ToysRUs Express told me. And not on the main TRU website, either. But here it is, the Bug Attack Rapid Fire!

Coming in at only $10, the Rapid Fire turns out to be refreshingly powerful six-shooter, as far as outside blaster lines are concerned. It feels solid, and even has some fun targets to boot. Read on for the rest of the review!